OUT OF CHICAGO LIVE! April 24-26, 2020

Dogwood Blossoms, Yosemite National Park, California 2019 ©2019 William Neill

An Online Global Photography Conference

April 24-26, 2020 

I have an exciting announcement for you all. Just when many photography instructors are canceling our upcoming workshops, Out of Chicago Photography is announcing a LIVE online photo conference. I will be one of the instructors. See details and the link below, and please share!

Join me at the Out of Chicago LIVE! 
Online Global Photography Conference 
taking place April 24-26, 2020.
Without leaving home, immerse yourself in photography inspiration and learning with three days of live presentations and 100+ interactive sessions, including panel discussions, tutorials, individual photo challenges and group image reviews. Learn online face to face from over 60 world-class professional photographers that love to teach.

Highlights:
• LEARN FROM OVER 60 WORLD-CLASS PHOTOGRAPHERS IN A WIDE RANGE OF FIELDS.
• Instructor guided learning, online over 3 days LIVE!
• 150+ presentations and interactive sessions on a wide range of topics and photography fields including landscape, nature, travel, street architecture, post-processing and more.
• Thousands of dollars in prizes.
• Access to presentations and recordings will be available after the conference.
For more information, visit www.outofchicago.com/live.

My eBook Collection – all five for only $20

I don’t know about anyone else, but I know that for me,
the beauty of nature is needed more than ever these days.

From my retrospective book:

“Seeing and feeling beauty is more vital to me than any
resulting imagery. When the key elements of photography—
light, composition, and emotion—are before me,
I am fully engaged, yet detached, without expectations.
The magic of my discovery—whether the dramatic light
of a clearing storm or an intimate detail on the forest
floor—recharges my spirit with a sense of wonder. The
intensity of the experience makes me feel vibrant and
alive, the necessary first step to creating a transcendent
image. “Be still with yourself until the object of your
attention affirms your presence,” describes Minor
White. When I view the resulting imagery, I have the
possibility of reconnecting with these moments of
beauty. Ultimately, as Minor White defines it, the most
penetrating images reveal the essence of the subject for
what it is . . . and for what else it is.”

I hope and pray that you are well and stay safe.

I have compiled my five ebooks into one collection for $20:
http://portfolios.williamneill.com/p/ebook-store

Patience & Persistence

Text & Photography By William Neill

Patience and persistence are words that are coming to my mind lately. These words are the answers to many questions I’ve heard recently. How did you make that image? How did you build your career? It is no surprise that these words are key traits needed to make great photographs or have a successful business. However, I know that many of us get caught up in the rush of life and the striving for making our next favorite image, that maybe we don’t slow down enough to get it right.

Dogwood Blossoms, Yosemite National Park, California 2019

As I write this, I am just finishing another spring season photographing in Yosemite. As you might expect, my new photographs are mostly of dogwoods and waterfalls. Having lived in or nearby Yosemite Valley for 40 years, it would be all too easy to become jaded or bored photographing the area for so long. However, whenever I go, I always find something amazing and wonderous to see and sometimes photograph. When sharing this beauty with my students, I can reengage with, and refresh, my long love affair with this sanctuary, this paradise. Although I’ve photographed these trees many times before, I am always trying to outdo myself, or at least equal my best work.

Many of my favorite dogwood trees grow along the banks of the Merced River. The combination of graceful blossoms and branches hanging over the swift waters of the Merced is irresistible for me. With a slow shutter speed, the river becomes smooth and simplified while the dogwoods stand out sharply in contrast. The quandary for the photographer is how to pick a shutter speed that is slow enough for the river to blur and still capture the blossoms in focus. To find the right balance requires some experimenting with your aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings. I time my visits for when the light is soft and without harsh highlights on the water.

Most importantly, getting it right takes time. Often, the branches are moving in the breeze, so I watch and wait, sometimes for an hour or more. I set up my camera to take three or five frames each time I release the shutter, to increase my odds. Out of several hundred dogwood images taken this spring, only a few were sharp enough—a low batting average of success, but well worth the effort and frustrations. Patience and persistence.

I also photographed the booming waterfalls this season, with my favorites being Horsetail, Upper Yosemite and Bridalveil Fall. This season I had several excellent sessions with Horsetail. My timing was chosen for backlighting, and, luckily, we arrived on windy days. Again, I made several hundred images of the fall over three different days. Again, my camera made five frames for each release. Each time the wind and light were different. Many of my captures were very good, but persistence was needed to catch the ultimate moment as the conditions kept changing. I would wait and observe as gusts of wind would swirl the spray around the cliffs. The action was too dynamic to guess which split-second would convey my excitement for what I was seeing. Once back home on my computer, I sorted and compared to find the very best one. I selected the image shown here for the pattern of mist blowing upward and sideways. I chose to convert this image to black-and-white to emphasize the graphic qualities of the lighting, the rocks and the bright spray being set off by a dark sky background.

 

Horsetail Fall, Yosemite National Park, California 2019

There is a delicate balance of knowing when to dig in and keep working a scene or move on to find a better angle or another subject altogether. When I see a situation as I did for these two photographs, I might stay an hour or more in that spot, or I might return over many days to catch the right conditions or pursue an image idea over many years. When you find those exciting subjects, slow down and have the patience and concentration to wait for the right moments, like dogwood blossoms holding still or the wind blowing a waterfall in wild directions. When it seems like you’ve “got it,” persist further to work that composition to find multiple “optimum moments.” Your editing sessions might be more difficult, requiring you to pare down from many quality options, but in the end, you will be happy when you pick the best image that shows those small nuances that make a strong photo more exceptional. Patience and persistence.

My Favorite Photographs of 2019

Greetings from the Sierra Nevada,

Happy New Year! I hope your year ahead is happy, healthy, and artistically productive!

I’ve always thought that tight editing was a prime skill for any photographer and that I was good at it. Well, this year, I’m proving that incorrect. I decided that since over the past year, I’ve made such a diverse range of imagery, I would show that range. My 2019 collection includes 60 photographs listed in chronological order. I am hoping that while seeing a fuller view of my visual explorations that somewhere while scrolling through my images you find an inspirational direction for your own art.

The primary motivation for me to photograph is to experience beauty, which is everywhere if we look for it. For example, the first image here was taken with my iPhone in Costco. Much of what I find is local, around my home like ice formed in a bucket on my patio, snow on the pines in my neighbor, trees in bloom in Fresno, and of course a few from Yosemite.

Many years ago, when I was involved with Ansel Adam’s workshops, I was fortunate to hear lectures by many master photographers.  One of them was Jerry Uelsmann (http://www.uelsmann.com/), who became a friend and mentor.  During his lectures, he would show his work from the past year.  Since his work involves compositing many images together, these images including variations he had tried, often with the same objects in different locations or scenes.  This overview revealed the progression of Jerry’s creative process during the year.  I always felt inspired when seeing many of his slide shows.  I often thought I should do this myself each year, in order to assess my year’s efforts, but never got around to it. So now I’ve been doing the annual review annually!

