Summer Trip Day Two, Yosemite

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I drove down to Yosemite today—my first time visiting this park.

I like to get to know a place before I try to get serious with my photography. I spent some time at Tuolomne Meadows, and some time in Yosemite Valley. In the valley, I took some of the iconic shots that you’ve seen from other photographers. Of course, as I mentioned in my earlier post, if it’s in Yosemite Valley, somebody’s taken the photo before.

I am doing something a little different—I brought my Infrared Nikon D200, and trying a few infrared shots. The image above is an infrared shot of Upper Yosemite Falls in afternoon light, converted to black and white with Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro.

I also brought along my video camera. I’m not good at video yet, but I’m working on it.

Tomorrow is another day in Yosemite.

Summer Trip Day One, Reno

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Just a quick blog post to say that there’s no blog post today.

Thanks to an “equipment change”, I had a four-hour layover in DFW and it took me a lot longer to get to Reno than expected.

I did have dinner with one of my best friends from college and her family.  It was great catching up.

See you tomorrow.

Summer Trip Day Zero, Austin

Jet at Sunrise

Tomorrow morning, I leave for Reno, Nevada.  I hope to see an old friend, and spend some time near Lake Tahoe. And then on to Yosemite National Park.

I’ve never been to this section of the country before, and I’ve been looking forward to this trip for a couple of months.

Yosemite, of course, has been made famous by photographers such as Ansel Adams, William Neill, and scores of others. I have a good friend who has mentioned that she’s intimidated by Yosemite—“how to take a unique, interesting picture when every square inch of the place has been photographed before?”

I also realize that the week before July 4 isn’t the best time to visit a major national park if I want to avoid crowds.

But I’m not going with a list of “must have” shots.  I’m not going with an agenda.  I’m not going with much of a schedule to keep.

Will I shoot the iconic pictures of El Capitan, Half Dome, waterfalls?  Probably.  Maybe just for my own memories—or for some photographic “B roll”, as it were. Or maybe I’ll find a perfect shot.

I do hope that Yosemite Valley will be one of those places that takes my breath away when I see it.  Places like Crater Lake in Oregon, or the Grand Canyons of the Colorado or the Yellowstone.

But if I go into this with fixed ideas of what I’m going to shoot, I might miss something beautiful right in front of me. Recently, I’ve had some great lunch conversations with one of my best friends about this—about being ready to let good things happen in life, rather than trying to force them to happen.

I’m optimistic. See you on the road.

Telling a Story

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I was in a meeting about social video the other day—an R&D guy in a marketing meeting, I’m no expert compared to the others in the room.

We talked about traits of good and bad videos. One of our Audio/Visual experts talked about how good videos had a beginning, a middle, and an end. I agree with this statement to the extent that good videos tell good stories, and good stories always need a beginning, middle, and end.

As a still photographer, I am constantly striving for an image that tells a full story. An image that doesn’t need an explanation—something powerful that tells its own story, and even captures in a single scene what happened before and what happened after.

And like most photographers, I don’t usually succeed at that.


I immediately thought of the image above, from the Grand Canyon. (Kodak E-6 100-speed film, Nikon F100, 1/40s f/3.2, Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 lens)

It shows Zoroaster and Brahma Temples in the fading sunset light.  Smoke from a forest fire near Cape Royal is blowing westward, and is lifted by the thermals coming up Bright Angel Canyon, settling again as the smoke reaches the Kaibab Plateau.

I like the image because it tells a story… a bit about a forest fire, geography, geology, and weather.

I showed it once as a 12”x18” print to Jim Steinberg, a professional photographer in Colorado. I told him the story behind the image, and what I thought was beautiful and interesting about it. Politely, he suggested that the image wasn’t very strong and that it did not, in fact, tell its own story. It only became interesting when I was there to tell the story.

Of course, Jim was right. That was good feedback. I needed to hear it.


I still like the  photograph. I still like the story that goes with it.

This blog lets me put words around my photographs. As some of my friends know, I like to write.

I’m about to leave for a two-week trip to the western United States.  (Nevada, California, and Oregon, at least.) I hope to publish on this blog frequently during the trip, with photos, short videos, and the stories around them.  Stay tuned.

You can also follow me on Twitter, if you like short, often pointless, updates.