The shot less taken

I’ve never been much of a New Year’s resolution person, but the start of a new year is an opportunity to take stock and regroup. This year I’ve been thinking about the proliferation of derivative images online and in magazines, images that are, no matter how beautiful, simply reproductions of thousands of previous image. Photographers see something they like and go out try to get it themselves. I understand the…

Dialing it in

  I’m a big fan of the polarizer, so much so that each of my lenses wears a polarizer that never comes off in daylight. A couple of years ago “Outdoor Photographer” magazine published my article on using a polarizer, a slightly modified version of a blog post that appears in the Photo Tips section of this blog. If you read that article, or pay much attention to what…

The yin and yang of nature photography

Conducting photo workshops gives me unique insight into what inhibits aspiring nature photographers, and what propels them. The vast majority of photographers I instruct, from beginners to professionals, approach their craft with either a strong analytical or strong intuitive bias—one side or the other is strong, but rarely both. And rather than simply getting out of the way, the underdeveloped (notice I didn’t say…

Staying out of the way

Previously on Eloquent Nature: Road trip! Sometimes when Mother Nature puts on a show, the best thing a photographer can do is just get out of the way. I’d driven to Mono Lake the previous afternoon to do some night photography and photograph the waning crescent moon before sunrise. After spending the night in the back of my Pilot, I woke at 4:30 and hiked down…

Do your homework

One of the questions I’m most frequently asked is, how do you find these locations? Sometimes I feel like the questioner is convinced that there’s a secret pro photographer society where we share prime photo locations (and scoff at outsiders), or perhaps I’ve inherited a comprehensive tome containing the coordinates of every photo-worthy scene on Earth. Uh…, not so much. The reality is far less interesting. First, it doesn’t hurt…

Favorite: El Capitan Reflection

I can’t believe this image is over ten years old. It represents a significant milestone for me, because I captured it about the time I made the decision to turn a 25+ year serious hobby into my profession. With that decision came the realization that simply taking pretty pictures, or being a very good photographer, wouldn’t be enough—there are plenty of those out there. I made…

My photography essentials, part 3

A couple of weeks ago the editors at “Outdoor Photographer” magazine asked me (and a few other pros) to contribute to an upcoming article on photography essentials, and it occurs to me that my blog readers might be interested to read my answers. Here’s how I answered the third of their three questions: What three things contribute to keeping you inspired, energized and creative…

If you’re following the rules, you’re not being creative

What do you think would happen if I submitted this image a camera club photo competition? It might elicit a few oohs and ahhs at first, but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be long before somebody dismisses it because the primary subject is centered. And while “never center your subject” is standard camera-club advice for a beginner who automatically bullseyes every subject, reflexively reciting “Rules*” is…

Oops

Last Friday evening, this professional photographer I know spent several hours photographing an assortment of beautiful Yosemite winter scenes at ISO 800. Apparently, he had increased his ISO earlier in the day while photographing a macro scene with three extension tubes—needing a faster shutter speed to freeze his subject in a light breeze, he’d bumped his ISO to 800. Wise decision. But, rushing to…

Dashing to the snow

If there’s anything on Earth more magical than Yosemite with fresh snow, I haven’t seen it. The problem is, Yosemite Valley doesn’t get tons of snow—its relatively low elevation (about 4,000 feet) means the valley often gets rain when most of the Sierra gets snow. And when snow does fall here, it doesn’t stay on the trees for more than a few hours (if you’re…