Hills of the Giants

Kodiak hills captured by Z 9 / Z400f2.8

When the tide is out, all one sees across the flats are gulls, kittiwakes and some ducks. Then the tide shift and the water starts to flow back to land and with the water, life. The salmon runs are in full force and as the salmon swell the river, the Kodiak Brown Bears seemingly come out of nowhere to appear. Once quiet flats have 15-30 bears roaming the flooded landscape chasing salmon and eating spent ones. They emerge from the hillsides that line the valley, hidden in that world until they want to appear. And when the tide goes back out, the bears retreat to their sanctuary to sleep, get fatter on what they just ate and wait the ten hours for the next high tide. I never go up in those hills looking for the bears, the advantage is all there’s. I respect their home, the hills of the giants!

It Was Calling

Uganik South Arm captured by Z 8 / Z24-120

I spent most of my time between sessions with the Kodiak Brown Bears just sitting on the deck literally watching the clouds float by. Most of the Z 8 was attached to the Z600f4 as I worked the sparrows flitting around. I always though had the Z24-120 handy for moments like this. As the clouds floats by they would pant the hillside with light bringing to life this or that section of the slope. I thought about doing a time lapse but that required me getting up and working. I was in chill mode and the mountain seemed to know that. Every so often it would light up like you see here, that’s when I switch lenses and make a click. It was real simple, just required switching the Picture Control to Monochrome, making the click and then goin back to the birds. It was my kinda of afternoon, landscape photography and way to pass the time chillin. It was calling me!

Backlight for Color & B&W

Mammoth Hot Springs captured by Z 9 / Fisheye

I love Mammoth Hot Springs! It never ceases to amaze me what Mother Nature has created and shared with us when I walk its boardwalks. The majority of the time I do it in the afternoon, the hours the critters are typically taking a siesta. When in Yellowstone my priority is the critters so landscapes are taken only when there is nothing else the majority of the time. This early morning though as we passed the terraces, the light and sky just screamed for our cameras so we hit the boardwalk. The backlighting is what made them jump out at us. As they are all white, the light is bouncing everywhere so then it’s just a matter of arranging the elements to move the eye through the frame. In the black & white, I closed the aperture down to create the starbursts to move the eye around. In the color version, it was the algae I used as an anchor for the eye. And in both the backlit steam set the stage and brought the romance of the landscape to the image. We so enjoyed our time on the boardwalk even after we learned we missed a bear. It was a gorgeous morning for backlight color & B&W!

Mammoth Hot Springs captured by Z 9 / Fisheye

Find ’em in the Darnedest Places

Lonely Beach Cross captured by Z 30 / Z16-50

I was at the surf line with the Z 9 / 800AFS photographing the American Avocets in the surf and the Black Skimmers feeding right in front of us. To the east we saw the nasty storm that had formed up and was coming our way. The light had gotten real sour, the birds moving away so I started to search with my eyes for the light if there was any. As I spun I had done a complete 180 when I saw behind us, behind the truck, off in the dunes this lone cross. Behind it, a light under menacing clouds. At first I shook off the thought of going for a photo. I was here for critters and I knew that giving them a few moments, they would be back. But the light was in a different direction. I didn’t want to make the walk, get another camera dirty but the light, it ate away at me. After a few minutes I headed for the light. I grabbed the Z 30 / Z16-50 out of the truck and headed over the dune. I no sooner than crossed the small rise when I saw a cloud of bugs come up to greet me. The light was pulling at me so I made the click. That’s when I noticed I was covered, covered with mosquitoes. I ran back to the safety of the beach wiping them off. Then I looked at the photo, one of the finest landscapes I’ve made in a long time. As I madly scratch the tens of bites on my legs and hands this morning, I know I need to make some mental changes towards some photos. The cause your find ’em in the darnedest places!

It Takes Just the Slightest Wisp

Moose Creek captured by Z 9 / Z14-24f2.8

I’m up in beautiful Alaska chasing Northern Lights and part of that process is scouting during the day for where you want to park at night. I went to Moose Creek yesterday (no relation) to find the tiniest of wisp of clouds and I knew I had to make a click. How do you talk about big skies when the viewer is not standing next to you to experience them themselves? I instantly went to black and white because the “gray” background makes the white pops. You’ve gotta know you have the killer tool in ACR, B&W Mixer where you can take the blue slider and move it just a bit to the right and makes those clouds pop. You have Sky Masking where AI selects all the sky so you can move the Clarity slider a tad to the right and with that, those wisps now are working so show expanse. With these tools in your pocket, it takes just the slightest wisp.

The Kiss of Hoar

Hayden Valley Tree captured by  Z 9 / Z70-200f2.8

The tree is not new to me been looking at it for decades. Not as a possible subject but for what critters but be using it. So yesterday as we were approaching it I did as always, checked for critters. Last critter I saw in its shade were coyotes. This day, nothin. But then I saw the glint of sparkle on it from the hoar frost. Then I saw the slope, then I saw its shadow. By the time my mind processed it all I had to yell STOP! The snowcoach pulled over, I grabbed the gear and walked back the could of hundred yards to make the click. The making of the photo was pretty straight forward. But the Z 9 into monochorme, focus and click. Done. In the end, it because one of my favorite winter tree photo from Yellowstone. And I’ll never think of this tree the same way except for with its kiss of hoar.
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