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.

Vermillion Lakes Sunrise 4

Vermillion Lakes Sunrise 4

Banff National Park in Canada is one of my all-time favorite travel destinations. I was only 15 years old the first time I visited and its relative proximity was one of the main reasons that I moved to Seattle over 20 years ago. I try to return as often as I can, but it had been several years until my recent visit in September. My buddy and I started off our week-long trip by getting snowed on at Bow Summit and hiking in Bugaboo Glacier Provincial Park. On our return to Calgary, we photographed this incredible sunrise over Mount Rundle from the Vermillion Lakes near the town of Banff. We’d both been here many times before, so we knew where to place our tripods, but we literally jumped out of the car and started shooting just as this spectacular light show unfolded. While cars and trucks whizzed by on the Trans-Canada above and behind me, a solitary bull elk was bugling just to my right. It was a beautiful morning to be out in nature.

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.

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.

Tonquin Valley Sunrise 3

Tonquin Valley Sunrise 3

Here it is!  My favorite photo from my backpacking trip into the Tonquin Valley last week. Out of 500 images from 2 days of getting up at 5am for sunrise, backpacking over 40km while carrying my 50lb pack, & driving 1280 miles round-trip, this is the one that caught my attention the most. I can probably process and edit about 20 more images for my stock & publishing needs on top of the 4 that I have already posted here, but this is the one that I am most proud of. Why you ask?

1. Amethyst Lake was almost completely calm from where I was standing all the way across to the Ramparts, giving me a perfect mirror reflection.

2. The clouds were particularly symmetric above the Ramparts, but also in the reflection. I also like the way that the summits of the peaks are just barely in shadow, too. Very mysterious.

3. I like the dark gray color of the clouds and the direct front light on the mountains. This combination of yellow light & gray skies always looks very ominous and dramatic. Also, I find that publishers & art clients prefer blue skies, white clouds, & earth tones over the neon red/orange/yellow images that are more popular with photo contests.

4. The foreground rocks have a pleasant warm tone to them. Behind me, the sun was blocked by a large cloud which acted like a giant soft-box in the sky. During these few minutes, the sun would occasionally pop out and cause my shadow to be cast on the rocks, which I found distracting.

So, what do you think?

Tonquin Valley Sunrise 5

Tonquin Valley Sunrise 5

This spectacular image from the Tonquin Valley was taken about 15 minutes after I took what I consider to be my best image from my backpacking trip in Jasper National Park last week. About an hour and a half after sunrise, the light, clouds, & shadows gave me a brilliant series of images to choose from. I was so enthralled by the scene before me, that I had to remember to shoot, let alone switch from horizontal to vertical compositions. Most of the time the reflection was ideal with only small ripples, but at some moments it was absolutely still giving a mirror image of the Ramparts! What an awesome place to shoot without a single other photographer around. Keep that in mind next time you are taking pictures at a popular national park viewpoint!

Tonquin Valley Sunrise 8

Tonquin Valley Sunrise 8

As promised, here is my second image of the week from my backpacking trip into the Tonquin Valley in Jasper National Park. (As long as I have internet access in Whistler this week, I’ll be able to post the next 3 images after today.) This images was created an hour after sunrise on the same morning as my previous post. The sky was a brilliant blue, but there were almost no clouds to add any drama. I learned long ago that anytime I have a perfect mountain reflection in a lake, I SHOOT IT!!!!! (Especially when it requires a 40 km round-trip backpacking adventure, and 1280 miles of driving.) Luckily, a couple of wispy clouds on the eastern horizon began to block the sun, casting some pretty fantastic shadow patterns on the Ramparts. It was amazing to watch the shadows dance across the face of this enormous escarpment. This is my favorite image from the second morning’s shoot. My next few posts will be from the first morning when I had some clouds!

Tonquin Valley Sunrise 6

Tonquin Valley Sunrise 6

I’ve been working on an initial edit of my images from last week in the Canadian Rockies. My plan is to post 1 image each day this week of my favorite images from the Tonquin Valley. Here is the first one! This is from the second sunrise that I spent at Surprise Point. I got up that morning to perfect calm conditions on Amethyst Lake for a reflection, but there were no clouds at all. So, I did my best and this is a beautiful image from about 30 minutes after sunrise.