Nellie Juan Glacier Dwarf Fireweed 1

Nellie Juan Glacier Dwarf Fireweed 1

I photographed this rugged scene while cruising Prince William Sound with my dad in late June. I had scouted Nellie Juan Fjord several days earlier in rainy conditions and observed a few dwarf fireweed blooms high above the tideline on the granite cliffs. In order to get to this location, I woke up well before sunrise, navigated my inflatable boat through hazardous submerged rocks guarding the entrance to the fjord, motored through tons of floating ice, and finally tethered my inflatable to the base of a soaring rock wall. I then scrambled high above the water to get to this precarious perch. Once I was in place, I was fortunate to experience perfect landscape photography conditions with clear sky to the east and a few clouds hovering over the mountains to the west. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkII, 17-40mm f4 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.

Chenega Glacier Calving 4

Chenega Glacier Calving 4

This past June, my dad and I used my 22′ C-Dory Serenity to cruise Prince William Sound for 8 days. We experienced mostly crappy weather during our trip, but that is typical of coastal Alaska. I was focused on photographing wildflowers near the glaciers, but did not find them in the quantities that I had hoped. So, I turned my attention to photographing the calving tidewater face of the Chenega Glacier which is located in Nassau Fjord south of Whittier. The enormous face of this impressive glacier is several miles wide and over 1000′ tall. Ice is constantly calving off of the face and falling long distances into the water below. Some of these explosions were spectacular to photograph, even though it was incredibly scary being so close. Keep in mind that I anchor Serenity in a protected cove and use my 12′ inflatable to navigate through the ice in order to get close to the glacier. I then drift for hours freezing my butt off waiting for something to happen. These days are filled with monotonous boredom intermixed with brief moments of absolute terror. I would not want to have it any other way. This is one of my favorite images of the ice collapsing into the water. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkII and 70-200mm f2.8 IS lens. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.

Harriman Glacier Dwarf Fireweed 1

Harriman Glacier Dwarf Fireweed 1

During my trip to Alaska last month, I returned to Harriman Fjord in Prince William Sound with ambitions of photographing wildflowers blooming near the tidewater glaciers. I was very lucky, as my timing was perfect and the weather was spectacular. I had seen a few images of this patch of dwarf fireweed from Alaska photographers that I admire and easily located it during my first reconnaissance of the fjord in my inflatable. I returned the next morning and was rewarded with beautiful sunrise light and clouds. 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.

Heather Island Dwarf Fireweed Sunset 1

Heather Island Dwarf Fireweed Sunset 1

I created this bold image of dwarf fireweed at sunset while visiting Columbia Bay with my small boat Serenity a few weeks ago. This was the second time that I have visited this area this year, after the dramatic and wild nature of the place got under my skin back in May. It is now one of my favorite locations that I have visited in Alaska. I experienced much better weather during this visit and there were loads of wildflowers, especially the hearty dwarf fireweed. This plant grows in areas recently exposed by glacial retreat. This particular patch of flowers was located on the northwest tip of Heather Island along the edge of the old glacial moraine bar. Before settling on this composition, I ran around like a madman trying to find the best group of wildflowers that would compliment the dramatic sunset that was unfolding. During brief but dramatic moments like this, a photographer must be comfortable with his/her equipment and methodically use the skills that have been mastered through years of practice. I photographed this scene with my Canon 5DmkII, Carl Zeiss 28mm f2 ZE lens, Singh-Ray LB Warming polarizer, and 2-stop Hard Graduated Neutral Density filter. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.

Hartney Bay Sandpipers 32

Hartney Bay Sandpipers 32

This is another image from my visit to Cordova, Alaska last month. The focus of my trip was photographing the shorebird migration that takes place each spring along the Copper River delta. Naively, I anticipated millions of shorebirds, but I never saw more than perhaps 10,000 all at once. This was still a spectacular sight to photograph, and how many birds did I really need? The best time to photograph the shorebirds was at high tide, which fortunately corresponded with sunrise and sunset that week. I was also lucky that the sky was clear so that I was able to take advantage of the golden light. This is one of my favorite pictures of the birds in flight. I created this image with my Canon 7D and 400mm f4 DO IS lens plus 1.4X tele-converter. I slightly cropped the original image to make a stronger composition, otherwise, it required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.

