Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Notes about photography, taking photos in the backcountry, hiking with camera gear, questions about gear, and suggestions to help make your photos a little better.

Wrangell Mountains: Image of the Month, March 2017

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Wrangell Mountains in Wrangell - St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Mt. Drum, Mt Sanford, Mt Wrangell, Wrangell Mountains, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, Alaska.


Hey folks,

Welcome to March, 2017!

A photo of my favorite view. And a view I’ve seen many, many times this winter. The Wrangell Mountains. Left to right, you’re looking at Mt Drum, Mt. Sanford, Mt Zanetti (the little “cone” shaped peak and Mt Wrangell.

To give you a perspective on this mountain range …. Mt. Zanetti, the tiny little cone .. is the same volume mountain as Mt. St. Helens, in Oregon. The one that went “Boom” all those years ago.

The Wrangells Rock.

Cheers

Carl

Favorite Photos 2016

Saturday, December 24th, 2016

Hey Folks,

It’s that time of the year again. Wrapping up image editing and putting together a quick gallery of photos from the year for you. These are mostly from different photo tours we ran this year. (more…)

Brown Bears of the Alaska Coast

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015
A brown bear sow nurses her year old cub (one of 2) on the sedge grass flats at Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park, Alaska.

A brown bear sow nurses her year old cub (one of 2) on the sedge grass flats at Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks,

Here’s an image taken this past summer at Hallo Bay, in Katmai National Park. The sow has 2 cubs, and this one was just finishing nursing from her when I made this photo. The other sibling, a male, had taken his fill already and wandered over to a nearby wood pile to explore and climb around on. There’s always plenty of action at Hallo Bay.

Brown bears will nurse for as long as 2 years, and some even longer. It’s an amazing experience to be so close to, and hear the growling and purring and moaning and all the little noises they make. I once watched 4 cubs nurse at once from their mother, and it was a symphony of different sounds coming from a tangled mess of fur. Pretty cute.

I can’t think of an animal I enjoy photographing as much as bears, be they brown, black, white or other. The grizzlies of interior Alaska, the polar bears of the arctic, the black bears of the forest and lush coastal areas, are just an amazing animal to photograph. They’re often super tolerant of us, and all our frenetic clicking and gasps of excitement over what to them is, I’m sure, often very benign daily behaviors.

Next year I’ll be at Hallo Bay in early August, running the Alaska Brown Bears and Coastal Wildlife Tour in conjunction with Greg Downing and his awesome photography instruction company, Naturescapes. Greg’s an incredible photographer, and I’m really looking forward to working with him once again.

In case you didn’t see it, here’s a video of some incredible action from the year’s tour.

 

If you’re interested in coming out next summer, hit me or Greg up and have a chat. Katmai’s always a blast and you’re never quite sure what surprises it holds.

Cheers

Carl

A Favorite Polar Bear Photo

Sunday, May 31st, 2015
A younger polar bear sits on his iceberg and watches  the developing icepack on the soon to be frozen Beaufort Sea, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

A younger polar bear sits on his iceberg and watches the developing icepack on the soon to be frozen Beaufort Sea, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Been a while since I posted a polar bear photo. I can’t wait to get back to the arctic this fall and see these amazing animals.

This image is one of my favorite polar bears I’ve taken so far. Hope you like it.

And, if you’re looking for a great polar bear photo tour, I’m filling up for 2016, so you might want to touch base and get your name in before this one is full.

Cheers

Carl

Aurora borealis and the Corona

Sunday, April 12th, 2015
The aurora borealis and corona, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

The aurora borealis and corona, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, Alaska. Please click on the phone above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

As the northern lights season, or aurora borealis season, starts to wind down for those of us here in Alaska, it’s often harder and harder to be motivated to get out yet again and spend the night hoping for some nice displays. Last night I saw the data online looking promising for the northern lights, and the skies here started to clear up a bit, I thought I’d keep an eye skyward.

So after movie-time finished, I checked outside and sure enough, the northern lights were kicking overhead. I grabbed my camera gear, threw on some pants, and headed out.

This shot above is a photo of the aurora borealis corona. I’ve often been asked what the corona is, and why it’s called the corona. No, its not enough the famous song, Muy muy muy muy, Corona, by English punk band The Knack.

I’ll tell you a little known secret. The activity or display we call a “corona” is named for a very simple reason; (more…)

Image of the Month, April 2014; Northern lights and a backlit tent

Monday, April 7th, 2014
A backlit tent and the northern lights in the White Mountains, Alaska

Using my tent as a foreground subject, I lit it from behind with my headlamp, while the northern lights danced overhead. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Here’s a shot from the recent aurora borealis photo tours in March; I set up the tent for the shot, it was merely a prop. It took a few times to get the balance right with the headlamp for the exposure. Trial and error is really the only way to make this work.

