Catching up



northern lights over Iceland thermal area
Iceland Thermal Aurora

It has been a incredibly busy summer but now is time to catch up online and with office work. The above photo is from the one night we spent as a group searching for Aurora photos during our recently complete workshop to Iceland. The promise of clear a clear sky quickly faded as a scattered rain event moved it to obscure the aurora. Still with a little luck, a nearly full moon and concentrating on the foreground rather than chasing light in the open sky I was able to    capture something over one of the thermal areas.

Denali dance

  1. Finally a chance to post something from my Alaska Photo Workshop. We are in Fairbanks and the northern lights are good.
    Sometimes it is a long wait. Last night we went out at 11, it was slow and people were ready to call an end to a long day that started by photographing Denali almost 300 miles south. I elected to wait a couple of hours. About 1 am things started popping and we had two hours of none stop color. Tonight is suppose to be better 😉
    Feel free to share.

Continue reading Denali dance

Back from Arches and looking forward

Icebergs from Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon on the black sand beach at sunrise.
Icebergs from Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon on the black sand beach at sunrise.

Hi, I am finally back in the office after a fun trip to do milky way photography in Arches and Canyonlands and will share some images from them but I want first to share one of our guides photos from the upcoming Iceland Photo workshop. I am really excited to be able to do this trip and be guided by  local photographer, Chris Lund.
here is a link to this awesome trip

Spring fun in Alaska.

Some of our guides in Alaska tease me about wanting to photograph cubs. Now why would anyone want to photograph cubs?

Cubs at play
Alaska bear cubs

After that photo I am sure many people will think it is dangerous to be so close to the cubs and Mom will get us. The fact is AT THIS PLACE AND TIME mother grizzlies like us to be nearby. Yep that goes against everything you have heard but the biggest threat to these bears at this time is male grizzlies. They will kill the cubs so Mom will go into heat for breeding. The big males will stay way when we are nearby because they don’t want to be around people.
So when we are around photographing the cubs the mom feels safe to relax and feed.

Alaska Grizzly family
Mom feeding while cubs play

Looking around the web I might have this trip priced to low. At least for now.

Alaska bear photography workshop


Wild Horses


Sunset in the west
Wild Horses


While I really like photographing almost anything that to me has the feel of the west where i have lived my life Wild Horses are always a special treat to photograph. They have the feel of freedom and wildness even more that many of our other wildlife species. Maybe that is because they are outlaws, escaping from progress, trying to keep their place in the west they helped to build.
They make me want to capture their spirt in my images. I want my viewers to not only see them but to remember their soft nickers, catch the scent of them in the breeze and feel the hot dry air of a August sunset on the Wyoming plains.


Nikon 600 F4 E FL First Look, First Morning

Summer Grizzly
Young Grizzly Yellowstone NP

I had been waiting for this lens to be announced for what seemed like a very long time. I needed a replacement for the Canon 600 I had sold after the first of the year. When the new lens was announced I expected a wait of 3 to 6 months before delivery but was pleasantly surprised when one of the first ones Nikons shipped showed up at Bozeman Camera with my name on the box.  As luck would have it, I was in Cody Wyoming leading one of my Cowboy and Wild Horse workshops so I had to wait a few days before I could lay my hands on the lens but Saturday morning I was off on the 2 hour drive to Bozeman.

When I came into the store the whole crew gathered around to see the new offering from the men in black (Nikon).  As I lifted the sleek new designed lens from its hard case, I couldn’t help but smile.  Not only was the lens light by 600 F4’s of the past standards but the balance was in the center, not hanging on the far end as I have come to expect from large glass. There are new controls in new locations but you can read about that in other gearhead reviews. It was enough for me to see a real VR switch on the side rather than the old  style twist ring and a very smooth tripod collar with no binding when I rotated the lens from landscape to portrait orientation. Happy,  I packed up the new workhorse and headed home. I figured I would do some testing off the front deck on some of the local cabins and landscape.

I didn’t have a older 600mm F4 to test the new glass against but I have always been impressed with my 400mm F 2.8 VR with the 1.4 extender so that lens started as my test standard. WOW!, did that change fast. In the first series of quick photos I could see there was no comparison. The new 600mm was  far and beyond sharper than the past generation 400mm with 1.4 converter  when both were  mounted on my D810.  Still wish I had a past generation 600mm F4 VR to test against the new lens, but when I had tested my 400mm F 2.8 VR with the 1.4 extender against the 600mm of its same generation the results were a tossup. I went to bed impressed at the performance of the new lens.

At 0400 my eyes popped open and my first thought was “So,  just how good is it in the field?”  Since I live only a few miles from Yellowstone and have photographed there for nearly four decades I knew this was one of the worst times of the year to photograph wildlife in the park, but I know the park well and  I had to find out how the lens would work for me.

Elk in Velvet
Bull Elk before sunrise, July.
Yellowstone National Park.

Well it turn out that this morning was one of the best Summer wildlife photography mornings I’ve had in Yellowstone in a long time. First there was the young Grizzly in the opening image of this post which I photographed with the lens balanced on the edge of the drivers window of the car. Shutter speeds were as low as 1/80 of a second (that only worked when the bear froze to stare off in the distance) but the VR is exceptional.

Then there was the bull elk that I though was poising for me  before sunrise, but when I looked over my shoulder I realized he was watching a wolf walk the ridge a 100 yards behind me.  Of course that distracted me from the elk and I threw the gear in the car and headed off in the direction the wolf was headed.

Summer Grizzly
Young grizzly, Yellowstone N.P.

Well I didn’t find the wolf but this little grizzly was close to the road and gave me a chance to again test the VR and the the speed of the auto focus when there is a lot of interference with grass and flowers. Both worked to my satisfaction.  After photographing the bear and a brief search for the wolf  it was time to head home and check the elk carcass I had seen earlier in the dark on the way.

As I drove around the corner I could see a bigger Grizzly in the field near where a dead elk was laying.  Pulling off the road I spotted  a wolf not to near to the grizzly that was feeding on the elk. I quickly mounted the 600mm on the tripod and found a location where I could best see the carcass. It was pretty far off and I had better shots in my files, however it would still be fun  to watch the interaction between the adult grizzly and the wolf.  Besides it would give me a chance to see how the new lens would do with a 2X extender.  I rarely use the 2x,  but what the heck,  I know where the delete button is and sometimes actually use it :).

Predator confrontation
Grizzly and wolf at elk carcass. Yellowstone N.P.

The story played out pretty much as I expected. The bear got his fill and went up the hill to sleep. Then the wolf came in to try to get his share but a bear sleeps with one eye open.  Wolves run faster than grizzlies and the grass is tall this time of the year so there was only a fleeting test of shooting action with the 2x extender attached to the big lens.

That about sums up my first morning with the new Nikon 600mm F4 E FL and the Nikon D810.

The lens worked better than expected.  I wanted the lighter weight but that was only one of the great features of this lens. VR and Auto Focus seem more than adequate.  Balance, handle and controls are just as they should be. I am sure there are little things that can be improved upon,  there always are.  For me, for now,  it will work!




Follow the adventures of a working professional photographer