Through the Grand Canyon

Ribbon of water, Colorado River, Grand Canyon NP, AZ, USA

Ribbon of water, Grand Canyon National Park,

Claudia and I just emerged from the Grand Canyon on Thursday. What an incredible journey.

This was my second raft trip down the canyon, and it was just as wonderful as I remembered. Maybe even more so. As beautiful as the Grand Canyon is from the rim, the river is the beating heart of the canyon. We were deep in that heart for ten days, getting doused by the river’s (very cold) water in rapids, bathing in it, drinking it (filtered of course), and lulled to sleep at night by the roar of nearby rapids.

What made this trip even more special was the people we shared the journey with, including my amazing co-instructor, Jerry Dodrill, our wonderful guides Ed, Ellen, and Boh, and a super-nice group of photographers, who I’d now call friends for life. We couldn’t have asked for better companions.


Last Chance to Sign Up For the Night Photo Summit!


There’s still time to sign up for the Night Photo Summit! It starts tomorrow (Friday) morning at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

My presentation is called Expressive Night Photography, and that’s just a small part of the lineup, with topics like Night on Earth by the legendary Art Wolfe, Creating Realistic Landscape/Milky Way Blends by Tim Cooper, a light-painting session with Chris Nicholson, Fantastical Fireflies with Kevin Adams, Rafael Pons on using PhotoPills, capturing and processing the Milky Way, and many more.


Coping Strategies

Coping Strategies, not just pretty pictures: Cottonwood leaves swirling in the Merced River, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Cottonwood leaves swirling in the Merced River, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Our country has endured so many disasters lately. The recent fires in California have been devastating – especially the Camp Fire that destroyed the town of Paradise. My mom lived in Paradise for eight years, and although I haven’t been there in decades, I remember the area well. I wonder whether any of her friends were still there. I’m sure her old house was destroyed; I just hope whoever was living there got out safely.

At least two members of our landscape-photography community lived in Paradise and lost nearly everything in the fire: Cindy Hoover and Erin Babnick. Please consider helping them out by contributing to the GoFundMe campaigns that have been set up for them: Cindy’s here, and Erin’s here.


Aspen Colors

Autumn Colors: Aspens above Grant Lake, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Autumn Colors: Sunlit reflections of Aspens above Grant Lake, Inyo NF, CA, USA

I’m working on a longer post, but in the meantime here are some more autumn colors, this time from the eastern Sierra about ten days ago. This image was actually Claudia’s idea. It’s difficult to photograph directly toward sunlit reflections like this, but she liked the color palette of yellow, orange, green, red, and blue, so I decided to try it, and somehow it worked.



Rebirth: Coneflowers in a burned forest, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Coneflowers in a forest burned by the Rim Fire, near Crane Flat, Yosemite

The Ferguson Fire, which has been burning on the western edge of Yosemite since July 13th, is now 100% contained. The other major fires in California, like the Mendocino Complex and Carr fires, are still burning, but nearing containment. Skies around the state have become much less smoky over the last week or two.

Tragically, two firefighters died battling the Ferguson Fire, but no homes were lost. We were lucky around here compared to the people in Redding, where the Carr Fire destroyed over 1,000 homes, and eight people lost their lives.


Lightroom 4: Working With the New Process

(If you’re getting this post through email, click here to view the video.)

Here it is, my second video about the new process in Lightroom 4. In Part One I explained how the new tone controls work; here in Part Two I talk about how to use these new tools to process both low- and high-contrast images. Here are some of the main points:

– Where to begin? If you’ve read my eBook Light and Land, or watched one of my previous videos about curves, you know that in the old process I preferred starting with all the Basic tone controls set at zero, and the point curve linear. Does this still apply in the new process? (1:10)

– Curves or sliders? The new Basic Tone sliders are much better than the old ones; are they good enough to replace the Point Curve? (10:30)

– Does the order matter? Adobe suggests using the Basic tools in order from top to bottom, starting with Exposure, then Contrast, and working down to Highlights, Shadows, Whites, and Blacks—essentially working from the midtones out to the black point and white point. But this contradicts a long-standing tradition in digital imaging of setting the black point and white point first. Should you stand with tradition, or embrace the new order? (13:02)

– Processing a high-contrast image. (21:04)

This video is about 27 minutes long, so, as I said with Part 1, grab your favorite beverage, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. Spending a little time with this video now will save time later when you’re processing photos. More importantly, I hope that this video will help you get the most out of your images so that they convey what you saw and felt when you pressed the shutter.

As I mention in the video, the best way to learn more about processing images in Lightroom is to take a workshop. There’s are still a couple of spots available in my October workshop, The Digital Landscape: Autumn in Yosemite. This is a comprehensive course covering the entire process from capture to print, with field sessions covering exposure, composition, and everything you do before pressing the shutter, and lab sessions where we process and print the images with Lightroom.

I hope you enjoy Part 2!

—Michael Frye

Related Posts: Lightroom 4: The New Tone Controls; Using Curves in Lightroom and Camera Raw

Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author and photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to YosemiteYosemite Meditations, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters, plus the eBooks Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, and Exposure for Outdoor Photography. He has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.