Kaikoura Billboard

Kaikoura Billboard

One of my underwater humpback whale images appears on billboards in New Zealand this month. (Anyone in NZ able to send me a picture?) When I first set out to make a living as a professional photographer, I initially found success selling fine-art prints through galleries & art shows. That business model ceased being effective with the down-turn in the economy, so I turned my focus to my website. Many of my modest sales now come from having good SEO. This sale is a perfect example. A design firm contacted me a few weeks ago after searching the web, offered me a reasonable usage rate, I emailed them the file, and they wire-transferred the money to me. How easy was that?

Alaska Airlines February 2010 Cover

Alaska Airlines February 2010 Cover

I am pleased to announce that my image is featured on the cover of the February 2010 issue of Alaska Airlines magazine! Be sure to check it out if you are on an Alaska Airlines flight this month. Also, the opening double page image to the humpback whale article was photographed by my friend Brandon Cole during a previous trip that we took together. I have the exact same image, since we were next to each other in the water when we both almost got run over by a humpback whale mother & calf. Photographing whales above or below water is my favorite kind of photography. It also helps that I am comfortable swimming in the open ocean in 10,000 feet of water and enjoy staring down into the blue depths underneath my fins.

This is a great blog post to transition from my dramatic landscape photography to more of my new wildlife images from the last year. I’ve been tightly editing my image archives the last few weeks and have come across a few keepers that are worth sharing in the days ahead. If you are like me and admire these creatures, check out my gallery of available humpback whale photos.

Place of Refuge Sunset 2

Place of Refuge Sunset 2

This is my favorite (and 1 of my only!) landscape images from my recent trip to Hawaii’s Big Island.  I was fortunate to photograph this amazing sunset early in my trip during one of the few vog free days.  I created it near Pu’uhonau o Honaunau (Place of Refuge) National Park, which is just south of Capt Cook.  The park is one of my favorite places near Kona to spend the day snorkeling, hiking, & exploring.  It has a long history & powerful spiritual presence.  In ancient Hawaii, kapu (laws) governed every aspect of Hawaiian society.  If  you violated a kapu, the penalty was death.  Your only option for survival was to elude your pursuers and reach the nearest puuhonua, or place of refuge, where you would be safe.  Fortunately, I was not on the run from anyone, but I did have to quickly set up my camera to capture these brilliant clouds before the sun dropped below the tropical horizon.

Place of Refuge Wave 1

Place of Refuge Wave 1

Yesterday was my last day in Hawaii. Overall, the trip was exciting and adventurous, yet the photo opportunities were limited. The volcanic haze (vog) foiled almost every sunset landscape image that I tried to shoot. I also went boating 4 days to try and shoot some underwater wildlife. Even though I encountered spinner dolphins, pilot whales, and oceanic white tip sharks, none of them came close enough to me in the water to capture a publishable image. I always say that you better enjoy the boat ride when you are looking for pelagic critters. The chances of finding them are few and far between, yet when you do, it is an incredible experience.

I lucked into this image yesterday morning while snorkeling near the Place of Refuge. My flight home was not until the afternoon, so I decided to go for one last swim. Almost immediately, I found some green sea turtles feeding underwater, but soon turned my attention to a large school of yellow tangs that were moving back and forth in the wave surge. I noticed how dramatic the waves appeared in the background of my useless fish photos, so I turned my attention to capturing the drama of the large waves breaking over the coral reef. After some trial and error, I got my timing down for when I should dive underneath the surface and how to angle my camera up to shoot as the waves boiled over the reef. Of course right after the waves hit me, I felt like I was on the inside of a washing machine! It was challenging, but I had a lot of fun shooting something different.

Ae'o 1

Ae’o 1 (Native Hawaiian Stilt)

There are only an estimated 1500 endangered ae’o or Hawaiian stilts in the world. I saw about 10 of them yesterday afternoon when I drove down to the Koloko-Honokohau National Park fishponds. I thought about throwing the 500 f4 lens in the car as I left my room, but decided not to bring it. After I pulled into the parking area and got out to look around, I immediately observed the stilts lined up on the edge of the fishpond. After about 15 minutes, I decided to drive back to my room and get the big lens. When I returned with the 500, the ae’o let me approach close enough to take some nice portraits. I like this image because the bird’s long leg is out of the water as it is hunting for prey.

