In the Moment:
Michael Frye's Landscape Photography Blog

Voting Deadline is Midnight Tonight!

Curves at dusk, Death Valley NP, California

Curves at dusk, Death Valley NP, California

Just a reminder that this is the last day to cast your votes for my best photographs of 2022. You have until midnight! Again, please don’t send your votes to me by email, or post them in the comments, or they won’t be counted. Use the form at the end of the original post to cast your votes.

Click here to see the nominees and cast your vote.

The voting is closed! I’ll be posting the results soon.

Thanks to everyone who already voted! I appreciate your help. 🙂

— Michael Frye


My Best Images of 2022: the Nominees

Once again I’m inviting you to help me choose my best photographs from the past year! I’ve posted 42 of my favorite images from 2022 below, in chronological order. After you look through these, please use the form at the bottom of this post to list your ten favorites.

Please don’t post your votes in the comments, or send them by email, because they won’t be counted! Use the form at the bottom of this post instead.

The voting is closed! I’ll be posting the results soon.

You don’t have to list your ten favorites in any order; just pick up to ten images. (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.

The voting deadline is Wednesday, January 4th, at midnight Pacific time.

As always, I reserve the right to override the votes if one of my favorites gets panned. But I’ve rarely had to exercise this power because my readers have excellent taste. 🙂

Thanks for your input — I appreciate your help!


Merry Christmas!

Moonlit clouds over El Capitan, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Moonlit clouds over El Capitan, Yosemite

While snow is rare at our house in the Sierra foothills, Yosemite Valley has received a few early-winter snowstorms, so Claudia and I have been able to go up there and enjoy the snow on several occasions, which is always a treat. To me, the holidays always feel more festive with snow. I made this photograph of El Capitan after one of those storms, as the setting moon lit El Capitan and the fast-moving clouds overhead.

For many people in North America, however, things probably seem a bit too wintry. It’s one thing to watch snowflakes floating gently to the ground outside while you sit around a cozy fire; it’s another to endure blizzard conditions, whiteouts, sub-zero temperatures, flight delays, and power outages.

Claudia and I hope everyone is able to stay safe, and warm, and to spend time with their loved ones (at least eventually) during this holiday season. Whatever the circumstances, we hope you’re able to make the best of things, and wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.

— Michael Frye

Winter Wonderland

Cottonwoods in late-afternoon light, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Cottonwoods in late-afternoon light, Yosemite NP, California

We’ve had a great start to the winter here in the Sierra, with several early-December storms bringing rain and higher-elevation snow. Precipitation is above average for Yosemite Valley at this point, which is wonderful. Some other recent winters have also gotten off to a strong start only to fizzle in January and February, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed that this winter will be different.

This winter’s early-season storms have been on the cold side, cold enough to bring snow to Yosemite Valley several times. The most recent storm (December 10th and 11th) followed a typical pattern, starting with rain in Yosemite Valley (at 4,000 feet), then changing to snow toward the end of the system as the cold front moved through. That tail end was pretty strong, dumping about eight to nine inches of new snow on the valley floor.


Winter Speaker Series

Sun setting over an alpine lake, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Sun setting over an alpine lake, Yosemite

I’m pleased to be joining the Winter Speaker Series on Nic Stover’s Nature Photography Classes site. The Winter Speaker Series will be focused on image processing, and includes online presentations by David Kingham, Nick Page, Sean Bagshaw, and me.

My talk will be about the Masking Panel and local adjustments in Lightroom Classic. The Masking Panel is incredibly powerful, allowing you make and combine selections in almost infinite ways, and add sophisticated touches to your images that you previously needed Photoshop for.


Oregon Moods

Crashing wave in late-afternoon light, Oregon coast, USA

Crashing wave in late-afternoon light, Oregon coast. We had to deal with off-and-on rain while trying to photograph large waves crashing against the shore. But then the sun broke through for about five minutes late in the afternoon, bathing this scene in beautiful light. Luckily we caught a few big wave splashes during those five minutes. 70mm, 1/500 sec. at f/8, ISO 160.

After returning from New Zealand I made a trip to the Oregon Coast for our annual workshop. This part of the world is very different from my usual mountain haunts, which might be why I enjoy it so much. There’s a wild, rugged grandeur to this coastline, and if you’re lucky enough to encounter some big waves that just adds to the sense of awe.

