Tag Archives: mammals

Is Facebook the online version of Walmart?

A beaver (Castor canadensis) hauling willow back to his lodge, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Beaver, (Castor canadensis), hauling willow back to his lodge for the winter, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

You undoubtedly heard the news; today’s bling is Social Networking. You need to be on Facebook and you need to Tweet (loud and often). You need people to Digg your Flickrworld, you need to be Linked In, Hooked Up and Decked Out. You need to do this because you can’t afford not to, because everyone else is doing it, and because if you want to get ahead in life, to succeed, you need to do what everyone else is doing. Right?

It’s true, so I jumped right in. In the last few months I’ve opened the pages of Facebook and Tweeted my first Tweet, and just this week started a Flickr photo account. Additionally, my guiding business, Expeditions Alaska, is now Linked In. Social networking, I’ve been instructed, is the key to my future success and now, after wrapping up a summer of hiking and backpacking in the mountains, I’m giving it a shot.

It’s an interesting and somewhat challenging process. You don’t need me to write about the ways in which successful folks engage this ‘social networking’, as this has been covered elsewhere far more effectively than I might manage. The topic here is the pervasive, engulfing nature of such sites as Twitter and Facebook, etc. According to their stats page Facebook has more than 300 million active users (irony of the term ‘users’ duly noted). Continue reading

Grizzly bear and fall color

A grizzly bear stands poised beside Brooks River, vibrant fall colors in the background, as he fishes for Sockeye Salmon. Katmai National park and Preserve, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

As I said in a recent post, on my recent trip to Katmai National Park and Preserve I really hoped to make some images that featured not only the great grizzly bears, but also the awesome fall colors of the boreal forest . The Black Cottonwoods of the area provide the perfect background for photographing grizzly bears, but rarely do photographers seem to combine the 2. Most folks come up to Alaska and shoot the bears in the summer, and I think they’re missing out. The classic shot of a grizzly bear fishing for salmon at Brooks Falls is nice, and only generally possible mid-summer, of course, but there are a lot of other opportunities around in the fall that can be equally exciting. Great fall colors make stunning backdrops, and can really bring a vibrancy to the image. Stepping back, zooming out, and letting the scene dictate the photos is often the key.

In this photo I enjoy the sense of relationship between subject and environment – the dichotomy is largely only a function of our thought processing. The idea that the “environment” is something other than everything is a little peculiar; the subject IS the environment, as equally as the environment is the subject. There is really no difference between the bear and his habitat. Continue reading

Grizzly Bear Chasing Salmon

A slow shutter speed blurs the speed of a grizzly bear chasing a Sockeye Salmon in Brooks River, Katmai National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

One of the photos I wanted this year was some slower shutter speed blurs of grizzly bears chasing spawning Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) up the river. This kind of image is difficult to do with grizzly bears; well, not difficult to do, but difficult to manage a photo that works. More so, I think, than with most other animals. The result of this is that it seems to take about 5 times as many attempts to get a decent ‘panblur’ of a grizzly bear than it might, for example, of a caribou or wolf. What I’m calling a ‘panblur’, for those of you who aren’t certain, is a technique of slowing down the shutter speed when shooting movement, so that the subject becomes blurred, rather than crisp and sharp. You can see in the image above the spashing water and the legs of the bear are not to sharp at all. By panning the camera along with the bear as it races through the water, Continue reading

Orcas Killing Sea Otters

Orca attacking a sea otter pup in Kasitsna Bay, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

Here’s an interesting thought; there’s been a lot of discussion in Alaska on wolf and other wildlife management, particularly ‘predator management’ (aren’t ALL animals not predators of some creatures, and prey of others?), and this raises the issue of orcas (Orcinus orca) and northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni). In more recent times, for various reasons, it appears that orcas have begun preying more heavily on northern sea otters in the Southwestern part of the otters’ range – South Central Alaska out across the Aleutian Islands. Orcas, “Wolves of the Sea”, appear to be extirpating the sea otter within this Distinct Population Segment (DPS), and this sea otter DPS is now listed as threatened on the Endangered Species Act. So, what of it? Should the ‘wildlife authorities’ fire up the choppers, Cessnas and Supercubs, hire a sniper or 2, and begin an aerial ‘predator control’ program? Continue reading

Nikon Capture NX2 and Adobe CS4.

A grizzly bear walking towards the camera, Katmai national park, Alaska.

Photo above extracted via Nikon Capture NX2.2.2 Continue reading

Grizzly bear cub twins

2 grizzly bear cubs, twins, cubs of the year, Katmai National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

Even though they might only be little, grizzly bear cubs are pretty bold – bold enough to climb on a stick and poke their tongue out at my camera. They know full well, of course, that their mother outweighs me by several hundred pounds, is a coupla yards quicker than my aged legs can carry me :), is quite a bit stronger, has bigger, pointier teeth, sharper, longer claws, and is a little more willing to get in a tussle than I am. Hence, they’re pretty bold.

These cubs were actually not doing so well – only days earlier there had been 3 of them. Continue reading

Grizzly Bears or Landscapes, Wilderness Discussion.

A grizzly bear stands and looks over Naknek Lake at Sunset, toward Mount La Gorce, Katmai National Park, Alaska.

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” – Thich Nhat Hahn.

Hey Folks,

Well, with all the comments about landscapes versus bear photos on the last few pages, I thought I’d try a compromise. I know, I know, compromises end up pleasing no one, right? Well, so be it.

This is possibly the last photo I took on my trip last month, a sunset over Naknek Lake – I was hoping for some nice clear skies the following morning – and actually had a big sunrise – but then it clouded over, very soon afterward, and no good light was had for the morning shooting. Then I had to pack and get ready for the plane to come pick me up. The trip was all over too soon.

The photo is one exposure, so no real photoshop trickery – I even left the gull in the bay (@ Ron 🙂 ).

The real reason I wanted to post this photo was, honestly, a talk I went to listen to tonight, at a local bookstore, by a great Alaskan writer, Bill Sherwonit. Continue reading

4 Grizzly Bears

A digital composite of a grizzly bear sow and cub, flipped and doubled.
Click on the image above for a larger, more detailed version.

Hey Folks,

While I’m going through my recent images, I processed this one and thought I’d post it for kicks. It’s a simple computer trick, which even a cursory look unveils. All I did here was copy the image, flip it horizontally, and paste it alongside the original. I got a split second to shoot this scene, as the bears didn’t hold the position very long – another bear came by and the cub backed away from his nonchalant mum. I was thinking about the composite when I took the frame, remembering the shot I made a number of years back (on this page).

I don’t do a lot of this kind of photoshop trickery, but sometimes it’s fun. I’m interested to hear if folks like this image or not.




Grizzly Bear photo

An adult grizzly bear opens its mouth wide, teeth bared, Katmai National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

OK – all the whining about ‘no bears’ brings us back to the grizzly. This adult male was kind of enough to give me a few cool poses, of which I think this is one of my favorites. There’s little more to be said other than ‘bears rock’.



Grizzly bear charging


Hey Folks,

They say 3 is a lucky number – so here’s my third grizzly bear photo in a row. This was one of the prettiest grizzly bears I’ve seen, a really light blond color, with darker bands around the lower legs and face – simply a beautiful animal. I spent a lot of time shooting this bear, and got a number of runs like this, the bear coming directly at me, great light, nice background – what’s there to not like?

So what exactly is going on here? Continue reading