This is one of my new images from my July visit to Denali National Park. I had a professional photography permit to drive the Wonder Lake Road. I’d had no ambition to photograph Denali as I had already done so in 2005 and 2006 when the weather was horrible. Since it is typically very cloudy, I was mostly planning on photographing wildlife near the road. However, when the weather improved and the clouds parted, I switched my goal back to landscape photography. This tundra pond is one of thousands located near Wonder Lake. This sunrise was gorgeous as alpenglow illuminated the summit at 20,000 feet while the clouds clung to the lower flanks of the mountain. There were a lot of water bugs disturbing the surface of this pond, but otherwise the reflection was as close to perfect as possible. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkII, Carl Zeiss 50mm f1.4 ZE lens, Singh-Ray LB Warming polarizer, and 4-stop Soft Graduated Neutral Density filter. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
I created this image while visiting Kukak Bay on the Katmai Coast in August. This brown bear was lazily sitting by the edge of a stream waiting for a salmon to swim past. Eventually, it sat up on its hind legs and yawned. When I saw this image on my camera’s LCD screen, I chuckled. I felt bad for the bear, since this was not the most flattering picture, but I doubt that the bear cares. The early morning golden light was an added bonus. I used my Canon 7D and 500mm f4 IS lens to photograph this moment. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
At the end of August, I embarked on a dangerous expedition to the Katmai Coast to photograph brown bears. The trip required my friend Paul Souders & I to depart from Kodiak and cross the always treacherous Shelikof Strait using my 22′ C-Dory. There are safer and more expensive ways to visit the Katmai Coast, but none of these options would have allowed us to spend as much time so intimately with the bears. To say that I was scared when we entered the open ocean in less than ideal conditions is an understatement. However, we successfully motored across to our first destination, the spectacular Kukak Bay. After we anchored, we immediately set out for shore to walk amongst the bears. I’ve been around my fair share of bears, but nothing quite prepared me for spending the first day amongst them at such close range. I do not advise people to be foolhardy and run up to brown bears, but they are also not going to attack and eat you under most situations. For instance, this beautiful bore was waiting for a salmon and nonchalantly watched us as we set up our cameras and moved in close enough to take his picture. He drifted in and out of sleep as we observed him for several hours. I’ll share some images soon where he rolled on to his back and stretched, but this low and tight portrait is my favorite. In order to render the distant background pleasantly out-of-focus, I laid on the ground on my stomach to get as low as possible with my Canon 7D and 500mm f4 IS lens. I then waited for him to look straight into my lens whenever he opened his eyes. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
On my first day in Denali National Park, I encountered a large group of Dall sheep up the side of a mountain. I grabbed my camera equipment, including my 500mm lens, and hiked over 1500′ up to them. As I approached the group, they became aware of my presence but did not run away. I was unsure how close they would allow me to get, but they seemed unconcerned by my presence and continued foraging for grasses. I got close enough to photograph individual animals isolated against a clean background. Eventually, I moved in close enough to photograph this nice head-on portrait of a big male looking down on me. I created this image with my Canon 7D, Canon 500mm f4 IS lens, and Canon 1.4X tele-converter. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
During my recent visit to Denali National Park, I had a professional photography permit for the first time. The permit allowed me the unique opportunity to drive the Wonder Lake Road in my own vehicle and spend as much time taking pictures as I needed. The week started out with terrible weather, but quickly improved and kept getting better every day. I honestly had no ambition to photograph Denali based on how difficult it was to even see the mountain during my previous visits in 2005 and 2006. However, with all the clear weather that I experienced, I took advantage of every moment that the summit was visible. I created this spectacular image on the last day of my permit. After staying up all night for several days and barely sleeping, I had lunch at the Kantishna Roadhouse. After lunch, my intention was to start driving back to Anchorage, but as I was nearing Wonder Lake the mountain was again entirely visible. So much for driving that afternoon. I had scouted several nice patches of fireweed during the week, so I decided to set up my camera for the rest of the day and see what would happen. Not only was it sunny and warm with almost no wind, but the mosquitoes disappeared entirely. This allowed me to comfortably sit at the side of the road while working on my tan with my shirt off. Anyone who has ever been back to Wonder Lake during the summer will appreciate how incredible this sounds. Over the course of 6 hours waiting for the sunset, I listened to some of my favorite music, waived at the occasional bus passing by, and waited for the clouds to part again in order reveal Denali. Everything came together perfectly about 1 hour before sunset. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkII, Carl Zeiss 35mm 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.
