A Sense of Mystery

Trail through redwoods in f og, northern California coast, USA

Trail through redwoods in fog, northern California coast

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be joining Nic Stover’s Nature Photography Classes again for their Winter Speaker Series. This series is focused on “Discovering the Mood and Mystery in Our Images,” and includes three sessions: Franka Gabler, with “Conveying Mood and Capturing the Essence,” on February 26th; Michele Sons, with “The Art of Fog,” on March 5th; and then I’ll be presenting “A Sense of Mystery,” on March 11th.

I decided to talk about mystery because I think this is an essential but often-overlooked component of successful landscape photographs. Brett Weston once said, ” Unless a landscape is invested with a sense of mystery, it is no better than a postcard.” And that rings true with me. Evocative images don’t just show what something looks like; they convey a mood, or feeling, or surprise the viewer in some way. And they don’t necessarily show everything. It’s often more intriguing to show part of something, and let the viewer imagine the rest. Images with a strong emotional impact also usually suggest something bigger and more universal than the particular subject matter of the image.



Yosemite Valley lit by the setting moon,  with Jupiter above, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Yosemite Valley lit by the setting moon, with Jupiter above, Yosemite NP, California

I’ve been working on my presentation The Magic of Moonlight for the Night Photo Summit next weekend. While going through some of my moonlit images from the past I found this set, all from the night of December 19th and 20th, 2015.

Thinking about that night brings back some great memories. A winter storm started clearing around 9:00 p.m., so I headed up to Yosemite Valley, knowing that the two-thirds full moon was due to set at 1:45 a.m., and as it sank I might find some beautiful, low-angle moonlight to go along with that clearing storm.


Join Me Again at the Night Photo Summit!


I’m happy to be joining the National Parks at Night team for the fourth annual Night Photo Summit next month!

This will be my fourth time presenting at the Night Photo Summit, and the previous three have been really fun, so I’m excited to be invited back! This online conference is devoted exclusively to night photography, and I’ll be joining over 30 other distinguished instructors, including Josh Cripps, Sean Bagshaw, Jess Santos, Chris Smith, Jessica Rojas, Royce Bair, Melissa Kaelin, Lance Keimig, Tim Cooper, Chris Nicholson, Gabriel Biderman, and many more.

I’ll be presenting The Magic of Moonlight. I think moonlight offers tremendous possibilities for night photographers – but those possibilities are often overlooked.


Lightroom Webinar: Mastering Color

Aspen kaleidoscope, Uncompahgre NF, CO, USA

Aspen kaleidoscope, Uncompahgre NF, Colordao

Color can be one of the trickiest aspects of image processing. How do you get the right white balance? How can you dial in enough saturation to make the image appear lively and vibrant, without it looking fake or garish? How do you get the right hues? How can you apply color grading effectively?

In this live webinar I’ll demonstrate how to tackle this challenge as I take you step-by-step through processing one or more photographs, with an emphasis on handling color. I’ll cover all the basics, but also delve into the nuances that can give your images a rich, sophisticated look, including:


My Top Photographs of 2023

The votes are all in and counted, and here are my top photographs of 2023!

We had a great response this year: 478 people looked through my initial selection of 45 images and voted for their favorites. A big thank you to everyone who took the time to look through these photographs and voice your opinions! I also really appreciate the kind words so many people posted in the comments or sent by email. I wish I could respond to everyone, but please know that I’ve read them all and am very grateful for all your support.


My Best Images of 2023: the Nominees

Happy New Year! Once again I’m inviting you, my faithful blog readers, to help me choose my best photographs from the past year. I’ve posted 45 of my favorite images from 2023 below, in chronological order. After you look through these, please use the form at the bottom of this post to list your ten favorites.

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.

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!