As primarily a landscape photographer Iam often in a situation where I am struggling to give a feeling of scale to big dramatic views. I will look for something to place close to the camera, such as a dramatic flower or rock, to capture the viewer’s attention and draw them deeper into the photo. In some cases, though, I find including a person rather than a natural element within the scene does a better job of it. Not only does the figure add scale, but it also makes viewers feel like they are standing within the scene rather than looking at a print on the wall, a kind of visual empathy.
Jan 17, 2014
Published: Feb 01, 2014
Wildlife photographers with any interest in photographing big Alaskan brown bears should certainly consider the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary, professed to have the highest concentration of large adult brown bears in the world with over 70 bears having been seen at any one time. The sanctuary is located on the Alaskan Peninsula about 100 air miles west of Homer and is only reachable by floatplane.
The arctic sun was just about to make its brief dip below the mountainsto the north when I arrived at a cluster of strange monolithic rocks on the ridge. I cursed myself for not carrying my tripod on the evening hike, but I hadn’t expected to stumble on something quite so strange and photogenic. I braced myself on a tussock of soft tundra and began snapping images of the glowing rocks. I clicked the shutter, recomposed, then clicked again. As I made images, it occurred to me that I was quite possibly the first person to photograph these rocks. They weren’t marked on any map, and the nondescript ridge was just one of many in this part of the range. That, I thought to myself, is one of the great things about photography in the Brooks Range, it was unlikely that anyone had made the same composition before.
When photographing animals on an African safari, sharp photos are a gift to bring home and it all centers on proper technique. Use the “sweet spot” on the lens; with both of my shorter lenses it was around f/5.6 or f/8. On the longer zoom, I found f/5 or f/5.6 gave me needle-sharp and distortion-free images. With the animal at rest, always put that focusing spot on the eye. On longer distances or perhaps with the animal moving, place that spot on the shoulder or flank to keep a decent depth of field throughout their length.
Photographers who also love to travel are probably most prone to this collecting imperative. High on my list was Peru. For those who have traveled there, Machu Picchu was probably a primary destination. And why not? Machu Picchu is one of the few Incan sites to remain essentially intact following the 16th century Spanish conquest of the Kingdom of the Incas—for the simple reason that the invaders never found it.
Winter is an extraordinary time in Yellowstone. Temperatures often plummet well below zero. Moisture ejected into the icy air from myriad thermal features creates a microclimate that turns into a wintry fairyland. The colder it becomes, the more pronounced these effects, and the more beautiful the surroundings become. Whether it’s wildlife, geothermal features, extraordinary scenery, or any combination thereof, Yellowstone National Park (YNP) is, hands down, one of the best places in the world to view and photograph these treasures.
For almost a year I planned for the 22-day trip I took this past January to photograph among the indigenous people of Ethiopia. I did a lot of research so I’d know what to expect and how to deal with everything from the customs of the country to the weather and the traveling conditions. Also, I’d have a driver and a guide, and along the way I’d pick up local guides who’d know the ins and outs of specific villages, tribes, and dialects.
Jun 25, 2013
Published: May 01, 2013
Straddling a beautiful stretch of the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Virginia, Shenandoah National Park is a hiker’s and photographer’s delight. Located only 70 miles from the nation’s capital, Shenandoah provides an oasis of nature surrounded by ever-encroaching civilization. Long and narrow, the park runs north/south along a ridge crest characterized by rolling hills and mountains, quiet hollows, rushing streams and waterfalls, and verdant forests. Running through the park is Skyline Drive, a 105-mile scenic roadway that meanders along the crest of the Blue Ridge. Along this roadway are 75 overlooks offering unparalleled views of the piedmont to the east and the valley and mountains to the west. The park is also host to a 101-mile segment of the venerable Appalachian Trail as it winds its way from Georgia to Maine.
Every traveler with a camera will welcome the words “smaller” and “lighter.” Because I travel and photograph for a living, I not only welcome them, I search for them. I want to see those adjectives accompanying nouns like camera, lens, laptop, and drive (the portable kind).
After 30 years of making a living as a professional photographer I reached another milestone this past July—I traveled with my 17-year-old son Justin around the entire state of Oregon, our goal being to create an in-depth documentary of this beautiful state. We had never before traveled together solely as a photo team. This trip served as another milestone for me—it would be my first photo trip with my new Canon digital camera, having finally said goodbye to my beloved manual Nikon SLRs and Fujichrome slide film.
Dec 19, 2012
Published: Nov 01, 2012
Montana’s rich mining history dates back well over 100 years. In the year 1852, gold was first discovered southeast of Drummond, along Gold Creek, at a site that later became known as the Pioneer Mining District. But it wasn’t until a decade later, in 1862, that a group of prospectors from Colorado discovered gold along Grasshopper Creek, at what was to become the Bannack Town Site, which fueled the Montana gold rush.
“A super wide-angle lens will encompass Mount Whitney and Mount Russell with Iceberg Lake in the foreground.”
Mount Whitney, located on the eastern fringe of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, is the tallest peak in the Eastern Sierra and the contiguous United States. A four-hour drive north of Los Angeles, its lofty summit at 14,494 feet is sought after by hikers and climbers from all over the world. It’s also a favorite of landscape photographers seeking to capture the right compositions as soft pink and orange hues soak into the gritty granite mountain at dawn.
Often people will ask me, “How do you get that great color in your photos?” I appreciate the compliment, but it’s usually followed by, “You must do a lot of retouching.” Actually I don’t. I will do a little color enhancement, but how color looks in my images has to do partly with how I set certain camera controls, how I control or use lighting in the scene, and how I compose the photograph.
My great-grandparents homesteaded in the northern part of the Black Hills around the turn of the 20th century, but found the environment too inhospitable for traditional farming and moved to eastern South Dakota. But that bond to the Black Hills continues to be passed down through my family, and I’ve visited the area on a regular basis since I was a little boy. My earliest travels with a camera were to the Black Hills during my early teens on family vacations, with resulting photos that failed to show how the area made me feel. As my photographic skills improved I’ve returned many times, but have only yet begun to scratch the surface of the numerous natural wonders located in the Black Hills.
Ever since I was a kid and visited the Grand Canyon for an hour with my family, I have dreamed about going back and seeing the canyon from the river’s perspective. So when some friends invited my wife and me on a 21-day trip after they had waited 15 years for a private permit, it wasn’t hard to commit. The permit covered nearly the entire month of March, when crowds are smaller and no motorized boats or guides are allowed on the river.