Kaktovik Sunrise Abstract 1

Kaktovik Sunrise Abstract 1

I got to travel with my client-friend Bryn Forbes in Alaska and Tonga this summer. Though the purpose of the trips were to photograph humpback whales, Bryn spent a lot of time shooting motion blur abstracts. We all gave him a hard time about it, but he motivated me to try shooting some myself during my later adventures.

I created this image while co-leading my Polar Bear Photography Tour with Steve Kazlowski in October. We drove our clients out to the bone-bile to photograph the polar bears at sunrise, but there was only one and it was not doing much, so we took advantage of this amazing light to shoot landscape images instead. I forgot to bring my tripod, so I decided to experiment and shoot a bunch of motion blur abstracts over the Arctic Ocean. I think everyone thought that I was just as crazy (as we all thought Bryn was on my earlier trips) until they saw my results. I created this images with my Canon 5DmkIII and 300mm f2.8 IS II lens and processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS6.

Denali Sunset Virga Reflection

Denali Sunset Virga Reflection

I’m kind of looking forward to heading back to Alaska next week. I say kind of because of the terrible June weather we have had here in the Pacific Northwest. I’m sure that it will be quite similar during most of July in Alaska which is kind of depressing. Oh, well. That is the price to pay for beautiful images in the 49th state. As I have recently finished editing my backlog of photos, I rediscovered this spectacular sunset image from my visit to Denali National Park last July. I had a professional photographer’s permit which allowed me to drive the Wonder Lake Road in my own vehicle for 9 days. It was an amazing experience that allowed me to create some fantastic wildlife and landscape images. The beautiful sunset light illuminating the virga in the distance caught me by surprise. I quickly jumped out of the van and ran down to this tundra pond next to the side of the road. It’s moments like this that I need to be confident in my abilities to set up my camera very quickly and efficiently.

Kuliak Brown Bear 5

Kuliak Brown Bear 5

I’m not sure that I like this image as much as the other wide-angle brown bear image that I shared the other day, but what I do like is that this was created on a rare sunny day on the Katmai Coast. I’ve got a lot of images of bears in the rain with a telephoto lens. Yawn. I think that wide-angle images showing bears in their environment are much more interesting. Obviously, photographing bears like this requires a lot of effort in the field and being very close to bears. I do not encourage anyone without experience around bears to try creating images like this. However, many of the bears on the outer coast of Katmai National Park are not afraid of humans and under most conditions, do not perceive us as threats. It was a privilege to be so close to these wild animals. I created this image using my Canon 5DmkII, 17-40mm f4 lens, and Singh-Ray 2-stop Hard GND filter. I remotely triggered the camera using 2 PocketWizards, but I was sitting not too far to away. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.

Kukak Brown Bear 50

Kukak Brown Bear 50

“Who’s a happy bear?” That is what I would say to a big-old male brown bear who was sitting by the river during my expedition to the Katmai Coast last August. The bears always seemed so casual as they waited for salmon to pretty much swim into their mouths. I spent a lot of time watching them sleep with one eye open, which doesn’t make for a great picture. However, every once in a while one would “do something”, like this bear sitting on its haunches itching a nagging scratch. I got down really low to the ground with my camera in order to render the distant trees as pleasing bokeh. I created this image with my Canon 7D and 500mm f4 IS lens. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.

Kukak Brown Bear 25

Kukak Brown Bear 25

I photographed this brown bear backlit at sunrise while visiting Kukak Bay on the outer coast of Katmai National Park last August. Kukak Bay is geographically oriented from east to west, so early morning light illuminates the bay whenever the sky is clear, which is not that often. In most cases, I prefer to photograph my subjects with front or side light, but this image is a good example of shooting into the light. I shudder to think what some HDR advocates would do to this beautiful silhouette. This large male brown bear was one of several that were wandering the tidal flats at low tide that morning. I kept thinking how casually the bears appeared to lumber along the shore, until I tried to keep up with them. I created this image with my Canon 7D and 500mm f4 IS lens. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.

Kuliak Brown Bear 8

Kuliak Brown Bear 8

As I have made progress editing my extensive backlog of unedited images, I have been discovering many wonderful photos like this one that have until recently been confined to my hard-drives. This image was created on my Katmai Coast expedition last August, during which I was able to photograph brown bears at very close range. This wide-angle image is a good example of what I mean. I love how this bear is casually strolling along the river’s shore and not paying any attention to my camera which I remotely triggered with a PocketWizard. The light was also really nice as this was one of the few nice weather days that I experienced during the entire trip. And just in case you are wondering, I was sitting on top of the rocks on the left side of the picture. I created this image using my Canon 5DmkII, 17-40mm f4 lens, and Singh-Ray 2-stop Hard GND filter. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.

2012 Animals of Alaska Calendar

2012 Animals of Alaska Calendar

While visiting Seward, Alaska last month, I was pleasantly surprised to see my brown bear in lupine image on the cover of the 2012 Animals of Alaska calendar. The calendar was put together by Accent Alaska, which is one of the stock agencies that represents my photography. This image has never been one of my favorites, however, I have licensed it several times for many thousands of dollars. One of the things that clients tell me that they like about this image is that the bear does not look scary surrounded by the beautiful lupine. I took this image while visiting Lituya Bay on the outer coast of Glacier Bay National Park in 2009. You can read my original blog post here.

Kenai Orcas Blow 1

Kenai Orcas Blow 1

This is my favorite image from my May trip to Seward, Alaska to photograph orcas. I experienced a lot of terrible weather, but through my perseverance, I was eventually rewarded with 4 glorious days of sunshine, calm seas, and orcas. I saw about 50 different animals in the various pods of resident and transient orcas over those 4 days near Cape Aialik. As this orca swam along the dark, shaded shore, I anticipated its backlit blow when it came to the surface to breath, so I positioned my boat in the bright daylight and waited for the orca to swim past. Right on cue, the orca surfaced and I photographed the explosive pattern of the moisture in the air as it exhaled. I also like the contrast in this image of the bright blow against the dark shore with the bright green water. I created this image with a Canon 1DmkIV that I rented from LensRental.com and my 70-200mm f2.8 IS II lens. This image is a single-exposure which required a minimal amount of processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.

Kenai Orcas 1

Kenai Orcas 1

Dang, has it really been 2 months since my last blog post? After our big house move this spring, I’ve been making it a priority to edit all of the trips that I never seem to have time to edit. That has been going really well, so now I am going to begin sharing my new images.

This is one of my favorite photos from my May trip to Alaska when I went up to use my boat for the first time this summer out of Seward. My goal was to spend the better part of 3 weeks trying to photo orcas. The weather had other plans for me, but during my 16 days of trying, I eventually experienced 4 nice days, and fortunately on those days I found lots of orcas. My dream image was to photograph a breaching orca in nice light with the snow covered mountains in the background. While I did see over a dozen breaches, I was unsuccessful photographing a breach. However, I did create many images of orcas with nice light and beautiful scenery like this one, so it was not a total waste of time. This pod was photographed at 11pm near Cape Aialik. I created this image with a Canon 1DmkIV that I rented from LensRental.com and my 70-200mm f2.8 IS II lens. This image is a single-exposure which required a minimal amount of processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5, plus I applied a graduated neutral density filter in processing using Nik Color Efex Pro 4 that Laurie Rubin at Nik Software was kind enough to let me start playing around with.

Outdoor Photographer April 2012 Discover Digital Quick Tips Article

Outdoor Photographer April 2012 Discover Digital Quick Tips Article

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.