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.
It’s been a busy summer, but there is no slowing down for me! I wanted to take this opportunity to share an updated list of my upcoming workshop opportunities with you. Some return trips to familiar locations are here, and I love to share the knowledge that I’ve accumulated over the years of visiting these great places. We also have exotic and new locales to visit as well. My team is hard at work doing our research, working with the best local support available.
Many of these new destinations come from the feedback we received from surveying those of you who subscribe to my newsletter. If you don’t receive those, get signed up here to be notified and kept up-to-date on what I have planned!
Particular locations and workshops will sell it well in advance. Don’t hesitate to get your name on the list! As always if you have any questions about an upcoming worshop, contact my staff – they would be happy to answer any questions you may have about a particular workshop.
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!
In spring of 2019 I’m excited to be leading an epic photo journey to India where we will not only experience the color and good cheer of the Holi Festival, the majesty of the Taj Mahal, and the culture and history of Delhi – but the natural beauty of Bandhavgarh National Park as well. If you’ve ever contemplated what the ultimate India experience would be like, here is your opportunity to savor exactly that! We will observe and photograph the iconic as well as the atypical, assuring that the photos you come away with will represent the unique nature and variety of this adventure.
The two main attractions that are the namesake for this particular trip and set against the backdrop of this ancient land are, of course, the Holi Festival and the tigers of the region. The “Festival of Colors” is traditionally a jubilant recognition of the arrival of spring, and has become a celebration of positivity and good cheer world-wide, and it is here where it all began.
In addition to the Bengal tiger, Bandhavgarh National Park offers a rich diversity of fauna and flora, including leopard, striped hyena, macaques, langur monkeys, sambar and chital deer, Indian wolves, Indian hare, and monitor lizards – just to name a few of the species we hope to encounter.
Space for this photo journey is limited, with some spots already spoken for. Check out my events page for a more in-depth itinerary of our travels together, and sign up now to ensure your spot on what is guaranteed to be a once in a lifetime adventure where you’ll make new friends who share your passion for photography and the world’s great places!
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!
It’s hard to believe we are half way through 2018! Summer is here and the flycatchers, chickadees, and hummingbirds are nesting in the yard. I wanted to take some time to update you on some exciting upcoming book news, as well as several new additions to the workshop calendar:
My latest book project Trees: Between Earth and Heaven has been sent off to the printer. We will have copies here in late October and I have a pre-order special going that includes a signed copy of the book and a small print. This will be another gorgeous, weighty tome—on the scale of Earth Is My Witness with three gatefolds and 296 pages. Once again Wade Davis has penned an introduction, and text is by noted author Greg McNamee. Please note that there will be a tree planted by Roots of Peace for every copy of the book sold.
Interested in being in your own Human Canvas? Recently I had a request from friends to do a custom piece with them as models and it turned out magnificently. I personally will work with you in creating your own unique piece. Please reach out through our contact page.
We’ve just posted seven – count ‘em, seven – new workshops for 2019! Highlights include Holi and tigers in India, Katmai Bears (I have locked down the best time to see them), and an autumn photo journey to Romania. Native son Gavriel Jecan will be co-leading in Romania with me and he will guide us to all his favorite locations in the magnificent Carpathian Mountains. We might see bears there too! I have also posted the 2019 editions of Abstract Astoria and Mount Rainier Wildflowers.
It’s shaping up to be a very full second half of 2018 and I am looking forward to some fantastic photo opportunities in 2019 and beyond. I hope you can join me for some of them! You can also save 20% on my current and very popular print of the month featuring a bear fishing in Katmai, Alaska – one of the locations you’ll find on my list of workshops – and check out my first half images for 2018. Keep in mind just about any image you can find in any of my books, on the website itself, or the stock site is likely available as a print – contact my staff and we will set you up with pricing and details, and I’ll personally sign it before we send it your way!
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 almost time for the annual Katmai, Alaska workshops series! The trip at the end of July is sold out, however a few spaces are still available for the second workshop I’ll be leading from August 1st through the 7th.
This is a Katmai experience like no other due to the exclusivity of the location, my decades of experience visiting this region, and of course our close working relationship with local experts and accommodations. We know these bears well, and most importantly where to get the best access to capture unique shots safely. This time of year, the rivers and streams are full of salmon and the bears are so occupied with the fish that they hardly give our groups a second glance.
Along with the expertise of the location and the philosophy behind it’s significance, we will also discuss all aspects of photographing in the field including techniques for composition unique to Katmai. Sign up now online, or give my office a call at 1-206-332-0993 and secure your spot. This trip WILL sell out so don’t hesitate!