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.
“Whadya lookin’ at?” That is surely what this majestic bald eagle was thinking when it looked at me like this. The low-angle sunlight perfectly illuminated its breast while perched on this log, while the forest in the distance rendered as fantastic orange bokeh. Magnificent! Over the course of our time together, I photographed the occasional glare in my direction, but this picture with the curious tilt of the head was the most compelling. Notice how I left enough empty space above the eagle’s head so that a publisher could use this as a potential cover? I have to resist the urge to fill the entire frame. I used my Canon 7D and 500mm f4 IS lens to create this image.
What my recent trip to Alaska lacked in eagles in action was more than made up for by cooperative eagles in beautiful light. I photographed hundreds of images of eagles waiting for a decisive moment to unleash a glaring stare or unrestrained call. Most of my best new images involve direct eye contact. I mostly deleted my images where the eagles were simply too complacent. This image resonated with me because the eagle’s stand-up attention made it appear noble and proud. However, this common anthropomorphization does not necessarily agree with their lazy and opportunistic nature. I created this image with my Canon 7D and 500mm f4 IS lens using minimal digital processing. For this photo, I precisely positioned my camera so as to render the distant snow-capped mountain, forest, and bushes as pleasing bokeh. I always advise photographers that, when using a long telephoto lens, what is behind the subject is just as important as the subject.
I just got back from leading my 2010 Haines Bald Eagle Photography Tour. It was awesome, but Alaska always is. I had 4 clients signed up to join me, but at the last minute only 2 were able to attend. This was the first time that I worked with Paul & Kim and we had a great time together. Paul had never used a real camera prior to our trip and was skeptical about taking a photo tour, but I made him a believer in dSLRs as his photography skills improved each day. There were not as many eagles around this year, possibly due to the unusually warm fall weather, but we made the most of the opportunities we had. What was lacking in eagle numbers and activity was more than made up for by close-up portraits in beautiful golden light. To create this image, I used my Canon 7D with a 500mm f4 IS lens and 1.4X tele-converter. That is effectively an 1120mm lens! If you’ve never done it, I highly recommend micro-adjusting your camera bodies and lenses. I can not believe how sharp my images are after doing so, especially when using the tele-converter. I was able to get within 15 feet of this cooperative eagle for almost an hour. I placed my camera in a position so that the trees bathed in golden light behind the eagle rendered as this pleasing red bokeh. I like this image because of the eagle’s open beak when it briefly called out to another eagle flying by.
I am pleased to announce that my article about using my own boat to photograph Southeast Alaska is in the May issue of Popular Photography! The opening double page image is of a humpback whale swimming along with its mouth open after bubble-feeding. My article features 10 landscape & wildlife images from my last 3 summers in Alaska. I look forward to working with Popular Photography again in the near future.
Coincidentally, it is almost summer, which means it is time for me to photograph Alaska. My summer plans include using my boat for several weeks in May-June to visit Icy Bay on the south side of Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Russell Fjord in the Tongass National Forest. Later in the summer, I will photograph humpback whales, and in August I am shipping it to Whittier where I will base it on Prince William Sound for the next few years. Wish me luck!
I stayed home the last 4 weeks, so I was able to accomplish some serious photo editing. It has been hard work, but also fun reliving all of last years’ amazing adventures and discovering some real gems that I missed during my initial edits, like this bald eagle portrait. I photographed this majestic bird during my Haines Bald Eagle Photo Tour last November. My 3 clients all had a great time, learned a ton, & came home with some real keepers. I already have requests from several people to go back this November. Since I will not take more than 4 clients on my trips, space will be very limited.
I am having a great time with my 3 clients in Alaska on my bald eagle photography tour. They are learning how to be real wildlife photographers. The weather conditions are making it challenging to shoot. There is a foot of snow on the ground and the skies are very dark. There also aren’t as many eagles around this year. However, between my 2 cameras, I still captured over 1000 frames today. I have yet to capture a great eagle in flight shot, but I am trying. So far, this is my favorite image. This eagle posed for me for almost 20 minutes, which was enough time for me to get into a position for a clean bokeh background. To complete the shot, all I had to do was wait for him to disapprovingly glare at me.
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.
One of my favorite new bald eagle images has been awarded 3rd Place Mountain Flora & Fauna in the 2008 Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival Photography Competition. I captured this moment while visiting the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve near Haines, Alaska last fall. I approached this eagle through the woods and got down as low as I could on the ground to capture the perfect background blur behind it just as it called out to another eagle flying overhead. Please visit my Bald Eagle Photography page to see more of my bald eagle images.