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!
It’s an understatement to say that New York is a great city to walk and photograph. During my recent visit to the East Coast for dates to present Photography As Art and spend time with some good friends, I was able to amble about on my reconstructed foot, in particular, photographing around The World Trade Center. I also took to the skies in a helicopter at dusk to capture the city from above. It doesn’t get much better than that – Enjoy the photos!
The remaining dates for Photography As Artin 2018 are happening over the next couple of weeks! A seminar that keeps evolving, PAA is a finally tuned machine and I’m excited to bring it back east for four dates over the next two weekends!
Check out Photography As Art in the following locations beginning in just a couple of days! I’d like to ask give a special thanks to Canon and Epson for sponsoring these events.
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.
If you’re on the west coast, I’ll be back in the Pacific Northwest for a couple of workshops before the month is through. A few space remain for the Columbia River Gorge workshop, and there is room for just one more for the Oregon Coast!
My most recent trip was with some friends to the Monterey Coast of California, a region known for it’s beautiful coastline and a vast variety of marine life in one scenic location. Though this is a vacation destination rife with sights and creatures, it’s also an amazing place to explore imaginary landscapes in patterns of rocks that line the shores.
If you’re looking for a place to go where you’ll never want for subjects, this is it – wildlife, landscapes, and artistic abstracts all in one beautiful location with food and lodging on par with the rest of the experience. It’s my hope we will add another retreat to this location in the future, so keep your eye on the events page!
What’s next?! This is a beautiful time of year to explore the west coast – the Columbia River Gorge and Oregon Coast workshops are coming up very quickly, with few spots remaining – how is the time to pull the trigger and join me in areas I’ve been exploring my whole life!