Archive for September, 2012

Photographing the Milky Way

Thursday, September 27th, 2012
Sierra juniper and the Milky Way, Olmsted Point, Yosemite

Sierra juniper and the Milky Way, Olmsted Point, Yosemite

Gear Doesn’t Matter—Except When it Does

Regular readers know that I’m not much of an equipment geek. It’s not that I don’t think equipment is important—a photographer needs good tools. It’s just that I think light, composition, technique, vision, and imagination are more important. In other words, how you use the tools is more important than what tools you use.

But sometimes the right gear can make a difference. Two weeks ago I was recording video segments for some online courses I’m working on (more about that later!), and needed a digital SLR that could record video—something my trusty old Canon 1Ds Mark II can’t do—for some “through-the-lens” views. So I called up my friend Jim Goldstein. Many of you know Jim through his popular blog and social media streams. Jim also works for, and he set me up with a Canon 5D Mark III for my video shoot, and then asked, “Is there anything else you need?” Hmm… well I’ve been wanting to test the Canon 24mm f/1.4L lens for night photos, so yes, there was something else!


Autumn Begins!

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012
Early-season aspens above Conway Summit (October 4, 2004)

Early-season aspens above Conway Summit (October 4, 2004)

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you probably know that Claudia and I go to the Millpond Music Festival in Bishop every September. We just got back from this year’s event, and I can report that we had a wonderful, fantastic, amazing time. This is either the 13th or 14th consecutive year we’ve attended this festival, so we obviously love it.

This festival always takes place around the third week of September, so our trip gives us a chance to check out the early fall color on the eastern side of the Sierra. I’ve been hearing reports that the aspen leaves are turning early this year on the east side (and in Colorado too according to Jennifer Yu). On our way home yesterday we took a quick drive up Rock Creek Canyon. I didn’t take any photos, but I can confirm that the colors are indeed changing quickly. Rock Creek isn’t at peak yet, but it won’t take long, and by this coming weekend the upper reaches should be at or near peak.


New Workshops Coming Soon!

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Next week I’ll be announcing two new workshops for 2013. I’m very excited about these courses because they’ll offer great learning experiences in amazing places. I can’t wait to tell you about them, but because these workshops often fill quickly I want to give my most dedicated, loyal supporters the first chance to sign up. So the initial notice about these workshops will only go to people who are subscribed to my blog and email list, not to the public.


Art and Wine in the Sierra Foothills, October 5-7

Monday, September 10th, 2012
Sunbeams from Tunnel View, spring, Yosemite National Park

Sunbeams from Tunnel View, spring, Yosemite National Park

For the first time ever I’ll be participating in Sierra Art Trails, this October 5th through 7th. Sierra Art Trails is an annual event in the Sierra foothills near Yosemite featuring wonderful local artists, including many who are nationally and internationally known. The open studios give visitors a chance to meet the artists and sometimes see demonstrations of how they produce their work.

I’ll be showing my work at Casto Oaks Fine Wine and Art in downtown Mariposa. My display will include a wide variety of images, old and new, including classic daytime landscapes, nighttime photographs, and high-key images. I’ll also have my small matted prints available, plus signed books and posters—and special prices on many items. I always enjoy meeting online friends in person, so please stop by and say hello if you’re in the area.


The Trouble With High Places

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012
Last light on a granite ridge below Shuteye Peak

Last light on a granite thumb below Shuteye Peak


The Journey to Shuteye Peak

Last Thursday my wife Claudia and I—and our dog Rider—went to Shuteye Peak to photograph the moonrise. (Well Claudia and I went for the moonrise—Rider went to look for squirrels.)

Shuteye Peak is in the Sierra National Forest south of Yosemite, and from the fire lookout on top (8,351 feet) you can see a spectacular 360-degree view that includes the Clark Range, Mt. Lyell (both in Yosemite), Mount Ritter, the Minarets, Mammoth Mountain, Bear Creek Spire, the Kaiser Wilderness, and the deep gorge of the San Joaquin River 5000 feet below.

I had been to Shuteye Peak many years ago on a scouting trip. I didn’t take any photos, but remembered the amazing view and wanted to go back. Claudia and her friend Anne had tried hiking there last year, but hadn’t managed to navigate the maze of Forest Service roads approaching the mountain.

There’s a road to the summit of Shuteye Peak, and supposedly in the past you could drive a station wagon up it. Not any more. The road has deteriorated, to say the least, and now the last two-and-a-half miles from Little Shuteye Pass are a very difficult and rocky four-wheel-drive trail, suitable only for expert drivers in appropriate vehicles. We found the route to Little Shuteye Pass (even that road requires a high-clearance vehicle), but hiked that last stretch.