The process of self-assessment is a vital part of artistic growth.  In the day-to-day rush of life, we don’t often stop to see trends in our image-making.  By turning back the clock, we can see if we are stuck in a rut or made great progress.

I hope you will add your comments or favorites at the bottom of the page. You can add a link to your collection if you wish.

Kind regards, Bill

PS Click here to read my Outdoor Photographer essay on this subject written in 2010 entitled Best of the Year.

Best of 2014
Best of 2015

Best of 2016
Best of 2017
Best of 2018

 


Flowers, Fresno, California 2019
PureShot for iOS, iPhone XS Max back camera 4.25mm f/1.8,
1/60 second at f/1.8, ISO 50

 


Sierra Foothills, Madera County, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
2 second at f/32, ISO 100

 


Bracken Fern, 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM,
1/4 second at f/11, ISO 100

 


Winter Oaks, Ahwahnee, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/200 second at f/14, ISO 800

 


Pines in snowstorm, Ahwahnee, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/2 second at f/25, ISO 100

 


Ice, Ahwahnee, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, #127 90/2.8,
3.20 second at f/32, ISO 100

 


Gnarled Oak, snowstorm, Ahwahnee, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/90 second at f/13, ISO 800

 


Vernal Pool, Madera County, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/10 second at f/6.3, ISO 100

 


Spring foothills, Madera County, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/2 second at f/8, ISO 100

 


Oak woodlands, Madera County, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/40 second at f/16, ISO 100

 


Moonrise and oak woodlands, Madera County, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/6 second at f/16, ISO 100

 


Creosote patterns, Ahwanhee, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/15 second at f/6.3, ISO 100

 


Ice and stones, Ahwanhee, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, #127 90/2.8,
1.50 second at f/19, ISO 100

 


Pear blossoms, Fresno, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM,
1/640 second at f/11, ISO 1600

 


Spring Blossoms, 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM,
1/250 second at f/16, ISO 800

 


Horsetail Fall, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/1600 second at f/18, ISO 400

 


Dawn Surf, Point Pinos, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
30 second at f/20, ISO 100

 


Cypress trees in fog, Pacific Grove, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/3 second at f/20, ISO 100

 


Pfeiffer Arch, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
8 second at f/14, ISO 100

 


Horsetail Fall, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/1000 second at f/18, ISO 100

 


Horsetail Fall, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/800 second at f/18, ISO 100

 


Moon over Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/25 second at f/5.6, ISO 400

 


Dogwood, Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/2 second at f/25, ISO 100

 


Dogwood Blossoms, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/6 second at f/14, ISO 100

 


Dogwood along the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/3 second at f/16, ISO 100

 


Spring sunrise over Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/40 second at f/11, ISO 100

 


Upper Yosemite Fall, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/1600 second at f/5.6, ISO 200

 


Waterfall and Mist, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/1600 second at f/7.1, ISO 200

 


Lupine, Ahwahnee, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, #127 90/2.8,
1/4 second at f/16, ISO 100

 


Farewell to Spring Blossoms, Ahwahnee, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, #127 90/2.8,
1/8 second at f/13, ISO 100

 


California Poppies, Ahwahnee, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, #127 90/2.8,
1/13 second at f/9, ISO 100

 


Hydrangea, Ahwahnee, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, #127 90/2.8,
4 second at f/25, ISO 100

 


Ridges, Mt Tamalpais State Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/125 second at f/16, ISO 200

 


Sequoias, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1 second at f/14, ISO 100

 


Sequoia trees, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/2 second at f/10, ISO 100

 


Ripples, Ahwahnee, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, #10 50/2.4,
1/400 second at f/2.5, ISO 100

 


Abalone Shell and Bubbles, Ahwahnee, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, #127 90/2.8,
1/2000 second at f/5.6, ISO 800

 


Abalone Shell and Bubbles #2, Ahwahnee, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, #127 90/2.8,
1/2000 second at f/5.6, ISO 800

 


Ripples, Ahwahnee, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, #127 90/2.8,
1/3200 second at f/5, ISO 1600

 


Patterns #1, Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/640 second at f/8, ISO 200

 


Patterns #4, Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/320 second at f/11, ISO 200

 


Ripples, Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/800 second at f/9, ISO 1250


Cottonwoods and Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM,
1/25 second at f/18, ISO 400

 


Clearing Storm, Santa Rosa Wilderness, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/400 second at f/8, ISO 100

 


Clearing Storm, Santa Rosa Wilderness, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/400 second at f/8, ISO 100

 


Cottonwoods and mist, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/8 second at f/11, ISO 100

 


Cottonwoods impressions, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/2 second at f/25, ISO 100

 


Cottonwoods, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/1 second at f/16, ISO 100

 


Pine Forest, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
4 second at f/16, ISO 100

 


Steaming Mist and Pine, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/80 second at f/18, ISO 100

 


Cattails, San Juaquin Valley, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/5000 second at f/5.6, ISO 6400

 


Grasses reflected, San Juaquin Valley, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/4000 second at f/6.3, ISO 6400

 

SonyILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/8000 second at f/7.1, ISO 6400

 


Sword Ferns, Sehome Hill, Bellingham, Washington 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, #127 90/2.8,
2 second at f/16, ISO 100

 


Sword Ferns, Sehome Hill, Bellingham, Washington 2019
SonyILCE-7RM2, #127 90/2.8,
1/13 second at f/16, ISO 800

 


Alder Forest, Arroyo Canyon, Bellingham, Washington 2019
SonyILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1 second at f/20, ISO 100

 


Alder Forest, Arroyo Canyon, Bellingham, Washington 2019
SonyILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1.60 second at f/20, ISO 100

 


Whatcom Falls, Bellingham, Washington 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/6 second at f/13, ISO 200

 


Whatcom Falls, Bellingham, Washington 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/3 second at f/20, ISO 200

 


Whatcom Creek, Bellingham, Washington 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/3 second at f/18, ISO 100

 

ANSEL ADAMS GALLERY EXHIBIT: LIGHT ON THE LANDSCAPE November 17th – January 4th

Spring storm, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 1986

 

Aspen in winter, Conway Summit, Inyo National Forest, 1995

PHOTOGRAPHIC EXHIBIT: LIGHT ON THE LANDSCAPE
November 17th – January 4th

Since 1983, when Ansel approved my work for sale in his gallery, I have been exhibiting my fine art prints there. This has been a great honor for me, with 15+ shows over those many years. I’ve chosen this exhibit’s title to be Light On The Landscape as it is also the title of my forthcoming book by the same name. You can read more about the book below.

Starting soon after the first of the year, a pre-order sale of a limited number of signed hardbound editions will be made available by the publisher Rocky Nook on their website. I will be offering some form of deluxe edition for direct sale only. Softbound is expected to be $45 and the hardbound $55. I will announce the details when the pre-order is launched so stay tuned to my social media or sign up for my occasional newsletter HERE.

