Hi folks, I just returned from a couple of exhilarating weeks in the Elkhorn Slough, near Monterey, CA. I spent the time there with conservation biologists, farmers, bird watchers, leopard sharks, and of course– sea otters! Here’s a behind the scenes peek of this shoot for the Nature Conservancy.
While on assignment in Iceland last October-November, I took the time to shoot some footage of the bleak yet beautiful landscapes of the arctic. Being here in the autumn is taxing physically– the climate vacillates around freezing but the rain/sleet is constant and the wind whips across this treeless land at 25mph without a break.
Nonetheless, I hope you get a feeling for the starkness of the treeless tundra, a land of arctic foxes and lichens, volcanoes and the dancing of the Aurora.
Remember to click HD on the video to see it in HD!
Hi Folks! I’m excited to announce I will be helping to teach a photojournalism workshop in Guatemala this March in conjunction with Glen Cooper of Visual Reportage (http://www.visualreportage.com). Here’s some more info, and a student photo (Brian Walters) from last year:
It’s been a busy summer jaunting about Europe building kayaks and taking pictures! I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak at the amazing 3e Lifetime Agency. Based in Minneapolis, they are the creative team behind Lifetime Fitness and quite a group of inspiring people themselves.
I gave a presentation on shooting photographs, of course, but when it comes down to it, I think to a large degree what I was talking about was Life. It was really about this quote from photographer Jay Maisel:
If you want to make more interesting photographs, become a more interesting person.
Life is best lived not worrying about the past and future so much as simply going on inspiration and learning to follow the power of saying Yes.
3e posted a blog entry. They were inspired as well and I found it amazing to chat with so many interesting people so dedicated to creativity and fitness together–a few of my favorite things.
“Sea Lions!”, my friend Tom yelled to me, barely audible over the chaotic roar of thirty lightning quick flippers, surfacing and disappearing in a boil of water to my right. Then one thumped into my kayak hull and I knew I had maybe 10 seconds. I pulled my camera away from my face, laid it sideways on my lap above a pool of saltwater on my skirt. 6 seconds… I nabbed my paddle, flipped it and planted it into the water with the awkwardness of going too fast.
I could suddenly hear myself breathing as my heart became audible and I pushed backwards with a stroke. 3 seconds… A few more strokes and my kayak gained momentum and slid, frictionless, through the water, away from the sea lions. And then suddenly the sea lions vanished beneath the surface.
A quiet moment passed but I kept paddling, then swiftly raised my camera with one hand. Suddenly, the ocean in front of me burst open as three humpback whales lunged, enormous jaws agape, straight out of the water where I had been moments earlier. Those 50 ft whales with jaws 15 ft long pushed up and footlong anchovies shot everywhere, sparkling silver amidst white foam. That’s the goal. They were here for the anchovies. We were here for the whales.
In Monterey Bay, California, anchovies school in large numbers and attract humpbacks who feed on them through a technique known as bubble-netting. The whales swim around a school in circles, releasing a steady stream of air bubbles. The fish won’t cross this wall of bubbles and become corralled into a tight ball, at which point the whales dive deep and come up, mouths wide open, swallowing ocean and prey alike.
Tom and I had paddled out in our handmade traditional kayaks, having noticed the rare coincidence of a small ocean swell and whales not far offshore. We shot out of the marina a few hours before sunset, fully loaded with photo gear. Straight out of the gate we heard them blowing, the smell of a fish market lingering in the air.
Minutes later, a lone humpback surfaced in front of my bow, ten feet away. I stopped paddling and braced, one hand on my paddle, the other on my camera. It snorted and blew a fine mist sky-high, which landed all over my kayak and lens. I was still clicking despite my heart having stopped beating.
An hour later, we spotted a group of feeding humpbacks and paddled to about 100 yds away, careful to avoid disturbing them. From afar I watched and learned the patterns of their behavior— first the whales would dive, exposing their tail flukes, and then the sea lions and pelicans would start diving in a frenzy. Moments later the humpbacks would come crashing out of the deep blue as they inhaled and strained anchovies through their baleen. The thing about wild creatures, though, is that they don’t stay put very well. The whales moved around us as I watched, and then they were amongst us.
Truthfully, despite having paddled thousands of miles in beautiful waters and having had lots of wildlife encounters, this one tops the list. To be in the gaping maw of wild creatures in their environment is a bit transcendental. As a person, I died that evening, and was born again, like a sudden gust of wind or a wild thing on a wild sea.
I sure do love my job. I spent the night over in the goshawk woods east of Seattle about 100 miles, woke up, and worked with falconer Aaron Allred to install a remote camera. Aaron did a tree climb about 100-150′ up and placed the camera at a terrific angle and we ran 500′ of cable to our blind to kick back and watch the goshawks get fed and grab some terrific footage. Here’s a quick glimpse.
Adventure Kayak arrived in the mail today with a feature interview with me about my life, photography, and particularly traditional kayak-building. You can read the interview on page 24 here: Adventure Kayak Summer 2014. Fabulous photograph of me by my friend and fellow photographer Oliver Ludlow.
Hey folks, I’m a little behind on the blog so I’ve got lots of stuff to post. First, some shots from over the weekend with falconer and all-around awesome guy Aaron Allred. I took the opportunity to get to know Aaron by bringing some kayaks north with me to Deception Pass so we could paddle together. In the afternoon we visited the gorgeous cabin where he lives with his peregrine falcon, goshawk and dogs.
Au Magazine is Aurora Photo‘s quarterly publication, an amazing collection of shots by the best in adventure and stock photography. This quarter I’m humbled to be among the featured photographers alongside some amazing talents, covering combat photography to fine art. I’m also sad to say goodbye to longtime Aurora Director of Photography Peter Dennen, who has with this final issue moved into photo consulting with Pedro+Jackie.
The last three months of shooting and gathering elements for the photographic ALIVE series have been an absolute blast. I wanted to bring you along for the ride, so check out this 4 minute behind-the-scenes video of the campaign!