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.
I encountered this curious female polar bear during my June 2015 Svalbard expedition. This image was featured on the first page of my article about Arctic wildlife in the January 2016 issue of Popular Photography. During this once-in-a-lifetime encounter, I leaned over the sailboat’s railing and lowered my polecam down to her level on the ice. She repeatedly checked it at point-blank range which allowed me to photograph this incredibly close-up and intimate portrait.
I’ve been behind on my photo editing, blog posting, and social media-ing, so hopefully in the next few weeks I will get back on top of it. To start it off, I want to share my walrus image that graced the January 2016 cover of Popular Photography. I photographed this behemoth last June while co-leading a small sailboat expedition around Norway’s Svalbard Archipelago with Tony Wu. I cautiously waded into the shallow water with my polecam outstretched and quickly shot some images before he let me know that my presence was unwelcome.
I am happy to share my first Alaska photo cover! This image of a humpback whale breaching straight out of the water happens to be one of my personal favorites, so I am pleased that it is being published so prominently. I was fortunate to be able to photograph this amazing moment in July 2010. The weather was perfect and my father was also with me. We were in my small inflatable north of the Brothers Islands in Southeast Alaska when this whale started repetitively breaching for over an hour. It was one of my most memorable days as a photographer.
I want to share another recent cover that features one of my humpback whale images. I photographed this dramatic breach while in Tonga last year. My friends and clients often joke with me that I should publish a book just on humpback whales breaching since I have been fortunate to be able to frequently photograph this extraordinary behavior.
I’ve been meaning to share this news for the last few weeks, but have been so busy that I am only now getting around to it. One of my underwater humpback whale images from Tonga was published on the cover of China’s Digital Camera May 2013 issue! This was the first time that I have worked with this magazine, but I hope to continue building upon this new relationship in the year ahead.
This past winter I was contacted by Pacific Life Insurance Company to submit images for their annual report. Guess what? One of my images was selected for the cover! This image is the only breaching humpback whale photo that I have from Hawaii and has never been one of my favorites, however, it just sold for a reasonable amount of money. The lesson here is that no matter how I might feel about a particular image, it can have more value than any of my favorite images. When I was in Alaska last month, I saw an amazing full body breach by an adult humpback whale, but of course I was still too far away to photograph it. After a lot of excited screaming of many expletives, I had a very interesting discussion with my crew. They asked me how many breaches I have seen? I guessed somewhere between 300 and 500 breaches in the last 10 years, but only 20-30 of them were photographable. That is a ratio of at best of 1 photographable breach for every 30 breaches I observe. It also means that I have spent a lot of time on the water around whales, which happen to be my favorite subject to photograph. I created this image with my Canon 5D and 70-200mm f2.8 IS lens. This image is a single-exposure which required a minimal amount of processing using Aperture 2 and Photoshop CS4. You can enjoy more photos of whales in multiple galleries on the rest of my site.
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.