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:
This photograph is from October of 1995 – deep in the archives.
Most of my photographic ideas arise spontaneously, as I react to the light, weather, and my surroundings. But sometimes an idea pops into my head at home, or while driving, or, especially, while falling asleep.
The idea for this footprint image was one of those occasions when an idea just popped into my head, though I don’t remember exactly where or when. I had been experimenting with light painting at dusk and at night, using flash and flashlights, and somewhere during that time I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to show a line of footprints on a sand dune, and use a flashlight to make the prints glow?”
Dogwood and giant sequoia in the fog, Sierra Nevada, California. Fog is a wonderful complement to forest scenes; here, some ephemeral fog lasted just long enough for me to capture this image. 70mm, polarizer, 0.7 seconds at f/16, ISO 100.
People seem to love trees and forests. I know I do.
But forests can be difficult to photograph. Natural forests are usually a study in chaos, with haphazard arrangements of branches, trunks, logs, and leaves. There’s an organic order to all that, with trees and understory plants growing to take advantage of small patches of sunlight, and a cycle of birth, growth, death, and decay.
But visual order can be hard to find amid all that clutter. The chief challenge in photographing forests is usually finding a way to simplify things, and make order out of chaos.
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:
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