I will be attending the opening reception to be held on Saturday, November 23rd from 1-3 pm.

Kind regards, William Neill

FROM THE GALLERY:
In 1977, photographer William Neill found his life’s path when he moved to Yosemite to work for the National Park Service. Not long after this, he began working at The Ansel Adams Gallery as a staff photographer, teaching visitors all he could about the art form and the place that he loved. Mr. Neill has said that: “Perhaps one of the greatest joys of being a photographer to me is to see the light on the landscape, seeing its daily cycles change with each season and shift with each day’s weather. I revel in the light. I am its disciple.” While other itinerant interests would take him on adventures far and wide, from the American Southwest to the Himalaya to Antarctica, he would make Yosemite his home.

His life in photography has been an amazing journey as witnessed by the incredible and intimate imagery that has resulted, as well as the numerous books and articles written in the process. Between November 17th, 2019 and January 4th, 2020, The Ansel Adams Gallery will be exhibiting “Light on the Landscape – Photographs by William Neill” featuring work made throughout an illustrious career.

A reception with the artist will be held on Saturday, November 23rd from 1-3 pm, on what will no doubt be a beautiful autumn day in the park!

Impressions of Light

Create Artistic Blurs In-Camera
Tips for achieving a painterly effect with subtle camera movements

Alders, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington 2006

 

Sand Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California 2006

 

I have been a photographer for four decades. I started out with my first camera in 1974, a 35mm Pentax Spotmatic film camera. Over the years, I have most often photographed natural patterns and other details in the landscape. In 1982, I acquired a 4×5 field camera, and for the next 20 years, I photographed mostly with 4×5 transparency film. I continued to concentrate on photographing landscape details as well as broad views and dramatic light.  

My intention in using a large format camera was to render Nature with great detail such that the textures and eloquent light on my subjects became extra-ordinary. Since switching to digital, I used Canon’s high-resolution DSLRs and currently use a Sony high-resolution camera, to create most of my images. No matter the tool, however, my goal has remained the same – to inspire passion for the natural world and convey my emotional response to the subjects I photograph – that of awe and wonder.

Back in 2005, I discovered a new way for me to convey such an emotional response. I give credit for this inspiration to students taking an online course I was teaching. They had picked up some blurring, or “painting with light” techniques from other instructors. I had a strong visceral response to their images. I tried it out myself and became very intrigued by the possibilities, then immersed myself in creating this new portfolio of work.

Since I was a boy, I have loved impressionistic painting. My mother was a docent at the National Art Gallery when I lived near Washington, D.C. as a teenager. I was inspired by the en plein air approach of Monet and by the pointillism of Van Gogh I viewed there. Art was one of my favorite elective courses during high school. In college, I became intrigued by the motion studies of the great color photographer Ernst Haas. Another photographer that inspired me was Freeman Patterson, who also was using camera motion as a creative technique, as well as other methods for creating impressionistic photographs. 

The motion studies seen in my Impressions of Light work are simply another way to depict the profoundly moving beauty I see in Nature. The technical aspect of sharpness or softness of focus ultimately doesn’t matter to me. 

I try all kinds of movement, up and down or sideways, starting and stopping and changing direction in the middle of the exposure. Sometimes I just jiggle the camera. It’s a learning process, a sort of feedback loop. Every frame is different. I tend to photograph in bursts of five to ten images at one shutter speed. I then watch the images come up on the LCD, so see what happened. Based on what I see, I adjust shutter speed, focal length, or my camera position or movement to refine the effect. 

How I move the camera depends on the subject. If working with a forest scene, like the Alders image, I move the camera up and down. With the Sand Dunes image, I moved laterally to the right and left. In both cases, I panned along with the major lines in the scene. With other images, like flowers or leaves, I make very small motions not sweeping motions, so that the edges are softened. This technique works for my tastes since I usually want the shapes to be “painted” but distinctive of that subject. The degree of motion varies, sometimes long sweeps up and down, then some short. If I see an area of the scene, like a bright sky or distracting object, I refrain my motion to avoid it. 

This process continues until I think I’ve created something good. I end up with dozens, and sometimes a few hundred photographs after I try all the creative options that come to mind. The LCD screen is a vital tool in reviewing my results. 

As I edit the large number of images I generate, my use of Adobe Lightroom (or any software that helps review and compare files) helps tremendously. My selection process involves rating the images that appear to have the most potential, and once I have several similar frames, I use the Compare View function. I rank my photographs as I edit and process, coming back at least many times to arrive at the final top photos. Then I begin to work with those top images in Lightroom’s Develop module and/or in Photoshop.

In terms of composing, I start with an image design and camera position that would work for me as a sharp photograph. A great joy in making these images is the freeform and spontaneous style of capturing them. Still, I am conscientious about applying the same quality of any composition I make. For example, in my Winter Forest photo, I carefully moved my position to create the spaces between the trees that are a critical design element for the image.

Since the camera is moving during the exposure, it is not possible to control precisely where objects land within the frame. Most compositional issues, such as distracting bright areas along the frame’s edge, can be corrected by responding to feedback from the LCD. Any other problems with composition can be solved in the editing process, as I make enough similar images that usually at least one works out.

The most important note on my technique is that these images are all single exposures created with camera motion only. Having seen other techniques used, such as multiple exposure methods, I find the single-exposure approach works best for the mood I wish to create. The resulting images have an organic and painterly look rather than a “digitized” look. Other methods often look heavily manipulated or Photoshopped, while my style is to work with the textures and light and color I see in my camera.

Even when I use my camera set to its low­est ISO and the lens stopped way down, there’s often still too much ambient light to permit a long enough exposure time. In that case, I use a Singh-Ray Vari-ND filter, with which I can adjust the strength of neutral density to reduce the light entering the camera by up to eight stops. This tool has greatly increased both my options in bright lightings conditions and in controlling the balance of aperture and shutter speed. For example, with my flower close-ups, I can still use a slow shutter speed even when using the widest apertures.

In my processing, I make a few minor adjustments in Photoshop, including boosting contrast lost when a scene’s brighter areas blur into darker ones. I output images with Canon’s 12-color, pigment-based printers, which have 24- and 44-inch carriage widths, respectively. I usually print on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag, a watercolor-style paper. This paper’s texture is very effective at accentuating the painterly feel of these images.

Around the same time I was building this series, I watched a DVD entitled Andy Goldsworthy’s Rivers & Tides. If you are not familiar with his art, I highly recommend that you check out his books and this DVD. He is dedicated to connecting with Nature, especially around his home in Scotland, and this DVD shows him at work and talking about his art. I scribbled down some notes as I watched this inspirational documentary. As I listened to him express his philosophy, I realized, in a more concrete way, what I am trying to do with my Impressions of Light series:  Remove the context; distill down to the essence, convey the energy of a subject or scene in a fresh way.

