Bugaboo Snowpatch Spires Reflection 2

Bugaboo Snowpatch Spires Reflection 2

I have been fortunate to photograph the dramatic mountains of Patagonia, the rugged fjords of Alaska and Svalbard, and the incredible scenery of South Georgia Island, but these places are all far off and cost a lot to visit. Closer to my home, yet with equally world-class scenery is Bugaboo Glacier Provincial Park in British Columbia. I tried to climb some of the easier routes back in the 90’s and only visited once with a camera in the very early days of my photography career. I had wanted to return for many years and finally did this past September. My buddy and I drove the long, windy dirt road from the Columbia Valley up to the parking area, and then hiked the short, but steep trail up to the Kain Hut. This image is from the first morning of our visit from a tarn located above Applebee Dome. It required a 45 minute hike uphill in the pre-dawn light to reach. The conditions were much more wintery than I was anticipating, but as the clouds parted with the early morning light illuminating the spires, the wind died down allowing for an almost perfect reflection.

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Canadian Wildlife September 2014 Cover

Canadian Wildlife September 2014 Cover

One of my underwater Steller sea lion images is featured on the cover of this month’s issue of Canadian Wildlife. Scuba diving with these curious pinnipeds is one the highlights of my entire photography career. Over the years, I have had a lot of success publishing these images from my January 2009 dive trip to Hornby Island in British Columbia. (Doesn’t that seem like a long time ago?) It’s nice to see that an “older” image that I created using my original Canon 5D is still valuable and publishable.

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Sooke Sea Otter 1

Sooke Sea Otter 1

During my recent week in the San Juan Islands, I came across this adorable sea otter. Doug Perrine and I spent an entire day cruising all over the Straits of Juan de Fuca trying to locate wildlife. In the process, we underestimated how much fuel we needed to motor all the way from Friday Harbor to way beyond Victoria. Fortunately, the weather was amazing and the seas dead calm. By the time we refueled and got back on the tail (pun fully intended) of the transient orcas, it was getting to be late afternoon. We eventually located a small pod near Race Rocks, but they were very inconsiderate by not only doing nothing photographable, but they also kept swimming further away from where we started. Being photographers in pursuit of wildlife in epic light, we of course stayed with these whales even though that meant that we were going to have to motor a long way back to San Juan Island in the dark. After several frustrating hours and just as the light was starting to get good, they lead us around a corner and right to this otter resting on her back. I had never seen an otter this close to Seattle, and was immediately more motivated to photograph her than the orcas. From my experience with otters in Alaska and California, I knew that it is hard to photograph them with puffy, dry faces like this. She also was not fazed at all while we scrambled for our longer lenses while trying to maintain our boat’s position in the current. We were quite frantic trying to get this shot as the light dipped towards the horizon, but we worked together with this cooperative subject and came away with some very nice images. I am especially pleased with this cute yawn as she brought both of her paws up to scratch her face.

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Gulf Islands Orca Sunset 1

Gulf Islands Orca Sunset 1

I spent the week after Labor Day in the San Juan Islands photographing orcas with my good friends Stuart & Robin Westmorland and Doug Perrine. We experienced incredible summer weather and saw a lot of wildlife, including transient orcas, humpback whales, and even a sea otter, but never saw the resident orcas who promptly returned the day after we departed. This is one of my favorite images from the trip. I would like to point out that not only did I perfectly line this orca up swimming towards the setting sun, but I was also steering the boat while shooting. Not many photographers have the ability to do both at the same time.

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Steller Sea Lion 18

Steller Sea Lion 18

As I have been recently editing all of my older trips, I keep finding surprising gems like this image from my last scuba diving trip to Hornby Island, BC in January 2009. If you are a diver you absolutely need to plan a trip to dive with the Steller sea lions at Hornby Island. They are incredibly curious and playful underwater. Many people who are familiar with my work might recall that another one of my Steller sea lion images was awarded 2nd Place in the Underwater category in the 2010 ICPA. Anyway, here is another cute sea lion admiring its reflection on the front of my dome port. I created this image using my Canon 5D and 17-40mm f4 lens in my old Ikelite 5D housing with 8″ dome port and using dual DS160 strobes. It is a single exposure which was mostly processed in Aperture 3.0. Photoshop CS5 was used for some minor adjustments and to clone out particles floating in the water.

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Natures Best Fall 2010 Cover

Nature’s Best Fall/Winter 2010 Cover

I have consistently been part of the Nature’s Best Photography Awards the last 7 years, but each year the photography is more amazing and the competition more difficult. I am honored to have even one image accepted and especially pleased that this year it was one of my underwater images. I love photographing dramatic landscapes, but I am equally excited by underwater and wildlife photography.

My underwater portrait of a Steller sea lion had an excellent 2010. Last summer, it received 2nd Place in the 2010 International Conservation Photography Awards in the Underwater Category and was featured on the promotional poster for the event. The poster was highly visible around Seattle all summer and even made a cameo appearance in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. This image is currently Highly Honored in the Underwater Category in the 2010 Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice International Awards and is one of 6 images featured on the cover of the current issue. I’ve also been told that it will be displayed in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum.