And we did experience some big waves. Watching – and hearing – those monsters crash ashore was an experience none of us will soon forget. But even under calmer conditions this area offers wonderful opportunities to capture moody scenes of fog, or stormy skies.


Looking Back to Yellowstone

Stormy sunset, Yellowstone NP, WY, USA

Stormy sunset, Yellowstone NP, Wyoming. 26mm, 1/125 sec. at f/11, ISO 320.

It’s been a busy year. Looking back through my images I see lots of work that I haven’t had a chance to post yet, including some favorites from our September trip to Yellowstone.

Yellowstone doesn’t have many iconic views, or the kind of dramatic mountain vistas that photographers are often attracted to. But there are endless photographic opportunities – if you look. And I think it can sometimes be easier to find scenes and images that express your own vision in a place like Yellowstone, where there’s lots to photograph, but nothing is laid out for you. You have to explore and find your own path, which tends to naturally lead you in different directions than others might take.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Sandhill cranes and a foggy sunrise, San Joaquin Valley, CA, USA

Misty sunrise with sandhill cranes, San Joaquin Valley, California

The Thanksgiving holiday is a good time to pause and think about all the things we have to be grateful for.

I’m very thankful for my family and friends. Our son recently got married to a wonderful woman, so I’m grateful that he’s settled and happy. I’m very lucky to have been married to the same kind and beautiful woman for over 35 years, and I hope our son’s marriage is as long and happy as ours.

And I’m always very grateful for the support I receive from you, my faithful blog readers. Your comments and emails help make writing this blog fun, and keep me motivated and inspired. Thank you!

Whether or not you celebrate Thanksgiving (or live in a country that celebrates it on a different day), I hope you all have a lot to be thankful for!

— Michael Frye

Sunlight and Waterfalls

Tree shadows, rainbow, and waterfall, California, USA

Tree shadows, rainbow, and waterfall, California. Claudia and I photographed this waterfall in soft light the evening before, but I came back the next morning hoping to see tree shadows when the sun got high enough. And sure enough, eventually trees cast beautiful striped shadows across the fall, creating a sunbeam-like effect. But I didn’t expect to also see a rainbow interspersed with the tree shadows – a nice bonus. I used a telephoto lens to fill the frame with the most eye-catching part of the scene, a polarizer to enhance the rainbow, and a neutral-density filter to slow down the shutter speed and give the water a soft, silky appearance. 135mm, 3 seconds at f/16, ISO 100, polarizer, ND filter (probably a 7-stop filter).

I love waterfalls. Who doesn’t? Besides their beauty, large waterfalls cast negative ions into the air, and negative ions supposedly have health benefits – making people feel refreshed and renewed, helping regulate sleep patterns and mood, reducing stress, and boosting the immune system. Or not; the scientific evidence is mixed at best. But whatever the reason, people seem magnetically drawn to waterfalls.

And of course waterfalls are quite photogenic. Over the past year I’ve had the opportunity to visit several waterfalls I’ve never photographed before. And while soft light usually works for waterfalls, I tried to seek out more unusual lighting conditions that could give the photographs a different look and feeling. That meant using sunlight, but waterfalls usually reside in basins and canyons, so they don’t often get that warm, low-angle light that we’re often looking for. And when the sun does get high enough to strike the fall, it’s often filtered through trees, creating splotchy light. Splotchy light can be harsh and downright awful, but sometimes, under the right circumstances, it can work. And – again, under the right circumstances – backlight can highlight a waterfall’s spray. And while front light is usually flat and boring, with waterfalls it can create rainbows.


Natural Landscape Photography Awards Results

Luminous ravine, Death Valley NP, CA, USA

Luminous ravine, Death Valley

I’m honored to once again have one of my images included in the Natural Landscape Photography Awards. The image above from Death Valley won the third-place award in the Deserts category.

Congratulations to all the winners! You can see the competition galleries here. It’s a beautiful collection of photographs, and quite an honor to have my work included. As always, judging such things is highly subjective, and I’m sure there were many, many wonderful images submitted that didn’t get selected.