The blurring process has the effect of simplifying the landscape, much as what occurs in snowy or foggy conditions. For me, these images defect the mind’s tendency to dwell on the concrete issues of place and name when viewing a subject. The spirit of a place or an object is less objectified and can be more strongly conveyed.

 

Winter Forest, Yosemite National Park, California 2007

 

Giant Sequoias, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California 2007

 I’m trying to stretch, not just to be different but also to find new ways to express what I’ve been trying to show all along—the beauty of Nature. It may sound trite, but that’s still what motivates my photographic explorations. To both grow and survive creatively as an artist, I have found it important to push myself in new directions; in other words, to evolve. Success towards this goal cannot be achieved passively, but it must be sought out. I have tried to adhere to the concept that as an artist, one should always question one’s preconceived notions.

Yosemite Winter Landscape Photography Conference

I am excited to announce that I will be teaching at Out of

Yosemite in the heart of Yosemite National Park, February 5–9, 2020.

Out of Yosemite will bring together passionate photography enthusiasts,

like you, with world-class photographers all in one epic location, where

you will learn and shoot side-by-side with the pros.  I would love for you to join me!

Highlights:

• Stay in the heart of Yosemite National Park at Yosemite Valley Lodge.

• Daily, in-the-field, hands-on, small group teaching excursions.

• There will be classes, group critiques and post-processing help.

Spaces are filling fast. To save $250, reserve by Monday, October 7th

and use the code NEILL.

For more information about the Out of Yosemite Winter Landscape

Photography Conference, visit www.outofchicago.com/Yosemite

 

Yosemite Winter Portfolio

Black oak branches in winter, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 1994

 

Half Dome and Winter Sunset, Yosemite National Park, 2012

Half Dome and elm tree, winter, Yosemite National Park, California 1990

 

Clearing winter storm, Sentinel Rock, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 1990

 

Black oak branches in winter, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 1994

 

Winter sunset reflections in Merced River, Gates of the Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 1989

 

Winter Light, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 2008

 

Ice and Grass, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 2015

 

Oak tree and ice, Yosemite National Park, California 2004

 

Crystal Ice and oak leaf, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 2015

 

Sierra Art Trails on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 4, 5, 6, 2019 from 10AM to 6PM

Greetings,

I will be opening my home studio once again next for the Sierra Art Trails 2019, our local 17th annual Open Studio Tour.

WHEN:  Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 4, 5, 6, 2019 from 10AM to 6PM. Mark your calendar!

INVENTORY SALE! Once each year, I offer large discounts on a large number of prints in inventory. The good news is that I have so many photographs here, but not enough space in my office so CLEARANCE is the keyword! I will be showing photographs from Yosemite, to my Ahwahnee neighborhood, to Antarctica. A large number of photographic prints will be offered at HUGE discounts.  

I hope you can make it. I look forward to sharing my enthusiasm for photography, for Yosemite and our Sierra Nevada home! And of course, Sadhna will have delectable Indian snacks for you to sample.

Cheers,  Bill

PS. I will have a limited supply of my retrospective book: William Neill – Photographer, a Retrospective. I still have a few new books left selling on my web site, but especially for Art Trails I am offering slightly defective books at severe discounts.

 

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LIGHT ON THE LANDSCAPE

Spring storm, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 1986

I am happy to announce my next book!

LIGHT ON THE LANDSCAPE: Photographs and Lessons from a Life in Photography.

To be published by Rocky Nook in the spring of 2020. A collection of photographs and essays based on my On Landscape column for Outdoor Photographer Magazine.

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

“For more than two decades, William Neill has been offering his thoughts and insights about photography and the beauty of nature in essays that cover the techniques, business, and spirit of his photographic life. Curated and collected here for the first time, these essays are both pragmatic and profound, offering readers an intimate look behind the scenes at Neill’s creative process behind individual photographs as well as a discussion of the larger and more foundational topics that are key to his philosophy and approach to work.

Drawing from the tradition of behind-the-scenes books like Ansel Adams’ Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs and Galen Rowell’s Mountain Light: In Search of the Dynamic Landscape, Light on the Landscape covers in detail the core photographic fundamentals such as light, composition, camera angle, and exposure choices, but it also deftly considers those subjects that are less frequently examined: portfolio development, marketing, printmaking, nature stewardship, inspiration, preparation, self-improvement, and more. The result is a profound and wide-ranging exploration of that magical convergence of light, land, and camera.

Filled with beautiful and inspiring photographs, Light on the Landscape is also full of the kind of wisdom that only comes from a deeply thoughtful photographer who has spent a lifetime communicating with a camera. Incorporating the lessons within the book, you too can learn to achieve not only technically excellent and beautiful images, but photographs that truly rise above your best and reveal your deeply personal and creative perspective—your vision, your voice.”

A Dance On The Beach

The Place No One Knew

Sunrise over Negit Island, Mono Lake, Eastern Sierra 1980

We seek a renewed stirring of love for the Earth.
We shall urge that what man is capable of doing to the earth
is not always what we ought to do, and we shall plead that all Americans, here, now, determine that a wide, spacious, untrammeled freedom shall remain in the midst of the American earth as living testimony that this generation, our own, had love for the next.
 -David Brower in The Place No One Knew, 1963

The Place No One Knew

© 2000 William Neill, originally published in Outdoor Photographer Magazine in 2000.

In 1963, the Sierra Club published a monumental book which features magnificent photographs of master landscape photographer Eliot Porter.  Glen Canyon, in Utah and now buried under Lake Powell, was once a wild and transcendentally beautiful section of the Colorado River.  Government plans to damn the river just downstream from Glen Canyon became widely known too late to stop the project.  A sacred landscape was lost forever, the book a eulogy its demise. The concept behind the book The Place No One Knew is a vital one for nature photographers to know.

No one knew Glen Canyon.  Years later, a dam plan was slated to be built in the Grand Canyon, but the fame of the park and public knowledge of the proposed dam helped stop the project.  Had Glen Canyon been a national park, cherished by the nation as the Grand Canyon is, it might still be wild and free.  The book relates a now-classic environmental moral:  Be ever vigilant!

This book’s idea was to illustrate, in heartbreaking fashion, the need to continually defend wild places against development and destruction. The message is more relevant than ever before, a lesson vital to any photographer concerned with conservation.  Awareness and appreciation of endangered places are essential before public concern can be raised and action taken. While most significant landscapes in our country are well-known, often-photographed, and reasonably well-protected, thousands of local nature preserves around us also deserve our collective photographic attention.  Photographing local or lesser-known pieces of wildness can remind our viewers that beauty is found all around us both near and far.  The moral of Glen Canyon applies not only to grand and famous landscapes.

