Alaskan Adventure 2015

Brown Bear, Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park, AlaskaThe second leg of my trip to the US was to Alaska. Alaska offers unique opportunities to capture some amazing wildlife images. As well as visiting the Anchorage area we spent four days photographing Brown Bears at Brooks River, Katmai National Park.

 

A gallery containing 50 photos from my Alaskan trip is located here

Katmai lies some two hundred and fifty miles southwest of Anchorage, in Alaska’s Bristol Bay area. Each year millions of salmon burst from the Bering Sea into the lakes and streams of the area. These fish provide a food source for the world’s largest population of brown bears. As many as fifty bears can be seen fishing along the mile and a half long Brooks River during the peak of the salmon season. The bears fish for salmon as they negotiate the rapids and falls of the Brooks River.

Brown Bears at Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park, Alaska

Brown Bears at Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park, Alaska

Along the river is a series of high level platforms that offer great views of where the Coastal Brown Bears come to feed on the salmon as they head upstream to spawn. The bears are adept at fishing with the more dominant bears selecting locations where the salmon attempt to leap the falls.

Brown Bear, Brooks River Falls, Katmai National Park, Alaska

Brown Bear Fishing, Brooks River Falls

Some of the fish succeed while others fail as they find themselves leaping straight into the  jaws of a waiting bear.

Into the jaws of a Brown Bear, Brooks River Falls

Into the jaws of a Brown Bear, Brooks River Falls

While adult bears are quite adept at catching the fish the subadults are less skilled. This lack of skill provided some fun moments as the young bears raced across the river trying to chase down a fish that was almost certainly long gone.

Subadult Brown Bear Chasing Fish, Brooks River

Subadult Brown Bear Chasing Fish, Brooks River

Having completed the Brooks Lodge aspect of the trip we travelled to Homer for a few days in search of the majestic Bald Eagle, the iconic symbol of the United States of America. Homer is perhaps the best location in North America to find and photograph these majestic birds.

Bald Eagle in Flight, Deep Creek Beach, Kenai Peninsula,

Bald Eagle in Flight, Deep Creek Beach, Kenai Peninsula

In addition to adult birds we came across large numbers of juveniles. Photographing these  was lots of fun as they practised various flight manoeuvres.

Juvinile Bald Eagles in Flight, Deep Creek Beach, Kenai Peninsula

Juvenile Bald Eagles in Flight, Deep Creek Beach, Kenai Peninsula

Homer is on the shore of Kachemak Bay on the southwest side of the Kenai Peninsula. Its distinguishing feature is the Homer Spit, a narrow 4.5 mile long gravel bar that extends into the bay, on which is located the Homer Harbour. While in Homer we took the opportunity to photograph abandoned boats, cars, buses, etc at sunset.

Abandoned Bus, Homer Spit, Kenai Peninsula

Abandoned Bus, Homer Spit, Kenai Peninsula

Sunset at Halibut Cove, Kachemak Bay

Sunset at Halibut Cove, Kachemak Bay

Images were GPS tagged and edited in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC 2015

A gallery containing 50 photos from my Alaskan trip is located here

Note: I don’t allow comments on Blog pages, but am happy to receive your thoughts on the photos and/or the tutorials etc. Just send an email to ilyons@msn.com

Posted in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Alaska, Brooks River, Brooks River, Brown Bear, GPS, Homer Spit, Katmai National park, Kenai Peninisula, Lightroom CC | Comments Off on Alaskan Adventure 2015

Spring in Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks

Red-knaped Woodpecker in Flight, Beartooth Mountains The first leg of my trip to USA has now finished and we have moved on to Alaska. While I managed to take many and varied photographs in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks my Internet connection wasn’t sufficiently strong or stable to allow for anything other than the odd e-mail.  Instead, I’ve put together a selection of photographs, which I hope to upload shortly. In the meantime, I’ve uploaded some representative images from Grand Teton and Yellowstone.

Update: a gallery of photos from trip can be viewed here

Our first few days were spent around Jackson (Wyoming). We visited all of the usual favourite locations in Grand Teton National Park along with some of the more photogenic areas just outside of there park proper. The wildflower meadows at Antelope Flats were a mass of colour with Arrow-root Balsam, Mules Ears, Penstemons, Skyrockets, Lupins, Paintbrush, etc. The scene really looked quite spectacular with the Teton mountain range as a backdrop.

Wild Flower Meadow, & Grand Tetons, Grand Teton National Park

Wild Flower Meadow, Grand Tetons, Grand Teton National Park

Our day tends to start quite early, and on two occassions we were up and out by 4.30am. This allowed us to capture sunrise although the lack of clouds meant that the spectacular colours we had hoped for didn’t materialise. Nevertheless, some very nice images were captured. The following shot of the Teton mountains reflecting on the still water of the Snake River at Schwabacher’s Landing is a particulr favourite.

Teton Sunrise, Schwabacher's Landing, Grand Teton National Park

Teton Sunrise, Schwabacher’s Landing, Grand Teton National Park

After a few days we moved on to Yellowstone National Park. As is usual when we visit Yellowstone we based ourselves in West Yellowstone. The town and park were both very busy with much larger numbers of visitors than we expected, and it was extremely hot. Early morning was best as the park was quiet and lighting much better for photography. Also, during late spring and summer the steam and mists coming off the rivers and hot springs burns off quite quickly. The photograph shown directly below was captured just after sunrise.

