Raw Beauty on the Inside Passage

Today’s post comes from November 2008, on a photo trip to the Chilkat River Valley to photograph Bald Eagles. To get to the area, I flew into Juneau, Alaska and then took the Alaska Marine Highway (the state ferry system) to Haines. The ferry ride was an early morning ride that started out about 6:00am and went til we disembarked in Haines, approximately noon. Along the way, the raw beauty of Alaska’s Inside Passage was never ending. As soon as the sun began to rise (about 10:00am this time of the year in Alaska!), the sunrise reflection off the water behind the ferry was magnificent:

Alaska Sunrise

A little later, we moved past the first of two lighthouses, the Sentinel Island Lighthouse:

Sentinel Island Lighthouse

Sentinel Island Lighthouse

That was followed by the Eldred Rock Lighthouse:

Eldred Rock Lighthouse

JimBraswell-MMK2-6686-EldredRockLighthouse-6

The Inside Passage is always such a gorgeous place to visit … even in the winter! I’ve been thinking about this trip and right now I’m tentatively planning on another visit to the Chilkat River Valley in 2015, including a ferry ride from Bellingham, Washington to Haines, Alaska. I’m even thinking of doing a weeklong photo workshop at that time. I’m currently trying to work out all the logistics of such a trip. If I end up doing one, it will be a small group size … probably only 3-4 people. If interested, shoot me an e-mail (showmenaturepix@hotmail) and let me know. I’ll e-mail final details to you, before I publish to everyone else, if I decide to run this tour.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 1D Mark 2 body
  • Canon EF100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens, shot at 100mm to 390mm
  • Handheld from deck of ferry, with IS “On”
  • ISO 200 (all photos)
  • Aperture f/6.3 to f/8
  • Shutter 1/30 sec. (thank goodness for IS!) to 1/400 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, Landscape Photography, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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A Thing of Beauty

During my kayak outings over the past few mornings, I have consistently run into a pair of juvenile hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks (Buteo lineatus) I believe (if I’m wrong on the ID, please let me know). Their regular activity has been for one of the hawks to fly into a dead tree, closely followed by the second one. With the second one arriving, the first one always launches and flies away … with the second one not far behind! They both are skittish, so capturing images of them have been a bit difficult. But on my last outing, I was surprised to see one fly over and into a nearby dead tree. I was able to capture a few images as this one flew overhead and landed into the tree:

Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk

I’d really love this next shot if only the head was visible! As with most sports being “a game of inches”, nature photography is “a game of fractions of seconds”! One common misconception is that a camera with the ability to shoot up to 10 frames per second will allow you to capture all the great action shots. In reality, 10 frames per second equals one shot every 1/10 second. Trust me, there is a whole lot of time between those 1/10 second intervals!

Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk

Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk

Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk

Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk

Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC, shot at 560 mm
  • Handheld from a kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/800 sec. to 1/1000 sec.

 

 

 

Posted in 2014, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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A Group of Woodies

Yesterday’s kayak outing was pretty uneventful with regards to beaver activity. Again, they were inside the lodge, gnawing on wood pieces they transported inside … hmmm, seems like they’re active outside the lodge on an every-other-day basis!

But I did manage to capture some other interesting wildlife, including a pair of juvenile Red-shouldered Hawks (I’ll feature them in another post) and a cute image of a raccoon that I will feature for this next week’s “Fun Friday” post. I also had a few Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa), which I’m featuring today.

Wood ducks are one of my favorite ducks to photograph. They are so colorful and always have a rather rambunctious attitude! But they are also very skittish, mainly due to the fact that they are hunted. So I was quite surprised when a trio of “Woodies” approached my kayak, within about 30 feet at one point, and continued to swim past me! I was decked out in camouflage, and my kayak is painted a flat, “army green” color, so I don’t think they knew I was there. I kept my movements to a slow pace and they all seemed to be okay with me being there. The hen (there were 2 drakes and 1 hen in the group) seemed to constantly stare at me, but was not frightened off. I think she must have been hearing my camera as I snapped off images. Here are a few of my favorite images. The first couple show the ducks as they emerged from the fog:

Wood Ducks

Wood Ducks

Once out of the fog, their beautiful colors were much more evident:

Wood Duck drake

Wood Duck drake

Wood Duck drake

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC, shot at 560 mm
  • Handheld from a kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 800 and ISO 1600
  • Aperture f/8 to f/16
  • Shutter 1/200 sec. to 1/320 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2014, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Lucky Three’s

Today’s post is the story of “my lucky three’s”. On Wednesday, I make my first kayak outing in several months. Following the Midwest drought of a couple years back, we just haven’t had the rains we typically get, and the areas I kayak have not had sufficient water for kayaking, for some time. But the recent rains have seemed to have remedied that, so I decided to see what wildlife I could find.

