I first visited Tracy Arm Fjord in Southeast Alaska during the summer of 2007 with my friend and fellow photographer Florian Schulz and his wife Emil. We tried to photograph harbor seals and their pups resting on the floating icebergs without success. The seals would not let us get close to them since they were easily startled and saw us coming from far away in my bright red inflatable. All last winter I thought about how to photograph them and came up with the idea to cover my pontoons with white shower curtains to disguise my boat as an iceberg. In June, I returned to try my new plan and was successful! I initially tried to cover the entire boat and hide underneath the blind I created, but this did not seem to work, so I eventually only covered the pontoons, got down low in the boat, and slowly drifted towards the seals. My goal was to not disturb them in anyway, and most of the time I successfully drifted past sleeping seals that occasionally looked up. Most of the images I’ve seen of harbor seals on icebergs are taken from long distances from high angles on large tour boats. What I like most about the images I created was that I was down so close to the water. It makes me feel more like I am part of their world. I also really like the nice blue background of this image. I used my Canon 5D, 400 mm f4 DO IS lens, 1.4X tele-converter at f5.6 and 1/400 second.
2008 was not my most productive year for landscape photography. I spent most of the summer getting rained on in Southeast Alaska. It was not the kind of weather that allowed me to create the spectacular images that I am known for. However, it was still an incredible experience navigating my small boat around in the ocean wilderness and into the fjords that few other photographers are able to visit. I typically move Serenity, my 22′ C-Dory, into a remote location and then spend a week or more using my 12′ inflatable to motor around in search of wildlife and unique landscape scenes to photograph. During a particularly wet solo trip in June into the Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness, I visited Fords Terror several different days before I finally got the right amount of bad weather and low hanging clouds to capture the spirit of the place. My image “Fords Terror Mist” was created in the pouring rain using my Pentax 67II camera, 45mm lens, Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer, Gitzo Basalt tripod, Acratech Ultimate ballhead, and Fuji Velvia 50 film at f22 and 8 seconds.
The coastal landscape on Chicagof Island really surprised me. I would have thought that it would have been all tall trees and rainforest, but instead it was all these stunted little trees and bogs. I scouted this location above Mirror Harbor after several days of being boat bound due to a gale in the Gulf of Alaska. I found the landscape reminded me of images I have seen from the Amazon or Coast Rica and not Alaska. This gnarled tree reminded me of a Japanese painting. I think the mountain in the distance must be a volcano. Please visit more of my Southeast Alaska Photography.
I visited Tracy Arm for the first time in 2007. I had wanted to try and photograph the harbor seals and their babies on the ice flows, but was not successful. I knew that I would have to come back and spend more time, as well as figure out how to get closer without spooking them. I thought about it all winter and new that I was going to have to conceal my red inflatable in order to use it as a blind. I bought a couple of white shower curtains that I cut in half and used to cover my boat’s tubes. The other thing I did was I let the wind blow me in the right direction while laying down on my boat’s floorboards. My plan worked exceptionally well this time and I was able to capture some very beautiful portraits of the harbor seals without disturbing them. Please visit more of my Harbor Seal Photography.
This mother harbor seal was very tolerant of my somewhat concealed presence. I must have looked very funny and out of place. I was a big white thing floating by like any other iceberg, but with my big lens held up to my face. This mom kept glancing in my direction, but couldn’t figure out what I was, and not feeling threatened, she went back to resting with her newborn baby. Note the umbilical cord on the baby’s stomache. Please visit more of my Harbor Seal Photography.
This is one of the most relaxed images of a mother harbor seal that I photographed. She could tell that something was unusual about the iceberg that I was appearing to be as I floated by her, but again, she was relaxed the whole time and went back to resting with her newborn. Please visit more of my Harbor Seal Photography.
I find Southeast Alaska to be incredibly frustrating for landscape photography. I like sunrise/sunset images, and you basically do not get any up there. I find it very hard to photographically convey the heavy overcast rainy days that are so common. However, I feel like I have done a good job with this image. I visited Fords Terror 3 different days and finally got the right conditions of a lot of clouds and rain. I used my inflatable to cover the 25 miles from where my boat was anchored to Fords Terror. I wore every layer of clothes that I own, and used my new secret weapon for Southeast, plastic rain gear. Forget wearing Gore-tex up there. Fords Terror is one of my favorite places that I have visited in Southeast. The cliffs surrounding it and waterfalls everywhere you look is just spectacular scenery. Please visit more of my Southeast Alaska Photography.
Eagles are surprisingly difficult to get close to in the wild. Sure, I have been only a few feet away from them on a boat dock while someone was cutting up a salmon, but to get close to them in a more natural setting is very difficult. They spook very easy, and when I am on the water, they can see me coming from a long way away. These 2 posed long enough for me to get a few shots with the nice blurred mountain background before they too took flight. Please visit more of my Bald Eagle Photography.