Columbia Glacier Sea Otters 1

Columbia Glacier Sea Otters 1

While visiting the Columbia Glacier last month, I spent a lot of time photographing sea otters, or should I say, trying to photograph sea otters. They are very shy creatures, and difficult to approach. I had a Canon 500mm f4 IS lens with me, but that lens is way too heavy to hand-hold while motoring around in my inflatable all day. Fortunately, I also had my trusted Canon 400mm f4 DO IS lens, which is much lighter. When combined with my Canon 7D and 1.4X tele-converter, this set up becomes the equivalent of a 900mm lens. I prefer marine mammal images that are photographed from as close to the water as possible. This yields a much better sense of location plus a softer background than images that are taken from higher up on larger boats. This mother and pup kept an eye on me the entire time, which gave me the eye contact that I prefer when photographing wildlife. Keep in mind that I was piloting my inflatable with my other hand while also trying to compose this picture. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.

In case you missed it, please check out my sea otter article from this trip that were recently published in the UK’s Daily Mail.

Columbia Glacier Reflection 1

Columbia Glacier Reflection 1

While visiting Alaska last month, I used my 22′ C-Dory Serenity to cruise from Whittier to the Columbia Glacier. I then spent a week anchored in Jade Cove located on the southeastern side of Columbia Bay during which I used my inflatable to explore the area. I spent much of my time photographing adorable sea otters during the day and then glacier landscapes at sunrise and sunset. I have had to learn to photograph in cloudy conditions in Alaska. Most of the time this is ideal for wildlife, but not so desirable for dramatic landscape images. However, just because it is cloudy doesn’t mean that there aren’t any images to be had. This image of stranded glacial ice on the moraine bar at low tide is a perfect example of creating an image in murky light conditions. Photographing the deep blues in icebergs requires overcast light and I took advantage of the calm, shallow water for a reflection. I still had to wait patiently for a perfect mirror reflection for over an hour before I was eventually successful. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkII, Carl Zeiss 50mm f1.4 ZE lens, and Singh-Ray 4-stop Soft Graduated Neutral Density filter. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.

Porcupine in Tree 1

Porcupine in Tree 1

While visiting the Childs Glacier near Cordova, the VW van that Steve and I borrowed got a flat tire. In addition, the light was murky, so we did not get any sunrise pictures of the glacier. After we changed the tire and began driving back to town we encountered a porcupine foraging in the forest. Steve launched out of the van to photograph it so fast that he forgot to put on his Xtratufs. However, after looking at the bog he was immersed in, I methodically put on my boots rather than suffer cold, wet feet. The porcupine took one look at us with our big lenses and headed for the top of a small tree. It initially turned its back to us and raised its quills, which didn’t make a very good image, but eventually relaxed enough to make a few nice portraits. To create this image, I lined up the porcupine with some trees in the background that made for a nice out-of-focus background. I patiently waited until it turned towards me so that I could see its eyes. I created this image with my Canon 7D and 400mm f4 DO IS lens. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.

Hartney Bay Sandpipers 2

Hartney Bay Sandpipers 2

While visiting Cordova, I saw flocks of several thousand shorebirds, but never the millions that I had read about. If there were millions, they were spread out over the entire Copper River delta region. The shorebirds that I saw were scattered all over the mudflats of Hartney Bay which made photographing them difficult. The best opportunities to photograph them was when they grouped together at high-tide. During the week of my visit, high-tide luckily corresponded with sunrise and sunset. There were also no clouds just clear sky, so I was able to take advantage of the good light. In this image, I positioned myself on the sunlit side of the birds and added some color by including the reflection of the blue sky in the mud. I was attracted to the repetitive patterns of the resting shorebirds, but even when they were resting many of them still moved around. I created this image by hand-holding my Canon 7D and 400mm f4 DO IS lens with my 1.4X tele-converter. Depth-of-field was a real challenge, so I stopped my lens down to f18 and chose ISO 400 to give me a reasonable shutter speed for hand-holding my camera. This image required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.

Hartney Bay Sunset 1

Hartney Bay Sunset 1

During my recent visit to Cordova, Alaska, I was blessed with nearly a week of perfect weather. Of course, clear blue skies are never conducive to dramatic landscape images, so I kept my eye out for the occasional clouds at sunset. These mountains formed the dramatic backdrop for the prime shorebird viewing area of Hartney Bay. Since it was still early spring, they were still covered in snow almost all the way to sea-level. Fortunately for my photography ambitions, high-tide corresponded with sunset which allowed the channels in Hartney Bay to fill with the incoming tide. Since there was almost no wind the night that I created this image, I was able to photograph a near perfect reflection in the calm waters. The clouds lit up with more dramatic colors as the sun set, but I find my photographic eye increasingly drawn to more fully illuminated landscapes with great light, rather than overwhelming neon colors and dark shadows. I created this image using 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 required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.