Archive for April, 2013

Posted in alaska on April 14, 2013 by polarguide



After two weeks of intense course work I finally passed all four of my exams. I just have to wade through some bureaucratic red tape with the U.S. Coast Guard and I will officially be a captain.

I arrived in Juneau early yesterday afternoon to cold, sunny skies.  I will be leaving again for Skagway, Alaska in about a week for ten days of wilderness emergency medical training, then I can relax for a couple of weeks before my summer guiding schedule begins.



Day at the Zoo

Posted in Uncategorized on April 1, 2013 by polarguide

I went to the  Seattle zoo yesterday.   I forgot  that it was easter sunday, the place was packed with people and crawling with kids. I thought about leaving. What was the point of being there anyway?  I just returned from Antarctica where some of the most exotic animals in the world can be seen running, or swimming, wild and free. Also, I felt intimidated by all the kids.  It’s true, children intimidate me, don’t ask me why. I have more confidence making eye contact with a grizzly bear than I do with a six year old.

But the sun was shining and I really had nothing else in the world to do, so I jumped in line. “I’m just here to get some fun photographs” I told myself.  The zoo is a great place to practice wildlife photography.

The first animal exhibit inside the gate was the penguin exhibit. serendipity?  I peered over the enclosure wall at the Humbolt penguins who lived there and  I was immediately displeased.  how could I not be? Penguins in a fish bowl, how embarrassing.   So, I did the only thing I could do, I took out my camera and began shooting.  The rest of the day flew by. Suddenly a man approached me, rather gruffly, and informed me that the zoo was closed, “time to get out” he said.  I blew through six hours without even noticing.

The penguins were a blast. One of the things I love to photograph in Antarctica is people interacting with the wildlife in the wilderness. The zoo provided me an opportunity to capture images of people interacting with penguins in an urban environment.  The contrast was refreshing.




Zoo’s are great places to practice all of the skills needed to photograph animals in the wild. The first rule of wildlife photography is: Be There.  You gotta play to win. If I had let those kids scare me off, I never would have captured these images.

The second rule  is: Patients.  Animals spend alot of time standing still, either conserving energy or trying to remain inconspicuous to predators. You only need to wait, watch the animal, get to know its habits and try to capture interesting behavior.  At the zoo there is an added element: people.  You need to wait patiently as flocks of children and parents crowd around the enclosure.   If you stand by quietly you will notice that when large numbers of people gather most of the animals sit still, then the people become bored and move along.  This is when I get my best zoo shots. The behavior might last all of five seconds, but if your patient and prepared you’ll catch what everyone else missed.



Another rule: Know what you want to shoot. Have a pre-conceived idea of an image you would like to capture or at least  a broad theme. For example: Recently, I have been interested in capturing images of reflections on water. So, I look for small bodies of still water and wait there  patiently for wildlife materialize.





I walked by a small outdoor pond and the first thing I noticed was the reflection of the grass on the water, then I noticed the ducks.  I knew I wanted a photograph of this white and black duck reflected in the water with the bright green grass reflection as a backdrop.  I chose my composition, took a few shots to test the light then waited for the duck swim into the right position, and it did.

The nice thing about shooting at the zoo is if you don’t get the shot you like today the animals will still be there tomorrow.