Category Archives: wildlife photography

Black Bear Fishing with Style

I know we’re supposed to not anthropomorphize as wildlife photographers, but how can you not when animals can be just so funny?! 

Each bear develops its own fishing style, and along Anan Creek near Wrangell, Alaska, this black bear had found her niche – pun intended! She settled into a hole in the rushing stream, and would swat at salmon as they came by. Not the most industrious bear, we thought at first, in fact she was so laid back that we nick-named her “Hot Tub Girl” because it was like she was a human sitting in a hot tub, relaxing! She did swat at passing salmon, and missed – as the lead photo shows. I have a lot of funny images where the salmon is getting away. But she did also succeed in catching a meal now and then, too, so who can fault the technique? 

Photographing wildlife is a blast!

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Return to Alaska’s Inside Passage

Was I dreaming? Something was tugging on my foot in my bunk aboard the Lindblad-National Geographic Expeditions’ Sea Lion. Slowly as my brain tried to sort out dream from reality, I heard someone say “we have humpback whales bubble-net feeding.” OMG!!!

My brain fully woke up with those words – never mind that it was only around 4:30 AM. I was out of the bunk, and dressed in under 5 minutes, and on deck in under 7 minutes, with camera in hand. And I wasn’t the first, lol! The second mate had gone around and woken up guests in their cabins, and even the crew, so we could all witness this spectacular event. I knew from experience that it was unpredictable and could last for just a short time, or for hours, depending on the food source and the ‘whim’ of the whales. It had already been going on for about 45 minutes, and we watched and photographed it for another 2 hours, with not one, but two groups cooperatively feeding within close proximity of our ship!

I was there as a photo instructor, and I was over-the-top excited for everyone capturing this event in photographs. Larry Hobbs, fellow staff member and cetacean specialist, lowered the hydrophone in the water, and we were able to hear the calls of the ‘singer’ that orchestrated the cooperative effort. When the singing stopped, we knew they would surface, but where was the question! We weren’t seeing the usual bubbles at the surface to clue us in, so it was pretty funny to be surprised and try to be aimed in the right place when it happened. Over the course of time we watched, most of us got it right about 50% of the time, amidst many oohs, aahhs, and  ‘darn I missed that one’ comments.

Cooperative bubble-net feeding is uncommon – although I have seen it fairly often in the past four years in the Inside Passage. Turns out, not all humpbacks do this, only about 700 according to research, so it’s a very special event to witness!

In addition to the whales, there area brown and black bears, mountain goats, harbor seals, eagles, moose, and astounding scenery. It’s a place of wonder and wonder-filled wilderness. If you haven’t been get there soon – while the glaciers are still touching the sea…

Thanks for visiting!

 

 

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A’cruising we will go

 

 

I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be the instructor for a few Lindblad Expeditions in the coastal waters of southeast Alaska beginning in late May through late June! It’s an area I know very well, having led at least 8 photo adventures (along with Jed Manwaring) in the Inside Passage with Dolphin Charters. Three weeks on the boat will provide me with a continuity – on many trips, you find your rhythm a few days into a trip, and then in a very short time it’s finished. So I like that I’ll be working solid for three weeks straight in southeast Alaska’s pristine coastal wilderness. I’ll be teaching people to create their best photographs, and to see beyond the obvious shots to make ones that show behavior and personality of the animals, too. This post image is an example. Sea lions love to frolick and are quite aggressive and curious. This one plowed through the surface of the water while keeping an eye on us and it was a fun and different way to photograph this animal with all the bubbling water around it!

I’ll be posting from the ship – when there’s connection – but it will be spotty. Follow me on Instagram at brenda_tharp_photo for updates!

Thanks for visiting,

 
 

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Persistence Pays Off

 

I know how difficult it can be to photograph roadrunners – I’ve tried for years – but I’m always not ready when they cross the road in front of my car! Seriously – when I have my camera/long lens in the passenger seat, ready, I never see one. But put the camera away, and I cross paths with about 2-3 a day when driving around the desert. Thankfully, this year, I was on foot with my Tamron 150-600mm lens, ‘stalking’ cactus wren building a nest, when I heard the call – no not that call – but the call of the male roadrunner. It was behind me, and I slowly and carefully backtracked to the dirt road to try and spot it. And there is was, running away from me, again – but it would stop and look back, and I played the game – walking when it walked, stopping when it stopped, and each time gaining a little on the space between us. Slowly, it felt I was no longer a threat, and it started to come back towards me, ironically, and then hopped up on this rock. It bowed it’s head in a courtship gesture, cooing to it’s partner hiding somewhere in the bushes. The plan was to offer her the gift of this lizard. But in the few moments it perched on the rock, I managed a series of images and I was so grateful! The whole process took about 40 minutes, but patience paid off, as it usually can, in capturing this moment.

Thanks for visiting, 


 
 

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