Our local woodlands, wetlands, ponds, streams, meadows are most vital to us on a daily basis.  As we drive to work or maybe to the market, that glowing reflection on the neighborhood pond sparks a light in our day, often unconsciously.  I witnessed much destruction of these little landscape niches in the suburbs of San Francisco and Washington, D.C. while growing up. The cumulative impact of thousands of small landscapes being devoured by progress can be surprisingly invisible.  Stop, look around you and try to remember how your area looked five, ten or twenty years ago.  One or two encroachments in the neighborhood may seem tolerable, but few stop to add up the total sum of the whittling of development into natural landscapes in every city around the country over the past 50 years.

I don’t pretend I have the answers, but I do hope to encourage the reader to think about these matters. Consider what use your photographs may have for making sure your local wild places and critters are not unknown.  Publicizing a local landscape could have the added advantage of promoting your artistic reputation or career, as well as making others aware of a place no one knew.

When I first moved to Yosemite in 1977, I spent many weekends photographing nearby Mono Lake camping along the shore with not a soul in sight.  Back then, the lake was not well known as either a photographic location or as an environmental issue.  The water that naturally would normally flow into it from the adjacent Sierra Nevada mountains was being diverted to southern California.  Since the lake has no other source of water, it began to dry up. The diversions were adversely impacting the bird populations that used the lake as a breeding site and a feeding stop along their migration path.

Having a college degree in environmental studies, I always hoped to find ways to use my images to preserve wild places. After photographing Mono Lake for a few years, I took my slides to the Mono Lake Committee, the group active in publicizing Mono Lake’s approaching death.  After sharing my work with them, I learned that they wanted to use one of my images as a notecard.  The image shown here was selected, becoming the first photograph I ever had published.  I was thrilled, of course, and received in payment a bundle of cards for promotional use.  I used the card successfully for years as a marketing tool sent to potential clients (including this magazine at its inception!).  More importantly, my imagery made a small contribution to the successful effort to preserve Mono Lake by making more people aware of its stunning beauty and ecological importance.

Sunrise over Negit Island was made in 1980 with a 35mm film camera and a 300mm lens.  I often use the 200mm to 300mm range focal length for landscapes because they allow me to compose images with more graphic qualities.  I love the use of lines and shapes in my work. When we frame a landscape in our viewfinders, the scenes are generally more complex, and with the graphics being less apparent, options of how to design an image become less obvious.  Try studying a potential scene to find its key shapes.   Do you see the u-shaped river of a glacial valley or the contrasting s-shape of a river against jagged mountain peaks?  These shapes may provide the key to the strongest composition.

My image here shows several shapes that complement each other.  The lake reflects the sunrise sky in a striped pattern due to variable winds out on the water.  Negit Island, a volcanic formation, pops out in its black silhouette against the surrounding pinks and purples.  The receding desert mountains add depth and stature to the landscape.  The fleeting clouds floated blissfully above, touched by the dawn light and then vanished soon after.

Once a place no one knew, the lake remains alive, saved for now by court and governmental decree.  Long live Mono Lake!  Never forget Glen Canyon!

 

Protecting Place


Eroded Navajo sandstone slot canyon, Antelope Canyon Tribal Park, Arizona 2002
Wista 4×5 Metal Field Camera

NOTE: The original version of this essay was written and published in Outdoor Photographer Magazine in 2002 after a recent visit.

I first visited Antelope Canyon in 1982, when only a very few photographers had discovered the remarkably-carved sandstone slot canyon. I happened to have seen some of the first published photos of slot canyons ever published, which intrigued me greatly. Some years later, and without planning to seek them out, I saw photographs in a nearby visitor center, I asked for directions and was drawn a simple map. I parked my car along the highway as directed. No signs or markers were to be found. Hoping that I was heading in the right direction, I shouldered my heavy pack and hiked up the wash. I had no clear idea of how far the slot was or how I would get into it when I got there. After a few miles, I could see the sides narrow down to a sandstone cliff with a slot in it. I entered this unknown space with a sense of mystery and discovery.

I spent hours within the sculpted walls, completely in awe, and completely alone. Well, except for a raven cawing eerily from somewhere above my head. The few images I had previously seen did not prepare me for what I saw and felt. Here was the Sistine Chapel of natural sculpture. The profound art of Creation.

At the end of that extraordinary day in Antelope, I heard a truck driving up the sandy wash. I was a bit worried. I didn’t know if I belonged there. The people from the truck seemed surprised to see me, with my 4×5 camera, recording the slot canyon. Worried and protective, they asked me what I planned to do with my images. I told them I would label my photographs vaguely if they were published, in hopes of protecting the canyon from becoming well known. In a fine bit of irony, these were the folks who had led me to the site with their published photographs!
NOTE: A new book “Searching for Tao Canyon” chronicles their explorations starting in the early 1970s.
Searching for Tao Canyon By: Pat MorrowJeremy SchmidtArt Twomey

I returned home with a few decent images, two of which are included here. Some were published, some I printed for display in galleries or were shown to workshop students, but I never labeled the location specifically, only “Slot Canyon, Arizona” or something. I was often pressed for more specific directions, and I gave as few hints as possible. I was torn between the desire to share such a treasure, and the same territorial feelings felt by those early photographic explorers of Antelope. At the same time, other photographers were discovering, and publishing images of the slot canyons. The secret was getting out.

We must all think carefully about the impact of our images.  Does publishing our work outweigh the possible impact the exposure might bring?  Can we depend on resource managers to protect delicate or overused landscapes?  Is nurturing the love of nature’s treasures through our photographs more critical, and worth the risk? These are important questions, for which I have no definitive answers.

Just the other day, I received my copy of a travel magazine that reaches several million readers.  On the cover was a beautiful image of a very sensitive area, which had already been a subject of vandalism, with its location clearly defined.  I cringed and could only pray more damage would not result from the added attention.  In spite of this quandary, I am hopeful that when images are published of delicate places, others that follow will tread lightly and become involved in its protection.

NOTE: Here are two nature photography organizations involved in protecting nature and encouraging safe and ethical standards for nature photographers.
Nature First https://www.naturefirstphotography.org/
North American Nature Photography Association http://www.nanpa.org/

 


Side Canyon, Arizona 1982
Wista 4×5 Metal Field Camera


Slot Canyon, Arizona 1982
Wista 4×5 Metal Field Camera

Last Light – Revisit the key themes in your photography to add depth and quality to your portfolio

I was driving home at sunset a few months ago, as the last light of 2018 faded into darkness. I had recently posted my favorite images of 2018. I stopped to photograph at an open area of grassland where I could see the bands of sunset color. Using the magic of ICM (intentional camera motion), I moved my camera back and forth horizontally, blending the land and sky into a painterly abstraction of the scene before me. I relish the uncertainty of this process, where no results look the same and are hard to predict. In near darkness, I made 73 images in 6 minutes, experimenting with various shutter speeds and speed of my camera motion. The exposure times ranged from 0.5 to 2.5 seconds.

The creative life of an artist has its cycles like the seasons, its ebbs and flows in the river of experience and ideas. I’ve learned to embrace this lifelong process, riding high when new images come readily and being patient when my vision seems stale and repetitive. If inspiration isn’t appearing, I won’t force the issue. My goal is to see the beauty around me as a daily practice, and if I stay connected to that purpose, I know the images will come sooner than later.

