Monthly Archives: July 2011

Whales and Bears

Whales & Bears, July 22 – 30, 2011

Photo Tour with Don Paulson

Our guests for this trip included some serious photographers with some really BIG lenses.  Award-winning wildlife photographers, Rich and Lori Rothstein, topped the big lens list with a new 600mm f4 lens.   Rich and Lori have joined Dolphin Charters nearly every year since 1985.  Rich tells me that they keep coming back, because every trip has new experiences and amazing opportunities to photograph wildlife.   Lori really appreciates Captain Ronn’s extensive natural history knowledge and exceptional environmental ethic.

We didn’t have to wait long for our first amazing photo opportunity.  A humpback whale repeatedly lunged out of the water and landed flat on its back with a tremendous splash.  Everyone on board with a camera was able to capture this amazing spectacle since the whale breached over twenty times, in a period of about 45 minutes.

Our visit to Pack Creek bear preserve on Admiralty Island was equally rewarding.  Our first day was spent in lovely Windfall Harbor exploring a mosaic of habitats along Windfall Creek.  By sitting quietly at the edge of a salt marsh, our group was able to observe brown bears fishing in a stream.   Further inland we used wide angle lenses to photograph an exceptionally beautiful muskeg with ponds filled with water lilies.

The next day was spent at the bear viewing area at the mouth of Pack Creek accompanied by a Forest Ranger.  A sow and two cubs came up close as camera shutters clicked.  All in all, eight individual brown bears provided us with a day of exceptional photo opportunities.

An evening kayak paddle in a salmon-choked stream at high-tide was especially memorable – The water frothing with waves of salmon darting ahead of our kayaks.  A large brown bear just upstream ignored us with studied indifference.

Our day at Anan Creek Bear Preserve was one of those special experiences that will be warmly remembered.  From the safety of our viewing platform we were surrounded by black bears, as many as 15 at a time.  Most were busy catching salmon from the creek.  Competition for the best fishing spots was intense with lots of loud roaring and occasional fights.  Dozens of bald eagles were among the bears cleaning up the fish scraps.  Two sets of playful twin cubs frolicked near the platform most of the day scurrying along fallen logs or climbing trees.

Our final day we took a jet boat excursion on the scenic Stikine River to near the Shakes Glacier where we photographed the giant icebergs blocked our way.  We took our time going in with several stops for photos, but zoomed back at over 40 mph.

See more photos on my Facebook page

Rich & Lori Rothstein

Muskeg, Windfall Harbor

Big Lenses

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Glacier Bay, Alaska

Mount Fairweather, Glacier Bay National Park

Glacier Bay, July 14-20, 2011 Photo Tour with Don Paulson

Our trip started in Hoonah, a small native fishing town a short flight from Juneau.  Within minutes of leaving the harbor we spotted our first humpback whale, with several more sightings on our way to Glacier Bay National Park.  One large whale swam under the boat, its huge tail visible under the water.
But with avid birders and bird photographers aboard, our main focus turned to the abundant population of sea birds.  Captain Ronn identified each species for us while keeping the boat in good position for photography.  Large flocks of red-necked phalaropes took to the air in beautifully choreographed motion.  We drifted by limestone cliffs with black-legged kittiwakes nesting on every available ledge.  I was lucky enough to photograph a tufted puffin with several fish in its bill.
The following day we negotiated our way through a maze of ice bergs in the Zodiac to get a close-up view of a tidal glacier, its shear face towing above the saltwater.  Being able to photograph the amazing shapes and colors of the ice bergs from the Zodiac was a big bonus.
Captain Ronn led us on a walk through a muskeg bog with carnivorous plants, drifts of orchids and contorted pines that would honor any bonsai garden.  We paddled kayaks through a shallow bay to a seldom visited meadow filled with wildflowers.  That evening’s desert was topped with wild strawberries.
Our visit to the Margarie Glacier required that I be stationed on the bow with a long pole to push away chunks of ice as we slowly worked our way toward the glacier.  As I was pushing a piece of ice away from the bow of the boat, a large orca whale surfaced with a loud exhaling of breath.  It was so close I could have touched it with the pole.
We spotted a lone wolf and a few brown bears from the boat.  Sea otters were quite numerous but hard to photograph up close because they quickly shy away.   Sea lions weren’t the least bit shy.  In fact dozens frolicked and played alongside the boat while we took photos.
Our memorable trip came to a close with a breaching whale that came completely out of the water and a serene sunset with shafts of light streaming through a golden mist.
Dolphin Charters in Glacier Bay

Tufted Puffin

Humpback Whale Tail

Muskeg, Glacier Bay National Park


Sealions, Inian Islands, near Elifin Cove

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Off to Alaska!

The M/V Delphinus in Glacier Bay

Kathy and I will be flying to Juneau tomorrow and then to Hoonah where we meet the Delphinus and the other guests.  Our first week will be exploring and photographing in Glacier Bay National Park.  Kathy will return home after our first week and I will stay for a second nine-day photo tour.   Our second tour will concentrate on photographing wildlife, primarily whales and bears.  The tour ends in Wrangell with a jet boat ride up the Stikine River.  I’ll be staying in Wrangell for a couple extra days of photography and will fly home August 2nd.

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Happy 4th of July!

Poulsbo Fireworks display

I took a few photos of the Poulsbo, WA fireworks display last night (July 3rd) experimenting with different camera settings.


Here’s the settings I used on this image:

F18 at 20 seconds, ISO 125, 75mm lens, Canon 5D MKII in AV mode. RAW file processed in Adobe Camera Raw.  Several of my shots were set at F16 at 30 seconds, ISO 200 with good results.  This photo was taken during the grand finale.  With more fireworks happening at once I lowered the ISO to 125 and raised the aperture to F18.  In AV mode the proper exposure was made in 20 seconds.

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Rancho La Puerta, Mexico

February 16 – 23, 2013

One of several swimming pools

Spend a life-changing week at Rancho La Puerta, rated as the world’s best destination spa and resort.  Fill your week with activities, fitness classes and photography lessons by Don Paulson. Don is offering afternoon classes on camera basics, composition, and exposure.  You can also Join Don for in-the-field instruction while exploring Rancho La Puerta’s nature sanctuary of 3000 acres of mountains,  meadows and oak groves.  Rancho La Puerta is known for its organic gardens and healthy cuisine.  You can even take a course at their world-class cooking school.  You’ll feel younger, healthier and energized after a week of healthy food, workouts, yoga, meditation and hiking.  Don will give you the knowledge and inspiration to take your photography to the next level. Contact Rancho La Puerta to sign up!

Check out Don’s Photos of Rancho La Puerta

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