Filtered sunlight on granite slabs, Yosemite National Park
While many may associate waterfalls with Yosemite, especially if their experience is mainly with Yosemite Valley, it is simply granite that comes to mind first for me. Yes, there are beautiful forests, and many wonderful lake, and rivers, and wildlife, and more — but all of those play out against the backdrop of the ubiquitous Yosemite granite. It comes as cliffs, shattered rock on mountaintops, domes, and beautiful slabs.
I spent a week photographing around a backcountry lake in early September 2015, during the time of awful wildfires and a lot of smoke — in fact, that smoke was partially responsible for the filtered light on the day I made this photograph. Within a few minutes of our campsite, huge slabs of granite rose up from near the shore of the lake and climbed many hundreds of feet up toward sharp granite ridges high above. This section, glaciated in the past and then fractured by ice and water, was sculpted into beautiful shapes.
Shoppers and tourists walk past Chinatown shops at night, San Francisco
Allow me to continue to indulge my (relatively) new obsession with handheld night street photography! This is yet another photograph made after dark in San Francisco, in a popular tourist area full of people, shops, and plenty of wildly colorful artificial light. This might look a bit like just a photograph of a crowd, but when I look closer I’m fascinated by the variety of faces and activities and ways of engaging that I see.
It was only perhaps a couple of years ago that I discovered that I can use small handheld mirrorless camera set to high ISO to photograph in the nighttime city environment. In the past this was sometimes marginally possible in very well-lit areas, but most such photography required a tripod and its attendant disruption of the scene — people behave very differently when they see a big camera on a tripod. But now it is quite possible to roam with a very small camera and produce viable photographs that can even be printed rather large.
Cloud-filled sky at first light above desert mountains and canyon, Death Valley National Park
As I post this photograph on the summer solstice, this location is perhaps not a place you would want to be right now. I understand that temperatures in Death Valley National Park have been in the 120 degree range already this summer. But back on this March morning the scene was a lot different — clouds from a passing Pacific weather front obscured the dawn light, and there was a pleasantly cool wind at this location high in the Panamint range as the morning light arrived.
This view looks down through one of the many gigantic canyons of the Panamint Range, a sight that reminds us of just how important the flow of water has been in the creation of this remarkable landscape. In the middle distance the salt flats of Death Valley are visible at the base of the Black Mountains, and above that the demarcations between mountains and clouds and sky and light are hard to see, and the terrain of the rugged Death Valley landscape almost merges with the ephemeral terrain of this sky.
Sand dunes and desert mountains in twilight, Death Valley National Park
Arriving in Death Valley earlier in the day, we had visited some canyon country that is a bit off the beaten path and then headed back to our home base in the park for the next few days. We got settled in, had some dinner, and headed out to make some photographs, deciding that it would be best on this first evening to photograph nearby.
We made it to an area along the periphery of the dunes before sunset and then continued to photograph during the evening light transition from warm pre-sunset color to the post-sunset blue hour light. Here there was still a bit of a glow from the west, but the sun had already dropped below the Cottonwood mountains, and the light was soft as we finished photographing in the evening stillness.
Zoltar waits for his mark on a San Francisco sidewalk
Zoltar, in all of his flamboyant glory, waits in a sidewalk booth to give fortunes to passers-by. Despite his ultra-colorful appearance, not a single person stopped to speak with him during my visit.
I did not realize that Zoltar is actually a “thing.” Yes, you can look up “Zoltar Speaks” on the Internet and read all about him. (He comes in standard, economy, and deluxe models.) I remain perplexed about what he may have to do with the cultural setting of San Francisco’s Chinatown district.
Crowds of people walking past shops along Grant Avenue on a summer evening, San Francisco
To me, this photograph has a feeling of San Francisco. Yes, it is in a tourist location, but the crowded sidewalk, the diverse group of people, the somewhat old and (lovingly) worn buildings and sidewalk, the narrow street, the clutter… all contribute to the charm of The City.
There are a lot of small things in this complex photograph that I like. The center, though it is subtle, may be the man facing the camera and looking into the light of the store. But there is also the family with two children, one clutching dad’s hand and the other, barely visible, looking into that light. There’s more, but I’ll leave it to viewers to look.
People assemble in summer twilight at the corner of Clay and Grant Streets, San Francisco
This was a beautiful San Francisco afternoon and evening. I rendezvoused with some photographer friends in the late afternoon, and after a group dinner we headed out onto the San Francisco streets eventually winding our way into the Chinatown area around dusk. Fog was coming in, turning the ambient light a beautiful blue color, and street and business lights were coming on and producing contrasting warmer toned light.
In these situations photography is a combination of keeping my eyes open and responding intuitively and of watching for potential compositions and subjects and then waiting for the right characters to populate the scene. Certain places are more likely prospects: narrow streets with electrical light coming from both sides, storefronts, and corners. At the latter people often have to stop and wait for traffic to clear or to figure out where to go next, and they sometimes assemble into interesting compositions and stay there for more than an instant. Here, if I recall correctly, my first attraction to the scene was towards the glowing light in this corner market. I quickly noticed the line of people spread across the scene from left to right, and for an instant the man standing in light at the center of the frame looked up and somewhat toward the camera, and against a backdrop of mostly hidden faces his appearance jumped out at me.