Sunday, June 7, 2015


In August and September a happy band of travelers will join me in Alaska for some once-in-a-lifetime photographic opportunities. The first group will travel with me in Glacier Bay National Park for encounters with whales, glaciers, sea birds and incredible scenics. The next group will go into the wilds of Denali National Park where very few people have the opportunity to go. Each trip is unique, and each is different from the other.

We are all anticipating this exciting time. We will hope to see brown bear, like this little guy from last year, along with migrating caribou, moose, dall sheep, whales, sea otters, endangered seals, and much  more.

This young bear was peeking out from the grasses along the shoreline for just a moment or two, and I was fortunate to have my camera pointed in his general direction. Young animals are always curious, and are as eager to look at us as we are to view them.

Some important pointers for wildlife photography:
1. ALWAYS be ready. Great shots can appear and disappear in a heartbeat and it pays to be observant, patient, and ready to shoot.
2. Check how many remaining shots are on your memory card. If it is down to 30 or fewer, go ahead and put in a fresh memory card. Remember to format it, of course. And always format your memory card in the camera body you will be using it in.
3. Take a test shot of the general lighting conditions to make sure your exposure will be adequate. Look at the Histogram, and if it appears that the exposure is off, use Exposure Compensation to make the correction. Then you will be ready to shoot when the action happens.
4. Check your battery charge level. If it is down to 1/4 charge, go ahead and swap it for fully charged battery. With today's high pixel cameras and fast burst rates, your battery can go down more quickly than you might expect.
5. Keep a safe distance away. Animals can run much faster than you might think, even faster than race horses in many cases. While it looks like I was very close to this bear, in fact I was behind a protective gate and on the other side of the river from him. Use long lenses and don't be afraid to crop later when necessary. For this view, more than half of the original image has been cropped out AND it was shot with a long lens.
6. Cute and cuddly is actually wild and dangerous. So many wild animals appear calm and tame but they are not. They need their space to feed and to feel safe. If they feel threatened, they could threaten you, or charge, or attack. Always heed the stated minimum distances you must keep from animals in the wild. Do not think that you are special or different, and can safely approach too closely.  Many have made that mistake and have suffered the consequences. Remember, no risk is worth getting the shot.

Shutter Speed 1/160 sec.  Aperture f/8.  ISO 800.  Lens: Canon 400mm f/5.6L lens with 1.4 telextender for an effective focal length of 560mm. Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff ballhead and Wimberley Sidekick.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Nothing exists for itself alone, but only in relation to other forms of life."  - Charles Darwin

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