Mist rising from cottonwood trees, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Mist rising from cottonwood trees, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Looking back through this year, I realized I’d written many posts about light. But this isn’t really surprising, because photography is the art and craft of capturing light. Nothing will help your photography more than understanding this most essential element of the medium.

While many photographers watch and anticipate how the light might strike Half Dome, or El Capitan, or other big landscape scenes, we often overlook the profound affect light can have on smaller scenes. Light and Mood With Intimate Landscapes, from March, looks at how to find and anticipate small-scale lighting events, and use them to add emotional power to your photographs.

But many times intimate landscapes can work with just soft light – shade or overcast. In Praise of Soft Light explains how to create extraordinary images with this most ordinary kind of light.

In May and June I spent several weeks in the redwood country along the northern California coast. Photographing a redwood grove in dappled, late-afternoon sun prompted me to write about how to capture this difficult but beautiful lighting situation for this post called In Redwood Country.

When people think of reflections they usually think of a mirror, like a mountain reflected in a lake. But that’s just one kind of reflection, and maybe not the most interesting kind. Photographing Reflections: Beyond the Mirror looks at how the colors and textures of rippled water can be even more intriguing than mirrors.

One of the most powerful lighting effects uses clean juxtapositions light and dark to create contrast and drama. Light Against Dark, Dark Against Light explains how to use one of photography’s most fundamental elements – contrast – to create dramatic images.

And in Courting Luck, one of my most popular posts of the year, I talk about how to prepare yourself for those rare, special occasions when you find yourself in the right place at the right time to capture a spectacular light show.

— Michael Frye

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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 YosemiteYosemite 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.