I was hoping for some Beavers, one of my favorite kayak subjects. On Wednesday (Day 1), I had zero luck. On Thursday (Day 2), I decided to try another location that typically is good for beavers. As I reached the beaver lodge, there were no beavers in sight. I patiently waited for about 2 hours, but no activity, whatsoever. But I did hear gnawing from inside the lodge, along with the occasional “whining” noise the juvenile beavers sometimes emit.

Yesterday (Day 3), I headed back to the location where I had heard beavers on the previous day. At first, I again only heard the sounds from the lodge. But about 30 minutes later, the beavers began leaving the lodge and swimming in the area water. There were 3 of them … and on Day #3! Here are a few of my favorite images from yesterday’s kayak outing. In the first 2 images, a juvenile beaver is swimming in the large pool of water, with fall colors reflected in the water:

Juvenile American Beaver

Juvenile American Beaver

In the next 2 images, one of the juvenile beavers climbed out of the water and onto a downed tree, not far from my kayak:

Juvenile American Beaver

Juvenile American Beaver

After this post is published to social media, I’m heading back out to see if I can have some more encounters! Maybe “lucky 4′s”?  :o)

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC, shot from 300mm to 560mm
  • Handheld from a kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 400 (all images)
  • Aperture f/7.1 to f/8
  • Shutter 1/80 sec. to 1/320 sec.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, Mammals, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Fun Friday: Where the Boys Are

I believe that was the name of an old Connie Francis movie or song. In this instance, it is a group of Wood Duck drakes (males), flying after a Wood Duck hen (female). While kayaking this week, Wood Ducks were very common as they are tending to band into somewhat large groups as we start to head into the fall migration. In this situation, a single hen flew overhead with a group of drakes:

Wood Ducks

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC, shot at 460mm
  • Handheld from a kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 3200
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/800 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2014, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Nature Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Forgot How Nice It Is!

To kayak and photograph wildlife, that is. I was unable to kayak for the past few months as our area continued to be in drought conditions. But recent rains has once again allowed me to hop back in the kayak and maneuver it through the Conservation Areas, looking for wildlife to photograph. Yesterday morning I made the first of (hopefully) many kayak outings. One of the highlights was catching a pair of juvenile Common Raccoons (Procyon lotor). One after the other, they appeared out of heavy vegetation and swam across a small pool of water, emerging onto a downed tree. Here are a few of my favorite images:

Juvenile Raccoon

Juvenile Raccoon

Juvenile Raccoon

Unfortunately, I didn’t spot any Beavers at this location. I suspect the long, dry spell has relocated them to another area. This morning, I am planning on another outing to another nearby area … one where Beavers will likely be seen :o)

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC
  • Handheld from a kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 3200
  • Aperture f/7.1 and f/8
  • Shutter 1/80 sec. to 1/250 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, Mammals, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Bald Eagles Along the Snowy Chilkat River

While going through some older images (2008), looking for some “birds in snow” images for a painter friend, I came upon some Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) from one of my two trips to the Chilkat River Valley of Alaska. Nestled a few miles outside the town of Haines, this location is a mecca for bald eagles looking for a late salmon run, as well as for photographers wanting to photograph them. Here are a few images, from a single day of shooting, that I like:

Bald Eagle soaring over the Chilkat River

Bald Eagle landing on a tree snag

Bald Eagle landing in the shallows of the Chilkat River

For the last couple of years, I’ve been thinking of returning to the Chilkat River Valley for more eagle photography … maybe in 2015!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 1D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 800
  • Aperture f/7.1 and f/8
  • Shutter 1/640 sec. and 1/800 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2014, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Nature Photography, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Aster Time

On my last hike on the local, Missouri prairie, I found a lot of Asters blooming, making for a colorful hike. Here are a couple of my favorite images:

Aster wildflower

Aster wildflower

Missouri has several species of Asters, including some white, blue, purple and even yellow ones. I’m not sure on this species, but believe it is the Oblong-leaved Aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium). These wildflowers are in the Daisy family and grow up to 3-feet tall. They are perennials, with each flower having 20-40 ray florets, usually blue or purple. They can bloom from July to November.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with Graff Studioball SB-QR ballhead
  • ISO 800 (due to gusty winds)
  • Aperture f/3.5
  • Shutter 1/80 sec. (top), 1/50 sec. (bottom)

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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A Look Back at Ketchikan Creek

(Made it back from the weekend art festival and trying to unpack everything, dodging raindrops along the way (we’re forecast to get up to 2″-3″ of rain over the day!), so I’m featuring a post I made in fall 2011, while I try to get my things into the house. Enjoy and I’ll be back with a new post tomorrow!)

