Katmai finale

A week off the grid on the coast of Alaska – photographing bears.

This post is part of a series about our photography trip to Alaska.

The full group of photographers on our Muench Katmai Bears expedition. L to R: Kevin, Pam, Jeff, Gene, Jerry, Caryn, Jeff, Allen, Dave, Jack; kneeling: John. Photo by Kevin Lisota.
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Katmai, days 6-7

A week off the grid on the coast of Alaska – photographing bears.

This post is part of a series about our photography trip to Alaska.

Thursday (September 1) Geographic Harbor: We visited the beach (and bears) in the morning. It was a beautiful day, with the clouds passing over and through the hills surrounding the bay. Read on, though, for photos of the bears and other wildlife spotted this day!

Landscape (with bear), Geographic Harbor, Katmai.
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Katmai, days 4-5

A week off the grid on the coast of Alaska – photographing bears.

This post is part of a series about our photography trip to Alaska.

Tuesday (August 30) Kuliak Bay, Hidden Harbor, Geographic Harbor: An early breakfast allowed us to reach the beach by 8am, where an immature bald eagle was perched on driftwood as if waiting for a dozen photographers to capture its portrait. My favorite photo from the sequence came moments after it launched from its beachfront perch. What else did we see in the next two days? read on.

Bald eagle (immature) on shore at the head of Kuliak Bay.
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Katmai, day 3

A week off the grid on the coast of Alaska – photographing bears.

This post is part of a series about our photography trip to Alaska.

Monday (August 29) Kuliak Bay: Today we decided to move to another bay, also well known for bears: Kuliak Bay. So we spent a few hours motoring out from Geographic Harbor and Amalik Bay, then northeast through the Shelikof Strait along the Katmai coastline. It was a gorgeous day with calm seas and scattered clouds, with snow-capped peaks in the distance behind the coastal hills. Read on to see what we found in Kuliak Bay…

Panorama from offshore Katmai National Park – click to see fuller size.
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Katmai National Park, Day 1

A week off the grid on the coast of Alaska – photographing bears.

Brown bear, just after catching a salmon – Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park.

My father and I spent a week on a photography workshop in Katmai National Park, on the southern coast of Alaska west of Anchorage. The trip was organized by Muench photography workshops and was an outstanding opportunity to refine my photography skills in a beautiful setting – up close and personal with Alaskan brown bears as they feasted on the annual salmon run. We spent seven nights on the Dreamcatcher, a small ship that allowed us to anchor in several bays along the Katmai coastline, using its skiffs to visit shore two or three times daily. We saw dozens of bears, as they were feasting on the annual salmon run, up close and personal. I snapped over 8,000 photos and it will take me many weeks to find time to sort, process, and share them all – so I’ll share the best photos in future posts. For now, I’ll post retroactively in segments – with a few preliminary/teaser photos. Read on!

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What’s in my pack?

Pays to be well prepared.

When I’m out for a dayhike I tend to carry more than most hikers – because I often hike solo, and because I keep my pack pre-filled with the essentials. Below is my full summer kit, which weighs about 10kg (22lb) in typical configuration. Heavy! But I like to be prepared. So what’s inside?

Mindshift Rotation 180º pack.
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Going mirrorless

Time to make the leap!

I’ve been a Nikon photographer for nearly forty years – first with an SLR and then a DSLR – but decided to upgrade to mirrorless and settled on a Canon EOS R5 after extensive research. Here’s why.

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Kiawah

Return of the Osprey!

We spent a long weekend at Kiawah, to join some family celebrations in nearby Charleston. I took the opportunity to do some photography, as I often do here, out on the beach and along the winding roads of the island neighborhoods. Indeed, I just switched to a new camera, the Canon R5 – about which I’ll write later – so this was a great chance to learn how to use it.

The full gallery includes a variety of photos, but the highlight was a visit to an osprey nest (the same one we photographed last June). Mama Osprey and two fledglings peered out from the nest, while Papa Osprey watched closely from a nearby tree.

Mom and two chicks in an Osprey nest, Kiawah.

Icy soap bubbles

Not easy!

Inspired by a photograph I found online, I’ve experimented with soap bubbles in freezing conditions… they can turn to ice and persist quite a while. It’s harder than it looks! Here is my best early attempt – check the gallery for a slo-mo video too.

Soap bubble in freezing conditions.

I made bubble solution with water, Dawn dish soap, and an extra dose of glycerin for resilience. I found a fat straw and used it to blow bubbles directly onto a surface of snow – here, the railing of the deck. This photo is with my iPhone; last week I tried some with the Nikon D500 but, for now, I’m still learning the mechanics… blow a bubble, quickly set down the straw, pickup the camera, get into position, and snap a few shots before the bubble bursts. Repeat many times!

I need to find a better location – out of the wind, with a less-busy background, and where I can stand but not have myself (or the camera) reflected in the bubble.

Last week I tried this in colder temperatures (6ºF) and some bubbles would freeze (turn to ice) and stick around for 10 minutes or more, like those below.

Soap bubble in freezing conditions.

Honorable mention

One of my favorite photos.

From time to time I like to enter a few photos in a photo contest. Today one of my photos, below, received honorable mention in the “People” category, at the annual “Elden Murray photo contest” hosted by the Hanover library. Here’s a link to the photo on their site, where you can also explore the winning photos.

I chose to enter this photo because I enjoyed the colorful action of this elderly Rajasthani vendor while he was making chai (tea).

Chai wallah in Shahpura, Rajasthan, India.

The photo is from our 2017 tour of India; read the blog post.