Half Dome and Bridalveil Fall during a clearing storm, Yosemite NP, California
Something rare happened last Tuesday: it rained. We’ve received very little rain here in the central Sierra since January 1st, but on Tuesday Yosemite Valley got .43 inches – not exactly a deluge, but something.
Claudia and I went up to Yosemite Valley on Tuesday afternoon, hoping to find some interesting light. We did see a faint rainbow at one point, but then clouds closed in, and it rained steadily until after sunset. We drove home in a downpour (and actually our town of Mariposa got more rain than Yosemite).
The next morning I rose early and drove out to the Merced River Canyon, hoping to find fog enveloping some of the late-blooming redbuds. But the fog and mist in the canyon hovered at least a couple hundred feet above the canyon floor – above redbud level – so I kept driving up to Yosemite Valley.
Dunes in a sandstorm, Death Valley, California. Made before our workshop from a spot overlooking the dunes. I used my longest lens here (400mm), and even then had to crop this slightly. A brief lull in the wind allowed me to use a slowish shutter speed (1/10th sec.) at 100 ISO and get a sharp photo. As you can see, some photographers did make it out to the dunes that morning. One of them is kneeling down to take a picture, which I wouldn’t recommend, as there’s a hundred times more sand blowing around at ground level than at eye level in conditions like this. 400mm, 1/10 sec. at f/11, ISO 100.
Claudia and I just got back from spending another two weeks in Death Valley. This time I was teaching a workshop for Visionary Wild with my co-instructor Jerry Dodrill.
Jerry, Claudia and I scouted together before the workshop, and hung out and explored a bit afterward. Jerry is a super nice guy, and a great photographer and teacher (you can find his website here, and Instagram feed here). We really enjoyed spending time together and teaching together, and our workshop group was wonderful, which made it all even more fun.
Blowing sand, Death Valley NP, California
Claudia and I just got back from Death Valley, where I taught at the Out of Death Valley photo conference. What a fun event! I really enjoyed meeting, chatting, and photographing with all the participants. Many hadn’t been to Death Valley before, so it was a treat to introduce them to this amazing place. And it was great to connect with the other instructors – an all-star list including William Neill, Sarah Marino, David Kingham, Jennifer Renwick, Cole Thompson, John Barclay, Michael Shainblum, Colleen Miniuk, TJ Thorne, Alex Noriega, Erin Babnik, Michael Gordon, Joshua Cripps, and Nick Page. It was a wonderful event, and I think everyone had a great time.
We had beautiful conditions during the conference, with a couple of spectacular sunrises and sunsets. But before the conference we also got to photograph a dust storm.
Frosted aspens, Colorado
When posting my nominees for best photos of 2021, I realized that I hadn’t posted some of my favorites before. That’s especially true for images I made this fall. We traveled to Yellowstone, Colorado, Utah, and the Oregon Coast, with little break in between trips, and not much time to process everything and post the images.
For me, one of the special treats this autumn (among many!) was the opportunity to photograph autumn aspens with snow. I did write about our brief trip to the eastern Sierra in early October, where I got to photograph some colorful aspens coated with snow. And then we got to do that several more times in Colorado.
Pink light on El Capitan at sunset, Yosemite, last Tuesday evening. 50mm, 1/8 sec. at f/11, ISO 100.
We’ve reached the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, and this year it actually feels like winter here in the Sierra Nevada. In some recent years the weather has been warm and dry in December – and that’s the way this month began. But last week two separate storms brought over five inches of precipitation to Yosemite Valley.
The first storm was the biggest. It rained hard in the Valley on Monday, but by Tuesday morning rain had changed to snow, eventually piling up about eight inches of white stuff. Our workshop group had to wait out some of that rain on Monday, but then we photographed almost all day Tuesday, with some brief breaks to dry out and warm up.
Steaming earth, Yellowstone National Park
Last spring I did a presentation for Out of Chicago Live called The Dynamic Landscape. It’s a topic I’ve been thinking about for awhile, because I realized that I view the landscape not as something fixed and immutable, but as as a living, breathing, constantly changing organism.
And that view heavily influences my photography. I respond to the changes around me with my feet, my eyes, and my camera as I adapt to light, weather, and other conditions.