In the Moment:
Michael Frye's Landscape Photography Blog

Photo Critique Series: "Bonsai Waves" by Mat Malone

"Bonsai Waves" by Mat Malone

"Bonsai Waves" by Mat Malone


Composition

This week’s photograph was made by Mat Malone along the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe, Nevada. What first caught my eye about this image was the composition, with the layered, repeating shapes of the foreground rocks leading the eyes toward the more distant rock with the “bonsai” trees.

In some other critiques I’ve taken issue with foregrounds that didn’t seem to work, that really didn’t add to the photograph. This, on the other hand, is a strong foreground, something that contributes greatly to the overall effect of the image.

Mat told me, “When I was composing this I was really trying find an interesting set of lines that I could incorporate into the foreground. Along the shore I found a few large boulders next to each other that also lined up with the bonsai rock. Then it was just a matter of finding a perch for my tripod with a height that gave the rocks the separation I liked, and waiting for the light.”

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Spring Progression

Rainbow on Bridalveil Fall

Rainbow on Bridalveil Fall


We had a great time last week during my Spring Yosemite Digital Camera Workshop. The weather was constantly changing, which made things challenging, but interesting. I made this photograph of Bridalveil Fall on Thursday as clouds alternately hid and revealed the sun, creating wonderful chiaroscuro light.

Cooler weather has slowed the snowmelt a bit, but the waterfalls are still going strong. The lower temperatures will actually help preserve the snowpack, and ensure that the water will continue to flow well into summer. Someone asked me recently about photographing the lunar rainbow during the July 14th full moon, and I think that might actually be possible this year. There will certainly be plenty of spray for rainbows during the May and June full moons.

A few cottonwood trees have started to leaf out, and I saw the beginnings of some dogwood blossoms. Although skies are supposed to be mostly clear this week, temperatures are expected to remain cool, which might slow the emergence of the dogwoods. At this point the dogwood peak looks to be at least two weeks away, although we could see some individuals in full bloom within a week.

It’s still shaping up to be a spectacular spring—but a late one.

Waterfalls and Dogwoods

Forest dogwood, 2009 (part of my current exhibit at The Ansel Adams Gallery)

Forest dogwood, 2009 (part of my current exhibit at The Ansel Adams Gallery)


Just a quick note about conditions in Yosemite before I start my Spring Yosemite Digital Camera workshop tomorrow…

Spring is a bit behind schedule this year. A few trees have new leaves, and a few more have buds, but Yosemite Valley hasn’t really started greening up yet. And there’s no sign of dogwoods. Looks like the dogwood bloom will be at least a week or two late; it will probably start the first or second week of May.

Down in the Merced River Canyon, west of the park, you can still find some nice redbud, but they’re fading quickly. By this weekend most will have leafed out. There aren’t many other flowers to be seen either.

But here in Yosemite Valley the waterfalls are roaring. I watched spray being blown all the way from the bottom to the top of Upper Yosemite Fall, something I can’t recall ever seeing before. It must have been the wind, or perhaps some strange configuration of the ice cone at its base. But in any case the recent warm weather has increased the rate of snowmelt, and a lot of water is coming down.

The weather is supposed to turn cooler this week, so the flow will temporarily diminish a bit, but any warm spells between now and mid-June will create heavy runoff. I expect this to be a great year for waterfalls.

Upcoming Events

Waves and Reflections in the Merced River

Waves and Reflections in the Merced River


Some great events coming up! Here are a few highlights:

Reflections on Yosemite Exhibit

The Ansel Adams Gallery, April 18 – May 25

I’m busily printing and matting images for this show, which starts on Monday. We’ve picked the photographs and layout, and I think it will look great. The exhibit will include lots of new work, as well as a few of my classic Yosemite images. Regular readers of this blog will recognize many of the photographs, but there’s nothing like seeing actual prints.

I hope some of you will get to stop by the gallery (next to the Visitor Center in Yosemite Valley) during the show, or better yet come to the reception on Saturday, May 7th, from 3 to 5 p.m.

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Digital Photography Basics: Adjusting Exposure

Most camera's light meters would read the dark areas in the background and overexpose these dogwood blossoms. To correct for this, you need to either override the meter with exposure compensation, or adjust the exposure manually.

Most camera's light meters would read the dark areas in the background and overexpose these dogwood blossoms. To correct for this, you need to either override the meter with exposure compensation, or adjust the exposure manually.


In the first part of this series I explained one of the most fundamental aspects of digital photography: reading histograms. In this edition I’ll delve into the next step: how to adjust the exposure when the histogram doesn’t look right the first time.

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