Day 4 of our 4-day Ketchikan visit … and finally the liquid sunshine turned into a yellow mass in the sky, often darting behind a few, puffy clouds, but nevertheless, a nice day. Yes, we did get a couple of short showers, but nothing unexpected!

What do we do today? Well, we decided to take the free shuttle bus back up the hill to the Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery & Eagle Center, and then walk Ketchikan Creek back into the downtown area. We were hoping to see some wildlife along the way, but gorgeous scenics would work nicely, too! Ended up with little wildlife … except plenty of salmon in Ketchikan Creek. Remember how I mentioned in an earlier post that the Inside Passage had been getting record amounts of rain this year? As a consequence, Ketchikan Creek was flowing like a thundering river … and you could hear it’s roar from some distance!

As we got closer to the main business district of Ketchikan (not too far from Creek Street, for those who have ventured here by cruise ship), we found a wonderful waterfall that posed quite an obstacle to the salmon, trying to work their way upstream to spawn. Unfortunately, because of the steep terrain and a few chainlink fences, it was impossible to get low, to find a good vantage point. So, I photographed the following images from an overhead bridge. To set the perspective, water is roaring away from me (from the bottom of the images to the top of them). The salmon are working up the creek, towards me (from the top of the image to the bottom). If you look closely, you can see where the waterfall is (difference in water heights) but it just doesn’t give the real impact. I would estimate the falls is at least 6-8 feet high … doesn’t sound like much, but tell that to a 18-24 inch salmon! Anyway, here are a couple of images of salmon trying to make it over the falls:

Salmon jumping the waterfalls

Salmon jumping the waterfalls

Not really sure if any of these fish made it. Once they hit the fast-flowing, white water, you cold not see them!

A short time later, we arrived at Creek Street, the famous “old Ketchikan” area (now a tourist trap). Walking down the street past the shops, we reached the bay and one of Ketchikan’s harbors. Here is an image taken from there:

Salmon Jumping in Ketchikan (Alaska) Harbor

Was this guy practicing for the upcoming falls? Note his upside down style of jumping … I guess I have to give him bonus points for style! Next up, catching the Alaska Marine Highway ferry for a 10-hour (including a short stop at Wrangell, Alaska) to get to Petersburg, where the photo workshop starts.

 

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, Nature Photography, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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Revisiting Blue Ice Fields

(I’m at the Lee’s Summit Art Festival today (the last day of the festival), meeting more wonderful nature-lovers and displaying my artwork. If you live in the Kansas City area, please stop by and say “Hi”. Yesterday, I met many great folks and enjoyed a wonderful weather day (low 60′s, sunny and just a gentlest of breezes!), and a huge increase in sales. If you’re in the Kansas City area and looking for something to do on another fine, fall day, stop by and we can talk nature! Meanwhile, in my social media absence, please enjoy an encore of one of my favorite Alaska posts, which originally published in October 2011). I should be back on social media on Monday morning!

Today’s post is the first of a couple of posts from the scenic jetboat trip the members of the workshop group took to LeConte Glacier. Most of the trip was in a light rain and total cloudy conditions. But viewing glaciers and glacial ice is best done in these conditions … with no direct sunlight falling onto the ice, the blue colors intensify and really show through!

As we approached LeConte Bay, the bay we would travel to get to LeConte Glacier, blue icefields appeared before us:

Blue Ice as we approach LeConte Glacier, Alaska

Taking our time, our guide throttled back the jetboat and we began cruising very slowly past some beautiful, natural ice sculptures:

Blue Ice in LeConte Bay, Alaska

Blue Ice in LeConte Bay, Alaska

Blue Ice in LeConte Bay, Alaska

Closeup of Blue Ice in LeConte Bay, Alaska

Blue Ice in LeConte Bay, Alaska

As we cruised further and further into the bay, and getting closer to the face of LeConte Glacier, we began seeing Harbor Seals (Phoca vitulina):

Harbor Seal watching us

But this was only one of hundreds of Harbor Seals we would have the pleasure of seeing! In tomorrow’s post, I’ll share more wildlife images made in this spectacular Ice Kingdom!

 

 

 

Posted in 2011, Blog, Landscape Photography, Mammals, Nature Photography, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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