Tule elk bulls in fog, Pt. Reyes National Seashore, California
This photograph is from very deep in my archives: 1988. At that point I had only been photographing seriously for a few years. Claudia and I met in ’84, got married in ’86, and in ’88 were both working at The Ansel Adams Gallery and living in Yosemite Valley.
In those early years the main focus of my photography was wildlife. I also photographed landscapes and other nature subjects, but wildlife was my passion. I used to spend hours in the wonderful Yosemite Research Library, reading studies about wildlife habitats and animal behavior.
The Big Dipper and Comet NEOWISE over an alpine lake, Yosemite. 9 frames blended with Starry Landscape Stacker to reduce noise, each at 15 seconds, f/1.8, ISO 6400. I also made a lighter exposure for the landscape at 2 minutes and f/1.8, ISO 6400, and blended that with the other frames in Photoshop. All that was done just to reduce noise. The camera was locked on a tripod throughout that process, and nothing was stretched, distorted, or added. In other words, the comet and stars really were there, in that exact position over the lake and peak, at 11:06 p.m. on July 18th.
Before my journey to Death Valley, Claudia and I made a couple of trips to the Yosemite high country to try to photograph Comet NEOWISE.
On our first attempt we hiked to a high, alpine lake where I thought we could get a good view of the comet. It was one of those summer days in the Sierra with lots of clouds building up and forming scattered thunderstorms. I knew the clouds might interfere with comet viewing, but with that weather pattern the clouds usually dissipate quickly after sunset, so it seemed worth a try. And maybe the clouds would give us an interesting sunset.
As most of you know, an unusually-strong series of thunderstorms reached California the weekend before last (August 15th and 16th), and dry lightning sparked numerous wildfires. Two of those fires (the LNU Complex and the SCU Complex) have become among the largest in state history. Our hearts go out to those who have lost homes and loved ones in the fires.
The lightning reached the San Francisco Bay Area in the early-morning hours on Sunday, August 16th. Claudia and I were in Lee Vining (near Mono Lake) that day, and things were quiet that morning, but thunderstorms moved into the area from the south that afternoon.
The Out of Chicago In Depth online photo conference is coming up soon – next weekend! You can now see the full schedule on their website. There are so many wonderful sessions; here are just a few that caught my eye:
• Visualization-Driven Photography: From Idea to Execution, with Guy Tal and Colleen Miniuk
• How to Make Money Making Photographs, with David duChemin and Corwin Hiebert
• From Your Heart to Art: Unlocking Your Photographic Potential, with Ted Orland and Alan Ross
• Photographing Plants and Flowers in New, Creative Ways: An In-Depth Exploration, with Sarah Marino and Anne Belmont
• Don’t Get the “Blues” Over Blue Skies: How to Be Creative Without Clouds, with Jennifer Renwick and David Kingham
Comet NEOWISE over moonlit sand dunes, Death Valley. 20mm, 16 frames blended to reduce noise, each frame 15 seconds at f/2.4, ISO 6400.
I knew it would be hot. It was July, after all, and Death Valley is perhaps the hottest place on earth. But I was actually lucky; summer temperatures in Death Valley often climb above 120 degrees Fahrenheit, while the high temp on the day I was there was only 113. Practically a cold snap.
What was I doing in Death Valley in July? Photographing Comet NEOWISE of course. I know the internet has been flooded by comet images lately, but I totally get it. The last really photogenic comet visible in the northern hemisphere was Hale-Bopp in 1997. Who knows when we’ll see another one?
I really enjoyed my experience with the Out of Chicago Live online photography conference in May. With over 800 participants and 60+ instructors, it was a big event, but Chris Smith and his team at Out of Chicago did a great job of organizing it, and everything went smoothly. It was a lot of fun interacting with everyone, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to watch all the presentations from the other instructors.
Comet NEOWISE over Mono Lake, California. 35mm, 10 seconds at f/4, ISO 1000.
Early this morning Claudia and I joined about a dozen other photographers along the shore of Mono Lake to photograph Comet NEOWISE.
I was expecting to search for a smudge in the sky to the northeast, and use a long lens to make the comet a prominent part of the photograph. But when I stepped out of the car I could see it right away – even before my eyes adjusted to the dark. It was bigger than I expected. It’s the brightest, largest comet I’ve seen since Hale-Bopp in 1997.
Sunset, Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite. 35mm, 1/4 sec. at f/16, ISO 200.
It seems like a normal summer in the Yosemite high country. It’s less crowded than usual, since the park has limited the number of people allowed in. But the plants and animals are going about their business as they typically do. Creeks and rivers continue to flow. Clouds sometimes float by. It’s all serenely beautiful.
The park reopened on June 11th, with lodging, camping, or day-use reservations required for entry. After being away for three months, Claudia and I wanted to visit the park on that first day, and were able to secure a day-use reservation.
Adobe just a released a new update to Lightroom Classic. There’s nothing earth-shattering here, but they’ve added a couple of nice new features that I think you’ll find helpful: a new Hue slider for local adjustments, and an updated interface for the Tone Curve. I explain these changes in this video:
I’ve been using Lightroom since Adobe released the beta version in 2006. Over the years I’ve learned many shortcuts, and in this video I share some of my favorite tips – things I use all the time to streamline my workflow:
Subscribe to My Blog:
Success! Now check your email to confirm your subscription.