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.
“Whadya lookin’ at?” That is surely what this majestic bald eagle was thinking when it looked at me like this. The low-angle sunlight perfectly illuminated its breast while perched on this log, while the forest in the distance rendered as fantastic orange bokeh. Magnificent! Over the course of our time together, I photographed the occasional glare in my direction, but this picture with the curious tilt of the head was the most compelling. Notice how I left enough empty space above the eagle’s head so that a publisher could use this as a potential cover? I have to resist the urge to fill the entire frame. I used my Canon 7D and 500mm f4 IS lens to create this image.
What my recent trip to Alaska lacked in eagles in action was more than made up for by cooperative eagles in beautiful light. I photographed hundreds of images of eagles waiting for a decisive moment to unleash a glaring stare or unrestrained call. Most of my best new images involve direct eye contact. I mostly deleted my images where the eagles were simply too complacent. This image resonated with me because the eagle’s stand-up attention made it appear noble and proud. However, this common anthropomorphization does not necessarily agree with their lazy and opportunistic nature. I created this image with my Canon 7D and 500mm f4 IS lens using minimal digital processing. For this photo, I precisely positioned my camera so as to render the distant snow-capped mountain, forest, and bushes as pleasing bokeh. I always advise photographers that, when using a long telephoto lens, what is behind the subject is just as important as the subject.
I just got back from leading my 2010 Haines Bald Eagle Photography Tour. It was awesome, but Alaska always is. I had 4 clients signed up to join me, but at the last minute only 2 were able to attend. This was the first time that I worked with Paul & Kim and we had a great time together. Paul had never used a real camera prior to our trip and was skeptical about taking a photo tour, but I made him a believer in dSLRs as his photography skills improved each day. There were not as many eagles around this year, possibly due to the unusually warm fall weather, but we made the most of the opportunities we had. What was lacking in eagle numbers and activity was more than made up for by close-up portraits in beautiful golden light. To create this image, I used my Canon 7D with a 500mm f4 IS lens and 1.4X tele-converter. That is effectively an 1120mm lens! If you’ve never done it, I highly recommend micro-adjusting your camera bodies and lenses. I can not believe how sharp my images are after doing so, especially when using the tele-converter. I was able to get within 15 feet of this cooperative eagle for almost an hour. I placed my camera in a position so that the trees bathed in golden light behind the eagle rendered as this pleasing red bokeh. I like this image because of the eagle’s open beak when it briefly called out to another eagle flying by.