Silent Night

One perk of being a photographer is the opportunity to experience normally crowded locations in relative peace. That’s because the best nature photography usually happens at most people’s least favorite time to be outside: crazy weather and after dark. A couple of weeks ago in Yosemite I got the opportunity to enjoy both. After spending a snowy Sunday guiding a couple around Yosemite Valley in a snowstorm, I…

Variations on a scene

A week or so ago I had the good fortune to be in Yosemite for the most recent snowfall there. All week the National Weather Service had been waffling a bit on the snow—based on the forecast, I probably wouldn’t have made the trip. But I was there anyway, guiding a fun couple from England for the weekend. Following a nice but unspectacular Saturday, we woke Sunday…

Up a creek

Many photographers vary their portfolios by visiting as many locations as possible. While I love visiting new locations, I’ve always preferred the kind of intimate familiarity that’s only possible with frequent, quality visits. And as enjoyable as it is photograph the icons, for my personal pleasure I’m most drawn to quiet pastorals and intimate portraits of nature that could be anywhere—wildflowers, fall color, solitary oaks, sparkling reflections, and…

The illusion of depth

It seems too obvious to mention, but I’ll say it anyway: Photography is a futile attempt to render a three-dimensional world in a two-dimensional medium. Unfortunately, that reality doesn’t seem to keep people from putting their eye to their viewfinder and clicking without regard for their camera’s unique view of the world. But here’s a secret: Anyone with a camera can manage the lateral (left-to-right)…

Managing light, depth, and motion in nature

Independent of composition, photographers have three scene variables to play with when setting up a shot: light, depth, and motion. And not so coincidentally, we have three exposure parameters with which to manage those variables: shutter speed, f-stop, and ISO. The exposure parameters have a reciprocal relationship—an increase/decrease in one can be compensated by a corresponding decrease/increase in another—but merely getting the “correct” exposure with a…

It ain’t over till it’s over

(How many photography blogs out there quote Yogi Berra? Just sayin’….) During the 1973 baseball season, Yogi Berra was asked about his last place Mets’ chances in the pennant race. His reply, “It ain’t over till it’s over,” was greeted with chuckles, but Yogi got the last laugh when the Mets rallied to make it all the way to the World Series. I couldn’t help…

Winter is coming

While every season in Yosemite offers something that makes it special, the most beautiful place on earth is at its most beautiful when every exposed surface for as far as the eye can see is made brand new and pristine by a blanket of fresh snow. But capturing Yosemite’s winter magic isn’t a simple matter of showing up on a winter day with a camera. At just 4,000…

Doing the math

A few days ago Sony asked me to write a couple of small pieces on “my favorite landscape lenses.” Hmmm. My answer? My favorite lens is the lens that allows me to do what I need to do at that moment. In fact, to avoid biasing my creativity, I consciously avoid approaching a scene with a preconceived notion of the lens to use. What…

Think before you shoot

True story: I once had a woman in a workshop who put her camera in Continuous mode and every time she clicked her shutter, she held it down and waved her camera in the general direction of a scene until the buffer was full. When I asked what she was doing, she said, “There’s bound to be a good one in there somewhere.” We were in…

Who needs vacations?

I was hungry, wet, and cold. With the blacktop obscured by a slippery white veneer, I carefully followed my headlights and a faint set of parallel tire tracks through the tree tunnel. Though the storm that had lured me to Yosemite was finally clearing, that show was lost to the night and dense forest canopy. But even without another clearing storm to add to my Yosemite portfolio, I was quite content with…