Wednesday, November 25, 2020



It spite of the very tough year we have all been enduring, it is helpful to stop and consider all the things we have to be thankful for. It will vary widely from person to person, but regardless of any hardships or illnesses that you and your family have faced, there are still some good things to be grateful for.

For many of us, we will not be celebrating in person with family and friends this year. But we can still share the meaning and emotion of the day with them via Zoom or Skype or FaceTime calls. Even though life is not normal right now, we can still make the day the best it can be. Rather than despair over what we do not have, revel in what we DO have.

And we all have 2021 to look forward to. Surely it will be a better year than 2020. I hope to see you at an in-person workshop or trip when it is safe to travel again. Until then, I hope you will be safe and healthy, and find a bit of happiness in each day.


TECH SPECS  1/400 sec at f/9, ISO 400. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L lens set at 330mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff ball head and Wimberley Sidekick.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."  -- John F. Kennedy 

Friday, November 20, 2020

Alaska Autumn Splendor


I hope you are enjoying a taste of autumn. Autumn in Alaska is my favorite time to be there. The tundra bursts with color, the wildlife is in full mating attire, and you can see and feel Mother Nature at its finest.

This male caribou was beautifully positioned in colorful tundra with a distant mountainside as a backdrop. He was content to pose for awhile, and our shutters were doing a rapid-fire dance.

Some wildlife photography tips:

- try to show all four legs if possible

- make sure there is good sharpness in the eye(s)

- with dark fur, it helps to set your camera on +1 Exposure Compensation; that generally will provide good exposure of the dark tones and prevent them from showing too much noise

- use rapid burst even if the animal is not moving much;  you will be amazed at how many variations you will see in your images for head position, eyes open or closed, legs positioned well or poorly, and other tiny changes that can make or break an image.

TECH SPECS  1/640 sec. at f/8, ISO 1600. 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 body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and autumn a mosaic of them all."  -- Stanley Horowitz

Monday, November 16, 2020

Nose Dive


This bald eagle in Alaska was doing a full speed nose dive to grab a fish. Eagles are amazing to watch. They have intense focus on their target, are incredible flyers and hunters, and have the gift of speed. They can turn on a dime and grab a fish that you do not even see.  

Photographing them is exhilarating and exhausting because the action is non-stop and constantly changing. 

This was a misty day onboard our boat, and the mist added an almost painterly quality to the background. The eagle looks almost pasted on against this classic Alaska background, but this is exactly how it was, no Photoshop used. I did use Lightroom to bring out the dark tones in the feathers, and to saturate the color of the beak and talons.

I took several thousand images over the course of an hour or two. With this kind of action, you have to shoot constantly in order to not miss the chance of getting great shots.

Today I am also experimenting with a new logo. It is a complete departure from the old one, and I would love to know how you feel about it. Let me know either way - love it or not. But I sure hope you love it! I designed it over the past few days.

TECH SPECS  1/1600 sec. at f/9, ISO 1600. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II at 140mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Eagles come in all shapes and sizes, but you will recognize them chiefly by their attitudes."  -- E.F. Schumacher

Monday, November 9, 2020

Don't Overlook The Ordinary


The lowly dandelion. The scourge of manicured lawns, BUT a great photo subject. Its small elements combine to create a beautiful tapestry of texture and softness. Shooting straight down provides a symmetrical circular composition that, when you really study it, can deeply engage the eye.

This black-and-white conversion was done in Lightroom. Stripping away the color in the image enhances the soft starbursts radiating from the center outward. And it allows the textures to be more enjoyable.

Note in the TECH SPECS below that this was shot with a very long lens. It is a technique that I love - it creates a macro effect for subjects that are somewhat far away. 

So the next time you are seeking some exciting photo subjects, don't go for the clearly beautiful. Look for the unusual - weeds, or plants that are shriveled and finished for the season, or the last gasps of autumn's flowers. Take your time, REALLY look at the options before you, and seek subjects and compositions that stretch your imagination and your creative eye.

TECH SPECS   1/2000 sec at f/8, ISO 800. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens with Canon 1.4x III extender for an effective focal length of 560mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see."  -- Dorothea Lange  

Monday, November 2, 2020

Alaska Under Attack - Again


Once again, Alaska is under attack. This time it is the incredibly important Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska. It is the world's largest intact temperate rainforest, known as America's Amazon. Effective this week, the Federal government will be lifting decades old protections and will allow logging companies to build roads and cut and remove ancient growth timber, some as old as 1,000 years.  

This vitally important area covers 9.3 million acres of forest, and is home to bear, eagle, and salmon. This huge and ecologically vital area is said to absorb at least 8% of all the carbon stored in ALL the forests in the lower 48. Experts say that rainforests are the "lungs" of the planet, and the Tongass is the lungs of North America, according to the Washington Post. It has been called "America's last climate sanctuary." 

At this time, major legal challenges are being mounted by environmental groups, and I certainly hope they succeed. According to experts interviewed by the Post, there is no strong economic reason for logging, nor is there a compelling biological or cultural benefit. This move by the Federal government and logging companies puts many things at risk. All 5 of Alaska's native tribal nations are opposed to this land grab. It will jeopardize even further the deteriorating environmental devastation Alaska is experiencing from global warming, plus other moves by the Federal government to lease Alaska lands for private business interests. These moves will negatively impact migratory animals and their habitat, put native tribal Alaskans at risk, and speed the destruction of our last great frontier.

I encourage you to get more information on all the environmental issues putting Alaska at risk. As you know, Alaska is one of my favorite places. I love the land, the people, and the animals who thrive there.

The photos above were taken in the Tongass National Forest in the summer of 2019. It is a huge, vibrant, and magical place.

TECH SPECS  1/1600 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.

TODAYS QUOTE: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world;  indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."  -- Margaret Mead