Photographing in Patagonia I am running into people I know at every turn! Hopefully the variety in the slide show indicates all of the varied opportunities that have presented themselves on this trip – it’s been a good one! Save one miserable day that was spent chasing ghosts up a mountain in gale force wind and rain, but that’s all a part of nature photography. We have seen eight different cats, all responding differently toward us – some are prone to flee at first sight of our group, while others casually hang around not seeming to mind our presence at all.
Over all this has been a fantastic trip with great company, and I’m excited to sit down and edit what has been a satisfying batch of new captures.
It’s Save the Elephant Day, which makes it a perfect time to talk about my new upcoming book, Wild Elephants: Conservation in the Age of Extinction. The impetus behind this book is to spread awareness of not only the challenges that elephants face in their struggle for survival as a species, but also the many efforts being made to protect them and ensure their survival moving forward.
Legendary for their size and intelligence, elephants are one of the most charismatic of megafauna. That they are under siege from poachers is no secret, and the rapidity of their declining numbers is horrifying. However, amidst the steady stream of bad news, all is not lost. Ivory prices are declining, global awareness is advancing, and recent government crackdowns are beginning to stem the flow of illegal ivory.
I’ve been honored to work with Dr. Samuel Wasser, Director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington. His informative text focuses on his current groundbreaking research on the illegal trade in elephant ivory that is decimating this highly intelligent, tightly knit social species. Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson also contributes, his experience in writing of the emotional experiences of animals pairing perfectly with what I’ve attempted and hopefully succeeded to capture in the affection and sense of family these animals display.
Wild Elephants is a celebration of these wondrous gentle giants and the renewed efforts countries are taking to protect their natural heritage and explores what we can do to to empower local populations to safeguard the survival of a magnificent species.
Wild Elephants: Conservation in the Age of Extinction will be available in late September of this year, but you can pre-order your copy now. 10% of proceeds from presales of Wild Elephants sold through our online store will be donated to the University of Washington Center for Conservation Biology.
India is always a dazzling adventure. This trip began with leopards and ended with tigers, with Holi and Varanasi were sandwiched in between. Holi is a spring festival, but has become a rambunctious free-for-all where crowds fling brightly colored spices and powders into the air to banish the gloom of winter. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the energy to photograph this event again!
I’ll be posting some terrific photos my workshop participants took very soon, so stay tuned for those!
To call this small group tour to a famed destination “epic” would be an understatement. It has been many years since I visited Mt. Everest Base Camp, and a return been on my wish list for some time. This will also be the first time I’ve visited Mt. Kailash, and I couldn’t be happier about returning here to lead a 15-day workshop with others witnessing this fabled mountain for the first time.
My love for photography began at home in the Pacific Northwest, photographing the snowy mountain peaks of the Cascade and Olympic ranges. While we will be sharing our view of Kailash together for the first time, my goal is to apply a lifetime of capturing the elegant beauty of magnificent ranges to our small group of friends. Having an expert photographer by your side will ensure you come away with one-in-a-lifetime photos so you can share your adventure with friends and family. It’s my goal that you capture shots you can print and frame that will last generations.
Along the way there will be much more to see beyond Kailash and Basecamp. We will begin our journey in the capital city of Lhasa, exploring the time-worn streets and mingling with the local population and visiting the holiest of Buddhist temples in all of Tibet. We will explore ancient local monasteries along our way to Basecamp, visit Mt. Kailash, and ultimately conclude our journey in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Few spaces remain available for this photography adventure which begins on May 25th, and the time to finalize our arrangements is fast approaching. If you’re interested in taking the photographic trip of a lifetime, act now and sign up today!
In just over a week, I’ll be in Boise, Idaho bringing my popular Photography As Artseminar to the City of Trees!
This seminar is designed to completely change the way you view photography, and my intent is to inspire you to bring unique artistic visions to life using your camera as both brush and canvas. With an emphasis on the abstract, imaginary landscapes, and capturing metaphors the lessons learned here can be applied anywhere and with whatever equipment you have available – no globe-trotting or a plethora of fancy gear required.
I recently took a trip up to Northern Canada to photograph a variety of owls, and came away happy – if not chilled to the bone. It’s cold up above the 51st parallel, no matter the time of day. That didn’t seem to impact the hunting owls of the region, who’s keen senses can detect rodents beneath the snowfall dozens of meters away. They essentially do a graceful face plant into the snow, rummage around, and come away with a snack.
