In the Moment:
Michael Frye's Landscape Photography Blog
Lunar eclipse sequence over the Mesquite Flat Dunes, January 31st, 2018, Death Valley NP, CA, USA
In case you haven’t heard, there will be a total lunar eclipse on the night of January 20th and 21st, 2019. The totally eclipsed moon will be visible in all of North and South America, most of Europe, and western Africa. This page shows where the eclipse will be visible, as well as the timing of the event.
Here in the western U.S. the eclipse will take place on Sunday evening, January 20th. The peak eclipse occurs at 9:12 p.m. on the west coast, and the moon will be high overhead to the east-southeast. In Yosemite, for example, at peak eclipse the moon will be 47 degrees above the horizon with an azimuth of 102 degrees (just south of due east). In the eastern U.S. the peak eclipse occurs at 12:12 a.m. on the 21st, and the moon will be even higher in the sky – 69 degrees above the horizon in New York City, with an azimuth of 183 degrees (almost due south).
The votes are all in and counted, and here are my top photographs of 2018!
We had a great response this year: over 300 people looked through my initial selection of 40 images and voted for their favorites here on the blog, Facebook, Google+, and through email. A big thank you to everyone who took the time to look through these photographs and voice your opinions! I also really appreciate all the kind words so many people included with their votes. I wish I could respond to every comment and email, but please know that I’ve read them all and am very grateful for all your support. And also, many thanks to my wonderful assistant Claudia who tallied all those votes!
(I’ve closed comments on this post, since the voting deadline has passed. You can see the final selections here. Thanks to all of you who voted!)
Happy New Year!
It’s become a New Year’s tradition on this blog to pick my best images from the past year, and once again I’m inviting you to help me make these difficult choices. I’ve posted 40 of my best photographs from 2018 below, in chronological order. After you look through these, please post a comment listing your ten favorites.
You don’t have to list your ten favorites in any order, or even name them – just numbers will do. (The numbers are in the captions underneath the photographs. Also, you can click on the images to see them larger.) Once the votes are in I’ll post the top ten or twelve on this blog, and submit the final group to Jim Goldstein’s blog project, where he’ll be showcasing the best images of the year from over 300 photographers.
The voting deadline is this Wednesday, January 2nd, at midnight Pacific time.
Sandhill cranes at sunrise on a foggy morning in the San Joaquin Valley, CA, USA
While this image lacks snow, stately conifers, twinkling stars, or even a hint of red and green, Claudia and I think it embodies the Christmas spirit of hope, joy, and peace. We hope your holiday season is filled with joy, peace, and the love of family and friends. To all who celebrate the day, Merry Christmas!
— Michael and Claudia
Oak tree above a fog layer, Mariposa County, California. 150mm, 20 seconds at f/16, ISO 50.
Fog in California’s Central Valley will occasionally lift into what meteorologists call a stratus deck, where fog rises above the valley floor and settles into a low layer of clouds. From the floor of the Central Valley it looks like a low overcast, but if you drive into the Sierra foothills you’ll climb into the fog, and then above it.
If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you know that I love fog. It’s highly photogenic stuff. Fog here in the foothills is much less common than in the Central Valley, so it always piques my interest, giving me a rare opportunity to photograph some of the numerous, beautiful, foothill oaks in the fog, and even better, a chance to get above the fog. If conditions are right, I can sometimes climb a peak or ridge where I can look out over a sea of fog, with the peaks of the Sierra to the east, and nothing visible in any other direction except the cloud tops.
Pines, oak, and mist, Yosemite, Thanksgiving weekend. 70mm, 1/45th of a second at f/16, ISO 100.
Over Thanksgiving weekend I photographed a beautiful, misty morning in Yosemite Valley (see this previous post). Looking through my photographs later I realized that almost every one was backlit. And that made sense, as mist looks wonderful with backlight. So do other translucent objects like clouds, leaves, grasses, flowers, raindrops, and so forth.
Translucent, backlit objects stand out best against a dark background. And that’s one of the great, overlooked features about photographing in Yosemite Valley: you can often use the cliffs as a dark backdrop. It’s like draping a giant black cloth behind your subject.
Aspens and conifers in a snowstorm, Colorado. 120mm, 1/125th of a second at f/11, ISO 400.
In early October a series of storms brought rain and higher-elevation snow to the mountains of Colorado. Claudia and I spent several long days chasing the weather, and I found many intriguing combinations of weather and color, including aspens with snow, fog, clouds, and sunbeams. But I never found aspens with snow and fog. That’s not too much to ask for, is it?
El Capitan and the Merced River at sunset yesterday evening
Several storms rolled through here last week. The largest of those dropped over two inches of rain in Yosemite Valley, and left a dusting of snow on the Valley floor Friday morning, but I couldn’t get up there early that day because Highway 140 was closed by mud and rock slides in the burn scar from the Ferguson Fire.
A smaller but colder storm was due to arrive Saturday, this time promising a chance for more significant snow. By noon Friday all the roads into the Valley had reopened, so I took a detailed look at the weather forecasts to see when this next storm might clear. Most of the information seemed to point to a clearing sometime after sunset on Saturday. But there was one item in the Hourly Weather Forecast on the National Weather Service website that hinted that the storm might clear before sunset. This graph showed sky cover (cloud cover) staying at 77% until 9:00 p.m., then dropping to 40% by 10:00 p.m. – well after dark. But the line showing precipitation potential dropped abruptly from 90% at 2:00 p.m. to 40% at 3:00 p.m. Hmm. Here’s what that looked like:
Misty sunrise, Half Dome and the Merced River, Yosemite. This was a very contrasty scene, so I bracketed five exposures, each two stops apart, and blended them with Lightroom’s HDR Merge. The settings, for what they’re worth: 16mm, various shutter speeds at f/11, ISO 100.
I don’t like getting up early. I’m really more of a night owl, and it’s always an unpleasant shock when the alarm jars me out of a deep sleep at oh-dark-thirty. But I force myself to rise early any time there’s a chance for an interesting sunrise, because if I don’t I might miss something special, and then I would kick myself.
After a very dry autumn we finally got two storms last week. The second storm moved through on Friday and Friday night. All signs indicated that it would clear sometime around sunrise yesterday (Saturday), which could be great timing. So I set my alarm for 4:30 a.m., pried myself out of bed, made some breakfast, and drove to Yosemite Valley.
Oaks and Lower Cathedral Rock, Yosemite
As our Thanksgiving holiday approaches, Claudia and I have been reflecting on all the things we have to thankful for. It’s easy to feel gratitude for the big things in life, like your health, wealth and general happiness. But in the wake of recent fires and hurricanes, Claudia and I find ourselves feeling grateful for all the little things that we often take for granted – especially our home, with running water, electricity, wood for our stove to keep us warm, a safe place to welcome family and friends.
We’re grateful that our son is happy and healthy. We’re grateful for each other. I’m so lucky to have had such a wonderful partner for over 30 years!
And I am always so grateful for you, my readers. Your support, comments, and emails make writing this blog fun. Thank you!
Whether or not you celebrate Thanksgiving, Claudia and I hope you all have a lot to be thankful for!
— Michael and Claudia