Sunday, March 31, 2019
Sunday, September 30, 2018
I originally planned to share these images with you five months ago — but a certain eagle stole the show (just like it stole the rabbit from the fox).
Like the eagle/fox/rabbit sequence, these images are from San Juan Island in Washington state. I try to keep some variety in my posts both here on the blog and on social media. The sequence got so much attention, I wanted a bit of a break before I shared other images from that trip.
Friday, July 31, 2015
It may be hard to believe, but there are still a few wondrous places on Earth where animals aren’t afraid of people. With word this week that a hunter with more money than compassion brutally slaughtered a lion from one of these special places, I’m afraid we’re about to lose another.
I’ve never photographed a lion in the wild, but like most nature photographers who’ve ventured very far off the beaten track, I’ve had my share of absolutely magical encounters with wildlife. One that has had a dramatic impact on my view of animals and our relationship with them happened nearly 10 years ago on my first trip to Iceland.
Friday, October 31, 2014
As the leaves along the Cedar River in Washington state turn from green to yellow, gold, orange, and red, people walking along the river's banks may not notice there's an equally colorful display just under the water's surface. As the leaves change color, so, too, do the sockeye salmon returning to the river after spending the past couple years at sea.
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Protection Island is a small island in the Strait of Juan de Fuca whose name now has a double meaning.
Located at the mouth of Discovery Bay, the name originally referred to the island’s usefulness to humans. The island nearly stretches across the entrance to the bay, shielding it from some of the strait’s choppy waters.
The island still offers that protection, but now it protects a whole host of wildlife as well.
Monday, March 31, 2014
If you would have asked me a decade ago about how a bird knows how to fly, I would have regurgitated the answer I was taught in school: They are hatched knowing how. But after intensely studying a bald eagle nest for three years, I not only believe the young eaglets learn to fly, but that their parents also learn to be better parents.
Friday, January 31, 2014
From November into March, the fields on Fir Island in the Skagit Valley of Washington state are often white, but it's not the result of snow. It's the result of snow geese.
About 80,000 snow geese winter in Western Washington. The vast majority of them winter in the Skagit Valley.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Sunday, June 30, 2013
When you're a wildlife photographer working in a public park, the equipment you use undoubtedly draws attention. This summer, I've been documenting the development of a pair of young bald eagles. To get the images I need without disturbing the birds, I've been using a 600mm lens – a 13-pound monster of a lens that has a front element only slightly smaller than a dinner plate.
A small number of people come up and ask me questions about the birds. Many, many more grill me about my equipment. The vast majority say something like, "I bet you can see every nose hair with that." I cannot. In terms of magnification, the lens falls in between a pair of binoculars and a birder's spotting scope. The lens is physically big because it lets a lot of light in allowing me to capture action images at high resolution.
It's the second most common question that I'm going to address in this blog post. It comes from amateur photographers who want to know about my use of a teleconverter with this lens.
Friday, May 31, 2013
Monday, December 31, 2012
For the second year in a row, there are fairly large numbers of snowy owls that are wintering nearby. Near Seattle, snow geese are a regular winter feature, but snowy owls are a rare treat. Reckless photographers, though, are in danger of driving our infrequent visitors well back north — or even worse.
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
While walking along the shore of Mono Lake in California, I saw an osprey fly overhead with a giant stick firmly locked in its talons. Not only was I surprised to see an osprey there, I was stunned it would even nest in the area.
The scientific name for osprey translates to "fish eagle." Mono Lake, however, is so salty that only brine shrimp live in its waters.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
I've seen plenty of waterfalls, but until recently, I had never seen a "waterfall of murres." That's how friends of mine in Cannon Beach, Oregon, describe a truly wondrous nature show that takes place this time of year on the nearby Chapman Point.
Saturday, March 31, 2012
There hasn't been a waterfall per se at Dry Falls in central Washington for at least 10,000 years. But when there was a falls there, it would have been spectacular: 400 feet high, 3½ miles wide and ten times as powerful as all the world's current rivers combined.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
The black-capped chickadee is no ivory-billed woodpecker. Dozens visit my office window every day to feast on the free suet.
But just because they're common, doesn't mean they are not interesting. And a recent snow storm that, at times, had my yard buried under nearly 10 inches of snow allowed me to create some images that help tell their remarkable winter story.
Friday, December 30, 2011
The usual goal in photography is to create an exceptionally sharp image. If you're photographing a bird, for example, most photographers want an image that's so sharp you can see every feather on the bird and every barb on the feather.
To capture that, you typically need a sturdy tripod, a cable release, lots of light — and a stationary subject.
But what if the light is dim and your subject is moving? That's when you need to pan — moving the camera with your subject. It involves moving the camera so that your subject is always at the same spot in the image.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
People often ask me what they can do to improve their images. Often, I reply, "Get a tripod."
I'm a firm believer in tripods, so to speak. They allow you to capture sharp images that could be impossible to capture with shaky hands. They also slow you down. In the time it takes to set up your equipment, you can also think about whether your first idea for a composition is really the best it can be. Nearly all of my images were captured from a tripod.
This one wasn't. And it wouldn't be anywhere near as good if it had been.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Saturday, April 30, 2011
It's late April and the sun is just beginning to rise over the Bowerman Basin, a muddy bay in Washington's Grays Harbor.
Very little mud is visible right now. One of the highest tides of the month, 8½ feet, is covering much of the mud. Tens of thousands of shorebirds are covering the rest. And more shorebirds are on the way.
Over the span of a few weeks, maybe a million shorebirds will stop here. The flock consists mainly of western sandpipers, dunlin, two varieties of dowitchers, and plover.
They're on their way to breeding grounds in Alaska and northern Canada, but given that some started in Chile and Argentina, they tend to take a few regular breaks on their way north. Grays Harbor is one of the few major stopovers.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
In a particularly brushy area in Seattle’s Discovery Park, I heard the unmistakable song of a winter wren. The birds were made to be heard, not seen, but I grabbed my camera and started looking for it anyway.
Moments later, a woman came up and asked what I found.
“Oh, I thought you found something interesting,” she said and then walked away.