What’s become an annual trip to Namibia was particularly great this year, with different views of Sossusvlei, great wildlife views in Etosha National Park, and fun with abstracts at an old diamond-mining ghost town slowly being inundated with sand. The quiver tree forest was spectacular too, though the moon was full when we were there which somewhat inhibited photographing the Milky Way at night. I also came away with some great new elephant shots for the upcoming book project. Enjoy!
I am leading another Namibia tour in August 2020. You can get on the preregistration list now to be the first notified when trip details are posted. This trip will sell out, don’t miss out!
I had an amazing session with Elephants a few days ago in Botswana! I spent hours in a stuffy, sunken blind, but was rewarded late in the afternoon when several elephant herds began to show up for a drink and a splash. It was about ninety degrees here, and they played in the cooling waters just five feet in front of us. The elephants were very aware of us and we were splashed intentionally many times – we had a major cleaning session afterwards since the churned water had turned to liquid mud.
This lasted for over an hour and I shot thousands of frames; the results are full of the personality and affection these amazing animals possess.
The task of editing has been daunting to say the least. I am working on a book with fellow UW alum & biologist Sam Wasser, who has been instrumental in using DNA to track endangered species, especially orcas and elephants, and now Dr. Wasser is trying to use DNA to track illegal shipments of ivory and shut down major poaching cartels. It makes my work look easy by comparison, and those of us who work with and care for the well being of these animals and their place in the world are so very grateful for his work.
September finds me spending the month in Africa with good friends and plenty of subjects. We’re currently in the midst of our Namibia photo journey after having spent some time in various locations around the southern regions of the continent. We began our travels in Kenya, where we were able to capture much of the region’s wildlife over the course of several days spent at Maasai Mara National Reserve; lions, zebra, cheetah – and much, much more. This location also provided several shots that will look great in the book on elephants I’m currently working on! Giraffes and several species of birds were on display as well. Derived from the Maasai language, the term “Mara” describes the flora and fauna spotted nature of the wide open spaces, and wildebeest mingled with the other wildlife in the area to dapple the landscape.
Enjoy the new photos, and check back on the block soon for more photos from Namibia!
Simply put, black bears are very challenging to photograph. Their inky fur absorbs light, and if you try to get the correct reading off it, everything else gets overexposed. Whenever possible I try to shoot a variety of perspectives of the same subject. Even with the advances in digital technology, there is still no substitute for getting the correct exposure the first time out. In the days of film, we bracketed in the hope that one frame would nail it. Now we can happily get immediate results, but too much time spent fooling around with your camera settings may result in losing the shot as the bear (or whatever wildlife you are photographing) shambles away.
In this recent shoot in British Columbia, the light conditions were overcast, not from fog, but from smoke from forest fires burning from California to Canada. This actually helped me get the correct exposure much more easily than I would have had the sky been clear and sunny, adding even more contrast to difficult lighting evaluations. The end result – black bears doing some coastal fishing, with some success! I was photographing these bears with both an EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM and an EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXT lens in an attempt to get the subject at different depths in this colorful and unique environment.
I’m heading to Mt. Rainier tomorrow to kick off our summer workshop, and prior to doing so Gavriel Jecan and I went to do some quick scouting. We will do this as often as possible before workshops, especially those happening up here near home. Usually there isn’t much photography involved – just as assessment of conditions and opportunities. This time however, we encountered a few adorable critters to share – Pika, and a long tailed weasel, most notably. Unfortunately the former is a common snack for the later! We also happened upon a golden-mantled ground-squirrel. Hopefully we can find these and more when we return with our group!
Just a few shots here for not, but stay tuned for a much more in depth collection of photos from Mt. Rainier next week! The fall workshop at Rainier has sold out, but if you’re interested in jumping on one of my other pacific northwest offerings, there is some space left in the Lake Quinault Photogrpahy Retreat in October; there’s no place like the Olympic forest in the fall and we will be adding some printing into the mix!
New photos from this year’s Katmai Bear-stravaganza! This trip posed some new challenges to navigate, but this is why we work with the best in the business as far as our on-location support is concerned – and I think in the end it also inspired some new and unique images from a location I have made a point to visit every summer for the past 5-6 years.
