Celebrate Earth Day With Fee-Free Visits to National Parks!


Earth Day arrives tomorrow, April 22nd and you can celebrate by visiting your local national parks for a fee-free day. With over 400 national parks and one in each state,  there’s likely at least one near you. . . get your camera gear ready and head out for some photos and fresh air!

Don’t know which one to visit? The National Parks Service has created a handy interactive quiz that will help you narrow down your interests to a location that meets your needs based on distance, activities and more.

Share your photos online tagged with the #yourparkstory / #myparkstory hashtags and interact with others celebrating Earth Day at our protected natural places! Some of my best work, including photos from my upcoming magnum opus on international wildlife has been capture in our national parks. Enjoy the image gallery. Better yet, get out there and create your own!

National parks are powerful places that have many meanings and connections to those who visit them – our shared history, our sense of discovery, and our dreams of the future. They teach us about ourselves and the world around us, and invite us to continue to learn, grow, and explore. National Park Week is a time to reflect on what parks mean to us, enjoy what they provide to their visitors and communities, and commit to protecting these places we cherish.

 

-NATIONALPARKS.ORG

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International Dark Sky Week – Celebrate with 25% Off!

Over the weekend, we officially entered into Dark-Sky Week! I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know the folks over at the International Dark-Sky Association for a while now and along the way I’ve learned much regarding the benefits of curbing light pollution. I’ve long known about it’s impact on night photography  – but the issues that arise from an abundance of artificial light are much more complex than you might believe. To that end, IDA has created International Dark Sky week to bring awareness to many of those issues – from disrupting the patterns and habits of wildlife to artificially manipulating the moods and routines of human beings.

It may seem harmless, but light pollution has far-reaching consequences that are harmful to all living things. Effective outdoor lighting reduces light pollution, leading to a better quality of life for all. The dark sky movement is working to bring better lighting to communities around the world so that all life can thrive.

-International Dark-Sky Association

For more information and to find out what you can do to raise awareness within your community photographic or otherwise, visit DARKSKY.ORG.

To commemorate the increasingly popular topic of light pollution and efforts by the IDA to bring awareness to it’s benefits, I am currently running a 25% discount on my most recently (as of this post!) published book project, Night On Earth as well as my entire print collection – good this week only, until the end of Dark Sky Week on April 22nd.

I’ve picked out some of my favorite night-related prints, found below if you need a starting point. It’s always nice to be able to spark a dialogue with the photographs and artwork you choose to hang on your wall. With the accessible information in Night On Earth and the efforts of the IDA, these make for an excellent conversation piece.

Use code DARKSKY2023 at checkout!

AURORA
STARTRAILS OVER DEADVLEI
NIGHT FISHERMEN
STAR TRAILS OVER CEREUS CACTUS
COMET NEOWISE & MT. RAINIER
TUAREG TRIBESMEN
INLE FISHERMEN
MILKY WAY OVER THE DEVIL’S MARBLES
KOKERBOOM
WAITING FOR NIGHT
EVENING AT THE PUSHKAR FAIR
CELESTIAL MOAI
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Fall Color in Grand Teton National Park!


Grand Teton National Park ranks among my favorite locations for capturing spectacular fall color. The balance of the massive Teton Range hedged by the beautiful golds, oranges and reds of the foreground flora provides a number of distinct opportunities to capture this juxtaposition of stone and verdure.

Last year a group of my associates were blessed with several perfect sunrise sessions, each with their own unique characteristics to explore. The gorgeous photos in this gallery were captured my my assistant Libby Pfeiffer – I think she got great shots! For a photographer, mornings always come early, and not always easily – yet when the click of your shutter echoes in the quiet morning hours you forget all about missing sleep and are captured in the exhilaration of the moment.

I’ll be leading a Grand Teton workshop next fall, and If this is a location you’ve wanted to visit or if capturing pristine fall color is on your agenda, I highly encourage you to sign up and join our group. I always enjoy seeing and helping our participants push their boundaries and each other to create unique and beautiful images. On top of that, the friends and stories you create along the way will last a lifetime.

