Bear Boat Trip Report

What can I say??? I am truly blessed with great clients/friends. I spent the last week with some of the most wonderful people. As time approached for my return to the bear boat I wondered how in the world would this next group ever live up to the last bear boat group-I couldn’t even imagine a more wonderful group—but both were equally amazing and I find myself counting my blessings.

Laughter and happy faces greeted me every morning. Folks were spending time sharing not only their amazing images, but also a lot of gear and knowledge from their many years of travels. It was great and I was so happy to be a part of it all. Thank you all once again, for such a terrific time!

Now onto the details and photography from the week on the boat. This year I wanted to try to include a bit more environment for my images— I didn’t do as well as I had hoped with shooting wider !

It started with day one, a special sighting of a large sow with three cubs. It was an amazing first day. The next morning we woke up to another great day at Hallo Bay, we spent time with sows, some nursing cubs and I could not imagine a better start to the week. As the days flew by so did the bears—they finished grazing in the fields and moved onto the plentiful Salmon Berry bushes that were hanging low because of all the berries; can’t hardly blame a bear. Problem is- photographing bears in berry bushes can be awfully hard.

Our boat captain thought that we may need to take a “wiggle” I agreed and we headed to Geographic Harbor in hopes of following the bears toward the salmon. Our first morning skiff ride was less than desirable, I started to second guess myself and our captain. After all of the great photography we had had, this was quite a disappointment. However, our evening shoot was amazing followed by an even more amazing day on the skiff. We had just about every single bear opportunity that you could hope for.

On our last evening we hit the mother load when we had a sub adult bear on a beach that was obviously lonely and bored. He put on a show for us, he kept circling back to show off in front of us. He picked up sand and playfully threw it in the air, he took a huge piece of kelp that looked like a giant rope and held it up to the gods. It was almost too good!

Then we got the call that three wolves were on the beach near our anchored boat-we took off to go see the elusive wolves but just missed them going over the hill. One of the clients that had stayed back was on the boat and saw the wolves, but had her gear packed as it was our last night… you just never know. Maybe next time!

Below are a few of the images that I have processed so far, the flower blur is a 1/6 second, handheld, shiver blur. The last image of the bear standing looking up was captured as the rain had just started to fall harder. I was hoping he would shake off-he never did.

I need to get cracking and get some more images done. But first some rest.

Subscription Bonus

I have recently learned that my subscription service for my blog has “cleaned” some of my subscribers from my subscribed list. If you are no longer receiving my blog posts in your email or have changed your email address -you will need to resubscribe (on the right hand side of my blog there is a subscription area), sorry, I can’t do it for you.

Then I thought about adding a few “goodies” for those of you that have been loyal subscribers and have taken the time to follow my work and sign up for my blog. So from now on I will be publishing random blog posts that are for subscribers only. Meaning I won’t share links to the published blog post on social media. These blog posts will have tips, techniques, eBook excerpts, or tutorials. I will not be announcing when they will be sent out as they will be completely random. Below is my first subscription bonus blog post.


To create the image above I started with an in-camera motion blur of farm fields. I moved my camera in a horizontal panning motion, using a shutter speed of 1/6 second. The original image below shows the way the image looked straight out of camera. It was captured using my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera and M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO Lens .

As you can see the original image lacked contrast so I opened the image in Lightroom and adjusted the white and black points and added some Dehaze and Clarity. If you like the original color palette you could omit this step and just add a little contrast. but I wanted the colors to pop a bit. Then I brought the image into Photoshop and duplicated my layer, next I selected the Transform Tool and selected Warp from the transform menu. I clicked and pulled the left side of the image upward and the other side downward to create the hump. Cropped it to taste, adjusted the temperature and added my white frame. I usually share this Photoshop effect and more during my Palouse workshop which is where this image was captured.

Original capture

Original capture


Lately I have been looking at landscape images online and have come to the conclusion that most of the ones that catch my eye are completely unrealistic and totally over done in post processing. That said, there have been times that the colors in the sky are so unrealistic that nobody would believe it unless they saw them for themselves.

How do you feel about these unrealistic landscape skies, do you believe that some photographers are truly blessed each and every time they go somewhere? Or do you think they are juicing the heck out of them in post?

Keep in mind that folks are stacking filters, using HDR in-camera or combining frames in post to achieve some of these looks, but are they going too far…are they creating looks that are not realistic or are they creating works of art?

Below are two different images from the same scene in Patagonia captured moments apart. Which one is real and which one is created in Photoshop/Lightroom? You decide-A or B ???





Olympic National Park Scouting Report

I just got home from a ten day photography scouting trip at the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. During my time there, I visited Olympic National Park along with multiple state forests and beaches.  In addition, I hiked loads of trails through beautiful rain forests and even squeezed in some time for Thai food. It was great!

I had a lot of help from many of the members of the Olympic Peak Camera Club, most notably; Marian and Michel Bodart, Roy Kropp, Jim Hagen, Laurence Smith, Ken Kennedy, Bruce Fryxell and Lori Moilanen. Each of them opened their hearts and shared many of their favorite spots as well as much of their time and resources to assure a great scouting trip for me, so thank you all very much. I know I have made some life-long friends on this trip.

