I love bears! It is such a privilege to be able to see these intensely intelligent mammals every summer. A bear I photographed as a cub several years ago is now an accomplished mother of three.
This year the salmon were late to arrive, but arrive they did and in great numbers. Every year is a bit different, and though I have commented on the numbers of cubs in the past, it seemed like this year was a bumper crop. Or maybe I was just photographing the same bear over and over and over…I can’t help it if she liked the camera!
As many of you are aware, this glorious region of the planet is under threat. If the Pebble Mine goes through, the bears will lose, the fish will lose, Alaskans will lose, and Earth will lose. It’s short term gain for the few and long-term destruction for the many. Please make your thoughts known to your congresspeople.
Having missed the “Eclipse across America” I scheduled a trip to Chile to catch the recent total eclipse down there. I have shot eclipse moments in the past but this time armed with Canon’s new lightweight 600, a 2x and 50mp 5D… I was not only able to get the shot I came for – but cropping in you can even see solar flares along the edge of the sun!
I spent some time down in South America recently, a trip that was initially conceived to photograph the solar eclipse in Chile but also turned into a fantastic opportunity to photograph birds and other wildlife in Ecuador with a focus on capturing tiny, agile hummingbirds.
There are numerous sources online you can go to to find technical information on shooting slight and/or speedy subjects such as these, so I won’t bore you with technical specs except to say that my photos were captured with a Canon 5D Mark IV, a 100-400 lens, and a shutter speed of 1/160th of a second. Instead, I’d like to focus on my approach to capturing these and other animals that can be hard to get a handle on.
There were two things I didn’t want to end up doing in this situation – chasing elusive birds around with my lens all day long, or firing off a bunch of shots in hopes of coming away with something good after spending hours and hours editing and cropping photos.
Instead, I took the approach of spending plenty of time observing these creatures long before I attempted to take any shots. I recognized patterns in their behavior and how they interacted with their surroundings and each other. This allowed me to anticipate their movements and come away with more focused and intentional shots rather than just releasing the shutter and hoping for the best. Instead of chasing, I let them enter the frame and do the work for me. In the end, I came away with shots I’m happy with, and didn’t have to sort through too many duds to get there.
The summer is a spectacular time to visit Glacier Bay – the weather is usually good and the plentiful wildlife here is active, and the location has so much to offer anywhere from portraits of animals to the vast and majestic glacier-bound landscape. It’s also a busy time for tourism, so if you plan to visit in this most photo-op rich time of year, make sure you set your plans early!
This trip offered plenty of variety as usual, and I was excited to use my somewhat recently acquired canon 600mm lens here, which has served me well thus far. humpback whales, Steller sea lions, and bald eagles were among the usual suspects.
Enjoy the photos! Check out the NPS page to plan your visit, and keep an eye on my events page for future trips here with me!
With a few extra days to spare, I met up with some friends in Yosemite. I was excited because there was no moon, but unfortunately, the clouds rolled in. I was able to get a few decent shots of stars and star-trails, but the most interesting nighttime image in this group is one that shows the climbers on El Capitan lit up like fireflies (final shot).
A few tips for shooting for the stars! (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself):
As far as equipment goes, in most cases you wont need anything special. Most of my shots end up being between 20-30 seconds in length. If you wish to shoot longer exposures you may need to use an intervalometer. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyways as an excuse to link my preferred band – you’ll need a tripod. Finally, your favorite wide angle capable lens to capture as much of the sky as possible.
Do your research! Find locations that have minimal light pollution. Here’s a handy map I came across. Checking moon phases is a must as well. The time period around a new moon is your best bet – you’ll never know how truly bright a full moon can be until you’re trying to shoot the stars! As mentioned above, a cloudy sky can also pose challenges. Ideally speaking you’ll find a place away from population centers on a clear night with the moon nowhere to be found, or at least in it’s most obscure phase.
