Time for a little wilderness and wildlife advocacy. Alaska’s Bristol Bay needs our help. It is home to the world’s largest, most productive salmon run and it is threatened by the advancement of the Pebble Mine. The Pebble Mine would be a massive open pit mine that would leach into the ecosystem of one the most productive wildlife regions on the planet. I have been photographing in the region, which includes Katmai National Park and the famous McNeil River Bear Sanctuary, since the early 1980s, and understand first hand what this massive extraction project would do to the wildlife, the fishery, as well as the thriving, sustainable wildlife viewing industry.
Click here for a brief interview I did on the subject.
Brown bears associated with the Project area are a resource that has high ecological, economic, and social value. Southwest Alaska residents and visitors were estimated to spend nearly $145,000,000 (2019 dollars) annually to view wildlife and generated more than an additional $133,000,000 in associated annual economic activity. Much of the wildlife viewing activity in southwest Alaska is centered on observing brown bears. For more information, this study drills down on the economics involved in brown bear viewing ins South-central Alaska.
I strongly urge you to take 20 minutes and watch Koktuli Wild, a video by Brendan Wells which perfectly illustrates the fragile beauty of the wilderness that feeds the potent Bristol Bay watershed. It is uplifting, beautiful, informative, and most importantly galvanizing. Even if you never see it with your own eyes, just knowing this this wilderness exists is affecting.
UPDATE: 6/29/2019 – The U.S. House of Representatives passed amendment 90, being called the “Huffman Amendment,” to the Energy and Water Appropriations Act. However, this is only the begging and Alaskans have called upon Senator Murkowski to to stand with Alaskans in opposing the Pebble mine.
I started doing workshops in Glacier Bay back in the 1980s and this remains one of my favorite trips of the year. The small boat experience in the midst of a wilderness wonderland cannot be beaten. We saw more orcas than I have in a long time and I even added a new species to my list, the endangered marbled murrelet.
The 2016 Art Wolfe Next-Generation Photographers Grant is now taking applicants from professional nature photographers in the early stages of their careers. Recipients will be selected on the basis of skill, artistic excellence and by demonstrating the promise of future achievement.
From July 31 to August 6, 2016, seven successful applicants will attend a six-day workshop at a remote Lodge in Katmai, Alaska, photographing the spectacular wildlife and rugged landscape.
Sponsored by The Luminous Endowment for Photographers and Art Wolfe, Inc., and made possible with the generous support of Rebecca Jones and the Seneca Sawmill Co.
I usually shoot with a 16-35mm or a 70-200mm. However, when I know I am going to be getting a chance to photograph wildlife, like Brown Bears in Katmai, I bring along something longer. Shot on location in Katmai National Park, Alaska, USA.
Keep your eyes peeled for an announcement on an exciting Katmai event coming soon!
It is important to pay attention to foreground and background elements when trying to compose an effective surreal landscape image. Shot on location in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska. Speaking of which, there is only one spot left in my exclusive Glacier Bay Tour happening next July. Cruising the majestic bay in this small yacht is quite a different experience than traveling in one of the large crowded cruise ships. One caveat- due to the cabin space, the remaining spot is for a man only.
It is the last frontier, a place where wild dominates humankind. A place known as the land of the midnight sun, here alpenglow lasts for hours, not minutes. Imagine venturing into this wilderness where the brown bears do not fear humans, where the minimal human population has learned and adapted to live in harmony with them. The bears rule, not only because they are strong, large, and on the top of their food chains, but because the humans believe that they should. Now imagine being able to capture photos of these magnificent creatures from 15 feet away. This is Alaska!
All aspects of outdoor photography will be covered, including composition, field techniques, technology, and the unique philosophy of this highly specialized profession. There will be informative lectures, rigorous critiques and portfolio reviews. Instead of concentrating only on f-stops and equipment, we will work on composition, imagination, and the control of every element in the image. We do more than just take you to the location; we help you to maximize your creative and technological skills as a photographer.
I can agree with my fellow traveler Mark McInnis about our trip to the Katmai National Park area in Alaska “…this trip has been amazing. Just amazing.”
He continues on: “Jerry, Art, Becky and I were shooting aerials yesterday when I spotted a White Wolf. We landed on the beach and Art thought that he [the wolf] had probably left because of the noise. But we snuck around the corner and he was still there just napping on the beach! We started clicking photos, but he heard our cameras and promptly got up to leave. Haha, This next part still just cracks me up. Art started howling. Like a wolf. And the wolf stopped, turned sideways, and looked DIRECTLY at us. And of course his shot is twice what mine is, but it doesn’t matter. That memory will stick with me forever. My jaw might have hit the floor. It was amazing and one of the most memorable and comedic moments of my life. Art is such a legend. I love him to death and have only known him for 4 days. Talk about a gifted, talented and honest human. Really love the guy.”
Recently I spent the most remarkable two weeks with several fellow photographers in Alaska’s Katmai National Park. Ranging everywhere on land and in river were the huge coastal brown bears and all the waterways were chock full of spawning sockeye salmon. As a result of last year’s mild winter, there were many sows and cubs feasting on the protein-rich and oily fish.
July 1 to October 1 found me photographing landscapes & wildlife near and far: caribou in Svalbard, Norway; a hummingbird nest in my own backyard in Seattle; brown bears in Alaska; Canon Beach, Oregon; Palouse wheatfields and the sleeping volcano of Mt. Rainier in Washington State; wildlife in Kenya, Uganda, and the Surma people of Ethiopia.