The most notable thought that comes to mind in reflecting on these consecutive years visiting Katmai National Park is the familiarity I now have when I see individual bears as well as their families. I can recognize particular bears from previous visits both by their physical traits as well as the varied techniques they employ to hunt for fish. Some bears might even have a unique lumber to their walk or a discernible demeanor in how they react towards other bears as well as humans.
I’m starting to recognize physical traits in the young bears and can associate them with their mothers and other family members. One thing is for certain – these bears are reproducing, and there is a healthy population to be found here. This (with caution) bodes well for both their success as a species and our opportunities to photograph them in this remote, beautiful location.
I’ll be leading two more workshops in July and August of next year, and my associate Gavriel Jecan will also be heading up his own tour next summer – sign up now, as the multiple trips indicate – they sell out fast!
Before heading to Katmai for workshops for the next couple weeks, I visited the Canadian Arctic. We had a great time with beluga whales, caribou, and polar bears. Most of the underwater shots were taken using the camera in a Nauticam housing (thank you, Backscatter Underwater Photo & Video!) suspended from an interesting contraption made from broom handles, bolts and rope, which enabled us to shoot without getting into the water. This was far more effective than when we struggled in the water to get close enough, which the belugas didn’t seem the like at all. Once we lowered the contraption into the water the whales became so curious that we had trouble keeping them from getting too close. The milky waters were so filled with sediment that sharpness became an issue. Despite the fact that the whales are largely in focus, they appear otherwise. With the polar bears I took the perspective of tiny bear in the big environment. The caribou, photographed with a 50MP Canon EOS 5DS, was a happy bonus.
I hope you enjoy checking out what I was able to capture here, and I can’t wait to see what Katmai holds for us this year!
Two months after it started, Kilauea is still erupting – even forming a new island off the east rift zone. Last week a friend and I made an all-too-quick trip to the Big Island to photograph some of the action. With the help of Bruce Omori we were able to get in the air above the eruption, as well as along side it from a boat. It is a stunning scene of earth’s power. The vog is so volatile that it creates it own weather, colorful clouds and swirling vortices that resemble nebulae of outer space.
As for the boat ride, it is not for the faint of heart. The water is extremely rough and there is always the chance that a sudden and violent explosion where the searing lava meets the cooler water (relatively speaking – it’s still over 100 degrees from our readings, about the temperature of a scalding hot tub!) will hit the boat.
Big shout out and thank-you to Bruce Omori for helping us on our trip! Check out his website and facebook page for the latest in volcano activity. If you want to see the eruption contact him – I couldn’t recommend his guidance enough!
The summer months are here, and for myself that means frequent visits to Alaska. I recently returned from Glacier Bay, a trip started off with calving glaciers which was nice to check off the list as you’ll witness this unpredictable phenomenon several times during your visit, and others not at all. The usual suspects come to play as well – Stellar sea lions, humpback whales, puffins, sea otters, eagles and more. The majestic landscape itself makes for an excellent subject. July and August are the busiest months for tourism in the area, with warmer temperatures and a lot of wildlife activity.
July and August are a great time to visit this location if you prefer warmer temperatures, but September can also be an excellent time to go. The amount of tourists diminishes a bit, and the fall color and lighting can lead to some excellent photo opportunities.That being said, there’s really no bad time to go, as every season has something different to offer and it really depends on what kind of experience you’re looking for. Check out the NPS page for planning your visit – or better yet, keep an eye on my events page for upcoming trips with me!
The last eleven days have been packed full! Book-ended by two Pacific Northwest workshops, we photographed Mount Hood, Smith Rock, Crater Lake, Cape Perpetua and Yaquina Head. We started off exploring the Columbia River Gorge and after photographing the Milky Way over Crater Lake, we checked into a less-than-savory motel at 3am for some much needed shut eye before heading to the Oregon Coast.
Those who claim there is nothing left to photograph in the Columbia River Gorge because of the fires are misinformed! We photographed beautiful locations on both the Washington and Oregon side – it helps to know where to look. If you haven’t been there, the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center in Stevenson is a great place to stop and explore the history of this fabled river!
Enjoy the photos – I’m home for a few days to regroup and then it’s off to Glacier Bay!