The light sky and the bright white snowy landscape make shooting a challenge. To control the light and capture a quality image, one first has to understand light in terms of it’s relationship to photography. This excerpt from “Chapter 6: Reading the Light” from The New Art of Photographing Nature explains it more succinctly than I might in a blog ramble:
Without light we would have no color. And without light, there would be no photography. In fact, the word photography derives from Greek roots meaning “writing with light.”
Primitive man did not have the benefit of science to explain natural phenomena such as the rainbow. Nor did we, until Sir Isaac Newton’s use of the prism separated white light into its component colors. Light is a form of electromagnetic energy, which, in the whole spectrum of frequencies, is only visible as colors in a very narrow band. Other frequencies, such as infrared, ultraviolet, gamma, and X-ray radiation, are invisible to our eyes.
Yet, despite our basic understanding of light, it is something we are apt to take for granted, like the rising and setting of the sun. But in photography, we can never take light for granted, and must learn to perceive it many nuances. The quality of the light creates a variety of colors and moods. Light also models form, and the direction of light is crucial to how we perceive shape and depth in the landscape.
When talking about light, it is important to distinguish between quality and quantity. Quality of light can, for the outdoor photographer, mean the time of day, the angle of the light striking your subject or whether it creates high-contrast or low-contrast conditions. It can also be measured as color temperature (in degrees Kelvin) with daylight on a sunny day being around 5500 degrees Kelvin. While color film required filtration to correct for changes in color temperature, digital cameras have a built-in white balance function that can adjust the camera to virtually any lighting condition, indoors or out.
Quantity of light refers simply to the amount of light reaching the camera’s sensor and recording an image. It is by controlling this light, through changes in aperture and shutter speed, that we arrive at a proper exposure.
One of the more fascinating aspects of my annual trip to Katmai has been the ability to recognize specific bear families and even individuals as they grow, not only in physical characteristics but in their personalities, demeanor, and mannerisms as well. It’s always a powerful feeling of a connection with nature when I recognize an animal I’ve previously spent time photographing. I wonder if they recognize me?!
They are probably far too busy fishing to be concerned with me, however. You’ll note the dates from when these photos are taken generally fall into the late July and early August weeks. This is when the rivers run red with spawning salmon. We come here at this time every year because the bears are active, occupied, and ripe for fantastic shots in their element. Again I will occasionally recognize individual bears in the tactics they use to fish.
This image has gotten a lot of play this year and for good reason – it’s not often you’re able to capture a bear charging at you, claws bared. I hate to dispel any legends of my fearlessness and resolve, but I wasn’t in true danger here – the bears are far too busy fishing and adjusted to human visitors to be a true threat. That being said, always take precautions! Our local contacts ensure we are taking all the appropriate measures for safety.
All of these photos are available as prints in my online store; click a title above to add some wildlife to your home or office! Better yet, join me on one of two workshops happening this summer at the end of July and in early August and capture your own images to frame and share! These workshops will sell out, so don’t hesitate to get on the list to join me on the ground in Katmai and make your own connection with these awesome animals!
I absolutely love this time of year, the days are getting longer and spring is right around the corner! After many cold weather trips this winter I am ready for the new palate of color that spring bestows upon us.
Of special note I have several opportunities coming up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest this year: the Olympic Peninsula in April when the mosses are rich and green and the rivers are clear; Mount Rainier in August when the wildflowers are at their peak; Lake Quinault in September for a restorative retreat in the ancient temperate rainforest; and a renewed Photography as Art seminar in November.
These workshops only have a few spaces left so sign up today before they are all sold out!
In the shot of the karst mountains in Guilin, China, I wanted to emphasize their repeating pattern and unusual shapes: individual humps instead of long ridges. I used my 80-200mm lens to zero in on an area that I felt made the strongest statement.
The second shot was taken a few minutes from my home in Seattle. I grew up in this neighborhood, and as a boy, I loved this path especially, with its graceful madrona trees. I went back to photograph it forty years later.
Spatially, light objects stand forward of dark in our normal experience of perception. When we have atmosphere such as fog, however, it is the reverse; dark objects are closer to us than light ones, as in the mountain scene. We understand this perceptually because atmospheric haze intervenes and makes the far mountains paler and less distinct. This is sometimes referred to as “atmospheric perspective.”
We also understand crisp outlines as close and fuzzy ones as distant, as with the trees in the fog, which is contrary to normal perception, where we can see distant objects in focus as well. The sense of space in both these images is definitely enhanced by the fog. Forms are more noticeable without competition from intricate detail. The tree trunks stand out more without the busy clutter of foliage. Because it shrouds things from view, fog, more than any other atmospheric condition, creates mood and a sense of mystery.