I created this image with my Canon 5D and Canon 17-40mm f4 lens with a +2 diopter inside an Ikelite 5D underwater housing with dual Ikelite DS 160 strobes attached with ULCS arms. The image initially required minimal processing, but I spent a lot of time cloning out backscatter in Photoshop.

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Sockeye Salmon 1

Sockeye Salmon 1

I spent last Thursday and Friday photographing the sockeye salmon migration on the Adams River in central British Columbia. It was a miraculous sight to behold! Every 4 years the salmon return in huge numbers. However, they had not returned in as great a numbers as this year since 1910. The relatively short life cycle of the salmon is amazing when you consider that when they are born they swim in Shuswap Lake for a year before descending the Fraser River, migrating to the North Pacific Ocean, and finally returning to the river of their birth by swimming past orcas, fisherman, and the city of Vancouver to lay their eggs before dying. Though the young salmon never meet their parents, the accumulated biomass of their decaying parents nourishes the lake and thus the young salmon in their first year of life. The epic journey of the salmon is a story about determination and rebirth.

During my previous visit to the Adams River in 2002, I was just beginning my photography career. I had no idea what I was doing with an underwater housing. Plus, I was limited to only 36 exposures on a roll of film, which made it a real pain getting out of the water to change film. Using my Canon 5DmkII and 17-40mm f4 lens in my Ikelite 5DmkII housing with an 8″ dome port and dual DS 160 strobes, I am now able to create over 600 exposures on my 16GB Sandisk Extreme cards. My recent shoot was no longer limited by technology, but more by my patience and willingness to sit on my knees in the middle of the river while wearing my drysuit for hours at a time. I perfected my technique of shooting “blindly” by positioning myself in the river so that an eddy formed downstream of my body where the salmon could congregate and then I lowered my housing into the water to fire away at 4fps without looking through the viewfinder. Clearly, there was a lot of room for error in my positioning of my camera in this manner, because I had to delete a lot of images. I was inspired to create this image as the sun was just starting to rise over the tops of the trees in the late morning. The salmon were backlit, so I used my strobes for a bit of fill-flash. I did not have all my correct strobe arm parts with me, so I attached one strobe to my housing in the vertical position on the left side and hand-held my other strobe against my knee with my right hand. I was able to push the shutter release button with my left hand while balancing my housing against the river bottom. My strobes were set to -3 and the rest of this image was just pure luck that I guessed correctly of how to angle my camera. I do not like to do very much post-processing, but I had to digitally remove a significant amount of backscatter that was caused by my strobes illuminating the particulates in the water. My overall point in this long description is that there was a lot of technical challenges as well as blind luck required to create this beautiful image.

Update on 10/23/10-For anyone who might be concerned about my photography interfering with the salmon, I had a permit from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) that allowed me to be in the water.

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2010 ICPA Poster

2010 International Conservation Photography Awards

Tonight is the awards ceremony for the 2010 International Conservation Photography Awards at the UW’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. The exhibit opens to the general public tomorrow. My image of a Steller sea lion underwater won 2nd Place in the Underwater category. It is featured on most of the promotional materials, including this poster that is currently displayed all around Seattle. I also received an Honorable Mention in the Landscape category for my “Badwater Salt Crust Sunrise 1″ image from Death Valley National  Park. I am really looking forward to seeing some of my friends, like Stuart Westmorland & Sean Bagshaw, and meeting a number of photographers that I only know online, including Todd Mintz, Jim Patterson, & David M Cobb.

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Berg Lake Sunrise Reflection 1

Berg Lake Sunrise Reflection 1

I just spent 4 days earning this spectacular sunrise image of Mount Robson. I drove all day last Thursday from Seattle to Valemont, BC so that I could catch a helicopter ride on Friday morning to Berg Lake. The weather started out OK, but quickly turned lousy. I spent all day Saturday & Sunday in the campers shelter next to the wood stove, reading my book, and trying to stay warm while it was miserable outside. Both nights I experienced some terrifying thunderstorms that deposited fresh snow on the mountains down to an elevation not too far above the lake. I was getting grumpy and frustrated to say the least. I called my dad using my Iridium satellite phone for reassurance about the weather. The forecast said that it was going to be nice by Monday. I kept my fingers crossed. Sure enough, when my alarm went off yesterday morning, it was almost totally clear! I probably should have set my alarm for 15 minutes earlier than I did because the first light was already hitting the top of the mountain. I threw on my clothes and took off running to my “secret spot”. I arrived just in time to set up my camera to capture this perfect reflection of Mount Robson with a lenticular cloud on it’s summit.

In case you do not keep up with me already on Facebook & Twitter, I posted a bunch of iPhone photos & videos yesterday from my trip. I’m having a lot of fun and hope that you enjoy following my adventures.

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Steller Sea Lion 3

Steller Sea Lion 3

Here is another great image from my recent Steller sea lion shoot. This sea lion is biting the front of my dome port. Even with the dome and a +2 diopter, you can still see that it is a little soft around the mouth, but is that close or what? This images was created with my Canon 5D digital SLR in an Ikelite underwater housing with 2 Ikelite DS160 strobes set on Manual to -4, at f4 and 1/125 second.

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