In the Moment:
Michael Frye's Landscape Photography Blog

Photographing an Icon

Maroon Bells in autumn, White River NF, CO, USA

Maroon Bells in autumn, White River NF, CO, USA

Some photographers love photographing icons, and try to visit as many as possible. Others avoid them at all costs.

But I think most of us have mixed feelings about them. These iconic spots have a certain undeniable appeal. There are good reasons, after all, why these places have become iconic: they’re great locations. With the right conditions, it’s possible to capture some beautiful images at these spots. They work.

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Colorado Autumn

Autumn hillside with aspen and spruce trees, Pike-San Isabel NF, CO, USA

Autumn hillside with aspen and spruce trees, Pike-San Isabel NF, CO, USA

Claudia and I are in Colorado, chasing the fall color once again. By Colorado standards this is a below-average year for autumn color. Apparently a mid-May snowstorm damaged some of the just-sprouting aspen leaves, and those leaves are turning brown or dull yellow before falling off.

But many of the aspens seem to be undamaged. And it’s Colorado after all, where there are so many aspens that even in a “poor” year you can find plenty of colorful trees. And we’ve had some great weather, with rain, snow, fog, and lots of interesting clouds. The combination of weather and color has been really fun to photograph, and the constantly-changing conditions have kept me going from sunrise to sunset every day. Here are a few images showing some of the best moments so far, and I’m sure I’ll post more soon.

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Print Sale Ends Tomorrow!

Solar eclipse sequence, Sawtooth Mountains, ID, USA, August 21, 2017

Solar eclipse sequence, Sawtooth Mountains, ID, USA, August 21, 2017



Just a quick reminder that the special print sale ends tomorrow (Sunday, September 10th) at midnight Pacific time, so you still have time to get 25% off on prints of my solar eclipse photograph. You can see all the details about the sale here.

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Solar Eclipse: A Special Offer

Solar eclipse sequence, Sawtooth Mountains, ID, USA, August 21, 2017

Solar eclipse sequence, Sawtooth Mountains, ID, USA, August 21, 2017



When I posted this photograph of the solar eclipse over the Sawtooth Mountains, many people asked about purchasing prints. So we thought it might be time to offer another special sale for just this image, and I’m happy to announce that we’re offering this photograph at a discounted price through this Sunday. Until then you can get signed, numbered, unmatted, limited-edition prints of this photograph at 25% off the normal price, in three different sizes: 13×20, 16×24, and 20×30. My 13×20 unmatted prints normally sell for $275, but during this sale they’re only $206. The retail price for my 16×24 prints is usually $425, but until Sunday they’re only $319. And while my 20×30 prints are normally priced at $675, for this special sale they’re $506.

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Yellowstone at Night

Great Fountain Geyser and the Milky Way, Yellowstone NP, WY, USA

Great Fountain Geyser and the Milky Way, Yellowstone NP, WY, USA. I photographed this geyser two nights in a row. On the first night I joined another photographer from Florida, but on the second night I miraculously had it to myself. This is the one image in this post where I used my own lighting, using two LED panels to add subtle illumination to the geyser and its beautiful terraced pools. This photograph is a stitched three-frame vertical panorama, captured with my 20mm Rokinon lens. Each exposure was 20 seconds at f/2.5, ISO 6400.



Next to Yosemite, Yellowstone might be my favorite national park. But I hadn’t been to Yellowstone since 2003 – way too long! So after watching and photographing the eclipse in Idaho, Claudia and I decided to head to Yellowstone. We started in the remote, quiet, beautiful, southwest corner of the park, near Cave Falls, an area we’d never been to before. Then we moved into the Madison campground, where, miraculously, we had been able to secure a last-minute reservation.

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Eclipse Journey

Solar eclipse sequence, Sawtooth Mountains, ID, USA, August 21, 2017

Solar eclipse sequence, Sawtooth Mountains, ID, USA, August 21, 2017



Watching the eclipse was an amazing experience. But for Claudia and me, getting to that moment was quite a journey.