Foregrounds matter when shooting the northern lights, as they do when shooting just about anything. Adding anything of interest to the foreground can really help balance the colors and dynamism of the northern lights overhead.

Cheers

Car

Polar bear walking across the frozen Arctic Ocean

Thursday, February 20th, 2014
A curious young polar bear walks across the thin ice as the cold waters of the Beaufort Sea begin to freeze up in early Fall. Polar bear, Ursus maritimus, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

A curious young polar bear walks across the thin ice as the cold waters of the Beaufort Sea begin to freeze up in early Fall. Polar bear, Ursus maritimus, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

It’s probably a good time for another polar bear photo, don’t ya think?

This young fella was curious enough to venture out, albeit cautiously, over the think, newly formed ice of the Beaufort Sea, to come in for a closer look. I wanted to get a nice low angle, and give a sense of the expansive arctic setting behind him.

One tip I’ll offer wildlife photographers, and bear photographers in particular, is try as hard as you can to catch them with a front paw raised, and not the back paw. Most animals, and especially bears, just look awkward and clumsy with a back leg in the air. So rather than just keep my thumb on the hammer and fire away as a bear walks by or approaches, I tend to try to time a few short bursts to catch the pose I want.

This also helps with avoiding the dreaded “oh crap, I filled the buffer” problem as well. Just remember to shoot BEFORE you see that front paw come up – if you wait til the front paw is lifted, you’l be late. Anticipate and shoot. And practice.

Cheers

Carl

Muh muh muh, myyyyyy Corona – Aurora borealis

Monday, February 17th, 2014
Corona of the aurora borealis, Alaska

The aurora borealis corona, or Coronal Aurora borealis – directly overhead, photographed with a 50mm f1.4 lens. ISO 2000, aperture 1.4, s/s 1/3 sec. Click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

“Oooh, my little pretty one, pretty one,
When ya gunna give me some,
My Corona”

Hey Folks,

What a cool tune, eh?

This image of the aurora borealis corona was taken last March on one of the aurora borealis tours. Here’s to hoping we get a night like this one again. Absolutely incredible evening, and it went on and on and on and on …. all night long. I think we got home at something like 9am this morning. I remember we nearly missed breakfast at the hotel because they were closing it up when we rocked into town. (more…)

Northern Lights & Winter in Arctic Alaska

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013
A stock photo of the northern lights rising over a small creek, with the Brooks Range mountains in the background, part of Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

The northern lights rising over a small creek, with the Brooks Range mountains in the background, part of Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks

I am just now back from a trip to the arctic looking for the northern lights; 4 of us went north of Fairbanks, to the Brooks Range, and spent a dark, cold week rambling around the mountains, enjoying what is ordinarily an incredible place; in the winter, a unique and somewhat amazing experience.

The northern lights themselves dropped by for a visit each night; we were indeed fortunate. We had cloudy skies for part of just one night, and all the moonlight anyone might ever hope for to light up the foregrounds. In the arctic, the moon doesn’t really pass ‘overhead’, but circles around the sky, so though it’s not high in the sky, it stays out for quite a while.

We were also lucky with the weather; there was just enough wind around (particularly higher in the mountains) to keep things from getting too cold. Weird, huh? Wind (generally) keeps things warmer in the winter. On our final day, there was not the slightest breath of air, and the temperature dropped a lot .. hitting minus 40 right as we departed for the drive south. For the duration of our trip it had been (mostly) in the 0 to minus 20 range; Fahrenheit, of course).

Photography in the cold, at night, can be a challenge, but we were all well prepared, and managed to make some keeper images. I’ll write another post later about tips and ideas to alleviate some of the problems folks run into in such conditions. For now, I gotta catch up on some sleep.

Cheers

Carl

 

 

Polar Bear Cub Photo

Saturday, October 19th, 2013
A young polar bear cub in snow, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. Ursus maritimus.

A young polar bear cub in snow, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. Ursus maritimus. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

I just got back from 10 days in the arctic, photographing polar bears. Amazing creatures to watch and be around. We were lucky to have a few opportunities with mothers and their cubs (mostly 2 year olds). This particular afternoon we found a young sow and her cubs of the year (born this past January) and they were about as cute as cute gets. Great fun and everyone had a blast watching them.

I’ve got about a thousand things to do right now, so I’ll try to get around to editing some images and posting something more over the weekend or early next week, but for now, hopefully you’ll enjoy this cute little polar bear cub.

Cheers

Carl

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Owner and guide Carl Donohue.

 

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