I photographed this rugged scene while cruising Prince William Sound with my dad in late June. I had scouted Nellie Juan Fjord several days earlier in rainy conditions and observed a few dwarf fireweed blooms high above the tideline on the granite cliffs. In order to get to this location, I woke up well before sunrise, navigated my inflatable boat through hazardous submerged rocks guarding the entrance to the fjord, motored through tons of floating ice, and finally tethered my inflatable to the base of a soaring rock wall. I then scrambled high above the water to get to this precarious perch. Once I was in place, I was fortunate to experience perfect landscape photography conditions with clear sky to the east and a few clouds hovering over the mountains to the west. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkII, 17-40mm f4 lens, Singh-Ray LB Warming polarizer, and 4-stop Soft Graduated Neutral Density filter. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
This past June, my dad and I used my 22′ C-Dory Serenity to cruise Prince William Sound for 8 days. We experienced mostly crappy weather during our trip, but that is typical of coastal Alaska. I was focused on photographing wildflowers near the glaciers, but did not find them in the quantities that I had hoped. So, I turned my attention to photographing the calving tidewater face of the Chenega Glacier which is located in Nassau Fjord south of Whittier. The enormous face of this impressive glacier is several miles wide and over 1000′ tall. Ice is constantly calving off of the face and falling long distances into the water below. Some of these explosions were spectacular to photograph, even though it was incredibly scary being so close. Keep in mind that I anchor Serenity in a protected cove and use my 12′ inflatable to navigate through the ice in order to get close to the glacier. I then drift for hours freezing my butt off waiting for something to happen. These days are filled with monotonous boredom intermixed with brief moments of absolute terror. I would not want to have it any other way. This is one of my favorite images of the ice collapsing into the water. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkII and 70-200mm f2.8 IS lens. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
During my trip to Alaska last month, I returned to Harriman Fjord in Prince William Sound with ambitions of photographing wildflowers blooming near the tidewater glaciers. I was very lucky, as my timing was perfect and the weather was spectacular. I had seen a few images of this patch of dwarf fireweed from Alaska photographers that I admire and easily located it during my first reconnaissance of the fjord in my inflatable. I returned the next morning and was rewarded with beautiful sunrise light and clouds. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkII, Carl Zeiss 28mm f2 ZE lens, Singh-Ray LB Warming polarizer, and 3-stop Hard Graduated Neutral Density filter. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
I created this bold image of dwarf fireweed at sunset while visiting Columbia Bay with my small boat Serenity a few weeks ago. This was the second time that I have visited this area this year, after the dramatic and wild nature of the place got under my skin back in May. It is now one of my favorite locations that I have visited in Alaska. I experienced much better weather during this visit and there were loads of wildflowers, especially the hearty dwarf fireweed. This plant grows in areas recently exposed by glacial retreat. This particular patch of flowers was located on the northwest tip of Heather Island along the edge of the old glacial moraine bar. Before settling on this composition, I ran around like a madman trying to find the best group of wildflowers that would compliment the dramatic sunset that was unfolding. During brief but dramatic moments like this, a photographer must be comfortable with his/her equipment and methodically use the skills that have been mastered through years of practice. I photographed this scene with my Canon 5DmkII, Carl Zeiss 28mm f2 ZE lens, Singh-Ray LB Warming polarizer, and 2-stop Hard Graduated Neutral Density filter. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
This is another image from my visit to Cordova, Alaska last month. The focus of my trip was photographing the shorebird migration that takes place each spring along the Copper River delta. Naively, I anticipated millions of shorebirds, but I never saw more than perhaps 10,000 all at once. This was still a spectacular sight to photograph, and how many birds did I really need? The best time to photograph the shorebirds was at high tide, which fortunately corresponded with sunrise and sunset that week. I was also lucky that the sky was clear so that I was able to take advantage of the golden light. This is one of my favorite pictures of the birds in flight. I created this image with my Canon 7D and 400mm f4 DO IS lens plus 1.4X tele-converter. I slightly cropped the original image to make a stronger composition, otherwise, it required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
While visiting the Columbia Glacier last month, I spent a lot of time photographing sea otters, or should I say, trying to photograph sea otters. They are very shy creatures, and difficult to approach. I had a Canon 500mm f4 IS lens with me, but that lens is way too heavy to hand-hold while motoring around in my inflatable all day. Fortunately, I also had my trusted Canon 400mm f4 DO IS lens, which is much lighter. When combined with my Canon 7D and 1.4X tele-converter, this set up becomes the equivalent of a 900mm lens. I prefer marine mammal images that are photographed from as close to the water as possible. This yields a much better sense of location plus a softer background than images that are taken from higher up on larger boats. This mother and pup kept an eye on me the entire time, which gave me the eye contact that I prefer when photographing wildlife. Keep in mind that I was piloting my inflatable with my other hand while also trying to compose this picture. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
In case you missed it, please check out my sea otter article from this trip that were recently published in the UK’s Daily Mail.
