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.
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.
Varying the focal length of your lens allows you change a composition easily without moving your feet. This is certainly…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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It’s been awhile, but I thought it was time to post another photo critique. This time I’ll look at an…
It should be obvious that weather and light are important aspects of landscape photography. No matter where you are, it pays to keep an eye on the weather, and to learn local weather patterns.
We arrived in Crescent City, at the very northern edge of California, about five days before our redwoods workshop was set to begin. Our first night there some showers moved through, and at sunrise it was gray and raining. But online radar and satellite images showed that the showers might end soon, so I prepared to go out. Then through our hotel room window I saw a rainbow! We made a dash for the car, drove out to Crescent Beach, and luckily the rainbow was still there (right).
Not long ago, photographers were divided into two camps: color photographers, and black-and-white photographers. Sure, there were some people who did both, and even some who did both well, but they were rare. Most photographers specialized in one medium or the other – and I use that word deliberately, because it almost seemed like they were different mediums, not just different palettes.