November 29, 2015
The poaching of wildlife in African National Parks has always been a problem, but seldom do visitors witness it. This Zebra stallion was spotted along the Mara River in October; he stood apart from the other migration zebras, still dragging his snare, and moving noticeably slower. The next day he appeared to be doing better, more active and grazing, but several days later we found his intact carcass (meaning that he did not die by predation). So sad to see such a magnificent animal die because of human greed.
Canon 7D Mark II, EF100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II lens at 360mm, exposure of 1/640 at f5.6, ISO 6400, handheld.
October 29, 2015
Although I’ve seen and photographed white Arctic Foxes in northern Alaska, this is the first blue color morph (variation) that I’ve photographed in Iceland. Blue is a misnomer, since the color is more brownish-black through out the year, although judging by the tail color, this male has some white morph genes.
As Iceland’s only carnivore, they mainly survive on nesting birds and eggs, invertebrates, berries, and especially during winter, carrion along the coast. Unfortunately, they also prey on domestic sheep lambs (Iceland’s primary farm animal) so they are hunted throughout the country. As a result, Arctic Foxes are not commonly seen.
Canon 7D Mark II, EF100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II lens at 349mm, exposure of 1/665 at f8, ISO 320, handheld.
September 23, 2015
Located just an hours drive from Fairbanks, the White Mountain National Recreation Area provides many forms of recreational opportunities. But lightning caused forest fires burn thousands of acres every summer. Forest fires aren’t the end of the world, just a little messy and ugly until the new growth returns. Here Black Spruce skeletons are slowly being dwarfed by faster growing birch and aspen, with a rich underpinning of dwarf birch and willow, as orderly plant succession continues. Perhaps by the next century, barring another forest fire, the Black Spruce will be the dominant species again.
But for the nature photographer, the early September colors and contrasts in the meantime are just too good to pass up.
Canon 5D Mark III, EF100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II lens at 400mm, exposure of 1/320 at f8, ISO 250, handheld.
August 29, 2015
Besides the usual Zodiac and amphibious boat sightseeing tours of the Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon, this young entrepreneur was offering Stand Up Paddle Board tours. Decidedly not for the typical visitor, he wasn’t having much success finding willing customers to don a wetsuit and paddle among the icebergs.
But later in the evening, after the tourists had departed, I found him taking a self-tour in the fading light and approaching fog—-a man dedicated to his sport!
Canon 7D Mark II, EF100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II lens at 100mm, exposure of 1/320 at f6.3, ISO 100, handheld.
July 27, 2015
Fair weather or foul, each summer day the Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon is overrun by hordes of tourists. Apparently Iceland is now the “in” place to visit, resulting in a 50% increase of tourism this summer.
But by early evening the crowds thin, and by late evening only the photographers remain. Besides the lack of tourists, the lighting is usually more interesting and the ever-present wind usually dies down for calmer waters. As in all nature photography, rarely do all the key components necessary for great photography appear at the same time in the same place, so everyone makes the most of what they find…
Canon 5D Mark III, EF100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II lens at 100mm, exposure of 1/800 second at f8, ISO 400, handheld.
July 13, 2015
Estimates are that within 10-20 years the Atlantic Puffin will disappear from the Western Fjords of Iceland. Sand eels, the main prey food of puffins and other sea birds, are steadily declining as warmer ocean temps have allowed larger fish like mackerel to decimate their populations. As a result, very few puffin eggs are being laid or are being abandoned.
It may be a case of anthropomorphism on my part, but I think the ‘out and out’ fight I witnessed between these two puffins is an indication of the intra-species stress caused by the lack of food.
Canon 7D Mark II, EF100-400 II lens at 400mm, exposure of 1/640 at f8, ISO 100, handheld.
May 29, 2015
Normal travel time by ship across the Scotia Sea from South Georgia Island to the Antarctic Peninsula is about 3 days, but when faced with 90 knot headwinds and seas of 20-30 feet, you can add another 2 days to that. With such heavy seas, our ship, the Ortelius was lucky to make 3-4 knots/hour. Unfortunately, during the worst of the storm passengers were not allowed on the bridge to take photographs as the waves broke over the Ortelius' bridge. But as the storm slowly abated, I was able to capture this photograph of a wave breaking over the bow. For scale, keep in mind that the ship is 300 feet long...
GoPro Hero4 Silver, exposure of 1/750 second at f2.8, ISO 100, handheld.
May 2, 2015
To many people, 'photoshopped' has bad connotations because of all the questionable changes that can be made to an image, but what most people don't understand is that every photo taken with their digital camera or phone is automatically 'photoshopped' by the camera. Every digital image is lightened or darkened, contrast improved, colors saturated, sharpened, etc. to make a pleasing image.
Here, Photoshop saved this image of a Black-browed Albatross gliding over the colony; in the original image the albatross was lost in the cluttered background, but by lightening and slightly blurring the background I was able to separate it from its neighbors and still retain some semblance of the colony below.
Canon 5D Mark III, EF100-400mm IS lens at 310mm, exposure of 1/400 second at f8, ISO 100, handheld.
April 4, 2015
Hope Bay contains an Adelie Penguin colony of close to one-half million members, but since the colony is part of an Antarctica Specially Protected Area, visitors are not permitted to land on shore. These Zodiacs are returning from a morning of cruising the shoreline of the colony and the face of a nearby glacier. Smaller pieces of ice from the calving glacier litter the bay, forcing the boats to avoid the 'growlers'; larger pieces are called 'bergy bits'.
Canon 5D Mark III, EF24-105mm IS lens at 105mm, exposure of 1/800 second at f8, ISO 100, handheld.
February 27, 2015
This King Penguin Colony is home to about 150,000 pairs, plus their almost one year offspring (the brown "Oakum Boys), along with many other non-breeding penguins on the beach. If you look closely, you'll see that the adults are either incubating eggs or protecting their new hatchlings, and that everybody is fairly equidistant from each other. That's not a coincidence-- each penguin is just inches beyond the pecking range of the neighbors!
Canon 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm IS USM II lens at 160mm, exposure of 1/500 second at f8, ISO 400, handheld.
January 14, 2015
Grytviken, on South Georgia island in the extreme southern Atlantic Ocean, became a thriving whaling station in 1904 until low whale populations forced it's closure in 1966. Nowadays the rusted remains are a tourist attraction (after an extensive clean-up of the hazards) for the many cruise ships that are required to stop for customs and immigration before exploring the island.
One of the hidden photographic gems I found on my visit, noticed only if one happened to look up, are these colorful doors to the furnace that provided the steam to render the oil from whale blubber. And it was probably the only non-rust colored thing that I saw…
Canon 5D Mark III, EF24-105mm USM lens at 32mm, exposure of 1/30 second at f11, ISO 250, handheld.
January 14, 2015
Penguins can't fly, but they almost need to if they want to join their friends on an iceberg shelf. The ice shelf offers a place to rest and sleep without the chance of being eaten by a leopard seal--not that the leopard seal couldn't jump up itself, but their ability to chase a penguin out of the water is awkward at best.
These Gentoo penguins practiced porpoising out of the water for hours, with many spectacular feats and failures--some either missed the shelf completely, or bounced off their chests, or landed, only to slide backwards into the water. Who thought practice flying was a survival tool?
Canon 5D Mark III, EF24-105mm USM lens at 58mm, exposure of 1/1600 second at f9, ISO 400, handheld.