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.

Nikon Coolpix L22 – Backpacking Photography Gear

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013
On our Bremner Mines to Iceberg Lake trek, Amy and Cindy take a quick break before we ventured down to the glacier.

On our Bremner Mines to Iceberg Lake trek, Amy and Cindy take a quick break before we ventured down to the glacier. Photo taken with Nikon Coolpix L22..

Hey Folks,

Just editing some of my files from this past summer, and I ran across this picture from our August Iceberg to Bremner Mines trek. I shot this photo with my little Nikon pocket camera, a Nikon Coolpix L22. I started carrying a point and shoot (P&S) this summer, for the first time in I don’t know how long; too long!

It’s definitely nice to have something handy and accessible, without trying to deal with a larger SLR hanging from a strap while hiking. I generally carry my SLR or SLRs inside my backpack, stashed away where they won’t get (a) damaged and/or (b) left behind quite so easily. It’s SO easy while backpacking to stop and take a quick break, put something down, and walk off without it. That sucks when it’s a can of bear spray or a Nalgene, but it REALLY sucks when it’s something like an SLR, and insanely expensive.

So this summer I hiked with a trusty little Nikon Coolpix L22 in my shirt pocket – the perfect size for a P&S camera. I miss the image quality, of course, when I get home to view the images, but I mostly miss the functionality of the camera in the field. This could well be simply because I’m not as familiar with that camera as I should be, and so I just “point and shoot”, rather than fussing with trying to make some kind of manual controls. There were a few times when I really thought “man, I wish this camera would let me do x-y-z” – which of course I could easily have done if I’d had the SLR in my hands. (more…)

2013 Alaska Bald Eagle Photo Tour

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013
A tight headshot portrait of an adult bald eagle near Haines, Alaska. Haliaeetus leucocephalus.

A tight headshot portrait of an adult bald eagle near Haines, Alaska. Haliaeetus leucocephalus. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Photographers, think about heading on up to Alaska in November, 2013 and join me for the bald eagle photo tour there. It’s a weeklong trip, based out of Haines, Alaska, all accommodation and ground transport included, and we’ll spend the week shooting the world famous bald eagle congregation. Every fall, as many as 3500 bald eagles may show up to the Chilkat River area to feed on a late salmon run. While most of the rivers in Alaska are freezing over by that time, warmer ground water from a couple of nearby springs keep parts of the Chilkat and neighboring rivers open, and the bald eagles drop by for a feast.

This photo tour is also, for those so inclined, a photo workshop, where I’ll teach and discuss some techniques to help improve your photography; particularly we’ll look at wildlife photography subjects, such as tracking and shooting fast moving and flying subjects. We’ll look at in the field practices that involve trying to maximize your shooting opportunities on the ground; how to be in the right place at the right time.

The bald eagles here offer us a variety of photo opportunities, from close up headshots and portraits to action shots of bald eagles fighting and fishing, soaring against spectacular mountain backdrops and trying to create some of those grand “animal in the landscape” photos. (more…)

Alaska Winter Driving and Travel Information for Photographers

Sunday, January 6th, 2013
Winter travel, a snow-laden pickup truck on the McCarthy Road, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.Winter travel, a snow-laden pickup truck on the McCarthy Road, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Winter travel, a snow-laden pickup truck on the McCarthy Road, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks

This year (2013) seems to definitely be the year that photographers want to head north to photograph the northern lights here in Alaska; the number of websites that have suddenly added an “Alaska Northern Lights Photo Tour” to their schedule seems to have tripled in about 6 months.

That, and considering the number of photographers heading up here on their own, or with friends, to photograph the Aurora borealis this winter/spring means we’ll very likely see dozens, if not hundreds, of really, really amazing northern lights photographs from this coming season. I know I’m sure looking forward to seeing all the great images.

Given this influx of folks from “down south”, I thought a good subject to write about, one that I hope many people will find useful, might be winter driving and winter travel in Alaska. Coming, as I did when I moved here, from a background of very little real “winter conditions”, I had a lot to learn when I arrived, and some of that might be helpful for others headed this way. Not just about the physical driving on snow and ice. What to bring with me. What hazards I’m likely to encounter. And on and on. (more…)

2012 – A Year in Alaska in 8 minutes

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

An Expeditions Alaska Video Review

(more…)

Image of the Month, Dec 2012: Bald Eagle Take-off

Monday, December 10th, 2012
A bald eagle takes flight along the Chilkat River,  Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, Alaska.

A bald eagle takes flight along the Chilkat River, Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks,

Welcome back! I’ve just returned from a photo trip to Haines, Alaska, photographing bald eagles along the Chilkat River, in the famed Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. Had an awesome, awesome trip, met a lot of cool people, and got some nice images. Anyone wanna join me there next year? The bald eagles are a real spectacle, to watch and to photograph.

All the best,

Cheers

Carl

Polar Bears Playing on the Ice

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Hey Folks,

A week in arctic Alaska, photographing Nanuq, the magnificent polar bear? An awesome, awesome trip. I took 3 people up earlier this month for a fantastic week, where we were so lucky to get to spend time up close and personal with polar bears; literally, dozens and dozens of polar bears. US F&WS estimates there were nearly 80 bears in the area in sept/oct.