Hope to see you there this fall!

 

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Answering Nature’s Call with Spirit Bears in Canada!


“Hey Art, Can You Go Pee Again?”

It’s an odd thing, but I’ve had some good wildlife sightings when just standing still and, uh, relieving myself. Mostly owls peering down at me, but just last month I was in the Great Bear Rainforest attempting to photography the Spirit Bear and just when I took a break, one ambled by.

I first photographed these white-phase black bears way back in 1990, long before this region of British Columbia’s coast was designated as global treasure. Now, working on my magnum opus wildlife book, I headed back to this rich temperate rainforest in hopes of seeing this ghostly bear again. We had only four days and the waiting was long. To pass the time I taught a quick class in how to take abstracts; after all, there is always something to photograph, especially when the main objective is proving elusive. We were visited by spawned out salmon, Steller’s jays, American dippers, and a very curious, very black, black bear. Spirit or Kermode bears are merely a color phase of the American black bear. They just happen to carry two alleles of a gene that turns them a creamy white, but they are not albinos.

So when the spirit bear appeared for the first time, I zipped up and grabbed my camera. That session lasted a total of fifteen minutes. My fellow travelers implored me hourly to pee again, but that charm wore thin as did my stream. The next day she regaled us with another 15 minute appearance. Half an hour in four days and we all felt very lucky. That is the nature of wildlife photography.

Get on my mailing list to get the first announcements of my new book as well as travel opportunities!

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Wildlife Wednesday – Underwater at Wakatobi, Indonesia!

A very famous French diver once called Indonesia’s Wakatobi an underwater Nirvana. I am not going to quibble with Jacques Cousteau. Last week I traveled with very good friends and serious underwater photography gearheads (which I am not) to this island archipelago. My friends endured lost luggage and had to rent equipment, and I, a fish out of water doing underwater camera work, battled against stronger-than-expected currents, a leaking mask, and balky SD cards. Fortunately on the last couple days of shooting things worked themselves out  and I managed to get a few really nice photos that will fit very nicely in the huge new wildlife book coming out next year!

One of the more challenging aspects of photographing underwater in this and similar locations are venomous fish – in this case, scorpion fish. On top of managing the underwater camera system while trying to stay steady in a difficult current and not scaring away my subjects, I also had to keep myself from disturbing the sea floor. At one point my underwater guide and myself were balancing ourselves on a tiny wooden dowel stuck into the sea floor to try to stabilize ourselves. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it – enjoy the photos!

I used a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV camera with an EF8-15mm f/4L FISHEYE USM lens in a Nauticam underwater housing.


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In Memory of Harriet Bullitt

Harriet Bullitt’s beloved Icicle Creek

Last weekend Seattle lost an icon: Harriet Bullitt, philanthropist and conservationist. She was 97.

Gorgeous to the end, Harriet exemplified the art of living life to its fullest. She had a remarkable spirit for adventure, took an interest in everything, and was possessed of a quiet kindness and supportive enthusiasm.

A grateful young photographer was on the receiving end of a bit of that patronage: she founded Pacific Northwest magazine (now Seattle magazine), which published my photo stories on local natural history and the art of nature photography. Her foundation also helped make my International Conservation Photography Awards a reality. An avid traveler, Harriet and her family traveled with me on a trip to Africa, as well as Cuba where we had to skirt US customs. She was never one to shy away from excitement and I count myself beyond fortunate to have known her!

Click here to read more about this amazing woman and a life incredibly well-lived.

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Friday Vibes – Many Ways to Shoot A Mountain!

I’m in the midst of going through all my photos from several recent workshops – all back to back, so my editing time has been limited! I did pull a few of my favorite shots from Oregon’s Lost Lake, looking out to Mt. Hood – the tallest mountain in the state, and also a dormant stratovolcano.

I often talk about the many ways to shoot a subject, and even from essentially the same vantage point you can find ways to make even a giant mountain feel different, and tell a different story.