During my recent visit to Denali National Park, I photographed this rare portrait of a Canadian lynx. I had been exhausted from driving all night from Wonder Lake back to the park entrance, when a lynx crossed the road in front of my van. At first, I was unsure whether it was real. However, as soon as I pulled up alongside of the lynx, it laid in the bushes next to the road and proceeded to watch me for what seemed like an eternity. I reached for my big lens on the floor behind me and quietly rolled down the window to grab whatever picture I could before it ran away. The lynx seemed unconcerned by my presence, so I got out of the car. In order to minimize the bushes in front of the lynx’s face, I had to lay on my stomach on the road while balancing my camera equipment with one hand. I was less than 30′ away from this beautiful creature the entire time. It was an amazing encounter that I will always cherish. 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.
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.
During my recent trip to Patagonia, I was only able to see and photograph the amazing granite spires a few days due to the notorious weather. Most of my trip involved sitting around camp waiting for better conditions. It was not the most productive photography trip. However, when the weather was nice, it was amazing! In order to get to this fantastic viewpoint in time for sunrise, I had to hike over 2 miles and 1600′ vertical feet in the dark. On the morning that I photographed this scene, I could tell when I woke up at 3am that it was clear on the eastern horizon and discerned the silhouette of Mount Fitz Roy above camp to the west. Anticipation of an epic sunrise provided me with extra motivation during the hike up to Laguna de los Tres. I was not disappointed, because the clouds lit up with dramatic color while Mount Fitz Roy was bathed in alpenglow. This image was created using my Canon 5DmkII and Singh-Ray 3-stop Hard Graduated Neutral Density filter on a Carl Zeiss 21mm f2.8 ZE lens that Zeiss USA was kind enough to loan me for my trip. This image required minimal processing using Aperture 3.
I just returned from leading a private photography tour in Death Valley National Park. I’ve spent a lot of time in this dramatic but desolate park the last few years, so it was nice to return to a place that I know so well. It was especially nice seeing the sun while missing the lousy weather back home in Seattle. I did not take a lot of photos during this trip because the shooting conditions never got epic, plus my attention was focused on working with my clients. What is important is that they had a great time and learned a lot from me. Most of my photography tours are done on a private basis, and include as much instruction as I can cram into a trip. The cost of working with me is higher per person compared to an instructor who leads a dozen people at a time, but my clients have me all to themselves. Please consider working with me if you are interested in pushing your photography to a new level.
This image is my favorite from the trip. My regular readers and fans might wonder, “why is this not some epic-light, wide-angle shot from some far off destination like Jon typically shoots?” I occasionally photograph abstract details and patterns, but they never sell or license compared to the “bigger” images that I am know for. Even though the clouds did not light up as I had hoped for at sunset, I used the twilight glow to add some red color to this intricate mosaic pattern of mud. I created this image using my Canon 5DmkII body and Carl Zeiss 50mm f1.4 ZE lens. It required minimal processing using Aperture 3.
My image “Delicate Arch Sunset 2” is featured on the cover on the 2012 Audubon National Parks calendar! I just checked the image’s meta-data and saw that I created this image almost 5 years ago this March. I remember flying down to Salt Lake City and then driving to Arches National Park to catch a clearing storm that afternoon. I created this image using my Pentax 67II medium format film camera, Pentax 105mm f2.8 lens, and Singh-Ray Warming Polarizer using Fuji Velvia film. I also set up my Fotoman 612 panoramic film camera to create a panoramic version of this same scene. I do not miss carrying all of that weight around. I scanned the original slide with my Imacon Photo desktop scanner and processed it using Photoshop.