Don's Blog

Sunset, Hood Canal

Fisheye view of Sunset over Hood Canal

It was a lovely sunset last night perfectly mirrored in Hood Canal.  The Fishing wasn’t bad either…

Man catching a fish, Sunset, Hood Canal

Comments Off on Sunset, Hood Canal

PSA Top Honors

Sunrise, Magog Lake, Mount Assiniboine, B.C.

Kathy Mahan Paulson’s photo of Magog Lake at Sunrise in Mount  Assiniboine Provincial Park, British Columbia recently won top honors in the Photographic Society of America (PSA) inner club competition.  Congratulations, Kathy!

1 Comment

Olympic Rainforest

Elk, Quinault River

Kathy and I recently revisited some of my favorite haunts in the Rainforest of Olympic National Park.  We spent a few days photographing in the Quinault and Solduc river valleys with a short visit to Rialto Beach.  Big leaf and vine maples were in prime fall color making a fine complement to the lush greens of the conifers and hanging mosses. A surreal morning band of fog gave us a watercolor view of a herd of elk and we got a rare glimpse of a bobcat, but it vanished before we could photograph it.  A low afternoon sun made the maples glow along the river and made fiery reflections in the water. Later that night we listened to the sweet sound of rain on the roof of our VW camper…

Comments Off on Olympic Rainforest

2011 Alaska Photos added to Gallery

Brown bear eating a salmon, near Hoonah, Alaska
I’ve added several photos from this year’s Alaska photo tours to various Gallery pages (Landscape, Wildlife, Seascape, Fine Art…).  Take a look and let me know what you think!  I’d love to hear from you.  By the way, I’ve posted next year’s Alaska photo tour schedule – Under “Learning – Tours”.  I’m only doing one week-long tour in Alaska in 2012, so you might want to consider signing up early – It should fill up quickly.

Comments Off on 2011 Alaska Photos added to Gallery

Working on Glacier Bay Photos

Close up - Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay

I’ve been busy post processing the RAW files from this year’s photo tour of Glacier Bay National Park with Dolphin Charters.  Here’s a nice close-up of an iceberg from the Margerie Glacier.  I love the other-worldly color of the ice.  I’ve also added a few Glacier Bay photos on my Facebook page…

Comments Off on Working on Glacier Bay Photos

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

1 Comment

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

Comments Off on Glacier Bay, Alaska

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.

Comments Off on Off to Alaska!

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.


Old Growth Forest







When it comes to favorite places, the old growth forests of the Olympic Mountains ranks right up there.  Recently I spent the day photographing in the pristine forest along the South Fork Skokomish River. Being in the company of towering Douglas fir trees over 800 years old is an awe-inspiring and humbling experience especially in early summer  when the “Green Machine” is at its peak performance with conifer boughs tipped with lime green and understory plants in heated competition for scarce sunlight.  The shades of green, earthy smells and stillness of the forest is the perfect recipe for creativity and my day in the forest passed in bliss.

Comments Off on Old Growth Forest