Humpback Whale 1

My Top 10 Favorite Photos of 2008, #4

It is pretty pathetic outside in Seattle today. I have been home all day listening to NPR while working on several submissions and doing a printing project for a client. Both I-5 and I-90 are closed due to extensive flooding throughout the state. We even made the national news for how miserable it is. I’ve only been back from Panama for 1 week, but I am already vowing to not be here at all next winter from my daughters Christmas break through January. I really get bummed out and depressed in this weather so that is why I started traveling and working for myself 8 years ago. I am really looking forward to my diving trip next week. The weather forecast is starting to look very promising, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed. I am also looking forward to going back to Patagonia for a backpacking and photography trip in 2 weeks.

My February trip to Hawai’i was my best trip that I have ever had for humpback whale photos. I talked Paul Souders into joining me for 2 weeks on the water and we had a great time together. (Paul is also going to Hornby Island with me and Ken next week.) I created this image using my Canon 5D digital SLR and 20mm lens in my Ikelite underwater camera housing at f2.8 and 1/250 second.

Humpback Whale 3

My Top 10 Favorite Photos of 2008, #10

I just got back from a very relaxing family holiday in Bocas del Toro, Panama. We missed all of the bad winter weather in Seattle while working on our sun tans and drinking too many pina coladas. I lost a lot of my motivation to do anything other than sit around in a hammock. My kids are now going to bed at 7 pm and waking up at 4:30 am, since there is a 3 hour time difference between Panama (EST) and Seattle (PST). With all my free time early in the morning, I’ve been thinking about a new blog entry and came across an idea on an acquaintances website for posting my Top 10 Favorite Images of 2008. That sounds like the right amount of effort to ease me back into reality. So, over the course of the next 10 days, I will endeavor to add a new image and story each day for you my visitors.

This image of “Humpback Whales Underwater” was taken in March in Hawai’i. It takes weeks of patience on the water in order to have the opportunity to get this close to a whale, let alone photograph it. I have always said that if I could do only one thing photographically, it would be to follow whales everyday of the year, but it is also the most difficult and expensive thing that I do. This image is of 2 enormous males that were pursuing a female and her calf during what is called a “heat run”. I created it using my Canon 5D digital SLR and 20mm lens in my Ikelite underwater camera housing at f2.8 and 1/200 second. You can enjoy many more spectacular photos of humpback whales in the multiple galleries on my site.

Humpback Whale 2

Alaska Airlines Magazine September 2008

If you happen to be on an Alaska Airlines flight this month, take a look at the in-flight magazine and the feature on Hawaii. This recent image from an encounter with a humpback whale is featured in the article. This large male came incredibly close to me, with his pectoral fin coming within a foot of my camera moments after this images was taken! Please visit more of my Humpback Whale Photography.

Welcome Pixcetera Visitors!

My image “Wailau Beach Rainbow” from the north shore of Molokai, HI is featured on the homepage of Pixcetera as part of the 2008 Nature’s Best Ocean Views Competition.

I’d like to say thank you again to everyone who has enjoyed my photography and sent me many complimentary emails and print orders! Unfortunately, a lot of people have commented that they thought this image has been digitally manipulated and is a fake. As a professional photographer, I find it to be a sad state that we are in when people just assume that something so beautiful has to be a fraud. I spend almost 6 months each year traveling the world to capture spectacular images using professional camera equipment. I shot this image with a Pentax medium format camera using professional Fuji slide film, which I still use for all of my landscape images. Most of the time, I come back with at least 1 photo from each trip, but often I come back with nothing at all. This incredible rainbow image was just shear luck on the second day of a week long sea-kayaking trip on Molokai. Fortunately, I was able to set up and compose the image in the pouring rain fast enough that I came home with the shot. As often as I put myself out in nature, I still only witness a rainbow like this on average of every other year. If you would like to learn more about rainbows, please visit atoptics.co.uk/bows. Please feel free to email me if you are interested in ordering one of my fine art prints. Thank you.

Wailau Beach Rainbow

2008 Nature’s Best Ocean Views Photography Awards

I have 2 images in the summer issue of Nature’s Best as part of their inaugural Ocean Views competition. They are also on display at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC through December. This image of a spectacular early morning rainbow was taken on a sea kayaking trip on the remote north shore of Molokai and is one of my best selling Hawaii images. Please visit more of my images from Molokai.