In the Moment:
Michael Frye's Landscape Photography Blog

First Weekly Photo Critique: “That Damned Loch” by Tim Parkin

"That Damned Loch" by Tim Parkin

Thanks to everyone who submitted photographs for this critique. 26 people uploaded images to Flickr, and there are some outstanding images in the collection. I had to pass over a lot of interesting choices, but I’m keeping several in mind for future critiques.

I chose this image mostly for aesthetic and instructive reasons, but also because the international flavor appealed to me. The photographer, Tim Parkin, lives in Leeds, UK, and the photograph was made at Lochan Na h’Achlaise (which Tim says roughly translates as ‘Loch of the armpit’) in Rannoch Moor, Scotland. Also, I like the title Tim used on Flickr—“That Damed Loch”—although his official title isPinks, Lochan Na h’Achlaise, Rannoch Moor.

I love the soft, subtle, color palette of this photograph, with pinks, golds, and hints of green. Many photographers would be tempted to pump up the saturation, but I think that would make this image look garish and fake, and lose some of its attractive, quiet feeling.

The composition is well seen and thought out. The main focal point is the shrub on the island just right of center, and my eye moves from that down to the smaller shrub, grasses, and rocks in the foreground.  Tim was careful to keep separation between everything in the foreground and the reflections in the water, with the exception of the unavoidable merger between the three tall grasses just left of center and the reeds behind them.

The small foreground shrub echoes the shape of the larger one in the background, adding some repetition and tying the foreground and background together. I often see random foregrounds that seem stuck on, included only because the photographer felt that a foreground was obligatory. If you’re going to include a foreground it has add something to the image and tie in with the background somehow, either with similar lines and shapes, or by leading the viewer’s eye into the distance. Here the foreground definitely adds interest, and echoes shapes in the background. (more…)

What a Week!

Sunbeams on El Capitan Saturday evening
Sunbeams on El Capitan Saturday evening


Our workshop group had an adventure last week. It snowed off and on (mostly on) from Monday through Friday morning. The power went out Wednesday afternoon, so we did print critiques in the Ahwahnee Hotel’s Winter Club Room. The temperature hovered just around freezing in Yosemite Valley most of the week, so the snow melted during lulls in the precipitation, and by Thursday afternoon there were only about six inches on the ground. But that night the temperature dropped, and Friday morning I measured 16 inches on the railing outside The Ansel Adams Gallery.

A week of heavy, wet snow was apparently too much for many trees and limbs, and during the night Thursday and all day Friday the valley was filled with the sound of cracking, falling branches. Out in Cook’s Meadow Friday morning we could hear and often see limbs or whole trees falling every few minutes. The National Park Service had to close all the roads because they couldn’t keep up with the tree removal; they’d no sooner clear a stretch of roadway when another tree would fall across it. They issued warnings telling everyone to stay inside. Several of my workshop students were evacuated from their rooms at Yosemite Lodge because of dangerous limbs, but luckily there were other rooms available in safer buildings.

My workshop students endured all this without complaint—in fact they were excited to see Yosemite covered in snow. We found ourselves trapped in the east end of Yosemite Valley Friday, but no one minded because it was beautiful. The cliffs and trees—the ones that were still standing—were decked in white, and the sun broke through briefly in the morning. We just had to avoid walking under branches!

The roads reopened Saturday morning, after a closure of more than 24 hours. Saturday afternoon the skies cleared, and we saw so


I Have a Fathead

Light-Painted Saguaro Cacti

Actually, I have six Fatheads. In case you haven’t seen the ads, Fatheads are the peel-and-stick-on-a-wall lifesize figures of football players, or celebrities, or team logos, or… well it’s a long list. They’ve added a line called SM/ART Squares—18-inch-square reproductions from a diverse collection of artists, ranging from Monet and Van Gogh to William Wegman, Keith Dotson, and, now, me. They’re using six of my photographs. The beauty of this format is that you don’t have to deal with framing and hanging—just peel and stick. If you decide the image needs to be a little higher or lower, or in another place altogether, you can easily move it without damaging the wall.

Click here to view the whole collection. Right now they’re only available through the Fathead web site, but there are plans to put them in retail outlets later this year.






Storms Bearing Down

Spring morning, Yosemite Falls and the Merced River
Spring morning, Yosemite Falls and the Merced River

It may seem strange to show a spring photo in January, but this is a little preview of what Yosemite might look like in May and June if forecasters are right. They’re calling for a very wet series of storms over the next week or two, which bodes well for the waterfalls. It looks like El Nino is finally kicking in!

Usually with a pattern like this there are some breaks between systems, and those breaks often supply some great opportunities to photograph clearing storms. But the National Weather Service is saying that there might not be any gaps in the precipitation for the next five days. I’m hoping for at least a small break or two during my upcoming workshop, but we’ll have to wait and see. It’s going to be an interesting week!


New Feature: A Weekly Photo Critique

I’m starting a new feature in this blog: a weekly photo critique. Every Tuesday or Wednesday I’ll pick a photograph submitted by one of my readers, write a detailed critique, and invite other readers to post their comments as well.

I’ve always felt that portfolio reviews are one of the most valuable parts of my workshops—perhaps the single best teaching tool. Everyone gains insights into their photography, regardless of who’s work is being reviewed. This new blog feature give you the chance to have one of your photos critiqued for free. But more importantly, I hope every reader will learn something.

I’ll post the first critique on January 26th or 27th. If you want your images considered for a critique, post it to the Flickr group I’ve created for this purpose. (You’ll have to join Flickr, but it’s free and easy). Photographs will be chosen for their instructive value, not necessarily their quality. Please, no more than five images per person per week!