OP – The Blog

Archive for Michael Frye

About Michael
Michael Frye is the author of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite, Yosemite Meditations, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters. www.michaelfrye.com

June 20th, 2016

Arranging Sea Stacks

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Sea stacks and cormorant, Redwood NP, CA, USA
During our recent workshop in the redwood country we had plenty of opportunities to photograph the beautiful, rugged, northern-California coast. There are many spots between Trinidad and Crescent City with offshore rocks and sea stacks, which make wonderful photographic subjects. Separating visual elements is a concern in any composition, but seems to be particularly vital when photographing the ocean and forest scenes along the northern California coast. Both sea stacks and redwood trunks need to be well-spaced, balanced, and stand out clearly.
April 13th, 2016

Focus-Stacking Season

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Poppies, lupines, goldfields, and tri-colored gilia, Merced River Canyon, Sierra Nevada foothills, CA, USA
It’s spring, which means it’s wildflower season, and focus-stacking season. Last week my wife Claudia and I spent an afternoon photographing flowers in the Merced River Canyon, just west of Yosemite. It was a little past the peak of the wildflower season there, but we still found some nice patches of poppies mixed with other flowers. As I was processing the images later, it occurred to me that all of them required focus stacking. Literally every single one. And this is very common for me when photographing wildflowers.
December 3rd, 2015

A Clearing Storm by Moonlight

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Yosemite Valley illuminated by the rising moon, Yosemite NP, CA, USA
Last week another storm brought rain and snow to Yosemite. We didn’t get a lot of precipitation, but after the cold front passed through, snow levels dropped down to near 3,000 feet, and Yosemite Valley got about two inches of snow. Checking the satellite images online Wednesday afternoon it looked like the skies might clear …
April 30th, 2015

Lightroom 6: First Impressions

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Swirling mist from Tunnel View, Yosemite NP, CA, USA
After months of rumors, last week Adobe finally released Lightroom 6 and Lightroom CC. When I saw the list of new features, I have to say I was a bit disappointed. I was hoping for improvements to Lightroom’s retouching tools, and to the Adjustment Brush. It would be nice to add a curve to only …
March 29th, 2015

Lenses and Perspective: The Long and the Short of It

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Backcountry road in autumn with the San Miguel Range in the distance, Uncompahgre NF, CO, USA
Varying the focal length of your lens allows you change a composition easily without moving your feet. This is certainly convenient, and sometimes it’s essential: there may be only one suitable camera position, which means changing lenses or zooming is the only way to alter how much of the scene will be visible in your …
November 13th, 2014

Knowing What to Look For

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Aspens in fog, near Ridgeway, CO, USA
It had been a dream of mine to photograph the autumn aspen display in Colorado, and it more than lived up to my expectations. Colorado veterans said it was the best fall there in many years, and it certainly looked good to us. The sheer number of aspens covering the hillsides was astonishing. The problem was that I didn’t know the area. At all. I’m usually writing about photographing Yosemite, or maybe the aspens on the eastern side of the Sierra, places that I know intimately. That knowledge is a big advantage, giving me a greater chance of being in the right place at the right time to take advantage of the light, weather, and conditions.
October 29th, 2014

Autumn Light

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Late-afternoon sun in an aspen grove, Toiyabe NF, CA, USA
Light is a vital aspect of any photograph, and always the first thing I think about when deciding where to go with my camera. The more you understand light, the better your photographs will be. Any kind of light can work for fall color – under the right circumstances. But some kinds seem to work better than others. While photographing and leading workshops in the eastern Sierra, I was usually looking for backlight or soft light on the aspens – or best of all, soft backlight.
September 25th, 2014

A Stormy Night

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Lightning over Bishop and the Owens Valley, CA, USA
Photographing lightning is difficult. The main problem is being in the right place at the right time. You don’t want to be in the storm, as you’re likely to get wet, and risk being struck by lightning. You need to get a distant view of the storm, which means anticipating where a storm might go, finding a viewpoint, and hoping that the lightning doesn’t dissipate before everything comes together. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve set up my camera looking toward a distant storm, only to watch the lightning fizzle out.
September 10th, 2014

Fire and Half Dome

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Meadow Fire burning in Little Yosemite Valley at night, with Half Dome on the left, Yosemite NP, CA, USA; 9-7-14
Sunday afternoon my wife Claudia and I saw dramatic images on the Yosemite webcams of a fire in Little Yosemite Valley. We’ve had many fires around here the last two summers, and I’ve made plenty of fire photographs. But how often can you photograph a fire next to Half Dome? We decided to head up …
September 2nd, 2014

Photographing Bodie

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"Swayback" building at night with the Milky Way, Bodie SHP, CA, USA
As promised, here are some of my recent photographs from Bodie. Bodie, if you’re not familiar with it, is just north of Mono Lake, and is billed as the best-preserved ghost town in the United States. Bodie is now a state park, and a very interesting place to photograph, but it’s usually only open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., which means you can’t photograph it during the best light of the day, much less at night.