After a long dry stretch we’ve encountered some wet weather. Rain fell yesterday, and a more significant storm arrived today. This one is cold enough to produce snow in Yosemite Valley. The storm is predicted to end tomorrow morning, and whenever a system like this breaks there’s a chance of seeing classic Yosemite clearing storm conditions. The forecast calls for “unsettled” weather the rest of the week.
A reliable source—namely my frequent workshop assistant Mike Osborne—told me that some poppies, along with a few other flowers, have started to bloom in the Merced River Canyon west of Yosemite. Last year, of course, was a fabulous year for poppies, the best I’ve seen in over 25 years. While it’s unlikely that this year will be as spectacular, we could still have an above-average season since last year’s poppies must have left a lot of seeds, and the ash deposited by the Telegraph Fire of 2008 may still provide left-over benefits. On the other hand, the grass is already quite high and may crowd out the flowers.
I just returned from the NANPA (North American Nature Photography Association) Summit in Reno, Nevada. We heard some great speakers—for example, check out Wild Wonders of Europe, the amazing project co-founded by Friday morning’s keynote speaker, Staffan Widstrand of Sweden.
But the best part of the conference was simply connecting with other photographers. Gary Crabbe told me the astounding story of his freakish accident last year. He literally fell off a forty-foot cliff in the dark. Jed Manwaring entertained us with tales of assisting high-powered advertising photographer Jim Sugar. I traded books with Brenda Tharp and Stephen Ingram, exchanging my new book, Digital Landscape Photography, for an advance copy of the revised edition of Brenda’s (deservedly) popular Creative Nature & Outdoor Photography, and Stephen’s beautiful Cacti, Agaves, and Yuccas of California and Nevada.
But aside from the camaraderie and book trades, I learned a lot. I think we sometimes underestimate the vast knowledge of our fellow photographers. They’re the ones who can get beyond the theories and tell us their practical experiences with equipment and locations. Fellow professionals can help us avoid book contract pitfalls or hassles with permits at a national park. I learned a lot from discussions with other pros about voice-recognition software, something I’ve been trying lately. (If you’re interested in this topic, here’s a great video blog about it.)
Gordon Illg and I had an interesting discussion about why we go to the NANPA Summit. He told me that at his first Summit he had all these plans for meeting editors and photo buyers and showing them his portfolio. Then after a couple of years he stopped trying so hard to make connections and sales, and as a result enjoyed himself more and made more connections and sales. I told him I had the same experience. Once I relaxed I met lots of interesting people. Some were photo buyers, but most were other photographers. And it’s really those connections with my peers that have been the most valuable, that have really helped my photography and enriched my life. There’s nothing like talking to real people face to face, especially those you have something in common with. Social networking started long before the internet.