I first heard about this eclipse several years ago, and started making plans to photograph it. But I didn’t make any reservations because I wanted to stay flexible, and be able to go where the weather looked best.

Months ago I virtually scouted locations along the eclipse path using online photographs, Google Earth, and The Photographer’s Ephemeris 3D. I knew that thousands of people would capture beautiful, closeup photographs of the eclipsed sun. But I’m a landscape photographer, and wanted to incorporate the eclipsed sun into a wider scene. As I wrote in my last post, that was difficult to do with this eclipse, because the sun would be so high in the sky. You needed something tall in the foreground, or else you had to get the camera down low and look up at a foreground object.

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Eclipse Tips

Sequence showing the annular solar eclipse, May 20th, 2012, from Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic NP

Sequence showing the annular solar eclipse, May 20th, 2012, from Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic NP



The total solar eclipse in the United States is just over a week away (August 21st), and eclipse mania is sweeping the nation. There are many, many articles on the internet describing how to photograph the eclipse (this one by Todd Vorenkamp on the B&H website is the best I’ve found), but I’ll try to cover some topics that haven’t been discussed much elsewhere.

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The Sony Star-Eater Issue

Milky Way over sand dunes, Death Valley NP, CA, USA

Milky Way over sand dunes, Death Valley. I was puzzled by talk about the “star-eater” issue with Sony cameras, since all my nighttime photos made with my a7R II showed plenty of small stars – including this image made in April from Death Valley.

There’s been a lot internet chatter lately about the so-called “star-eater” issue with Sony cameras. If you haven’t heard of this, last August Sony issued a firmware update for the Mark II versions of all its full-frame E-mount cameras (a7 II, a7s II, and a7r II), and many people have reported that since then these Sony models have been making smaller stars disappear in nighttime photographs. It seems that the new firmware included some kind of noise-reduction algorithm (even with Raw files) that blurred or eliminated those smaller stars. And, unfortunately, there’s no way to revert these cameras to the previous firmware version. In June of this year Sony released new firmware updates for these models, but some initial reports indicated that this new firmware didn’t fix the “star-eater” issue.

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Nighttime Reflections

Clouds and Milky Way reflected in Tenaya Lake, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Clouds and Milky Way reflected in Tenaya Lake, Yosemite. A four-frame vertical panorama stitched together with Lightroom’s Panorama Merge; each frame was 20 seconds at f/2.5, ISO 6400.



On the first night of our recent Starry Skies Adventure workshop we started at Olmsted Point in the Yosemite high country. We had beautifully clear skies at first, despite our proximity to the Detwiler Fire. And the early-evening winds died down, making our group feel warmer, and also creating a chance to photograph reflections in nearby Tenaya Lake.

Before we headed to the lake some clouds started moving in from the east, but I didn’t mind. I love photographing nighttime skies with a mixture of stars and clouds. And that’s what we found when we got to the lake, with the underside of the clouds catching an orange glow from the lights of the Central Valley. Better yet, the wind was calm and the water still, creating beautiful reflections.

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Lightning at Mono Lake

Lightning at dusk, Mono Lake, CA, USA

Lightning at dusk, Mono Lake (35mm, 30 seconds at f/5.6, ISO 250)

The Detwiler Fire is now 85% contained, and emitting little smoke. As I mentioned in my last post, Claudia and I never felt that our house was in serious danger, but sadly, 63 homes were destroyed in the fire. None of our friends lost their homes, which we’re grateful for, but we feel for those who did lose their homes, even though we don’t know them. I’m sure that’s a very tough thing to go through. It is heartening, however, to see the community come together to help those who lost their homes.

The fire started a week before our Starry Skies Adventure workshop on the eastern side of the Sierra. Initially the fire was spewing out tons of smoke, and sending it over the mountains to the east, so Yosemite and the Mono Lake area were pretty socked in. But as the week wore on the smoke diminished, and by the time our workshop started the skies were remarkably clear.

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