If anyone has flown on Alaska Airlines this month, you might have seen my polar bear mother and cub image and read my tips for creating better photos in the current issue of Alaska Beyond. The article features several of the Northwest’s top photographers offering advice about photography, so I was honored to be included. I have heard from a several people who have already read it, but I think that no one was more surprised and pleased than my parents when they saw it on their flight to Florida last week. You can read more about this photo here, in case you missed it.
My regular readers are probably aware that over the past year I have been building and flying remote controlled hexacopters in order to create dramatic aerial photos. In this month’s issue of Outdoor Photographer, I share some of my advice from the lessons I have learned from flying a drone capable of lifting a larger camera. The opening images showcase one of my aerial images of Lumahai Beach on Kauai, as well as my previous Canon EOS M camera mounted on my gimbal beneath my Tarot 690S hexacopter. After my crash in early May, I rebuilt using a Tarot 680Pro frame and am now flying a Sony NEX 5 camera body. I hope that readers will enjoy my latest article and find inspiration from what I have have been doing.
In the last 6 months, I have spent a lot of time reconsidering my overall photography ambitions while also healing my back injury. It has not been my most productive 6 months, but I have also been doing this full-time for 13 years now, so I can live with a little bit of ebb and flow to my ambitions. During this downtime, I have invested way too much time and money learning to build and fly remote controlled hexacopters. Call it a drone if you must, but I find this word leads to negative connotations due to the media’s overemphasis on scaring people. I find the new technology fascinating and am excited to explore an entirely new world of possibilities creating images that no one has ever seen before.
This is a recent aerial photo that I created of Kiholo Bay located on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. I have previously visited this location to create a traditional landscape photo using a tripod, but been unsuccessful. The biggest limitation has been that it just doesn’t look that interesting from shore. So, I decided to explore this beautiful bay from the air. The photo that I envisioned was to show the beautiful turquoise color of the water and the coral reef surrounding the lava island.
My hexacopter is only capable of flying my camera for about 15 minutes at a time, so I used my early flights to scout for a composition. I did this by using the first person view (fpv) offered by using my camera’s Live View and video transmission system which sends the signal down to my remote monitor. Eventually, I determined that I needed to hover in this location about 20m up in the air. I found the color of the water mesmerizing and the shape of the lava island compelling. When I zoom in at 100% resolution, I can also see several sea turtles resting along the shoreline. I created this image while hovering my Canon SL1, Voigtlander 20mm f3.5mm lens, and Singh-Ray LB Warming polarizer with my Tarot 690S hexacopter using an XAircraft SuperX flight controller. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s white balance filter.
I’m pleased to be able to share that my article “Winter in Japan” has been published in the current issue of Popular Photography. In my article, I offer advice about how to visit the best wildlife locations and technical information about how to photograph these amazing animals. You can read the full article online at, www.popphoto.com/how-to/2013/12/travel-photography-winter-japan.
The opening double page image of the Japanese macaques, or snow moneys, was created during my Japan photography tour last winter. I highly recommend a visit to the Jigokudani Monkey Park to anyone traveling to Japan. I created this image using my Canon 5DmkIII and Canon 17-40mm f4 lens. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS6, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s white balance filter.
My image Humpback Whales Bubble Feeding 110 is featured in Outdoor Photographer’s June 2013 article “Pro Tips For Summer Hotspots”. In the article, I describe what it is like to observe humpback whales as they cooperatively feed in Alaska, as well as how to photograph this incredible behavior. Also featured in the article, is one of my personal favorite images Tonquin Valley Sunrise 3 along with a description of how to photograph this dramatic scene located in Jasper National Park.
I am excited to share that my “Discover Digital Quick Tips” article is published in the April 2012 issue of Outdoor Photographer! OP’s Editor gave me this opportunity after telling me that he always considers my images to be among the most authentic and beautiful that he regularly sees. In my article, I offer my advice on what my top processing techniques are and how photographers can use them to make their own images look spectacular. Please let me know if you enjoyed reading it and feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments below.
