Mobius Arch Star Trails long exposure scene by Jim Goldstein

Break Out of Your Routine: An Interview with Nature Photographer Jim Goldstein

Jim Goldstein is a professional photographer based out of San Francisco, California who specializes in outdoor and nature photography. Jim infuses elements of the natural world into his commercial and editorial work to express his passion about nature and the environment. A member of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), Jim produces the highest quality nature photography for both commercial clients and fine art photography collectors.

Zabriskie Point Sunrise, Death Valley. Nature photography by Jim Goldstein.

BL: Your specialty is nature photography. How did you become interested in that?

Goldstein: Landscape and outdoor photography has been my primary focus for over 15 years. Since I was a kid I’ve long been interested in sciences such as geology, astronomy, biology, etc. From the time I could read I’ve been avidly studying these areas in books and magazines such as National Geographic, old Time Life books, and even almanacs. I was a bit of a nerd. Later in college I studied these subjects more seriously and began reading Outdoor Photographer and other photography magazines. Between my studies and taking in the inspiring work of Art Wolfe, Galen Rowell, Ansel Adams, and others I knew, I wanted to master the art of nature photography.

Primitive Coast by Jim Goldstein

BL: How long have you been teaching and/or writing about nature photography and how would you describe your teaching/writing style?

Goldstein: I’ve been writing about photography since 2006 when I launched my blog. I’ve also written for magazines such as Outdoor Photographer, PopPhoto, and Digital Photo Pro. In my writing and teaching I like to highlight the “wow” elements while placing it in a historical context. I find this is helpful because it keeps my readers and students grounded that what we see and pursue is built on incremental steps so that it doesn’t seem as overwhelming to achieve. While a historic viewpoint might seem boring, I strive to present it in an interesting light that engages people to want to learn more and pursue photographic techniques with greater enthusiasm.

Mobius Arch Star Trails by Jim Goldstein

BL: What is your single most depended on photographic item aside from your camera?

Goldstein: My cable release/intervalometer. I have 3, keeping one in different bags so that I always have one handy. It’s something that I never want to be in the field without. I shoot a lot in low light situations and always want the option to run time lapse captures. In low light, triggering my camera through the cable release allows me to minimize motion blur from unintended camera vibration. The intervalometer is essential for capturing image sequences used in time lapses.

BL: What type of gear, new or old, are you most interested in experimenting with?

Goldstein: One of the staples of outdoor/nature photography is to maximize sharpness and depth of field. Having done this in my work for so long, I’ve been enjoying working with polar opposite fast lenses and shallow depth of field. As of now I love working with an out-of-production Canon 50mm f/1.0 and I’m always looking for non-standard lenses of a similar vein to work with.

Full Moon and Glowing Clouds by nature photographer Jim Goldstein.

BL: Describe what prompted or inspired you to create Photographing the 4th Dimension – Time?

Goldstein: As with my blogging, my primary goal in my writing has been to help and educate the photography community. I wrote Photographing the 4th Dimension – Time because it allowed me to share a half dozen seemingly unrelated photographic techniques around a single concept to inspire photographers to try new things and see in a new way. While there are many straightforward books to educate photographers, I found them to be much of the same. I wanted to do something different and share several techniques I’m deeply passionate about.

BL: What are some additional resources that you recommend to others getting started in nature photography?

Goldstein: I am a completely self taught photographer so I’m a huge advocate of researching things online and in magazines. Reading the classics from Ansel Adams, Minor White, etc. are a great way to go. I’m also a huge proponent of buying and reading photography books to see the work of other photographers as well as visiting museums and galleries. Reading things online and in books are great but nothing beats actually seeing an original photographic print.

Jim Goldstein's nature photography showing a clear lake and mountain peak.

BL: In what ways do you expect readers to improve after reading Photographing the 4th Dimension – Time?

Goldstein: Seeing that my book includes technique overviews, quick recipes on how to do them, and example images I am hopeful that photographers will have no excuse but to try something new. Ideally the eBook will embolden photographers to break out of their routine and try something fun and new. If you’re not challenging yourself then you’re not growing and I love seeing photographers grow in their skill and confidence.

Na Pali Coast and Surf nature photography by Jim Goldstein.

BL: What is something YOU learned during the process of making this eBook?

Goldstein: Just when you think you know a technique you discover something new. It’s a humbling experience and is a reminder than no matter who you are or how long you’ve been a photographer there is always something to learn and try. In fact a lot of the things I learned inspired me to come up with ideas for future eBooks.

BL: There are a lot of little rules in photography, such as the Rule of Thirds and the Inverse Square Law. Describe a photography “rule” that you use the most or find most valuable.

Goldstein: You say “rules”, I say “recommendations”. The “rule” I find most valuable, and likely the antitheses of what you’re asking for, is to break the rules. The caveat with this is that you first have to know of the rules and master them before you know how to break them in such a way that works. Breaking the rules allows you to put a spin on otherwise traditional views and challenge your viewers.

Yosemite Valley Snow

BL: Anything new on the horizon that you are working on, either photography-wise or eBook-wise?

Goldstein: I’m sure a new eBook will be in my future but in the near future I expect to release a couple shorts from my time lapse work and a new set of astro-landscape images I’ve been working on over the past couple of years. As always I’ll release news of these on my blog at JMG-Galleries.

Alexandria Huff's photography and lighting tutorials can be found on 500px and her blog. See her lighting tutorials here. She is a Marketing Associate Manager at She learned about lighting and teaching while modeling for photographers such as Joe McNally and has since gone on to teach lighting workshops of her own in San Francisco. Before focusing on studio portraiture, she shot motorsports for X-Games, World Rally Cross, and Formula Drift. See her chiaroscuro-style painterly portraits on her website.

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