Metering Nighttime Winter Scenes

Twilight, Rocky Mountain National Park.

Twilight, Rocky Mountain National Park. Sirius, Canis Major, Orion, Taurus, the Hyades star cluster, and the Pleiades star cluster are all visible in the fading light. Click for a larger version.

You can photograph the night sky year around, but winter brings an added bonus: SNOW! When you don’t have the benefit of moonlight, most of the year land forms a dark to black  silhouetted skyline against the night sky. In winter you have the possibility of including the highly reflective snow. You can see both in this photo. Any place not covered with snow is very dark to black. Having reflective snow is why winter is the favorite time of year for a lot of photographers to go out and photograph the night sky.

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Metering Wildlife in the Snow, Part One

Elk in the Snow, Rocky Mountain National Park

Elk in the Snow, Horseshoe Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Metering dark toned wildlife in the snow is a major exposure challenge. It is usually best to avoid large “burned out” areas (washed out, featureless white) in a nature or landscape photograph, but with properly exposed snow, the wildlife can be so dark as to lose all texture. On other hand, metering for the wildlife can burn out the snow. So what do you do?

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Colorado Fall Color Travel Guide

Mt. Sneffels from County Road 7 - Dallas Creek. October 3.

Mt. Sneffels and the Sneffels Range from County Road 7 (East Dallas Creek), Colorado. October 3, 2014.

Welcome to my Colorado fall color travel guide with 104 photos and 17 maps. I cover some of the best known fall color locations in Colorado, and one real gem of a road that is mostly unknown to photographers and leaf peepers. Spend anywhere from a weekend to three weeks exploring the beautiful Colorado Rockies at a gorgeous time of year.

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A Road Trip to All of the National Parks in the “Lower 48″ States

Travel Route to 47 U.S. National Parks by Randy Olson. A larger version of this map is farther down the page.

So you wake up one morning with the crazy notion you might want to go on a road to all 47 of the U.S. national parks in the contiguous 48 states. Setting aside the sanity of such a project, how would you go about it? And what if you only want to go to some of these parks?

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Colorado Fall Color Travel Guide

Aspen and Evergreens, Marshall Pass, Colorado. September 25, 1990

Aspen and Evergreens, Marshall Pass, Colorado. September 25, 1990.

UPDATE: The most recent and updated version of this article is here.

Welcome to my Colorado fall color travel guide with 103 photos and 17 maps. I cover some of the best known fall color locations in Colorado, and one real gem of a road that is mostly unknown to photographers and leaf peepers. Spend anywhere from a weekend to two weeks exploring the beautiful Colorado Rockies at a gorgeous time of year.

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Some Days Are Amazing!

Snowy Egret Feeding

Some days are “so so”, some days are average, and some days are amazing. This is not the best time of year to photograph birds at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, but July 14 was amazing. This photo of a feeding Snowy Egret was just one of many fine images from the morning. He stabbed at his prey and it came out of the water but not in his beak.

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Seven Southern Utah “Parks” in 46 Hours

One day in Utah

One Day in Utah.

When I left home headed for Northern California I had no intentions of being in Southern Utah. By the time I reached Denver, snow in the forecast for N. Utah, Nevada, and the mountain passes in N. California made a detour much more appealing than fighting snow on I-80, especially since I have never been to the spectacular parks and monuments in Southern Utah.

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Unexpected Gifts: California Poppies!

 

California Poppies. Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge

California Poppies. Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge

After a week of clouds and rain, our last morning in Fremont California was the only morning that started out bright and sunny. I needed to pack for our flight home but I made one last quick trip to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. It is one of my favorite places to go early in the morning when we are visiting family in the Bay Area.

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How To Get Critical Focus in “Live View” Mode with a Magnified Image

Tripod mpounted camera in live view mode.

Tripod mounted camera in live view mode. The image is visible on the LCD along with the RGB histogram.

“Live View” mode is a huge boon to digital photographers and magnified focus is one of the reasons why. Focusing this way is more accurate than the camera’s autofocus modes, at least with non-moving subjects, and you will have sharper images. Landscape photography is the usual time to use this technique but sometimes it works for wildlife.

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One Location, Four Photos: Aspen Leaf, Autumn Road, Mountain Landscapes

Dew on aspen leaves, moss; evergreen needles, and evergreen cone.

Dew on aspen leaves, moss; evergreen needles, and evergreen cone.

The same photographic area can give you several very different kinds of images in different kinds of light. The morning light had turned cloudy in Rocky Mountain National Park so Bob, my brother-in-law, and I were in the forest doing small scale landscapes and closeups of little forest details.

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Using Google Earth to Find the Name of a Mountain

"Mountain in Colorado"

“Mountain in Colorado”

What is the name of this mountain? Photo editors want to know. They like caption information. If you have a distinctive mountain in your photo, “Mountain in Colorado” won’t cut it with your friendly neighborhood photo editor. Here’s how to identify that mountain in Goodle Earth (and how to get GPS coordinates into Google Earth).

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Metering Wildlife in the Snow, Part One

Elk in the Snow, Rocky Mountain National Park

Elk in the Snow, Horseshoe Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Metering dark toned wildlife in the snow is a major exposure challenge. It is usually best to avoid large “burned out” areas (washed out, featureless white) in a nature or landscape photograph, but with properly exposed snow, the wildlife can be so dark as to lose all texture. On other hand, metering for the wildlife can burn out the snow. So what do you do?

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POTD: Stars Trails Over El Capitan

Stars over El Capitan with climbers on the granite cliffs. Yosemite Valley.

Stars over El Capitan with climbers on the granite cliffs. Yosemite Valley. This is a stacked image combing 8 separate exposures. Click to see a larger version.

El Capitan is a splendid sight in Yosemite Valley. Small wonder that for decades photographers have been showing up in droves to photographic the iconic granite cliffs. It is the largest block of exposed granite on our planet.

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Panorama: Yosemite Valley in the Moonlight

Yosemite Valley at Night. Eagle Peak, Yosemite Point, and North

Yosemite Valley at Night with Eagle Peak, Yosemite Point, and North Dome. The vertical light near the center is one of two planes that ended up in this image. Click to see a larger version.

Night photography has its own unique charms, whether it is a dark night with no moon and thousands of crystal clear stars, or with plenty of moonlight which (if you choose) you can turn night into day. And it isn’t all that complicated to do. With the addition of the right gear, you can turn your night time vista into a panoramic photo.

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