Claudia and I drove down there on Monday and arrived about an hour before sunset. And what a great spot! I wondered why it had taken me so long to visit this striking landscape. The pinnacles are actually ancient tufa towers, like those at Mono Lake, left high and dry by the evaporation and shrinking of Searles Lake.
Archive for the ‘New Images’ Category
The snow melted quickly, and in the afternoon some small (also unpredicted) showers moved through the valley. Driving through rain I noticed the sun starting to break through, and realized that a rainbow might become visible from Tunnel View. Sure enough, when we arrived at Tunnel View we found a rainbow arching over the valley. We grabbed a couple of quick, handheld photos, but the rainbow faded quickly.
It was frustrating, especially since this was the second time I’d arrived at Tunnel View just a little too late to catch a rainbow. But I reasoned that the conditions were right, and the same thing could happen again, so we waited. Eventually another shower moved through, and a patch of blue sky teased us into thinking that a rainbow might appear, but that hole in the clouds closed up and it started sprinkling again. We finally decided to give up and go elsewhere. As we were packing our gear, I noticed that the sky looked a little lighter to the west, so we drove through the tunnel to see what things looked like on the other side. Promising, as the sun was breaking through and hitting the canyon near Cascade Fall.
One morning, while driving an obscure little road in the Sacramento Valley, Claudia and I stumbled upon an orchard filled with fog. As far as we could tell there was no other fog within 50 miles, because there’s very little moisture anywhere, but for some reason this one spot had fog – possibly because the trees had been watered recently, creating moisture that condensed in the cool morning air.
Seeing the sunbeams cutting through the mist underneath the trees, I grabbed my camera and tripod, and quickly framed a few compositions, one of which is shown above. Within five minutes the fog had burned off, leaving us with yet another clear, warm, dry January day.
Happy New Year! I hope you’ve recovered from your New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Like champagne, Times Square, and Auld Lang Syne, it’s become a New Year’s tradition on this blog to pick out my best images from the past year, and once again I’m inviting you to help make these difficult choices. I’ve posted 49 of my best photographs from 2013 below, in chronological order. After you look through these please post a comment listing your ten favorites. (Click on the images to see them larger.) Once the votes are in I’ll put the top ten on this blog, and submit the finalists to Jim Goldstein’s blog project, where he’ll be showcasing the best images of the year from over 100 photographers. The voting deadline is Friday, January 3rd, at midnight Pacific time.
As always, I reserve the right to override the votes if one of my favorites gets panned. But I have yet to exercise this power — the last three years I went with the votes because, well, we’re all better at judging other people’s photographs than our own.
Thanks for your input — I appreciate your help!
I’ve seen many otherwise excellent photographs ruined by a visual merger between important elements of the composition. When Separation is a Good Thing explains how to become conscious of these mergers and avoid this problem.
In Courting Luck, Part 2: Adapting Your Composition to the Conditions, I talk about what why I think it’s more productive to keep your compositions fluid and flexible when the light is changing quickly. And What’s the Least Interesting Part of This Photograph? is an exercise to help you tighten and strengthen your compositions.
— Michael Frye
While composition and light are always vital, some aspects of wildlife photography are very different from landscape photography. With wildlife the subjects are moving, placing greater importance on anticipation, timing, and the ability to make quick decisions about framing and camera settings.
The moon will be full next Tuesday (at 1:28 a.m. here on the west coast), and I’m sure many photographers will be trying to capture a rising or setting moon during the coming days, so I thought I would share some ideas about photographing the full moon, and clear up some misconceptions.
One misconception is that moonrise or moonset photos are taken at night. They’re not: they’re almost invariably made near sunrise or sunset. After dark the contrast between the moon and the landscape is too great, and a good exposure for the moon will make the landscape completely black, while a good exposure for the landscape will wash out the moon. Around sunrise and sunset it’s possible to balance the light between the moon and the landscape and get detail in both, yet have a dark enough sky for the moon to stand out clearly.
Another misconception is that moonrise or moonset photos are made on the date when your calendar says “full moon.” This can work if the terrain is flat, or you’re at a high vantage point. But if there are mountains or ridges blocking your view of the horizon, you’re better off photographing a moonrise one to three days before the full moon, and a moonset one to three days after the full moon. While the moon won’t technically be full, it will look full enough, and be in a better position than on the actual full moon night. Here’s why:
On that snowy October day it was a challenge to keep my camera dry, keep snow and water drops off the lens, and stay warm myself. But it was a rare opportunity, and I didn’t want to wait until the snow stopped, because the falling snow itself gave the photographs an ethereal quality, almost like fog.
Looking at this photograph made me think about clearing storms, and snow, and Christmas coming. I hope we get lots of snow this winter, not just for the sake of photographers, but for everyone in California. We’ve had two straight years of meager precipitation here, and we really need a wet winter. So let it snow!
— Michael Frye
Related Posts: Courting Luck: How to Take Advantage of Special Light and Weather in Landscape Photography; Courting Luck, Part 2: Adapting Your Composition to the Conditions; A Beautiful Week in Yosemite
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Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite, Yosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters. He has also written three eBooks: Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, Exposure for Outdoor Photography, and Landscapes in Lightroom 5: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.