Popular Photography December 2013 Winter in Japan Article

Popular Photography December 2013 Winter in Japan Article

I’m pleased to be able to share that my article “Winter in Japan” has been published in the current issue of Popular Photography. In my article, I offer advice about how to visit the best wildlife locations and technical information about how to photograph these amazing animals. You can read the full article online at, www.popphoto.com/how-to/2013/12/travel-photography-winter-japan. The opening double page image of the Japanese macaques, or snow moneys, was created during my Japan photography tour last winter. I highly recommend a visit to the Jigokudani Monkey Park to anyone traveling to Japan.

Japanese Macaque 10

Japanese Macaque 10

I created this image while co-leading my Japan Wildlife Photography Tour last March. The Japanese macaques are unafraid of people, as you can see from this close-up, wide-angle perspective. This particular macaque came right up to where I was standing at the edge of the hot pool and posed for me. I had never photographed a macaque before, but I am sure that it had seen more than its share of humans based on how busy the Jigokudani Monkey Park was with tourists.I don’t think that it was as impressed with me as I was with it.

Red-Crowned Crane 10

Red-Crowned Crane 10

This is an abstract image of an endangered red-crowned crane in flight from my recent Japan Wildlife Photography Tour. While photographing the cranes, I was surrounded by hundreds of other photographers at the crane centers. I’m not used to being around so many people and have to admit that it is not an experience that I am going to repeat anytime soon. The harsh, middle of the day light also wasn’t the most ideal to shoot in. So, I experimented with my camera and this is one of my better images. I intentionally slowed my shutter speed while panning in an attempt to record subtle movement of the flying crane, as well as blur the busy background.

White-Tailed Eagle 1

White-Tailed Eagle 1

As I previously mentioned, my favorite part of my recent Japan Wildlife Photography Tour was photographing the eagles. The two types of eagles that we observed were the Steller’s sea eagle and white-tailed eagle. In order get into position to photograph them on the ice at first light, we had to board the boat at 5am in Rausu’s harbor. The boat then motored out to the ice edge where the guides attracted the eagles with fish. This image of a white-tailed eagle in flight is one of my favorites from the entire tour. I like how its wings are completely outstretched and razor sharp talons are prepared to grapple the ice pillar as it lands. I prefer this more natural flight behavior image compared to when the eagles were swooping up fish that were thrown on to the ice for them.

Kushiro River Winter Sunrise 1

Kushiro River Winter Sunrise 1

Does this image look cold? Well, that is because it was -20°C when I photographed this tranquil scene during my Japan Wildlife Photography Tour. As recently as a few years ago, I probably would not have taken this image. I was either too focused on dramatic light or incapable of visualizing something like this. Either way, I am pleased that I am able to push myself in new creative directions. What I like most about this image is the delicate frost patterns along the riverbank. I took care not to disturb them, since while approaching these trees I had already brushed past several branches whose chilly feathers immediately fell into the fresh snow at my feet.

Steller's Sea Eagle 1

Steller’s Sea Eagle 1

My favorite part of my recent Japan Wildlife Photography Tour was photographing the Steller’s sea eagles. This involved getting up at 4am, boarding a boat at 5am, then motoring out to the pack ice in the dark in order to be in position for first light. It was also very cold, something like -20°C. Once we arrived at the ice edge, the crew then proceeded to attract the eagles by placing and throwing fish on to the ice. Within a short time, we had tons of seagulls, crows, white-tailed eagles, and Steller’s all around us. There was so much action in the chaos that it was hard to figure out what to shoot. I blew the gorgeous sunrise light the first morning, but focused on dramatic flight shots the second morning. That is when I photographed this dynamic eagle coming in for a landing with its talons out.

Japanese Macaque 3

Japanese Macaque 3

A little over one week ago, I returned from co-leading my Japan Wildlife Photography Tour and have been busy editing my images. This is one of my favorites of a Japanese macaque, also known as a snow monkey, taken at Jigokudani Monkey Park near Nagano. We spent 3 days photographing the monkeys at the famous hot springs where they enjoy soaking in the man-made hot tub. It was a beautiful experience to spend so much time so close to these photogenic animals, but it was definitely not a remote, wilderness experience like I am used to. Fresh snow would have enhanced the photography, but none fell during our visit. So, I spent my time observing and waiting for something interesting to happen. This female was one of the only macaques that dipped her head below the water’s surface while swimming in the pool. When she popped back up, she had this crazy hair dew which I found very compelling to photograph.

Vava'u Humpback Whale Breach 3

Vava’u Humpback Whale Breach 3

If I could do one thing every day for the rest of my life, it would be to go out on the water to photograph whales for the day. They are simply the most amazing creatures that I am fortunate to regularly photograph. My favorite images of humpback whales are created when they breach. This behavior is an impressive display of emotion and power. You can see my entire gallery of photos of humpback whales breaching. Two of the things that make my breaching pictures stand out are; I shoot from small boats, close to the water so that the whale erupts above the horizon and I am close enough to my subject to use my 70-200mm lens. This image is a good example of utilizing the lowest point on the boat, as well as being taken at 70mm. During the Tonga portion of my 2012 Humpback Whale Tour, this whale repeatedly breached so close to the boat that I probably should have utilized a slightly wider lens. Incredible! I created this image using my Canon 7D and 70-200mm f2.8 IS II lens, and processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS6.

Barter Island Polar Bears 105

Barter Island Polar Bears 105

Aww! I photographed these two cute polar bear cubs during my Alaska Polar Bear Photography Tour last October. They are so adorable I just want to hug them, except for the fact that they would probably eat me. During our tour, we work with local Eskimo guides who take us out in their small boats to the barrier islands to photograph the polar bears. The moms and cubs are usually resting during the day, but become more active in the afternoon. They can often be photographed at the water’s edge like this. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkIII and Canon 300mm f2.8 IS II lens, and processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS6.