While visiting Alaska last month, I used my 22′ C-Dory Serenity to cruise from Whittier to the Columbia Glacier. I then spent a week anchored in Jade Cove located on the southeastern side of Columbia Bay during which I used my inflatable to explore the area. I spent much of my time photographing adorable sea otters during the day and then glacier landscapes at sunrise and sunset. I have had to learn to photograph in cloudy conditions in Alaska. Most of the time this is ideal for wildlife, but not so desirable for dramatic landscape images. However, just because it is cloudy doesn’t mean that there aren’t any images to be had. This image of stranded glacial ice on the moraine bar at low tide is a perfect example of creating an image in murky light conditions. Photographing the deep blues in icebergs requires overcast light and I took advantage of the calm, shallow water for a reflection. I still had to wait patiently for a perfect mirror reflection for over an hour before I was eventually successful. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkII, Carl Zeiss 50mm f1.4 ZE lens, and Singh-Ray 4-stop Soft Graduated Neutral Density filter. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
I have spent a lot of time photographing sea otters in Alaska and California. Most of the time they are quite skittish, if not outright impossible to photograph. However, they can be adorable when they allow me to get close enough to take their picture. One of the unique things about the sea otters of Prince William Sound is that they frequently haul out to rest on the icebergs calved off of the tidewater glaciers. I had never seen this behavior before, so I was excited to have the opportunity to photograph them resting on the ice during my visit to the Columbia Glacier. Even while using my big lens, I still need to get pretty close to create an image. Most of the time they see me coming in my inflatable from 1/4 mile away and dive. I was getting sick of sea otters after many days of this type of frustration. Fortunately, my effort finally paid off when I photographed this large male who was more concerned about his nap than my inflatable with 3 photographers approaching him. When he finally sat up to take a look at us, not only did he look straight into my lens, but I also like how he placed his paws on the ice. I created this image by hand-holding my Canon 7D and 400mm f4 DO IS lens while also carefully navigating my 12′ inflatable through the ice. This image is a single-exposure which was slightly cropped and required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
During the second-half of my recent Alaska trip, I used my 22′ C-Dory Serenity for the first time this year. I departed Whittier for a week-long cruise with a plan to visit the Columbia Glacier located in the northern part of Prince William Sound. WOW! This was one of the most extreme locations that I have ever photographed. The Columbia Glacier has been the fastest retreating tidewater glacier in Alaska and one of the fastest in the world since the late-1970s. It has been heavily studied since it began retreating from its old moraine bar and the glacial models that were developed have subsequently been applied to other retreating glaciers throughout the world. I’ve photographed stranded icebergs in Glacier Bay National Park and Iceland, but nothing prepared me for the immensity of this glacial basin so utterly choked with ice. Using my 12′ inflatable boat, I was barely able to penetrate a few hundred yards into the ice on the eastern side of the basin. I have to admit that I was initially so overwhelmed by the place that I could not figure out what to photograph. After some scouting on the first morning of my visit, I discovered this scene. I was also exhausted from not sleeping because I had motored most of the night due to my late departure from Whittier the day before, plus the early glow of sunrise started at 4am. I photographed some marginally interesting light early this morning, but I prefer this image when the mountains became visible in the distance once the clouds lifted. All of this ice was concentrated against the old moraine bar and then stranded as the tide retreated. I photographed this scene with my Canon 5DmkII, Carl Zeiss 28mm f2 ZE lens, Singh-Ray LB Warming polarizer, and 4-stop Soft Graduated Neutral Density filter. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
While visiting the Childs Glacier near Cordova, the VW van that Steve and I borrowed got a flat tire. In addition, the light was murky, so we did not get any sunrise pictures of the glacier. After we changed the tire and began driving back to town we encountered a porcupine foraging in the forest. Steve launched out of the van to photograph it so fast that he forgot to put on his Xtratufs. However, after looking at the bog he was immersed in, I methodically put on my boots rather than suffer cold, wet feet. The porcupine took one look at us with our big lenses and headed for the top of a small tree. It initially turned its back to us and raised its quills, which didn’t make a very good image, but eventually relaxed enough to make a few nice portraits. To create this image, I lined up the porcupine with some trees in the background that made for a nice out-of-focus background. I patiently waited until it turned towards me so that I could see its eyes. I created this image with my Canon 7D and 400mm f4 DO IS lens. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.