In other news, my regular readers, friends, fans, etc will probably have noted that I have not been online much in the last 2 months. I spent a wonderful, though, not super productive 3 weeks in Hawaii in February. I was barely home for a week before I flew down to Arizona to give 3 presentations about my Alaska photography at the Tucson, Paradise Valley, and Tempe REIs. (I will be at the San Diego, Portland, and Anchorage REIs in the coming month.) Last week, I moved my family into our gorgeous new house just south of Leschi. It is breathtaking to look out my windows anytime and see Lake Washington, the Cascades, and Mount Rainier. This week, I am finally settling into my new office which has its own separate entrance, new cork floors, furniture, and gallery track lighting. I have some large acrylic face-mounts being made by West Coast Imagining that will adorn my walls for when clients visit. Summer is also coming just around the corner. I have multiple trips planned to Alaska, plus my first trip to Tonga. This fall, I will also be joining a small sailboat expedition to South Georgia Island for 4 weeks. As you can see, I have a lot of exciting things going on and many new images to be created.
I was traveling all of December, so forgive me for not having posted any new blog updates for awhile. However, I am excited to share that Outdoor Photographer published my “Discover Alaska Wildlife” article in the February issue! In my article, I give lots of advice about where and how to photograph many of Alaska’s most sought after animals. I especially like the opening full page image of the lynx that I encountered while leaving Denali National Park last July. I have dedicated most of my last 5 summers to photographing Alaska, and look forward to another productive summer up north starting in May. Please let me know if you read that article and what you think.
Check out my latest feature in the June issue of Popular Photography! My article is about photographing cetaceans, otherwise known as whales. They are my favorite photographic subject and I’ve routinely stated over the years that if I could only photograph one thing that it would be whales. My article gives advice on how to photograph them, what lenses to use, and where some of the best places are to find whales. I also share how much patience is required for whale photography. In case it’s not obvious, they spend their lives underwater, so not only is it difficult to catch a glimpse of them, it is even harder to photograph them. I have been very fortunate to accumulate many months of time with them in the last decade. You can read more about the image in the double page opener in my blog post from 2010. Also, If you’ve ever wanted to photograph whales, I am co-leading a tour with Tony Wu to photograph humpback whales in Southeast Alaska and Tonga in 2012.
It seems that years of hard-work and dedication are paying off. My 10 year anniversary of being a full-time photographer is coming up this June, and I have experienced a lot of editorial success lately, including my new hiking and backpacking photography article in the May 2011 issue of Popular Photography. In the article, I share my secrets for creating dramatic images away from parking lot viewpoints. Most readers are never going to travel to the ends of the Earth and spend weeks camped out like I do, but hopefully my article will motivate more photographers to get more exercise, enjoy nature, and find their own unique images rather than settle for the same-old viewpoints. I created the double-page opening image of Forbidden Peak at sunset while backpacking in North Cascades National Park. It was a long hike up to Sahale Arm where I camped for several nights with some friends. If you are motivated, I highly recommend this backpacking trip high into the North Cascades. The views are some of the best that can be found in Washington. I created this image with my Pentax 67II medium format camera, Pentax 90mm f2.8 lens, Singh-Ray Warming Polarizer, tripod, and Fuji Velvia 50 film. I scanned it on my Imacon Photo scanner and adjusted the masterfile in whatever version of Photoshop I was using at the time. Readers will also note that I included a photo of my Fstopgear Tilopa BC packed with all my equipment spilled out that I currently use to create landscape photos.
My latest article “Desert Song” is featured in the March 2011 issue of Popular Photography! The article gives suggestions for photographing California desert locations including Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Death Valley National Park, the Alabama Hills Recreation Area, the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve, and San Elijo State Beach, all of which are best photographed this time of year. The article is 6 pages long and showcases 6 of my images, including the double page opener of wildflowers in bloom from Anza Borrego. I created this image almost exactly 2 years ago. This was first trip using a digital camera to photograph landscapes rather than with my beloved Pentax 67II medium format film camera. I used my Canon 5DmkII body, Canon 17-40mm f4 lens, and Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer. It required minimal processing using Aperture 2. I also clearly remember signing up for Twitter during that trip at the urging of my client-friend, Mark Teskey. Wow! That seems like a lifetime ago back in the social media dark ages.
Since I won’t be visiting the desert this spring, I won’t be able to offer my own wildflower reports, however, you can read about the latest conditions by visiting the Desert USA Wildlflower Report.