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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Another excerpt from my newest book

 
Another excerpt from my newest book Expressive Nature Photography, in the chapter The Narrative Image:
 
Find the story in the landscape
Even a landscape pictures tells a story. Begin by first figuring out what inspires you in the location. What makes it unique? Try to establish what you want to express in the photograph. Then look for a point of view that brings out your vision in the strongest way….Is there a process of nature, or some detail, that will express the story strongly?”
 
In these two pictures, I found ‘story’. The drought in California is a major issue, (and it’s still not over, really). When driving through the high Sierra I encountered this pond that was drying up. The story was the parched, cracked bottom of the once-full pond. In the second picture, the story tells of a gecko digging a burrow to get out of the heat and light. There are stories in nature everywhere, we just have to become keen observers of everything around us.
 

 
Find your stories in nature this summer!
 
Enjoy,
 
 
 
 
 
Expressive Nature Photography is published by Monacelli Press, and is on sale July 25th at bookstores near you and online. Prefer a signed copy? Click here for the book sales page on my website.
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Photo Tips for Landscapes – An Excerpt from the Book

             Tre Cimi formation and stream, Dolomite Range, Italy.

 

It’s a perfect time to get out there and celebrate summer – and photograph the landscape. With that in mind, I’m sharing a few pointers taken from the pages of my new book, Expressive Nature Photography – that goes on sale July 25th! 

• Try to be there in great light. (Always a great idea, and by great light, it doesn’t have to be sunny! Look for drama in the light for landscapes.)

• Get physically close to things in the foreground. This exaggerates their size in relationship to other objects and elements in the frame behind them. (It also puts the viewer in your shoes…)

• You may need to be at a slightly higher position to show background elements, and keep them separated from the foreground. (i.e. watch for mergers!)

• Find a way to create a flow for the eye by using leading lines, or a repetition of rocks, or tufts of grass, to bring the viewer from foreground to background.

• Make sure you have sharpness throughout the scene. You’ll typically be using f/11 to f/22 for an aperture, but you’ll need to set a hyper-focal focus. Use a hyper-focal app on your smart phone, or printed charts to calculate and set the hyper-focal focus to get foreground to background in focus.

That’s it – as if it were that simple, right? But keeping tips like these in mind when you do find a great landscape will help you create more impact in your photographs, something we all want.

Thanks for visiting, and have fun out there!

 

 

 

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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!

 

 

Posted in Alaska, Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, nature photography, USA, wildlife photography Tagged , , , , |