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.
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.
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.
My regular readers have probably noticed that I have been on an extensive underwater photography binge in the last year. I’ve always said that I aspire to shoot mostly underwater subjects, and am happy that most of my 2012 trips will be at or below the surface. So sticking with that theme, here is another underwater image from my December trip to the National Park of American Samoa. I spent a week at the Vaoto Lodge on Ofu Island and had this idyllic beach setting all to myself each day. This is my favorite over-under image from all the time that I spent in the water. I really like how the coral rubble in the sandy bottom leads the viewer’s eye directly into the jagged peaks. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkII and 17-40mm f4 lens with a B+W +2 graduated neutral density filter inside my Aquatech 5DmkII housing with an Aquatech 8″ dome port. This image is a single-exposure which required a minimal amount of processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
I spent much of my visit to the US National Park of American Samoa on Ofu Island photographing over-underwater split images. This is one of my favorites. I like the coral reef with the refracted light dancing across the sandy bottom below with the dramatic scenery and clouds above. There are even a few tropical fish visible in the original, though, I doubt any of my readers will be able to see them at this resolution. Creating an image like this required a lot of trial and error. Waves were constantly washing over the front of my dome, so I had to remove the water drops with a hand towel which I kept underneath a ballcap on my head. I’m glad that I had the whole beach to myself as I must have looked like a dork, but it got the job done. It was also really hot. Most of the Samoans stayed in the shade during the hottest part of the day, but I was out there swimming with my camera under the intense sun getting thoroughly sunburned. But it was fun. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkII and 17-40mm f4 lens with a B+W +2 graduated neutral density filter inside my Aquatech 5DmkII housing with a Aquatech 8″ dome port. This image is a single-exposure which required a minimal amount of processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
Since I returned home last week, I have not had a lot of time to edit my new images, but this one is definitely worth sharing. I photographed this dramatic sunset while visiting the US National Park of American Samoa on Ofu Island last month. It took a lot of effort to travel this out-of-the-way tropical destination, which was part of the charm, but also explains why it is the least visited of the US National Parks. I stayed at the Vaoto Lodge where Jim, Ben, & Marge were delightful hosts. Other than the 2 researchers who were doing coral studies, I had the entire stretch of beach in the Park all to myself. I photographed a number of brilliant sunrise and sunsets, but this was the most spectacular. As much as I travel, it is still special when the clouds light up with intense color like this. I composed this image by framing the dramatic peaks in the distance with this eroded limestone shelf with waves washing over it in the foreground. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkII, Carl Zeiss 28mm f2 ZE lens, Singh-Ray LB Warming polarizer, and 3-stop Hard Graduated Neutral Density filter. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
I am incredibly excited to have 2 of my new acrylic face mount prints on permanent display at Etheridge Family Dentistry in Seattle, WA. The 35×50 Laguna de los Tres Sunrise 5 print above is from my trip to Patagonia last January and the 35×50 False Clownfish 23 image below is from my trip to Raja Ampat last March. They look absolutely stunning (even with Dr Ty standing in front of them). Both of these acrylic face mounts were created by West Coast Imaging. WCI offers several paper options. I chose the Epson premium glossy paper, because it most closely matched the colors of my own Epson printer. They are mounted directly to 1/4″ acrylic, backed with a white dibond backer, a metal hanging system is attached, and the edges are flame polished. I have not finalized my price list for these spectacular prints, but they will cost about 2 to 3 times the price of my current Museo silver rag prints. To celebrate the 2011 holiday season, I will offer these ready to hang prints at the introductory price of 2 times my current print prices. It takes about 3 weeks to create them, so all orders that are placed no later than next Friday December 2 will be guaranteed to arrive in time for Christmas.
I spent 3 long days attempting to photograph brown bears fishing underwater while visiting Kuliak Bay. I did not succeed. However, I had 6 opportunities where a bear sniffed the back of my underwater camera rather than the front. If I were a cartoon, I would have had one of those bubbles over my head with something like !@#$%^&%$#@* inside. Oh, well, I can try again in a few years. With my underwater camera positioned in the river all day, I took a lot of pictures of the salmon swimming in front of it. This is my favorite image of the mostly pink salmon with a few sockeye mixed in. I really like the reflection of the salmon on the surface of the water as well as the beautiful green color. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkII and 17-40mm f4 lens inside my Aquatech 5DmkII housing with a Aquatech 8″ wide-angle dome port which I remotely triggered with a PocketWizard in an Aquatech PocketWizard housing. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
This is my most successful wide-angle brown bear image from my August expedition to the Katmai Coast. I spent 4 days in Kuliak Bay trying unsuccessfully to photograph brown bears fishing underwater. For most of the day, my underwater camera system was submerged on a tripod with the PocketWizard antennae barely extending about the surface, but I had to pull it out of the river at high tide. While waiting for the tide to drop on my first full day ashore, I observed the bears fishing in the creek when the salmon migrated up to the lake at high tide. The next day, I decided to preposition my camera at the bottom of the falls before high tide and the arrival of the salmon and bears. It was nerve racking positioning my camera even though there were not any bears around at the time. They could emerge from the woods at any moment, so I quickly set it up next to some rocks and returned to the relative security of my viewing platform. This beautiful young bear was the first to arrive. Over the course of an hour, I observed this bear fishing and remotely triggered my camera every time that it appeared to be in front of my camera. Right before this moment, the bear caught the salmon on the far side of the creek. It then ran directly towards my camera with the fish in its mouth when it realized that there was a mother with 2 cubs coming down the creek from above. When I retrieved my camera several hours later, I was giddy with anticipation while reviewing the images and discovered this one was on my memory card. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkII and 17-40mm f4 lens inside my Aquatech 5DmkII housing with a Aquatech wide-angle flat port which I remotely triggered with a PocketWizard in an Aquatech PocketWizard housing. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
My August trip to the outer coast of Katmai National Park was pretty dangerous, but it allowed me to create some unique photos. I took my boat on the ferry from Homer to Kodiak and then used it to cross treacherous Shelikof Strait in order to spend several weeks living with the brown bears. I spent the entire trip as close to brown bears as anyone has ever been. This probably sounds insane to most people, but brown bears are not going to just run up to and eat you for no reason. However, they must be respected at all times. One of the new techniques that I employed was using PocketWizards to remotely trigger my cameras so that I could shoot wide-angle bear images. Guessing where to pre-position my cameras was the challenge, but I got better at it as learned the bear’s routines. While visiting Kuliak Bay, brown bears regularly walked past this location, so I placed one of my cameras on a tripod low to the ground and waited. I remotely triggered the camera whenever a bear walked in front of it. 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.