I made the front cover *and* back inside page of the latest Essential Guide published by The National Parks Traveler! Click on the photo to be taken to the article where you can click on the guide to read it (so many clicks, I know).
Tag Archives: AK
My latest photography article has been published on the National Parks Traveler site. Click on this link to go there and read all about it!
The National Parks Traveler has just published my latest article to their site. Click on the photo to be taken there. And while you are at it, check out my previous article as well.
I‘m a bad blogger, I know I am. It’s been a month, right, since I last posted? Until recently, I’ve been traveling, then I had a food photo session last weekend and now am preparing for a wedding photoshoot in a couple of weeks and – oh yeah – I have my day job with which to contend.
I actually have an upcoming article that will be published in the National Parks Traveler, the link of which I’ll provide in a new blog post. For now, though, here’s something I wanted to post for your viewing pleasure.
Remember my last article that was published for the National Parks Traveler? It dealt with returning to the same scene in a national park but during different seasons, different times of day, and different weather patterns in order to get totally different looks for the same place.
Well, I applied this during my recent visit to Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska, while staying at Camp Denali. The scene you see is Nugget Pond, situated right in front of Camp Denali’s lodge building. Time of day was either morning or afternoon. The weather ranged from sunny to overcast to stormy, with clouds in between.
Enjoying my first cup of coffee for the morning on the porch of the Potlatch Building. Do I look a little tired? Well, I probably was, from all of the activities in which I’d been involved and with plenty more fun ahead of me.
Stay tuned for my upcoming article about photographing in Denali National Park that will be published in the National Parks Traveler.
While perusing several other blogs which I follow, I noted one of the photographic bloggers was preparing a year in review post. I decided to do the same.
Going through all of my photos taken over the course of year gave me pause in which I realized that I had a really good year. Oh, of course I had ups and downs, but all in all, I had a great deal more ups than downs.
In February, I traveled to Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse State Park – all in Utah. This was my first winter trip in many years (most of my trips are mainly during the late summer or fall seasons). During that time, I hiked up to Delicate Arch and had the entire area all to myself for a good 30+ minutes, and was also fortunate enough on the previous day to witness a magical snow fall in an otherwise arid region.
In early April, I had the pleasure of conducting a portfolio photo session for a stunningly beautiful belly dancer.
And in late April, I photographed the wedding of a former co-worker and her musician fiancee (who now has a jazz CD out on iTunes). The weather was perfect, the bride was stunning, the wedding went off without a hitch, and the day couldn’t have been better – we all had a great time.
In July, I flew to Alaska for the first time in my life, spending a week with Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris in Katmai National Park and Preserve. There, I captured some fantastic photos of the awesome coastal brown bears as they fished for the salmon along the Brooks River. Prior to the trip to Katmai, I spent a few days just tooleying around the Anchorage area in a rental car, further cementing my desire to return in August 2014.
And I wasn’t finished with July travel. Work required me to travel to London; this time, it was via Business Class, which is a heck of a lot sweeter than economy, believe me. In between work at the London office, I managed to do things in that great city that I had not been able to accomplish during a visit two years prior (tour the National Gallery, ride on the London Eye at night and purchase a ticket to see Spamalot).
In October, I flew to Maine and spent a week on Mount Desert Island where I captured the gloriously-saturated colors of autumn. Because this trip coincided with the government shutdown, I investigated Acadia National Park via biplane rather than hiking.
Starting on the 7th day of September, I helped my 88-year old mother hang 3 hummingbird feeders; throughout the month, I had the wonderful privilege of photographing the beauty and antics of the ruby-throated hummingbirds that made their annual migration through my part of southeast Texas. During those days and evenings of photography, I digitally captured hummingbird behavior that I had never witnessed before.
In November (well, actually, that last day of November and the first day of December), I spent the weekend with my friends The Merchant Prince and his Lady Michelle, photographing their food & beverage venues and some crazy characters out at the Texas Renaissance Festival.
In December, I managed to salvage enough vacation days for a 13-hour drive to Big Bend National Park, where I spent 4 full days in this incredible southwest Texas park. I was so taken with this place that I will be making the long drive back in late April 2014 for a week’s stay.
And, throughout the year when not traveling far and wide, I have visited and photographed the nearby Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge as well as Brazos Bend State Park.
Things have gone well, workwise. My health has been good, as has the health of other members of my family. I continue to contribute articles and photographs for the National Parks Traveler and my Facebook photography page has over 6000 Facebook Fans.
Throughout the year, I got to do a lot of traveling and photography – the two things I love doing the most. I guess I could have eschewed many of the trips and bought the big honkin’ prime lens that I’ve been lusting after for a couple of years now. Instead, though, I chose to spend my discretionary income on traveling. An old “rockhound” friend of my parents once told us “You can’t take your stuff with you but you can take your experiences with you”. I totally believe that. So, I opt for the travel experiences and thank my lucky stars for lensrentals.com
Yes, there have been a few tough times, but not as many tough times as good times. I’ve got a roof over my head, food in my tummy, a good job, and my family. It’s been a really good year.
I look forward to next year and hope that it’s as good as this year has been.
How has 2013 treated you?
Howdy Everybody! If you are interested in seeing the kind of landscape images you can capture at Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska, then click on this link to be taken to the National Parks Traveler website, where is published my latest article for their Photography In The National Parks column. And while you are at it, go over to the National Parks Traveler’s facebook page and Like them.
Talk about iconic.
When I told people that I’d been to Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska, each and every one of them would give me a blank stare. Whereupon, I would ask them if they’d seen photos of the bears standing at the waterfall with their mouths open, catching the salmon jumping up the falls. Then, the light bulb would turn on for them. Everybody is familiar with these iconic images, even if they don’t know the exact location.
