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.
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.
Check out my latest feature in the June issue of Popular Photography! My article is about photographing cetaceans, otherwise known as whales. They are my favorite photographic subject and I’ve routinely stated over the years that if I could only photograph one thing that it would be whales. My article gives advice on how to photograph them, what lenses to use, and where some of the best places are to find whales. I also share how much patience is required for whale photography. In case it’s not obvious, they spend their lives underwater, so not only is it difficult to catch a glimpse of them, it is even harder to photograph them. I have been very fortunate to accumulate many months of time with them in the last decade. You can read more about the image in the double page opener in my blog post from 2010. Also, If you’ve ever wanted to photograph whales, I am co-leading a tour with Tony Wu to photograph humpback whales in Southeast Alaska and Tonga in 2012.
It seems that years of hard-work and dedication are paying off. My 10 year anniversary of being a full-time photographer is coming up this June, and I have experienced a lot of editorial success lately, including my new hiking and backpacking photography article in the May 2011 issue of Popular Photography. In the article, I share my secrets for creating dramatic images away from parking lot viewpoints. Most readers are never going to travel to the ends of the Earth and spend weeks camped out like I do, but hopefully my article will motivate more photographers to get more exercise, enjoy nature, and find their own unique images rather than settle for the same-old viewpoints. I created the double-page opening image of Forbidden Peak at sunset while backpacking in North Cascades National Park. It was a long hike up to Sahale Arm where I camped for several nights with some friends. If you are motivated, I highly recommend this backpacking trip high into the North Cascades. The views are some of the best that can be found in Washington. I created this image with my Pentax 67II medium format camera, Pentax 90mm f2.8 lens, Singh-Ray Warming Polarizer, tripod, and Fuji Velvia 50 film. I scanned it on my Imacon Photo scanner and adjusted the masterfile in whatever version of Photoshop I was using at the time. Readers will also note that I included a photo of my Fstopgear Tilopa BC packed with all my equipment spilled out that I currently use to create landscape photos.
I’ve been back home working for over a week while getting ready for some extensive travel coming up to Indonesia, Panama, and Patagonia over the next few months. I just finished processing all of my new sea otter images. Apple came out with a RAW converter for Aperture this past week. I was not happy how the DNG files were looking, so I wanted to wait to do the processing once Aperture supported my new Canon 50D. Overall, I am very happy with the results of using the new camera. My friend Phil Colla and I have been emailing back and forth about the quality of the images from the new camera. I’ve been very pleased with what I am getting, and have to go back to some of my 35mm film scans to realize how picky we are getting these days. The detail is so good that I am down to counting nose hairs on the sea otters. Overall, I am very pleased with the new camera, except for the fact that the larger LCD screen ends up getting covered in nose smudge while holding it up to my face. I’ll try and have more of the images in the sea otter gallery before I leave November 19th. Please visit more of my Sea Otter Photography.