These 2 youngsters were an absolute treat to watch, as they tussled and wrestled and ran and frolicked on the ice. With a great local Alaska native (Inupiaq) guide, we were able to watch these bears for several hours; everyone came home with thousands of great polar bear photos. I grabbed this quick video when I had to stop shooting and change memory cards in one of my SLR cameras. The bears were so much fun to watch.

Next year, 2013, I’ll be back for another round, leading a small photo tour for a week in the arctic, photographing the polar bears. Space is limited; I’ll keep the group to a maximum of 4 photographers and myself. I’ll have full details online this week, but the dates are scheduled for Oct 7-14, 2013. Drop me a note if this is something you’re interested in, as this trip will very likely fill quickly.

Cheers

Carl

PS: Oh, someone asked about the music track; it’s a little R&B groove I recorded (on guitar) with my friend Steve F on bass years and years ago. I found a copy of it and thought it’d be a cool track for this video. Steve sounds great on bass, as always. It sounds better L-O-U-D, so turn your speakers up to 11.

Brown bear photo – Hallo Bay

Friday, June 29th, 2012
An adult brown bear (Ursus arctos) resting on driftwood near the beach at Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

An adult brown bear (Ursus arctos) resting on driftwood near the beach at Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Just returned from a trip over to Katmai National Park, where we photographed brown bears at Hallo Bay and Kukak Bay; we were super lucky to get some great light, great bears, and some really cool photo opportunities. This young bear was hanging around a pile of driftwood in Hallo Bay, and the rich greens of the sedge grasses beyond made a nice soft background.

It took a little bit of work to scramble around over these logs and whatnot, carrying over 20lbs of camera gear, to get in a good position for photography, but I think it was well worth it.

Oftentimes making the effort to move and get in position is the real difference between making a photo, and making the photo you want. It could be the direction of light, the background, the angle of view, proximity to the subject, or a combination of countless other variables that really makes the difference.

It’s far too easy to hike a bit, set up a tripod, point the camera at a subject, then try to zoom in or out, without moving and improving the image. The best advice I might offer is to continually be looking for ways to improve the image you see through the viewfinder.

Sometimes it’s simply not possible or practical to change it much; safety or disturbing the subject, or  other photographers in the area all might restrict where we set up and how much we move. But keep your eyes posted around you, and look for ways to improve your image simply by moving your position. You’ll be glad you did.

Cheers

Carl

Image of the Month – Alaska Aurora borealis photo

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012
Aurora borealis, or northern lights, winter Alaska.

Aurora borealis, or northern lights, winter Alaska.

Hey Folks

Image of the Month for May (sheesh, is it May already?), 2012 is an Aurora borealis photo from one of the norther lights photo tours earlier this year. We were treated to some great lights, and had a blast watching and photographing the aurora. Good times, and I’m already taking bookings for these trips next year.

Aurora borealis photography is more difficult than most folks expect it to be. it’s challenging, but also an amazing experience. Great fun and what a blast to see this kind of activity!

Cheers

Carl

Brown bear photo

Sunday, January 15th, 2012
A male brown bear, Ursus arctos, approaches up river, fishing for spawning sockeye salmon, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

A male brown bear, Ursus arctos, approaches up river, fishing for spawning sockeye salmon, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

I thought I’d post another image from our Katmai brown bear photo tour last fall. I’ve shot this bear for so many years now; it’s awesome to go back and revisit these bears year to year, particularly the bears that are so great to photograph as this one.

When I first started photographing this bear, he was a young subadult, just out on his own. He’s nearly doubled in size over the last few years, and now is a good size bear, though still has a number of pounds to gain before he reaches his full size.

One thing that becomes so readily apparent when photographing bears is how truly individual they are. They can be as different from one to another as we are. Some bears will walk right on by, fishing and wandering the river, with little more than a sideways glance at us, while others wont’ come close at all, and seem to always keep an eye on people around the area.

This means a lot when it comes to things like how to act in bear country; it means the generalized ‘protocols’ that we read about and hear are, while valuable, not set in stone. It’s more important to pay attention to the bear, and to closely watch the bear’s signals. than to think about some line in a book at that said “In situation A, you should do B”; hard and fast rules rarely hold true, but never more so, perhaps, than when dealing with 1000lb+ predators. (more…)

Tips for aurora borealis photography – part 3

Monday, November 21st, 2011
Northern lights, over the Copper River, and Mount Sanford, Mount Drum and Mount Wrangell, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Northern lights, over the Copper River, and Mount Sanford, Mount Drum and Mount Wrangell, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Part 3 of my complete guide on aurora borealis photography. So far, on Page 1, we’ve covered the initial stuff. Finding the aurora borealis, scouting your locations during the day to find potential composition sites, what clothes you need to keep warm and comfortable, the importance of bringing along a good headlamp.

Page 2 addresses the question of what camera gear you need when photographing the northern lights, and what camera settings are most useful. Page 2 also covers a broader range of issues you’re likely to run into, like how to find critical focus in the dark northern sky. Page 3, to wrap things up,  begins with some thoughts on composing your aurora borealis photos. (more…)

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Owner and guide Carl Donohue.

 

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