Unless there is a sow with cubs at one of the other viewing platforms, the Brooks Falls Platform is by far the busiest, most crowded, most popular platform. So busy, as a matter of fact, that there is a ranger there during peak hours, clipboard in hand, taking names and allowing 1 hour of viewing time before those names are called and people are asked to move to make room for others waiting their turn.
The photo above makes it look like there’s not many people at the platform, but I can tell you for a fact that when this image was taken, both lower and upper tiers were crowded cheek-by-jowl with photographers, their tripods and their supertelephoto lenses. It was only thanks to a couple of forbearing photographers that I was able to squeeze in to a spot between them with my own tripod and (rented) supertelephoto.
My first morning at the falls presented me with just one bear and no salmon jumping. So, I screwed my 4-stop ND filter onto the lens and got in a little “silky water” practice….handheld! You see, the tripod bore the 500mm lens, so rather than take time to change out camera/lens combos, I just steadied my camera and 100-400mm lens on the railing of the platform and successfully achieved some silky-water shots.
Silky water shots aside, I definitely acquired my most dramatic bear images here at this platform.
My current plans – barring any unforeseen circumstances – are to return to the park in 2014. I urge those of you who can, to travel to the wild, remotely beautiful state of Alaska and visit this park to see the bears for yourself. It’s an amazing opportunity to view these creatures closeup and in their own environment (well, as close up as the National Park Service allows – if you are a photographer, a telephoto lens sure helps).
Oh, and if you are interested in knowing the details of where I stayed while in the park, go to this link. If you want to know about my gear and also the best times for photography at Katmai, click on this link to go to the article I wrote for the National Parks Traveler website. And, while you are at it, go to the Traveler’s Facebook page and Like them.
A bear and a bird in the riffles downriver
My last “Behind The Scenes At Katmai” post highlighted photographs taken of and from the Lower Platform, just across the floating bridge from Brooks Lodge, in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska.
This post shows you photographs taken from the Riffles Platform. This place is sort of like the middle child of viewing platforms in the park. Everybody either sees lots of action at the Lower Platform or the more iconic Brooks Falls Platform, so they may tend not to spend as much time at this platform, located just a few hundred yards downriver from Brooks Falls.
Looking upriver toward Brooks Falls
The Riffles Platform received its moniker from the numerous small, shallow rapids (riffles) in front of and to the sides of this viewing area. Our photo tour leader informed us that this is the area where we would see sows with their cubs because, unless desperate for food, the sows would stay clear of the falls where most of the males staked out spots. While I was there, I did not see any momma/cub combos – I saw those at the Lower Platform. What I did see were younger, more inexperienced bears and older bears looking for easier fishing.
To me, the Riffles Platform was analogous to an overflow parking lot at an event venue – when the Brooks Falls Platform got too crowded, people would come on down to this platform.
I didn’t see as much action at this platform as I did the others, but what action I did see yielded some very nice images.
Next post: The Brooks Falls Platform
In a previous post, you got an idea of the layout for Brooks Lodge. Now, it’s time to take your camera and start viewing the bears.
This post deals with the Lower Platform and photos you can capture from that vantage point.
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The path through the lodge complex parallels the shoreline of Naknek Lake. Rangers advise visitors to keep to the paths, though, since the beach is the purview of the bears…..actually, everywhere in the park is the bears’ purview and sometimes one sees an 800 lb bear ambling up the path to plop itself down in front of one of the buildings for a quick rest before the rangers try to chase it away with loud voices and clapping. While it’s one thing for the bears to move along the path through the lodge area to get from Point A to Point B, it’s another thing for a bear to start making itself comfortable in a lodging area inhabited by larger numbers of humans; rangers and volunteers definitely work at discouraging that behavior.
The path continues away from the lodge buildings down to the bank of Brooks River and a floating bridge connecting the lodge with the first of three viewing platforms (the Lower Platform).
The view of the bridge from the bank of the Brooks River. That bus you see in the distance is your ride to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes – if you’ve purchased a ticket for about $90+ which includes a box lunch for the day-long tour.
The platform not only affords ample bear-sighting but also offers expansive views of the mouth of the Brooks River and a portion of Naknek Lake. From this vantage point, you can see bears, fishermen (and women) and floatplanes landing and taking off. If you have your polarizer filter attached to your lens, you can also see the salmon swimming en mass in the shallower portions of the water.
This is one of the thing that will cause a “bear jam”, closing the bridge at both ends and moving back anybody waiting at the river bank.
Hard to tell with this upload, but there is a bear parked right in front of the gate right at the very end of the bridge.
Set up for action at the Lower Platform
Catching the action. My organized photo tour group’s first day in the park at the Lower Platform was quite the experience – especially when an amorous boar chanced upon this willing sow right next to the viewing platform.
Playing in the distance. Caught this shot with my rented 500mm lens and then did some cropping to focus more on the bears.
Sharing the beach with the bear
A sow and her spring triplets
Alone on the road
Looking across the Brooks River oxbow area to the mountains beyond
Yearling triplets at the Lower Platform
The view toward the mouth of the Brooks River and Naknek Lake beyond, on my first day there – a very overcast, rainy day. Compare this image to the image below, taken a couple of days later, late in the evening (yes, it’s that light at 10PM), while I stood on the bridge with my tripod and camera.
For more information on the cameras and nitty-gritty photography info regarding the park and the platforms, click on this link to get to the article I wrote for the National Parks Traveler website.
Most of the images you see here in this blog post (and my other Alaska blog posts) are for sale on my website, and you can order my various 2014 Alaska calendars by clicking on any of the calendar images on the left side of this blog site.
Next Post: The Riffles Platform