While developing my recent retrospective book, I naturally got thinking about the major themes in my photography. The most significant departure in my landscape photography is my “Impressions of Light” series. I had spent 20 years creating images with, and building a career using, a 4×5 view camera with the goal to represent the magic of nature with exceptional sharpness and exquisite detail.

Then about a decade ago, I began to see students of mine experimenting with intentional camera motion using a single exposure and slow shutter speed with great results. Soon I became fully immersed in the technique myself, experimenting with, and developing a portfolio of, impressionistic photographs.

As a teenager, my mother worked as a docent at the National Gallery of Art when we lived near Washington, D.C., so I often had the chance to visit the exhibits. I was captivated by the “en plein air” approach of Monet and by the pointillism of Van Gogh I viewed there. Art soon became my favorite class during my high school years. My intrigue with the Impressionist movement led to my experiments with blurred images many years later.

The motion studies seen in my “Impressions of Light” work are an extension of my core goal of depicting the beauty I discover in nature. The ICM technique removes literalness and context, and distills the essence of a subject or scene in a fresh way, much as snow or fog simplifies the landscape. This less-literal approach has great potential to convey the spirit of a place powerfully.

To evolve creatively as an artist, I have found it necessary to push myself in new directions. Success toward this goal cannot be achieved passively, but it must be sought out and consciously pursued. I have tried to adhere to the concept that, as an artist, one should always question one’s own preconceived notions.

As 2018 ended and I reviewed my photographs from the past year, I noticed that I had not made any new “Impressions” photographs. So, on that last day of the year, it seemed the right time to push myself to add new work to my portfolio. Well, those results got me revved up for another session in the same area a few days later. This time I worked on a day with ominous clouds and beams of light striking the foothill grasslands.

Progress happens one step at a time; one idea leads to another, and down the road we travel. The pathway toward elevating one’s photography is to continually add depth to those primary themes that inspire us. Creative tangents are critical to that growth but sometimes can be too random. Most of us can benefit from a more focused approach. My recent images shown here will add valuable breadth to my Impressions series. For your own creative resolutions, target your key themes to build their depth and quality level, plan shooting sessions with those targets in mind, and I’ll bet you see exciting improvements in your photography. Enjoy the ride!

Feel free to leave your comments below.

Cheers,  Bill

PS  My Impressions of Light ebook is available at my ebook store HERE.


Grasslands at sunset, Madera County, California 2018, Madera County, California 2018
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/2 second at f/11, ISO 100

 


Grasslands at twilight, Madera County, California 2018
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
2.50 second at f/16, ISO 100

 


Grasslands and sunset, Madera County, California 2018
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
3.20 second at f/5.6, ISO 100

 


Sierra Foothills, Madera County, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
2 second at f/32, ISO 100

Autumn in Paradise

Greetings from the Sierra Nevada,

First, thanks to my students that attended a private workshop with me in Yosemite Valley that past spring. If you wish to see a sample of the scenes we found, see my Springtime in Paradise blog post below.

Here is a selection of favorite Yosemite autumn images from recent years to give you an idea of what we can find. I also have shared some past student comments here.

As for possible dates, the best times to come are the last week of October (28-1st) and the first week of November (4th-7th).

Email me if you have any questions!


Oak and Pine, autumn, Yosemite National Park, California 2012
Sony Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/90 second at f/4, ISO 100

 


Bigleaf Maple and Merced River, autumn, Yosemite National Park, California 2012
Sony Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
6 second at f/27, ISO 100

 


Black Oaks in afternoon backlight, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 2012
Sony Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM,
1/8 second at f/16, ISO 100

 


Oak reflections, El Capitan and the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2012
Sony Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM,
1 second at f/16, ISO 100

 


Autumn Oaks and Snowstorm, El Capitan Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California 2013
Sony Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/15 second at f/6.7, ISO 400

 


Cottonwood leaves and cloud reflections, Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2013
Sony Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/60 second at f/16, ISO 400

 


Autumn Sunset, El Capitan and the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2013
Sony Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM,
2 second at f/13, ISO 100

 


Dogwood and Forest, autumn, Yosemite National Park, California 2013
Sony Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM,
1/3 second at f/8, ISO 100

 


Autumn Elm and Sunbeams, Cook’s Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California 2014
Sony Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/180 second at f/22, ISO 200

 


Autumn Reflections, Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California
Sony Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/180 second at f/2.8, ISO 320

 


Maple leaf and autumn reflections, Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2014
Sony Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/60 second at f/4.5, ISO 320

 


Autumn Snowstorm, Yosemite National Park, California 2015
Sony ILCE-7RM2, 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM,
1/8 second at f/16, ISO 400

 


Autumn Snowstorm, Yosemite National Park, California 2015
Sony ILCE-7RM2, 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM,
1/10 second at f/13, ISO 400

 


Autumn Elm and Mist, Yosemite National Park, California
Sony ILCE-7RM2, 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM,
1/30 second at f/25, ISO 125

 


Cottonwoods, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California
Sony ILCE-7RM2, 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM,
1/4 second at f/22, ISO 100

 


Half Dome, Elm and Sunbeams, Yosemite National Park, California 2016
Sony ILCE-7RM2, 24-105mm F4 G SSM OSS,
1/250 second at f/16, ISO 400

 


Maple Leaves along the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2016
Sony ILCE-7RM2, 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM,
1.60 second at f/22, ISO 100

 


Autumn Oaks and Sunbeams, Yosemite National Park, California 2016
Sony ILCE-7RM2, 24-105mm F4 G SSM OSS,
1/10 second at f/16, ISO 100

 


Clouds at Sunset, El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California 2016
Sony ILCE-7RM2, 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM,
1/13 second at f/18, ISO 100

 


Merced River Reflections, autumn, Yosemite National Park, California 2018
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
3.20 second at f/29, ISO 100

 


Elm Branches, autumn, Yosemite National Park, California 2018
Sony ILCE-7RM2, EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM,
1/6 second at f/13, ISO 400

 


Dogwood and Forest, autumn, Yosemite National Park, California 2018
Sony ILCE-7RM2, EF24-105/4L IS USM,
1/6 second at f/16, ISO 400

Springtime in Paradise in Monochrome

Here is a collection of new images taken this spring, presented in monochrome.