For starters, the environmental portrait! This is a great way to open when sharing your photos, giving context to the scene. Here the calm lake is prominent, framed by the iconic evergreens of the pacific northwest. We get a good sense of place for the looming mountain.

Here we have the same elements – the lake is still present as well as the trees, but the mountain has become front and center. The lower sun is casting warmer hues on the mountain, separating it from the background. We still get a sense of place, but the mountain has become the star!

Here, the mountain is definitely the star feature. The lakes and trees still inform a bit of the environment, but the great mountain is free of the framing branches that kept it from feeling quite as prominent.

And finally – a vertical that takes us back to the sense of place – standing under the shady limbs of the evergreens. From all these shots, you can see from the forms and patterns on it’s surface that my angle on the mountain hasn’t changed – just taken a few steps one direction or another, gotten down lower to the ground, or tried a different focal length. Small differences can completely change the results of your shot!

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Last Chance to VOTE for the New Big 5 in Wildlife Photography!

It’s your last chance to vote for the 5 animals you want to be included in the New Big 5 of wildlife photography! The original ‘Big 5’ is a term used by trophy hunters for the 5 toughest animals to shoot and kill (lion, elephant, leopard, rhino and Cape buffalo).

The New Big 5 project has a better idea: to create a New Big 5 of Wildlife Photography, rather than hunting. Shooting with a camera, not a gun. It’s about celebrating the incredible creatures we share the planet with and helping to protect them.

I’m excited to be supporting the New Big 5 project which is on a mission to raise awareness about threats facing wildlife around the world, including habitat loss, poaching, human-wildlife conflict, illegal wildlife trade and climate change, as well as conservation ideas and solutions.  

The international initiative is supported by +150 international photographers and working with conservationists and charities, including The Jane Goodall Institute, Conservation International, Save The Elephants, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, Polar Bears International, Save Wild Tigers, Wildlife Direct, Save The Rhinos, Lion Recovery Fund, Cheetah Conservation Fund, Snow Leopard Trust, WildAid, IUCN and more…   

Please go onto the New Big 5 website and VOTE for the 5 animals you want to be included! Voting ends April 20. The results of the international vote will be announced May 17.  

 

“What a great project the New Big 5 is. I wonder what the final choices will be. There are so many incredible animals in our world, all fascinating in different ways. Any project which brings attention to animals, so many of whom are threatened or endangered, is truly important.”

-Dr Jane Goodall

 

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From Dumpy to Ducky!

Urban renewal takes many forms. We are busy primates, always changing our environment for better and mostly for worse. For 40 years Seattleites dumped their garbage at the Montlake Dump just north of today’s Husky Stadium. It was just a worthless marsh so why not? Spurred on by a blossoming of environmental awareness in the 1960s-70s, a plan was slowly developed to reclaim the area as a natural laboratory. Today the site is some 50 acres of which 14 acres have been completely restored. It is a long process, beating back the Himalayan blackberries, loosestrife and other nonnative species. It wasn’t until the 1980s that work in earnest began, resulting in the natural marshland in existence today.

Learn more about the history of the Union Bay Natural Area here.

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Protect the Skagit!

Photo credit: The Wilderness Committee

We have joined Washington Wild and 108 organizations, Tribes, and elected officials to urge the Canadian Government to stop Imperial Metals from mining the Skagit River headwaters.

The iconic Skagit River begins in British Columbia, flows down through the North Cascades and Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest, eventually ending in the Puget Sound.

Along the way, the river provides critical habitat for grizzly bears, bull trout, spotted owls, and the largest populations of threatened steelhead and Chinook salmon. The fish, in turn, provide food to Orcas, and are central to many Native communities’ cultures and treaty rights.

Puget sound is right outside my window, and frequently I shoot in the western corridor between BC and Seattle – I’m distinctly aware of the ecosystem in question. Decisions made by our neighbors to the north affect us downstream. Moving forward with mining is a direct threat to one of our state’s most beloved natural resources. #ProtectSkagit!

Click here for a PDF with more information on this proposal.

Photo credit: The Wilderness Committee
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