Morning Mist, Madison River, Yellowstone National Park

Morning Mist, Madison River, Yellowstone National Park

The Upper Geyser basin (location of Old Faithful) is another early morning favourite and the following image of Geyser Hill is a particular favourite from our visit to the area.

Early Morning, Geyser Hill, Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

Early Morning, Geyser Hill, Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

One of the most disappointing aspects of this trip was that the herds of Bison and Elk normally found along the Madison River were missing. Fortunately, we eventually located a huge herd of Bison in the Lamar Valley. Elk were much more difficult to find, but we did manage to find a few. Other sought after wildlife in Yellowstone are the bears, namely the Grizzly Bear. Again, fortune was on our side and we came a across a cub playing in amongst the wild flowers high up in the Dunraven Pass.

Playful Grizzly Cub, Dunraven Pass, Yellowstone National Park

Playful Grizzly Cub, Dunraven Pass, Yellowstone National Park

Mammoth Hot Springs is another popular location, but on previous recent visits we had noticed that the thermal pools and springs were becoming less acessible as they moved further from the boardwalks. This next image is virtually all that remains accessible at the upper section of Canary Spring.

Upper Camary Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park

Upper Canary Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park

After best part of a week based in West Yellowstone we moved across to the south side of the park to Cooke City. From there we had easy access to the Beartooth Mountains.

We had two visits up high up into the mountains via the Beartooth Pass. These gave us plenty of opportunities to photograph the wild Mountain Goats that roam high up in the mountains, and the wild flowers.

Mountain Goat, Twin Lakes Overlook, Beartooth Mountains

Mountain Goats, Twin Lakes Overlook, Beartooth Mountains

Gardner Lake Overlook, Beartooth Mountains

Wild Flowers, Gardner Lake Overlook, Beartooth Mountains

As with our previous spring trip to the Beartooth Mountains we had arranged to meet up with a local wildlife photographer. He had sought out many good nesting sites for birds such as: Wrens, Red-naped Woodpeckers, American Three-toed Woodpeckers, Great Gray Owls, Great Horned Owls, Mountain Bluebirds and few others I can’t recall the names of.

Wren in Flight, Beartooth Mountains

Wren in Flight, Beartooth Mountains, Wyoming

Red-knaped Woodpecker in Flight, Beartooth Mountains

Red-knaped Woodpecker in Flight, Beartooth Mountains, Wyoming

American Three-toed Woodpecker, Beartooth Mountains, Wyoming

American Three-toed Woodpecker, Beartooth Mountains, Wyoming

Great Gray Owl, Beartooth Mountains, Wyoming

Great Gray Owl, Beartooth Mountains, Wyoming

Images are GPS tagged and edited in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC 2015

** Disclaimer** Above images are quick previews specifically for this blog so that family and friends can see how things are going.

Posted in Beartooth Mountains, Geotagging, GPS, Grand Teton National Park, Lightroom CC, Photography, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park | Comments Off on Spring in Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks

Off to the United States

geyserI’m off tomorrow for the United States on a 24 day photo tour. The tour takes in two major locations and was arranged by Roger Reynolds at Photoventures. For the first part of the tour we plan to explore a wide variety of locations around the greater Yellowstone area. Obviously, we’ll take in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, but a good chunk of our time will be spent photographing the flora and fauna found in the Beartooth Mountains. This is a really amazing location in South Central Montana and Northwest Wyoming. The mountains and forests around them are part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. I made a similar trip back in the late spring of 2012 and got some really nice photos (see the gallery here).  In case you’re wondering why you haven’t seen this gallery before; it’s because I didn’t publish it until very recently. Many of the photos were posted as part of my daily Blog for the trip, but I must have forgotten to upload the final gallery. I’ve posted a couple here as reminders.

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Skeleton Trees at Tangled Creek

We were actually quite lucky on that trip because our local wildlife guide had located a Great Grey Owl’s nest deep in one of the forests on the edge of the Beartooth.

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Great Grey Owlet, Beartooth Mountains

Hopefully, we’ll be lucky again this time. If not then I suspect the the second part of this tour will make up for any disappointments in so far as it takes us over to Alaska. Yep, Alaska! There we’ll be spending few days at Brook’s Lodge in Katmai National Park photographing the bears as they feed on the salmon making their way up the Brooks River.

Brooks-Camp-map

Map of Brooks Lodge Area, Katmai National Park

We’ll also spend the remainder of our time photographing around Homer, Eagle River, and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

All being well, I’ll post a few photos during the trip. Something tells me that I will have used the Canon EOS 7D MkII and EF 100-400m MkII combination for a high proportion of them.

Note: I don’t allow comments on Blog pages, but am more than happy to receive your thoughts on the photos and/or the tutorials etc. Just send an email to ilyons@msn.com

Posted in Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area, Grand Teton National Park, Photography, USA, Yellowstone National Park | Comments Off on Off to the United States