Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Mid-air Confrontation

Eagle fights occur quickly and end just as quickly. Rarely is damage done. These eagles were vying for the best position to grab a fish in the waters below. The eagle on the left was zooming toward the other one. Clearly the eagle on the right saw the attack coming and assumed a very strong defensive posture. Its beak is open, issuing a warning to the attacker. They eventually locked talons but then released each other with no damage. The entire encounter lasted only an amazing 3 seconds. Incredible.

Eagles are some of the most skillful flyers in the air. They are a joy to watch, and assume a wide variety of positions with blazing speed.

1/1600 sec at f/6.3, ISO 1600. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens set at 140mm on Canon 7D Mark II. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you."  -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Monday, July 29, 2019

Serene Alaska Scene

Serenity along Alaska's Inside Passage. Late in the evening this lone fishing vessel was plying the waters in search of a catch. The subtle colors against the dark outline of the boat caught my eye. You can see the distant mountains through the haze.

There were dozens of wildfires burning throughout the state during much of my time in Alaska, which caused the misty haze. While it added a mood to this image, it was a concern that so many fires were active. The extreme heat and drought helped to keep the fires alive for weeks. Many of the residents and visitors I came across expressed concern over the growing changes they see in the weather patterns and the climate.

One sobering sight we saw on this trip was a huge, exquisite iceberg that had shrunk to less than half its size in less than 24 hours. Of course no one knows what the future will bring, but the rapid changes being observed are generating many questions and concerns.

1/1000 sec at f/6.3, ISO 1600. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens set at 140mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "We are living on this planet as if we had another one to go to."  -- Terri Swearingen

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Puffins - Little Flying Bullets

Even though we went to Lake Clark National Park in Alaska to observe and photograph brown bears, there is always a side-benefit to this photo trip. We take a boat ride to a puffin breeding colony about 30 minutes away. It is such a treat to see these small, speedy birds. Two varieties occupy this colony - Horned Puffins and Tufted Puffins. This Horned Puffin happened to be flying past a blooming fireweed plant which created some additional color to this image.

Puffins are so much fun to watch. They are very fast flyers, zooming past at up to about 50mph, so getting flight shots is quite challenging. Fast shutter speeds and careful tracking are needed to get successful shots.

They are beautiful but also quite comical at times, with their feet splayed when coming in for a landing. But they are poetry in motion when flying.

The next trip is already being planned to this location. It will be in late August 2021. Yes, 2021. It is necessary to plan far ahead for this prime location for brown bears. If you are interested, please contact me for more details.

1/1250 sec at f/6.3, ISO 800. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens set to 400mm on Canon 7D Mark II. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times." --unknown

Monday, July 22, 2019

Beautiful Baby Bear

I am back in Anchorage after a wonderful week photographing brown bears in Lake Clark National Park. We stayed in a great lodge with comfortable rooms and great food, yet right in the middle of bear territory.

This beautiful juvenile put on an entertaining show cavorting on the beach and frolicking in the grassy meadows. When she stood up behind the grass, I was able to grab this fleeting moment for a bear portrait. Like people, each brown bear's face is different. This bear is especially beautiful with inquiring eyes and a sense of calm.

The bears are completely wild, yet are very tolerant of humans. They are curious, but at the same time non-threatening. We are careful to be very respectful of their space and feeding needs, and do not interfere with their normal activities.

Super long lenses are not needed at this location, and I have found that a 100-400mm zoom lens, often with a 1.4x extender, is all that is needed. I rarely need a tripod, and have found that I can move more quickly and get better images when I am free and not tethered to a tripod. Of course a tripod is needed for some types of photography like moving water, night shots, and more, but when possible I prefer to handhold the camera.

1/1000 sec at f/7.1, ISO 800. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport."  -- Steve McCurry

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Iceberg Extravaganza

Before I leave Anchorage for my next Alaska photo trip, and once again be out of internet range, I wanted to share this abstract image with you. It is a small portion of a huge iceberg in a side channel off the Inside Passage.

The color was stunning, and the various shapes were endless. We shot hundreds and hundreds of images as our boat captain expertly navigated us around this incredible iceberg.

This was a large berg that had broken off the LeConte Glacier located several miles upstream. It is one of an innumerable number of glaciers that are receding at a rapid rate. We returned to the same spot the next day, and half of this berg had already melted away overnight. Its greatly reduced size was both disturbing and alarming.

1/640 sec. at f/8, ISO 800. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens with Canon 1.4x extender, for an effective focal length of 560mm on Canon 7D Mark II for a final focal length of about 780mm.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "We have to wake up to the fierce urgency of the now." -- Jim Yong Kim, President of The World Bank

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Tender Terns

I returned today to the land of internet, after an incredible 8 days aboard a private chartered yacht in the Inside Passage of Alaska. While all my Alaska trips have spectacular scenery and amazing wildlife, this one was especially wonderful. As we cruised up Misty Fjords, these Arctic Terns put on an amazing show. The male, on the left, brought a gift of a fish to the female, and she accepted it gracefully.

These terns are tiny, and weigh only about 4 ounces each.

The tender scene lasted only a few moments, and how lucky were we to be there at the exact right time. As with all photo experiences, any action that takes place in front on your lens is a gift.  This was especially exciting to me since it was behavior I had never witnessed before, and the location and the light were perfect.

1/2000 sec. at f/8, ISO 800. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens with 1.4X extender for an effective focal length of 560mm on Canon 7D Mark II body (totaling a final focal length of about 780mm). Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "It is a wonderful feeling to arrive dead center of a target you didn't even know you were aiming for. -- Lois McMaster Bujold

Friday, July 5, 2019

Perfect Plunge

This young humpback whale treated us to repeated tail slaps and plunges for quite awhile. He assumed perfect poses and we were thrilled to be able to get many great images.

While most humpbacks "fluke" when they do deep dives, it is generally the younger ones who do tail slaps (repeatedly slapping the water with their tails for reasons we humans do not understand) and breaching.

Since there was virtually no color in the water at this time of day, I converted this image to Black and White in Lightroom.

Watching whales, listening to whales, and marveling at them is one of my favorite experiences!

1/1250 sec. at f/11, ISO 800. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II set at 147mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The sea lives in every one of us." --Wyland

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Eagle Fight

The first of three Alaska photo tours has just ended, and what a week we had! We were in Glacier Bay National Park and saw whales, eagles, puffins, sea otters, sea lions, and more.

We were treated to a series of exciting aerial eagle fights. They did not last long, but any nasty fish scraps were enough to cause a ruckus. These mature bald eagles gave us a good show, fighting in the air over a stretch of beach at low tide.

All of us were mesmerized with the action, and were so happy with our good luck of being in the right place at the right time. It was a great group of happy and fun-loving photographers. We had lots of laughs, too much good food, and great photography. The elements of a perfect photo trip!

Now I am in the tiny town of Petersburg, Alaska waiting for the next trip to begin in a couple of days. We will be on a private yacht for 8 days for whale-watching, bird photography, and enjoying the beauty of the wilds of the Inside Passage.

Internet access is spotty in town, and once we leave port there will be none. I'll try to post more Blogs over the next couple of days before we head into the wilds once again.

1/1000 sec. at f/9, ISO 800.  Canon 100-400mm lens set at 255mm on Canon 7D Mark II. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The most dangerous risk of all is the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet that you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later."  --Randy Komisar