Saturday, August 25, 2018
I got to Alaska a couple of days early to just chill. I wanted to see and do a few things before everyone arrived. I had not been to the tiny town of Talkeetna in over a decade so it was time for a return visit. Three tour participants who had arrived early rode there with me, and we had a fun day of shopping, eating pizza, shopping, having ice cream, shopping, and - did I say shopping??
Anyway, I was persuaded to pose for this exquisite portrait in Talkeetna and wanted to share it with you. It was taken by my friend Jane who agreed to part with it for a small fee.
Full disclosure - the bear was quite friendly, and I did not catch the fish!
Tonight is our first group meeting at a Welcome and Orientation session. We leave early Sunday morning for Denali National Park. Let the fun begin!
We will be out of internet range until next weekend, so I will not be able to post any images from Denali until then.
Unwilling model was photographed with iPhone 6 at close range. Handheld.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "Never, ever underestimate the importance of having fun." --Randy Rausch
Thursday, August 23, 2018
I'm happy to be back in Alaska, just one month after concluding my July Alaska photo tours. After so many trips here, it feels very comfortable and easy. It is always exciting to be back. This is the view from the plane as we began our descent into the Anchorage airport. Some peaks were snow-capped, and others revealed their rocky tops.
There are still many hours of daylight here, and this was taken a little before 9PM. Sunset was about 9:30, and as we swung around toward our gate we could see an almost full moon above the Chugash Mountains.
The Denali National Park photo tour begins on Saturday evening. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone, and helping them to revel in the joys of this incredible place with its abundant wildlife and sweeping scenery.
1/1600 sec. at f/2.2, ISO 32, iPhone6 camera 4.15mm lens.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "Photography is a love affair with life." --Burk Uzzle
Saturday, August 18, 2018
Spending time with the brown bears of coastal Alaska is an experience every photographer who enjoys wildlife should have at least once in their lives. Two words best describe them - beautiful and compelling. These bears are very human-like, and even though they are completely wild, the coastal bears are not concerned by our presence. They are calm and go about their daily routines right before our eyes.
After a short time with these bears, you realize that each one has a different face, and you will begin to recognize each one. And they are more entertaining than a TV sit-com. The cubs romp and play, they chase each other and engage in mock fighting. But when mom utters a barely audible huffing sound, they snap to attention and immediately obey her command.
And there are tender moments as well. Watching cubs nurse is a special experience to observe and photograph. And the strong bond between mothers and cubs is obvious and endearing.
I return to this same location year after year because of the amazing images we can get, and how easy it is to photograph these special animals. We are transported in ATV's with all our gear very close to where the bears are. Our experienced guide gets us in good locations where the light is right and the action is best.
I also return year after year because our lodge is very close to the bear action, and is a very pampering place to return to after a day of shooting. It is a classic Alaska lodge, with great food and nicely decorated rooms. I reserve the entire lodge, so everything is done on our schedule and with only us in mind.
This is an exclusive workshop open to only 8 photographers. Group size is kept small so that you can receive personalized attention and be in positions to get the best shots. These bears are so mellow that they are do not react to our presence. Often they will walk fairly close to us, allowing some superb close up shots. Huge lenses are NOT needed.
Learn the nuances of nature photography in a truly wild atmosphere. Join me in Alaska July 15 - 21 for a world-class experience.
Shutter speeds between 1/1000 and 1/2500 sec. at f/8. ISO 400 to 800. Canon 100-400mm lens with 1.4x extender on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "Sometimes you get no second chance, and it's best to accept the gifts the world offers you." -- Paolo Coelho
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Sometimes you know what you want and you just have to keep trying until you get it. I photographed this dwarf dogwood on last month's Alaska trip during a short hike to a lovely pristine lake. The plant was a little past its prime, but the simple shape of the flower and the beautifully veined leaves really appealed to me.
It was along the edge of the trail, with not a great background. These grow very low to the ground so there was no hope of using shallow depth of field to blur the background. Here is the original RAW image.
Taking an ordinary image and making it into something more artistic is a great creative exercise. It might take some patience and perseverance to find the look that works for you, but it is well worth the time to find the right approach. Unless you want to really go overboard, try to use a light touch with whatever filters or techniques you choose. While this is a very dramatic, not totally realistic rendition of this plant, it still preserves its beauty, the lines, and the shapes that caught my eye in the first place.
1/80 sec. at f/9, ISO 800. Panasonic G9 with Leica 12-60mm f/2.8-4 lens set at 60mm. Handheld.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th." --Julie Andrews
Saturday, August 11, 2018
Shortly after we arrived at Lake Clark National Park, the best place to photograph brown bears in Alaska, our guide drove us around to get the best vantage point. As we drove past the mud flats, we saw another group of photographers with this lone bear.
The bear was walking slowly toward the group, and apparently the three people at the back decided it was time to retreat. But the 4-some closer to the bear were content to keep on shooting. FYI, you do always want to keep your distance from any wild animal. But if one approaches you slowly and calmly, generally the animal is just interested in walking by, not attacking. Even so, you do want to back away slowly, giving the animal a wide berth. And of course you never want to run.
We had an incredible week with great bear images of moms and cubs, cubs nursing, cubs sparring, great weather, and a special boat trip to a puffin breeding colony.
