Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Behind the scenes: Bioluminescence, Mosquito Bay, Vieques

Bioluminescence, Mosquito Bay, Vieques, Puerto Rico

Whether you call it Mosquito Bay, Bahía Bioluminiscente or something else, the bioluminescent bay on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques is the world’s brightest. The Guinness Book of World’s Records says so.

The glow comes from dinoflagellates, which are not actually rare. They’re a type of plankton and are found in much of the ocean water. What makes Mosquito Bay special, however, is how concentrated they are there.

Friday, November 30, 2018

In the footsteps of the Impressionists

God Beams and Manneporte, Étretat, France

The art that we create today stands on a foundation built by the imaginations of the artists who have come before us. No matter how original any new work of art may seem, the artist who created it was able to draw from thousands of years of experiences of other artists. Nothing truly comes from scratch.

Even though I am a nature photographer, for the past several years, I have found my inspiration in the work of Impressionist painters. Last month, I got a chance to travel to the Normandy region of France to photograph locations featured in some of my favorite paintings.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Why yes, Virginia, those are mountains!

Sunrise Through Storm, Ridge View, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

I’ve lived my entire life in a state that’s home to five volcanoes. The word “mountain” has meant to me a permanently snow-capped peak that often reaches into the clouds.

Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains are nothing like that, but they are inspiring nonetheless — maybe more inspiring if you count the number of times they’ve been featured in songs. I can’t think of them without hearing John Denver singing about them, but Take Me Home, Country Roads is just one of dozens of songs in which they’re featured.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Finally out of the eagle's shadow

Red Fox Kit Sleeping, San Juan Island, Washington

I originally planned to share these images with you five months ago — but a certain eagle stole the show (just like it stole the rabbit from the fox).

Like the eagle/fox/rabbit sequence, these images are from San Juan Island in Washington state. I try to keep some variety in my posts both here on the blog and on social media. The sequence got so much attention, I wanted a bit of a break before I shared other images from that trip.

Friday, August 31, 2018

The vanishing Milky Way

Midnight Sky over Mount Rainier, Washington

As we celebrate Labor Day in the United States, we also celebrate the unofficial end of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. But the weekend marks more than a transition from BBQs to cooking indoors. The night sky begins its own seasonal transformation. Over the next few weeks, the most visually stunning portion of the Milky Way — the galaxy we live in — will fade from view.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The story behind the stamp: Northern Lights Over The North Cascades

Northern Lights Over North Cascades, Washington

Outside Alaska, the northern lights are a rare treat in the United States, but the aurora captured in this image was visible across most of the country. I’m honored the dazzling display so many of us witnessed that night in our “spacious skies” will be featured on a new pane of U.S. Forever postage stamps to illustrate the lyrics of America the Beautiful.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Revisiting the Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Streaks of Pollen, Lake Dorothy, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington

My love for nature preceded my love for photography. One of the places that connected the dots for me was the Alpine Lakes Wilderness of Washington state.

The Alpine Lakes Wilderness protects more than 400,000 acres of craggy peaks, mountain lakes and forests in Washington’s Central Cascades — an area that stretches between two busy mountain passes. Its proximity to civilization was what initially brought me there.

An hour after leaving Seattle you can be in a wilderness where even bicycles aren’t allowed. It was convenient. It would have taken me at least three times longer to reach Mount Rainier National Park. But after my very first hike in the Alpine Lakes, its beauty became its primary draw.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Battle in the sky: Bald eagle and fox

Bald Eagle and Red Fox Tussling Over Rabbit, San Juan Island National Historical Park, Washington

There is no question that bald eagles are skilled hunters. They can spot a fish from a mile away and fly to it in under a minute.

But they’re also masters of something scientists call kleptoparasitism: the art of stealing food from others. In my book The Year of the Eagle, I documented bald eagles stealing food from crows, great blue herons and even other eagles.

A couple of days ago, however, I captured an especially dramatic act of thievery. I saw a bald eagle steal a rabbit from a young red fox. Even more impressive: at times, this battle played out more than 20 feet in the air.

Monday, April 30, 2018

The wind blows again

Erosion in Progress, Rucker Hill, Everett, Washington

As I wrote last month, wind can seem like an impossible concept to capture in a still image. But just a few days after posting about my experience in the wind in Pinnacles National Park, I found yet another opportunity close to home.

My latest wind image came on a day when I had set out to photograph nesting kingfishers. The birds weren’t cooperative, but because I had just written about the wind, the image at the top of this post practically jumped out at me.

For me, the image illustrates more than the wind. It also shows how assigning yourself ongoing projects can help you to break through creative logjams.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

What does the wind look like?

Sunset on High Peaks, Pinnacles National Park, California

You often hear of artists talking about their careers in terms of personal growth. Over the nearly 20 years I’ve been photographing nature, my vision has certainly grown.

In the beginning, I was satisfied with images that made nature look as pretty as possible. Today, I try to make images that are pretty but also communicate how I felt when I pressed the shutter button. And in Pinnacles National Park, California, last month, that meant I had to find a way to photograph the wind.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Behind the scenes: The horses of Assateague

Assateague Horse, Chincoteague Pony, Assateague Island, Virginia

There is just something magical about wild horses. I’ve photographed wildlife for nearly two decades now, blessed with incredible experiences with everything from bald eagles to penguins. But wild horses are truly in a category of their own.

I think it’s because while horses are not rare, wild horses are. There are only a half-dozen places in North America to even see wild horses. I recently got a chance to spend time with the horses in one of them: Assateague Island on the coast of Virginia and Maryland.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The legend of the troll rocks

Rainbow and Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks, Vík í Mýrdal, Iceland

There have always been stories about the origin of the land and the life that calls it home. Before there was science, those stories came from imagination and spirituality. In this series, I have created contemporary nature photography to illustrate them. Read more about my Legends of the Land series.

Iceland is a great place to be a troll. There are trolls all over the country, but you never see them — at least not in the flesh. Trolls must forever remain in the dark. Sunlight turns their skin to stone.

So they spend their days in mountain caves or under sea arches, venturing out only in the black of night. And in the rugged landscape of Iceland, there are plenty of places for trolls to hide from the sun.