So back to the peninsula and the photography! The place is an enchanted forest on steroids. There are literally thousands upon thousands of photo opportunities for the taking. It can be a bit daunting when you first arrive, however you quickly become accustom to the ever changing light and shadows that can help to create dramatic images. Chaos-well…yes, but you need to “embrace the chaos” and “fear no light” as my new photo buds on the peninsula would say.  

Below are several of my favorite images from the trip. I have just scratched the surface but these give you a good idea of what I saw while I was there. We had zero rain, but I have to tell you I was hoping for a little. I wish I had more time out there; I really enjoyed the variety of subjects. I haven’t even looked at my sea stack photos yet, but many of the stacks have trees growing on them!

In a weeks’ time I head back to Patagonia for some Puma and landscape photography. I will be there for a week before heading out to the Palouse. Stay tuned for an announcement on my upcoming Olympic National Park Workshop 2020, 6 spots are already taken so I imagine the trip will fill quickly-if you are interested shoot me an email or mention it in the comment section below. It should be a five day workshop starting on June 8, 2020 but not confirmed yet.

I saw the poem below on one of the trails, it really touched me and I wanted to share it here.

The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me
And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow.
And the storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.
— Spellbound by Emily Brontë, 1818 - 1848

B&H Photo’s has a new card that can save you the sales tax—check it out below.

Using Filters with Ease

Filter Quick Tips

This is a repost that I was asked to share again…so for those who missed it…

If your images aren't as sharp as you'd like and if you have a UV filter on your lens try taking it off. Many times dust and dirt can get trapped between the front element of the lens and the UV filter. Also, UV filters are extremely difficult to clean; they often get a smeared, filmy look to them after cleaning. In my opinion, UV filters really serve no purpose (except to protect the front of your lens). I've been shooting for many years and I never use a UV filter. I have only dropped one lens (knock on wood) and a UV filter probably would not have saved it since the entire front of the lens was damaged. I recommend if you are going to continue to use a UV filter, then keep it clean on both sides and keep the front element of your lens clean too. Also consider replacing the UV filter often to keep it from getting that smeared look even when cleaned.


Sometimes filters get stuck on the front of the lens and are extremely difficult to get off. The Lens Filter Wrench, works pretty good, they are lightweight and they use to be cheap-now I would say they are fairly inexpensive.

Step Up Filters

If you own a DSLR camera than there is a good chance that the filter thread diameter sizes of one or more of your lenses will not be the same size. This becomes an issue when you are buying the screw on circular filters for these lenses. Let's say your 24-105mm lens is a 77mm and your 16-35mm f/2.8 lens is 82mm; you can't use the same size neutral density (ND) or circular polarizing filter for both of these lenses. You will need to purchase 2 different sized filters OR you can purchase a step up ring ,so that you can use one size filter for both size lenses. They are relatively inexpensive and come in handy as an alternative to carrying/purchasing multiple sized filters.


How to Set a Circular Polarizing Filter to the Darkest Setting

With some filters there are dots and notches on the filters that show where the lightest or darkest points are. For the most part if you put the filter on and rotate it you should be able to easily find the darkest setting. If not follow these easy steps:

First mount the circular polarizer on your lens. Next set your camera to Aperture Priority mode and set your EC (exposure compensation) to zero.  Now point your lens at the sky 90 degrees off sun angle. 

You will need to turn the polarizer slowly while taking note of the shutter speed as you rotate the polarizer. Stop turning once you get to the slowest shutter speed. It’s that simple, you are now ready to shoot right down sun angle at several stops slower. 


Jaxson's Journey Continues


I want to thank all of you that have reached out and asked how Jaxson is doing. I also want to update you all-it’s easier for me to answer everyone’s questions here, rather than individually. I am not trying to devalue your concerns, just trying to keep up with my crazy busy life. For those of you that are not familiar with my sweet young grandson, you can catch up here.

On April 22nd, my daughter will be taking Jaxson back to St. Louis for a follow-up visit with his surgeon Dr. Park. This past August, we were told by his doctor that Jaxson needed to start the transition from his walker to hand canes. He has been working diligently with the canes; first with three pong canes and now transitioning to single prong canes.

Each advancement has been monumental and extremely arduous. This young boy has one therapy after another. In addition, he has to practice with his canes daily. It sometimes feels like a chore to him and my heart breaks but he is quick to turn it around when he pictures Dr. Park’s face when he see’s him walking.

Jaxson sees a private tutor once a week for reading. He also has strength training sessions with a private trainer. With everything that he has going on, he and his family still find time to schedule play dates, see his brother play T-ball, go to the park, movies and play video games.

In school Jaxson is doing really well; he seems to have a lot of friends and his cousin is even in his class. His grades are good and he is boasting straight 100”s in all of his math tests! He’s so proud—and so are we. I can’t tell you how infectious his smile is. Everywhere he goes he makes friends. People truly care about him. He is a rock star and my fingers are crossed that Dr. Park will fall off his chair when he sees how well Jaxson is doing with his canes.

hugs, denise