Light and Weather

River Light

Winding river, Grand Canyon NP, AZ, USA

Winding river, Grand Canyon NP, Arizona. 78mm, 20 seconds at f/11, ISO 100, 10-stop ND filter.

In 1540 Spanish Conquistadors became the first Europeans to ever see the Grand Canyon. They greatly underestimated the scale of what they were seeing. Looking down from the rim they thought the river was six feet wide (the average width is actually 300 feet). Rocks that they thought were as tall as a man turned out to be 300 feet high.

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Misty Dogwood

Dogwood, mist, and the Merced River, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Dogwood, mist, and the Merced River, Yosemite NP, California. 50mm, 1 sec. at f/16, ISO 800.

On a stormy afternoon in April, before we left for the Grand Canyon, Claudia and I drove up to Yosemite Valley and found the dogwoods beginning to bloom.

They were just coming out. When the dogwood blossoms first emerge their petals (actually bracts) are green, then change to white. On that April day many were still green, but maybe half had turned white already. That was an early appearance for dogwoods – April 11th. But with such a dry winter and spring this precocious bloom wasn’t all that surprising.

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A Rare Storm

Half Dome and Bridalveil Fall during a clearing storm, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

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.

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Wind, Dust, and Light in Death Valley

Dunes in a sandstorm, Death Valley NP, CA, USA

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.

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Dust Storm

Blowing sand, Death Valley NP, CA, USA

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.

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Autumn Into Winter

Frosted aspens, Colorado, USA

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.

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