Monday, December 31, 2012

Get close by keeping your distance

For the second year in a row, there are fairly large numbers of snowy owls that are wintering nearby. Near Seattle, snow geese are a regular winter feature, but snowy owls are a rare treat. Reckless photographers, though, are in danger of driving our infrequent visitors well back north — or even worse.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Look sharp!

One factor that can have a significant impact on the quality of your images is how sharp they are. Sometimes I like being able to stand up close to a large print and enjoy the clear definition around the smallest details. Sharpness helps the images look more lifelike.

While there's also something to be said for the art of blurring away the fine details, producing sharp images is something that most nature photographers want to accomplish, at least some of the time. The quality of your equipment plays a big role in how sharp your images are, but so does your technique.

Here are some tips for getting the sharpest images out of the equipment you already own:

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Shoot for the moon

The full moon may provide an excuse for all sorts of crazy activities, but it can also provide an extra special element to landscape photographs. Here are some tips for capturing the moon as a part of a landscape image.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A bright and dusty sky

Every so often, there's a comet that's so bright it can light up the night sky. But a couple times a year, comets that have long since passed by, or maybe even disintegrated entirely, can light up the night sky, too.

The phenomenon is called the Zodiacal Light and it's the result of a giant cloud of comet dust that stretches from Mercury to Jupiter. It's about as bright as the Milky Way and it's visible with the naked eye about two hours before sunrise in the fall; two hours after sunset in the spring.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The edge of a storm

Blue skies are fine for travel brochures, but my favorite landscape images have an element of drama. And they're captured at what I call the edge of a storm.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

There were no osprey in 1941

While walking along the shore of Mono Lake in California, I saw an osprey fly overhead with a giant stick firmly locked in its talons. Not only was I surprised to see an osprey there, I was stunned it would even nest in the area.

The scientific name for osprey translates to "fish eagle." Mono Lake, however, is so salty that only brine shrimp live in its waters.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cloudy skies, clear perspective

Someone who knows I'm a nature photographer, but isn't one himself, recently asked me what I do on cloudy days.

"On a day like today," he said, gesturing out a window toward the gray sky, "what would you photograph? Anything?"

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A waterfall of murres

I've seen plenty of waterfalls, but until recently, I had never seen a "waterfall of murres." That's how friends of mine in Cannon Beach, Oregon, describe a truly wondrous nature show that takes place this time of year on the nearby Chapman Point.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Moving to eliminate distractions

Why is it that some people feel the need to carve their name into everything? I realize the cavemen did it, but they didn't have Facebook and DrawSomething.

Whatever the reason, the work of a modern day caveman was squarely in the middle of a scene I wanted to photograph.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Making big scenes look big

There hasn't been a waterfall per se at Dry Falls in central Washington for at least 10,000 years. But when there was a falls there, it would have been spectacular: 400 feet high, 3½ miles wide and ten times as powerful as all the world's current rivers combined.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Setting limits to remove limits

We are creatures of habit. That's well documented. In stores, we buy a particular brand simply because that's the brand we always buy. Many of us regularly check our messages whether or not we're expecting anything because we've gotten into that habit.

And as photographers, we're inclined to photograph a familiar subject a particular way simply because that's the way we've always done it. It becomes habit and we probably don't even think about why we're setting up the shot that way.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Don't let backyard photography give you cold feet

The black-capped chickadee is no ivory-billed woodpecker. Dozens visit my office window every day to feast on the free suet.

But just because they're common, doesn't mean they are not interesting. And a recent snow storm that, at times, had my yard buried under nearly 10 inches of snow allowed me to create some images that help tell their remarkable winter story.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Best images of 2011

For each of the past few years, I have compiled a small gallery of my favorite images from the year. It was something I did when I first started out in photography; Jim Goldstein, whose blog collects the best-of collections from more than a hundred other photographers, inspired me to restart the tradition.

I think the exercise of reviewing and editing your work is quite helpful in refining your art and identifying opportunities for improvement. For me, one of the things that was immediately evident in past years was that I often relied on travel to exotic locations to fuel my creativity. In 2011, I worked hard to bring the level of excitement and passion that I feel in a new place back to the familiar scenery at home.