Playing the hand you’re dealt

In family Hearts games when I was a kid, I loved to “shoot the moon” (tremendous reward for success, extreme cost for failure). But simply wanting to shoot the moon wasn’t enough to make it happen, and I didn’t really start winning until I learned to separate my desires from the reality of the moment—I know now to evaluate my cards when they’re dealt, set a strategy, then…

A sunny day solution

For wildflower photography I prefer the diffuse light and soft shadows of a cloudy day, but when Mother Nature delivers clear skies and harsh sunlight, I look for backlight opportunities. Backlit flowers and leaves glow like they’ve been plugged in, and their brilliance allows faster shutter speeds that will compensate for a small aperture and quell a flower-waving breeze. A frustrating downside of backlight is that the sun is more or less in the…

Going for bokeh

  In this day of ubiquitous cameras, automatic exposure, and free information, a creative photographer’s surest path to unique images is achieved by managing a scene’s depth. Anyone with a camera can compose the left/right/up/down aspect of a scene. But the front/back plane, a scene’s depth, that we human’s take for granted, is missing from a two-dimensional image. Managing depth requires abstract vision and camera control beyond the skill of most…

My photography essentials, part 2

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 my answer to the second of their three questions: What are your three most important non-photo pieces of gear that you rely…

My photography essentials, part 1

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 my answer to the first of their three questions: 1. What are the top three most important pieces of photo…

A rite of spring

Today it’s gray and wet in Sacramento, a refreshing break from our ridiculously warm and dry winter (sorry, pretty-much-everywhere-else-in-the-U.S.). Usually by the end of February my thoughts have turned to spring, but this year I find myself feeling a cheated of winter (and wishing the rest of you would have shared). As miserable as it can be, I’ve always loved winter photography—not just snow…

It’s more than a hole with red rocks

Still charged with energy from the Grand Canyon lightning/rainbow Three Strikes morning, I decided to change things up and visit some of the trip’s more intimate, albeit less spectacular, images, scenes that portray the underrated diversity of the Grand Canyon’s beauty. Despite a wealth of options, I knew immediately that I wanted to start with a wildflower discovery the second group made at East…

Adobe plays Monopoly with your photos (required reading for all Photoshop users, present and future)

Storm brewing Adobe recently announced the new Adobe Creative Cloud paradigm for its Creative Suite software (Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, et al). While Photoshop is an essential part of my workflow, I’m not a power user and earn no income from Photoshop training, so I hadn’t really given this change a lot of thought. My plan has always been to simply stick with my current Photoshop…

Fire at will

Maximize your investment I clicked 54 versions of this scene (I just counted). I’m usually a pretty low volume shooter, sometimes not taking 54 pictures on an entire trip. And I have to admit, after years as a film shooter, the whole digital “fire at will” paradigm took some getting used to. But I’ve finally reached a place where I have no problem firing…

Closer than the eye can see

*    *    *    * Photography’s gift isn’t its ability to show the world we already know, photography’s gift is its ability to reveal a world we haven’t imagined. I found this poppy on a visit to Point Reyes about nine years ago, just one of thousands sprinkled among a collage of swaying wildflowers. Before this day I’d aborted any attempt to…