As far as individual camera settings go, it’s impossible to give specific numbers because it will largely depend on the above conditions and the specific gear you’re working with. Most of my night shots fall into the ƒ/2.8 – ƒ/4 range and a focal length between 24-40 mm, with an exposure time of about 25 seconds. If you want me to take a stab at a starting point, 24mm and 25 seconds at ƒ/2.8 is probably a safe bet to give you at least enough information to make the proper adjustments.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as photo tips go for shooting at night – but my garden needs me! For more information, check out CreativeLive – they have a few helpful courses on the subject!
In spite of the evening cloud cover which thwarted our star photography, we had a great time in the Utah canyon lands near Moab. Studying and staring at all the rock formations is like looking at shifting clouds–how many faces and forms can you see? This is an excellent place to put your artistic eye into action, capturing graphic images of shadowed rocky columns silhouetted against a bright blue sky, or using the natural textures, lines and layers of the landscape to lead your viewer through your shot.
Overall this was a fantastic trip; it’s always humbling to visit such a massive wide-open landscape! Enjoy the photos!
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 Wildlife Wednesday – the perfect opportunity to share a slew of recent images from the recent Japan Photo Journey. Japanese macaques, Steller’s sea eagle, fox, deer, Japanese crane, and Ural owls were present. A Blakiston’s fish owl also made an appearance – the largest owl species in the world, sporting up to a two-meter wingspan – and last but not least, the iconic Whooper swans of Hokkaido.
Revisiting a location such as this where the imagery is iconic can be a real challenge in terms of coming up with a new perspective. When I lead a workshop or provide guidance on a retreat, my goal is to not only ensure you’ll come away with iconic shots, but also to find a unique focus to your photos. I challenge myself no differently. As an example, I wanted my photos of the macaques to capture their action and agility as they would leap from rock to rock over the flowing water, as well as their relationships between one and other. I positioned myself lower to the ground to capture the cranes and swans, trying to choose decisive moments when their wingspans and beautiful feathers were on display.
Not even the government can shut down Yellowstone! This vast volcanic caldera has always delivered photographically for me. I headed out with some close friends and in a few short days were able to photograph wolves, coyotes, bison, otters, and two horns, big & prong. I caught one otter rolling and gamboling in the snow and sliding across the ice of the Yellowstone River; and there was an energetic young ram who put on quite a show leaping back and forth across a rocky hillside.
Enjoy the photos – more to come soon from Japan. It’s just days away, but two spaces have just opened up. There is also one spot remaining to join me on a trip to India in March to photograph the Holi festival as well as tigers – grab it before it’s gone!
I’ll be heading to Japan in February with Gavriel Jecan and no more than 8 other travelers for a special photographic journey. Very limited spaces have recently become available – here are 10 reasons to claim them!
1. Japan in winter is one of the most majestic locations you could ever imagine.
2. Take a tub with the charming Snow Monkeys
No, you don’t have to strip down and commune with the macaques. But this is an amazing photographic opportunity: these furry primates come down from the pine and oak forests and for a couple of hours a day they hang around a natural hot spring where you can photograph from within inches without interrupting their behavior.
3. Explore the wilderness that is Hokkaido.
Hokkaido reminds me a bit of Alaska, full of forests of birch, pine and fir with a back drop of beautiful volcanic mountains.
4. Dance with the endangered Red-crowned Cranes
Leave the dancing to the cranes. These elegant birds have been symbolized in Japanese culture for thousands of years due to their grace and beauty.
5. Fight over fish with the massive Steller’s Sea Eagles
Don’t worry, we’ll have plenty of our own sushi to eat! These majestic eagles don’t want to share anyway.
6. Whoop it up with the cacophonous Whooper Swans
Overwintering from Siberia, these swans congregate in the thermally heated waters of Hokkaido’s lakes, making for ethereal, misty photographs.
7. Take a break from nature and explore buzzing Tokyo
8. Experiential learning at its best. It’s my hope that the lessons you learn on this photographic journey will be referenced on your travel photography adventures in the future!
9. You will be traveling in a small group of 8 participants. Other tour operators are a minimum of 12 or more, so you will get far more one-on-one time.
10. Photograph under the tutelage of one of the world’s premier nature photographers and take full advantage of your time spent in Japan!