 


Horsetail Fall and storm clouds, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/5000 second at f/18, ISO 400

 

 


Horsetail Fall, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/1600 second at f/18, ISO 400

 

 


Waterfall, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/2 second at f/20, ISO 100

 

 


Horsetail Fall, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/1000 second at f/18, ISO 100

 

 


Horsetail Fall, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/800 second at f/18, ISO 100

 

 


Dogwood and rapids along the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/2 second at f/22, ISO 100

 

 


Waterfall and Mist, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/1600 second at f/7.1, ISO 200

 

 


Dogwood blooming along the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/6 second at f/22, ISO 100

 

 

Split Rock and Waterfall, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
SonyILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/4 second at f/19, ISO 100

 


Rock and Waterfall, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/2 second at f/32, ISO 100

 

 


Dogwood blossoms and the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/1 second at f/20, ISO 100

 

 

Upper Yosemite Fall, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
SonyILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/500 second at f/10, ISO 100

Springtime in Paradise

During the last few weeks, I’ve visited Yosemite Valley several times and I’d like to share my new images with you. Having lived in or nearby the Valley for forty years, it would be all too easy to become jaded or bored photographing the small area for so long. Over the course of a year, I really don’t visit that often. However, whenever I go I find something amazing and wonderous to see, and sometimes photograph. When sharing this beauty with my students, I reengage with and refresh my long love affair with this sanctuary, this paradise.

I hope you enjoy this collection, and that you’ve had a chance to engage with springtime in your areas. Please let me know your favs and add your comments below!

Kind regards, Bill

PS To learn more about my Yosemite Private Workshops, click HERE.


Horsetail Fall, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/1600 second at f/18, ISO 400

 


Dogwood and Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/6 second at f/18, ISO 100

 


Waterfall, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/2 second at f/20, ISO 100

 


Horsetail Fall, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/1000 second at f/18, ISO 100

 


Horsetail Fall, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/800 second at f/18, ISO 100

 


Moon over Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/25 second at f/5.6, ISO 400

 


Dogwood along the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/3 second at f/16, ISO 100

 


Spring sunrise over Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/40 second at f/11, ISO 100

 


Spring Elm, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM,
1/20 second at f/14, ISO 100

 


Upper Yosemite Fall, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/1600 second at f/5.6, ISO 200

 


Waterfall and Mist, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/1600 second at f/7.1, ISO 200

 


Dogwood over the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/6 second at f/22, ISO 100

 


Rock and Waterfall, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/2 second at f/32, ISO 100

 


Spring dogwood, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/2 second at f/18, ISO 100

 


Spring dogwood and Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Sony ILCE-7RM2, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS,
1/2 second at f/25, ISO 100

 

Whispers And Shouts

Mountain and Iceberg at Twilight, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica 2014

Whispers And Shouts

Your subject selection and processing style can and should be affected by what you want to say

What do you want to say? Standing behind your camera, looking through the viewfinder, what inside there inspires you? Once you stop to answer these questions, you must next consider how you want to say it, making choices such as what light or weather will help you create an emotive image. Is what you see now the best option, or do you need to come back in different light or another season? Dramatic lighting during a clearing storm? Soft, subtle light on a cloudy day? During sunrise or sunset?

Yellow Pines in snow, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 1990

 

I have written often in this space that I love making high-key images. My intent is that they reflect the quiet, slow-paced meditative experience of the moment of exposure. Simplicity. Subtlety. These are words I value highly in my landscape photography. I love making peaceful and serene images. I strive to distill those aspects of nature that whisper rather than shout.

In my last column, “Write Your Story,” I talked about the use of writing to enhance your photography. I mentioned that creative titles for your portfolios could entice viewers and encapsulate the emotion behind them. I recently came up with a theme title for my high-key imagery: “Whispers of Light.” I feel that the words express my emotions and intentions. My Yellow Pines image shown here, with the use of high-key processing, is part of my newly named portfolio. A heavy snowfall and a rare hush blanketed Yosemite Valley. If you can sense the silence, my photograph has succeeded.

But nature is not always subtle. Sometimes nature makes me want to shout. And howl with joy. I was recently browsing through my Lightroom catalog and remembered an epic scene in Antarctica. The late evening glow combined beautifully with swirling clouds layered across the mountainscapes. I started playing around with processing ideas. What did I want to convey? The light, the massive sense of scale I felt as we sailed past mountains and glaciers for hours? Subtlety was not in order; a shout, not a whisper, was required. I converted the color capture to black-and-white and worked on the file to pull out all of the magic. I am hoping my rendition of the scene translated the power and awe I felt at the time.

Although having a consistent style for your photography is a good thing, one shouldn’t be a slave to that style at the sacrifice of expressing the moment. Most of us gravitate toward seeking out and sharing the most epic lighting or weather or locations. Even though subtle images are less popular online, or perhaps because of it, I continue to pursue the quieter, more intimate landscape images. My two photographs shown here are meant to illustrate that your subject selection or processing style can and should be affected by what you want to say.

How you organize and present your photographs will have a significant impact on how viewers respond to your work. Once you find a theme and style direction, such as my high-key “Whispers of Light” series, you can focus your shooting and processing efforts on that body of work to build depth. This type of portfolio building can take months or years, but the extra focus can make it a more efficient way to create multiple themes in parallel. The stronger your theme’s concept, the stronger the communication to your viewer will be. When you decide what you want to say, you are more likely to be heard—whether you wish to whisper or shout!

Luminous Landscape Interview

Greetings from the Sierra Nevada!

I was recently was interviewed by Josh Reichmann at The Luminous Landscape. To read the interview, see HERE:

William Neill: Interview For a Retrospective

Below you will find the collection of images included in the interview. Feel free to add your comments below, especially which one or ones are your favorites.

Happy Spring,

William Neill

PS. Each image includes basic camera data, and the year taken. Thought you might enjoy seeing the wide range of time in which my work has been made.


Black oaks and Cathedral Rocks, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 1984
Wista 4×5 Metal Field Camera

 


Crab apple blossoms along the Oconaluftee River, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina 1992
Wista 4×5 Metal Field Camera

 


Cascade Falls, Yosemite National Park, California 2005
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II, 70.0-200.0 mm,
1/1000 second at f/9, ISO 200


Monterey Pines in Fog, Monterey, California 2005
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II, 70.0-200.0 mm,
1/1 second at f/22, ISO 100


Forzen Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park, California 2004

Wista 4×5 Metal Field Camera

 

 


Winter sunset reflections in Merced River, Gates of the Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 1989

Wista 4×5 Metal Field Camera

 


Sand Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California 2006
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II, 70.0-200.0 mm,
1/6 second at f/32, ISO 100


Pattern in the mud, Paria Canyon/Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness Area, Utah 1985

Wista 4×5 Metal Field Camera

 


Dawn, Mono Lake, California 2006
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II, 70.0-200.0 mm,
20.00 second at f/16, ISO 100


Giant sequoia and fir tree in the fog, Sequoia National Park, California, 1993

Wista 4×5 Metal Field Camera

 


Redbud and dogwood, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee 1991

Wista 4×5 Metal Field Camera

 


Dogwood in bloom and the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California  1994

Wista 4×5 Metal Field Camera

 


Twilight, Scripps Pier, La Jolla, California 2010
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
20.00 second at f/22, ISO 640


Rock, Water and Tree, Cascade Falls, Yosemite National Park, California 2011
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/2 second at f/27, ISO 320


Erosion, near Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley National Monument, California 1983

