A tolerant female Harbor seal and her young pup watched us curiously from this iceberg. Paddling back to camp one afternoon, we snuck by her as we were weaving our way through a throng of icebergs. Quietly trying not to frighten the seal from her place of rest, we paddled by and headed back to camp. Fantastic afternoon sea kayaking in Icy Bay.
A few days late, of course. It’s May, and sunny and great weather, and I’ve been getting a few things done other than update the blog. April was really some great weather here, and that makes it hard to keep up the blog. So here’s a brief post for the Image of the Month, from last year’s Polar Bear Photo Tour. A beautiful young male polar bear walking across the snow-covered tundra of the frozen arctic, in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
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.
We’ve had some stupendous weather here in Alaska this last few weeks, and I was lucky enough to get out and about for some photography. Here’s a shot from my favorite park, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve one gorgeous bluebird day. It just doesn’t get much better than this!
Hopefully this weather will hold through March for the northern lights photo tours. So far the auroras have been pretty rockin’ in 2014, and I’m really looking forward to shooting them some more this coming month.
Today is designated International Polar Bear Day; what a great day!
We were super fortunate to get this opportunity on our Polar Bear Photo Tour last fall, with the sow nursing her 2 cubs and facing us. Cameras went crazy and everyone got some really nice shots. And the cubs fed well. All in all, I think it worked out nicely for everyone involved!
This year we’ll be there 2 weeks, and I’m already looking forward to it. Few things are more fun than watching these great bears of the north in their natural habitat.
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’ll be late. Anticipate and shoot. And practice.
“Oooh, my little pretty one, pretty one, When ya gunna give me some, My Corona”
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. Continue reading…
Winter in Alaska is a fun time; it’s a hard time for a photographer because we have to choose between shooting during the day time, and waiting out the nights for the northern lights. And then switching schedules back and forth as the weather and the northern lights predictions change.
So the last few nights I’ve spent mostly sitting around at night hoping to be in the right place at the right time. For the most part, instead I’ve been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Shooting the northern lights is harder than most folks expect; shooting the northern lights with very specific compositions and scenes is even harder, because everything has to be just right. There are a few areas I have in mind for some northern lights images over the Wrangell Mountains, and so far, I’ve not gotten close. Every night the potential has been there, I’ve ventured out, only to be skunked. And few places can really skunk a photographer like Alaska can. Continue reading…
A few days late, sorry. Here’s the February “Image of the Month”, a brown bear at dawn, backlit by the soft warm light of the morning, with a light mist over the water. Sometimes, I swear, the bears seem to enjoy a pretty morning as much as we do.
As I do every winter, I’m looking forward to getting back to Katmai this coming fall for some great bear photography.