A bucket list thing...

I really don't like bucket lists. I guess I can't shake the feeling that if I accomplish everything on the list, it's time to die. Not a prospect that's very appealing.

One of those things I've always wanted to do, though, is see the Amazon River. It's big, it's wild, it's remote, it's exotic, all at once. Just thinking about it conjures up images of primitive living, strange wildlife, and a lifestyle I can hardly comprehend. So going there was that "trip of a lifetime" for me.

Like most travel, arrival in a wild place usually starts in a place that's anything but wild.

Manaus shorelineManaus, Brazil  is a bustling city with an almost overactive port, hosting both local and ocean-going traffic. It sits in stark contrast to the images I've always held of the Amazon and surrounding area.

Manaus shorelineAs we head upriver on a river that's up to 25 kilometers wide at times, I can't help but think about the changes that have occurred on that mighty river, and the changes that we will make, each of us in our small way, as we visit.

Heading upriverMore to come.


A jewel... the southwest. Ok, America's southwest has lots of "jewels", but Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is an absolute gem to any wildlife photogapher. This 57,331-acre refuge was established in 1939 as a stopover for migrating waterfowl. It has become a treasured destination for photographers due to the prolific wildlife found there. I've been spending the last few days here and the sights here are truly amazing.

There are currently more than 55,000 snow geese and over 9,000 sandhill cranes here. There is just nothing like seeing a sunrise "blast off" of snow geese. The hardest thing is just remembering to take pictures while it's happening.

When the snow geese take off, it's just an overwhelming burst of sight and sound.

Probably, the biggest, showiest birds here now are the sandhill cranes.

It's a great opportunity to practice your birds in flight photography, but other opportunities to study these great birds abound.

While the geese and cranes are the "stars" this time of year, there are lots of other things to photograph.

Some birds will even stick their tongue out at you!

It's a big refuge with lots to offer. If you are fortunate enough to pay a visit, plan on spending some time. It will be worth it!



Did you ever find yourself "remembering" something you've known for years? In June, I went back to Alaska to photograph bears. The opportunity to be near and photograph the great coastal brown bears is just something to be experienced. Before I left for Alaska, I went through my photographs from a previous trip to try to find out what I did right and what I'd done wrong. Actually, sometimes it's not right or wrong, but your tastes and ideas change over time as your style evolves. One of the things I noticed as I looked over the photos I liked from the previous trip was that many of them were taken from a different perspective, so I resolved to make some changes this trip.

This photo is more like many that I shot the first trip.

There's really nothing wrong with this shot. It's not a bad photo of this young sow standing on a bed of kelp at the water's edge. One thing I notice is that the bear looks small. Now, she's not huge, but probably weighs five or six hundred poiunds. What makes her look small is that the photo was shot from a vantage point higher than the bear, looking down at her.

Now this fellow is a bigger bear, but looks even larger because I shot this photo pretty much at eye level with the bear. Notice how big and powerful he looks.

Now I was actually laying on the ground for this photo. I wanted to be looking up at the bear if possible to make him look as large and imposing as possible. Also from this angle, the background looks even more interesting.

How many times have I told people to try to get on the same level as their subjects? It's especially something we tell people to do when photographing children. It works with wildlife too. As I look back over my photographs over the years, it's just hard to beat being low in relation to the subject.


Happy July 4th!



Katmai National Park

Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska is over 4 million acres of some of the most beautiful wilderness you can imagine. To be able to spend a week there is just amazing. I found myself experiencing sensory overload at times. It seems like almost everywhere you look, there's a great landscape.

But, for me, the real draw is the abundance of wildlife. Alaska is home to so much, there are just about always animals to photograph. There are lots of birds like the Kittiwake

or the semipalmated plover


and, of course, bald eagles.

It just wouldn't be a trip to coastal Alaska without sea otters.

But the real attractions are the coastal brown bears. These great bears are not long out of hibernation this time of year and are out looking for all the nutrition they can find.

They're often out grazing on grasses and sedges and, even though they can look quite menacing, they allow us to view them at sometimes surprisingly short distances without really even acknowledging our presence.

To be allowed to share their space for even a few moments is a real privilege and an honor. If you ever get a chance to go bear watching in Katmai NP, don't pass it up. It's a real life experience.

And who knows, you might even get a look at a porcupine.