Curving Toward the Light

Little Monument Valley in Upper Antelope Canyon, Page, Arizona

Taken in Upper Antelope Canyon, near Page, Arizona on January 27th, 2010

While on a southwest roadtrip, I arrived in Page without any idea of what the town had to offer. Upon checking into a motel, I discovered to my surprise that Antelope Canyon was just outside of the city. The next morning I booked a trip to the canyon and had another pleasant surprise: Antelope Canyon is usually packed wall to wall with tourists, but because it was winter there was only one other person on the trip with me. Imagine my delight as I then spent two and a half hours in the gorgeously detailed and colored canyon in complete silence and peace, just letting the wonder of the place wash over me.


Shimmering Salmon Sands

Hole in the Wall Beach sunset, Santa Cruz, California

Taken at Hole in the Wall Beach near Santa Cruz, California on January 7th, 2010

The far south end of Hole in the Wall Beach is a wonderland of rocky formations, shelves, gaps, and holes. I initially intended to shoot an extremely long, narrow channel in the rocks, but after a few snaps I decided something more dramatic was in order, as the sunset was turning and becoming more beautiful by the minute. I was struggling to find a winning composition when, almost by accident, I happened to look behind me and saw incredible orange reflections forming in the wet sand. I knew I wanted those reflections to be the centerpiece of my photo and so set up in such a way that all the lines in the scene were flowing over and around that gorgeous sand.


In the Presence of Giants

Tenaya Lake, Pywiack dome, Medlicott Dome, Yosemite National Park

Taken near Olmstead Point, Yosemite National Park on August 31st, 2009

Slightly less visited, but no less dramatic than Yosemite Valley, Tenaya Lake is a classic high Sierra lake: tranquil blue waters surrounded my massive granite monoliths. After a short backpacking trip to Cathedral Lakes, I was headed home along highway 120 when the smoky, partly cloudy sky at Olmstead Point caught my eye. After shooting there for a while, I turned around to see the clouds sending undulations of light across the lake and its surrounding peaks and domes, and knew I had to capture this scene as well.


Cathedral Peak

Cathedral Peak

The Story Behind This Photograph:

Taken at Upper Cathedral Lake, Yosemite National Park on August 30th, 2009

Living and working at sea level makes life tricky in the high country. Even though this was my second day of backpacking at the Cathedral Lakes, and should have been somewhat acclimated to the altitude, my unaccustomed lungs were still sucking wind as I clambered around the bluffs above Upper Cathedral Lake shooting the incredible alpenglow that glazed Cathedral Peak. Of course, part of the reason for my dizzy spells and headache could have been the thick smoke wafting through the Yosemite high country thanks to the Wildcat Fire burning near Foresta, some 30 miles to the west. And even though the smoke made my lungs burn and found me dizzily shooting from the tops of 100-foot bluffs, I couldn’t complain too much as the setting sun shined through the haze to cast a vivid red light on the top of Cathedral Peak.

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Pride of Lions

Steller sea lions, Resurrection Bay, Seward, Alaska

Taken in Resurrection Bay, Alaska on August 16th, 2009

Alaska is an surreal place. Where else can you see glaciers, mountains, whales, seabirds, and sea lions, all on the same cruise? These Steller sea lions were hauled out on some rocks in Resurrection Bay, basking in the sun as powerful waves crashed around them. Look closely and you can see a scientific ID number shaved into the female lion on the right.


Lofty Heights

Chiswell Islands and jagged mountains in Resurrection Bay, Seward, Alaska

Taken near the Chiswell Islands, Resurrection Bay, Alaska, on August 16th, 2009

Alaska is one of those surreal places of the planet: a place that has scenery so breathtaking it seems impossible. The peaks in Resurrection Bay aren’t particularly high, but their sharp spires and glacier-covered flanks make them seem unassailable. I wanted to enhance this fairy-tale, unreachable quality of the mountains, so I placed the warmer, gentler, rocky slopes of the Chiswell Islands in the foreground of the photo to provide a stark contrast to those looming crags off in the distance.


Lenticular Masquerade

Lenticular cloud and lupines, Gareloi Volcano, Aleutian Islands, Alaska

Taken on Gareloi Volcano, Aleutian Islands, Alaska on June 24th, 2009

Gareloi Island has clouds like no place else I’ve ever been. Clouds of all shapes, sizes, layers, and colors. Lenticular clouds formed above neighboring Tanaga Volcano constantly, but despite the similarities between Tanaga and Gareloi, we never had any lenticulars, just clouds like this weird, orb-shaped one. I finally got it when my girlfriend, Mel, pointed out that this was in fact a lenticular, just seen from underneath.

Aleutian Afternoon

Gareloi Volcano, Aleutian Islands, Alaska

Taken near the summit of Gareloi Volcano, Aleutian Islands, Alaska on July 23rd, 2009

A slog. That’s what the trek up to the top of Gareloi Volcano was: a vertical mile of knee-high grass, treacherous talus, and shifting snow. And despite my group’s steady pace, the summit never seemed to get any closer. When we finally did near the top, we were stopped dead by a steep slope of impossibly crumbly rock and icy snow. Since we didn’t have any technical climbing gear with us, we decided to stop where we were and savor the vista: an awesome view of Gareloi’s ever-steaming South Crater backed by the beautiful northern Pacific and the islands of Kavalga, Ulak, Amatignak, and Unalga.


Bachelor and the Three Graces

Bachelor and the Three Graces, Mariposa Grove of Sequoias, Yosemite

Behind the scenes of this photo

Taken in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Yosemite National Park on May 4th, 2009

In early May I was visiting Yosemite with an idea for a panoramic shot of the giant sequoias. I didn’t want to use my wide angle and go for a full roots-to-canopy capture of one of the massive trees since perspective distortion always renders the top of the tree as a tiny bunch of broccoli. Rather, I thought I’d show the trees’ immense size by having their impressive trunks slice vertically through the frame of my horizontal panorama.


Eye Candy

Tern Island beach, French Frigate Shoals, Hawaii

Behind the scenes of this photo

Taken on Tern Island in the French Frigate Shoals, Northwest Hawaiian Islands on March 11th, 2009

When I had the opportunity to visit Tern Island, a tiny coral speck in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I had one image and one image only in mind that I wanted to capture while I was there: an image of puffy white clouds in a deep blue sky floating above crystal-clear, aquamarine waters. So imagine my delight when the ideal conditions rolled in a mere week after I’d been on the island. And as it turns out, I was extremely lucky to get the image I did, for even though I stayed on the island for another three weeks, this combination of perfect clouds and color never repeated itself.


Karoo Creation

Thunder clouds and god beams in the Great Karoo Desert, South Africa

Behind the scenes of this photo

Taken in the Great Karoo Desert, South Africa on August 21st, 2008

Photography is all about being in the right place at the right time, and I believe that making the two come together is really 95% planning. Usually that remaining 5% only makes the difference between a good photo and a great one. However, there are times when getting an awesome shot is 100% luck, as was the case on this day in the Karoo Desert. Driving on a winding highway, I came around a bend and saw the most amazing clouds I’ve ever seen. Brakes squealed and gravel flew as I ground to a halt on the side of the road and leapt out of my rental car in order to photograph this enfolding atmospheric drama.


Calla Lily

Calla Lily, Robben Island, South Africa

Taken on Robben Island, South Africa, on August 14th, 2008

Robben Island is well known as the political prison which held Nelson Mandela for many years until his release in 1990. Now a tourist spot and protected area, Robben Island is home to many members of nature’s kingdom, including rabbits, deer, penguins, and the Calla lily, a beautiful plant with rich green leaves and striking white and yellow flowers.