If you want to get amazing photographs of brown bears in the wilds of Alaska, join me on next year's trip. It is scheduled for July 15 - 21, 2019. Read complete details at this link http://awakethelight.com/brown-bears/
Please email me with questions. I hope you can join me!
1/2500 sec. at f/9, ISO 400. Canon 100-400mm lens with 1.4x extender for a focal length of 560mm, on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "Alive, the grizzly bear is a symbol of freedom and understanding - a sign that man can learn to conserve what is left of the earth. Extinct, it will be another fading testimony to things man should have learned more about but was too preoccupied with himself to notice." -- Frank Craighead
Wednesday, August 8, 2018
Since getting back from Alaska, I have been taking some time to edit the over 20,000 images I took. It is a HUGE task, so I decided to take a creative break and experiment with some non-nature and non-wildlife images.
As you recall, I was testing out the Panasonic G9 mirrorless body and several Leica lenses. Panasonic had loaned me the body and several lenses, including the 45mm macro (equivalent to 90mm on a full frame sensor) to test. I find colorful glassware is a great subject for macro and abstracts, and that was the subject for this shot. It is a small glass bowl from a museum gift shop.
Here is the original RAW image uncropped. When I took this shot I was just getting the feel of the macro lens and was not concerned about composition.
The steps in Lightroom were simple. Here is what I did, after cropping:
1. reduced Clarity to minus 60 to create a softer look;
2. boosted Vibrance to +100 (I rarely go this far with either Vibrance or Saturation, but when creating an artistic image, going a bit overboard is OK);
3. in the HSL box, increased the Saturation of blue, yellow, and orange;
4. used the Graduated Filter tool to darken the lower right and entire left side;
5. used the Luminance slider to reduce noise.
Because of the extreme crop, the reduced Clarity, and the boosted colors, the entire image took on a somewhat surreal look which is the artsy look I was hoping for. No filters or other software was used.
So now I can go back to the tedious task of editing!
1/100 sec. at f/2.8, ISO 1600. Panasonic G9 body with Leica 45mm f/2.8 macro lens. Handheld.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better." --Ralph Waldo Emerson
Monday, August 6, 2018
World famous. Filled with glaciers and wildlife and pristine waters. Join me in the vast wilderness of Glacier Bay National Park next June 25 - 30.
WHALES - GLACIERS - PUFFINS - SEALS
PRIVATE BOAT TRIPS - AND MUCH MORE!
Spend a wonderful week in a beautiful lodge with superb chef-prepared meals, surrounded by some of Alaska's most pristine wilderness. This official World Heritage Site is not to be missed.
Our private boat trips will get us into prime whale territory, surrounded by Alaska's famous mountains. The photographic opportunities are endless.
Limited to only 10 photographers, this is the best Glacier Bay photo trip available.
Fee includes round-trip flight from Juneau to Glacier Bay, all lodging and meals in Glacier Bay, ground transportation, personal attention and in-the-field training, all boat trips, guide services, image reviews, and tips.
More details at www.awakethelight.com
For more information or to register,
please email me at email@example.com
or call me at 757-773-0194.
Wednesday, August 1, 2018
I had the fabulous privilege of spending a morning on Duck Island, a tiny rocky outpost in the Cook Inlet, southeast of Anchorage, Alaska, during Mollie’s (Awake The Light) Brown Bear Bonanza Tour. We observed and photographed beautiful and entertaining puffins. We saw both horned puffins (Fratercula corniculata) and tufted puffins (Fratercula cirrhata), with the horned puffins being much more prevalent.
These interesting birds look like little clowns in tuxedos. They have large colorful beaks, stocky bodies, short wings and colorful orange feet with dark black feathers above while their breast feathers are a pristine white. They come to land only during the summer to breed and raise their young, spending most of their lives at sea. We enjoyed watching them run across the surface of the water as they took to the air and careened around the hills and rocks of the island as they flew out to gather fish, and then returned to the nest.
It is a formidable challenge to capture these speedy birds in flight as they are incredibly fast and change direction frequently and just as quickly. They fly at speeds up to 55 mph with up to 400 wingbeats per minute! Waiting for them to roost on a sunny rock makes photographing the little critters a much easier task! At times the birds swooped just over our heads or passed between us on the sandy beach. Hundreds of birds flying in every direction made it difficult to decide which way to point the camera.
I found that observing the birds for awhile and determining their flight patterns made it easier to follow them. I checked the best sun angle, then tracked them and waited for them to cross a patch of blue sky before pressing the shutter in high speed burst mode. The results were some amazing sharply focused birds, with some puffins carrying twigs or fish back to the nest. To be honest, there were also a number of images with fuzzy puffins, puffin body parts or clear blue sky, but those are easily deleted in favor of the prize catches. If you like a challenge, shooting puffins in flight is definitely a demanding test and tons of fun!
[Editor’s Note: Dee is one of the best bird photographers I have ever seen. She understands their habits, and pays attention to wind direction, and the direction of the light as well. And she can instantly lift the camera to her eye, focus, pan, and zero in on awesome shots in a heartbeat. Next year’s exciting Brown Bears and Puffins trip is already scheduled for July 15 – 21, 2019. Get all the details at this link http://awakethelight.com/brown-bears/ ]
Shutter speeds ranging from 1/3200 to 1/8000 sec at f/8, ISO 2000. Canon 7D Mark II body with Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II lens, set from 135mm to 400mm. Handheld.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience." --Eleanor Roosevelt