Tag Archives: Alaska

Am I doing it right, ma?

We watched this mother bear and her two cubs feasting on the grasses and sedges in the meadow for quite a while. There were so many poses and gestures and moments that we could have filled our cards just with these bears alone that day! I love this one because of the way the cub is looking up at the mother – and again, maybe anthropomorphizing, but it’s almost as if to say ‘is this how we do this, ma?’ I could actually here them tearing the grasses and yes, smacking, too – which is awesome to be close enough to experience that, safely.

In less than 2 weeks I’ll be up there again, meeting my workshop group, only this time it’s during the salmon run, and we hope to capture fishing bears, along with all the other activities. I’m looking forward to getting back there. It’s a barrel of fun and lots of laughs as you watch the cubs play, and every day provides such great photo opportunities!

Thanks for visiting,

 

 

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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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