Tag Archives: California

Another excerpt from my newest book

Another excerpt from my newest book Expressive Nature Photography, in the chapter The Narrative Image:
Find the story in the landscape
Even a landscape pictures tells a story. Begin by first figuring out what inspires you in the location. What makes it unique? Try to establish what you want to express in the photograph. Then look for a point of view that brings out your vision in the strongest way….Is there a process of nature, or some detail, that will express the story strongly?”
In these two pictures, I found ‘story’. The drought in California is a major issue, (and it’s still not over, really). When driving through the high Sierra I encountered this pond that was drying up. The story was the parched, cracked bottom of the once-full pond. In the second picture, the story tells of a gecko digging a burrow to get out of the heat and light. There are stories in nature everywhere, we just have to become keen observers of everything around us.

Find your stories in nature this summer!
Expressive Nature Photography is published by Monacelli Press, and is on sale July 25th at bookstores near you and online. Prefer a signed copy? Click here for the book sales page on my website.
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Stories in Death Valley



Did you know that billions of seeds lie in wait (for years) in the desert for enough rain to germinate and grow? And of those billions, not all will get that chance. Wind, bird/animal droppings all play a part in where seeds come to rest, and if they are lucky it’s a place where there will be enough water to allow them to burst into life.

I come from a background of storytelling with my photography, having worked for magazines. So I’m naturally drawn to stories that show up in my nature work. As I was coming back from an early landscape photo session, I spotted this group of phacelia blooming in a depression alongside the road. I had driven the road twice at this point, but missed this one because it was in full sun, until this morning. To me, it expresses the story of life in the desert – how rainwater collects, and there those seeds will germinate and grow, pushing up through the cracks of the now-drying puddle. But there was enough water to let those plants grow, and that to me expresses how persistent life is! Not to mention patient.

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After I left Yosemite in a winter’s dream, I headed for the central valley refuges where I like to observe and photograph the migrating geese and cranes. It wasn’t the best weather the first afternoon, semi-raining and cloudy, not the light to be photographing birds in flight in when you are pointed upwards towards a bland sky. But the next morning yielded some better light. I was re-familiarizing myself with the layout of the refuge, and locating the birds, and while they were a little distance away at one point, there was a soft rainbow and geese were flying around (see below). I like the mood of this landscape. I then headed to an area where I knew the geese congregated, but by the time I got there, it had really fogged in and you could hear but not see the geese! Nothing to do but wait, and I’m glad I did, as when the fog began to lift a little, there was a view to the wonderful activity in the pond, all in a soft, pastel light. I later captured some mass liftoff pictures but this remains my favorite for the mood it expresses.




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