Wista 4×5 Metal Field Camera

 


Blue Icebergs, Cierva Cove, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM,
1/750 second at f/22, ISO 1600


Iceberg Sculpture, Pleneau Bay, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM,
1/125 second at f/19, ISO 800


Ice and Grass, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 2015
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, TS-E90mm f/2.8,
1.50 second at f/19, ISO 100


Autumn Snowstorm, Yosemite National Park, California 2015
ILCE-7RM2, 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM,
1/8 second at f/16, ISO 400

 

WHISPERS OF LIGHT


Oak Branches, Ahwahnee, California 2018
ILCE-7RM2, 16-35mm F2.8 G SSM II,
1/4 second at f/16, ISO 400


Pear tree in bloom, Fresno, California 2018
ILCE-7RM2, 16-35mm F2.8 G SSM II,
1/100 second at f/13, ISO 640

 

NATURAL COLLECTIONS


Purple Plum Blossoms #4, 2018
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1.60 second at f/32, ISO 100

 


Three Big-Leaf Maple leaves, 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1/2 second at f/20, ISO 100

 


Two Nautilus Shells 2017
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1/3 second at f/14, ISO 100


Table Mountain, California 2006
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II, 70.0-200.0 mm,
1.60 second at f/22, ISO 100

Come join me for a private workshop session in Yosemite!

Autumn Elm and Sunbeams, Cook’s Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California 2014

 

Rock and Water, Cascade Falls, Yosemite National Park, California 2011 / Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III__EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM__1/2 sec at f / 27__ISO 320
Rock and Water, Cascade Falls, Yosemite National Park, California 2011

I have been running my Yosemite Private Workshops for ten years now. Although I taught group workshops around the world starting in the early 1980s, I have greatly enjoyed the one-on-one sessions and personal connections I’ve had while showing my approach to landscape photography in my beloved Yosemite Valley.

The best times to come photograph YV are the last two weeks of April and the first two weeks of May, or the end of October or the first two weeks of November.

Here are a few endorsements from past students:

Bill Henderson:      My William Neill workshop experience was exceptional! The most significant outcome was the change in perspective. Bill finds images everywhere, his ability to see photographically is something you can’t learn from reading, it’s a gift from many years of hard work and study. This is what I found so interesting and helpful.

Now I didn’t walk away with his skill, but I learned something significant that has stayed with me. I still find that workshop useful today.”

Rick Hardt:      “I have always been drawn to Bill’s work, because I think he leads the pack in the arena of “Less is More”.  His images define the idea of “Clean and Simple”.  Through that perspective, he communicates powerful feeling that I don’t often see in other areas.

He is extremely present and open during the process.  What I felt from him was kindness and patience.  I never felt judged for my lack of experience or ability.   Seeing through his eyes for subject matter and lighting really opened my eyes to things that I’d completely missed before.

In the end, I walked away with a pocket full of images that I cherish to this day, AND a much better understanding of how to get more on my own.

Lastly and most importantly, the conversations that we had during those times, often come to mind when I’m in the field looking for new images. 

I continue to get benefit from a class that I took some time ago.  Amazing.

 

Bob Cole:    “I greatly appreciated the personal attention Bill provided in our two-student, two-day Private Workshop. The limit to one or two students is a significant advantage. There were many other photography workshops happening in Yosemite Valley at the same time, with van loads of students for one or two instructors. Bill’s Private Workshops are simply superior in the personal attention he provides.

                The Private Workshop provided a great opportunity to explore Yosemite beyond the obvious icons. Bill provides a wealth of information about the Yosemite environment and history. Understanding the place is important to helping one see the what is really there beyond the often photographed icons. This leads to more photographic possibilities. Bill helps the student “see” nature in new ways that translate into stronger, more creative photographs.

                I created better images during the two-day Private Workshop, and that improvement continued after it was over. When I consider the many ways photographers spend their resources on cameras, lenses, other gear, software, and travel, I can think of no more effective way to improve one’s photography than the William Neill Private Workshop.

 

Antoinette Addison:      “I have done a couple of private workshops with Bill in Yosemite. It was incredible. First, his knowledge of the Yosemite area allowed him to put us in the right place at the right time throughout the day.  We moved through the valley with the light, not just to the well-known photo spots, but all over the place. I thought I knew the area quite well, but I discovered many new, hidden spots. We would find ourselves at the perfect spot over and over throughout the day. It was incredible. 
         We took different kinds of photos in different areas, from classic landscape shots to black ice photos, close-ups, impressions. It was magical. Bill helped me make subtle technical and positioning adjustments that made a big difference and brought my photography to a new level.
        The portfolio review was also useful, educational, and inspirational. I could not recommend these workshops more strongly.
Brad Rank:     “My personal workshop with William was a surprise birthday gift from my Wife.  At the time I was just starting with a DSLR, only a short time from upgrading from simply using an iPhone for my photography.   I learned from the internet, and there is so much advice as to equipment, settings, composition, etc.  It was overwhelming and I was concerned about having the “right” thing and being such a novice working with such a professional as William.    We started our day shooting at Tunnel View and he says to me to change my camera settings for “bracketing”, and I pulled out my manual.  I think he knew then what he was in store for in the day as there was no hiding my lack of experience, and I was bracing for his response.   In that moment, he had the ability to negatively or positively impact my relationship to photography.  He could have said I had the wrong equipment or that I’m unprepared, or many many things, but he choose patience,  he choose kindness, he taught.  As I got to know him better through the day, I realized that this wasn’t a choice, it’s just who he is; a great photographer, but also a great teacher.  I learned so much about photography that day and my confidence rose dramatically to not worry about the rules and the prescribed “noise” of what should be done.  However, the most impressive thing I learned was about the man, his vision, relationship to the natural world around him, and his joy to pay it forward from his experiences as well.  Whether a beginner or a professional you will learn something.

 

See this link to see details, instructional content options discounts for small groups or multiple day sessions:

Private Yosemite Sessions

Instructional Content Options

William teaches simple ways to capture quality images in order to focus more on your expressive vision. These methods are what he uses for his own photography. Potential topics to be covered include:

Improve your Creative Vision

Learn to see deeply, to convey your emotional connection with the subject

Exposure Techniques
Using Histograms, HDR, Long Exposures

Composition
How to create clean, well-balanced designs without distractions

Planning Your Photographic Sessions
When to photograph and where, weather and seasonal considerations

Photo Critiques of New and Previous Images
Learn about your strengths and areas for improvement in your prints and downloaded digital files from field sessions.

Digital Camera Workflow
Basic and Advanced Techniques in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop

Photograph with William in Yosemite
Guidance while you photograph with in-field suggestions
Explore alternate perceptions and locations

Watch and ask questions as he selects and photographs Yosemite subjects.

Techniques in Impressionistic Photography
Learn how to create “light paintings” with intentional camera movement. William will demonstrate how he creates his Impressions of Light” photographs, and guide you with your efforts in the field.