Photo Of The Day – The Taj Mahal Bathed In Morning Light

The Taj Mahal Bathed In Morning Light

Title: The Taj Mahal Bathed In Morning Light

Location: Agra, India, Asia

Description: Timing is everything with the Taj Mahal. Arrive early, before sunrise, and wait for the right light.

Camera Canon 7D
Lens Canon 10-22mm
Shutter Speed 1/640
Aperture f/8
ISO 100
Focal Length 10mm

 

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Photograph Copyright Peter West Carey. Image Available For Licensing (email).

Would you like to join me on my next photo tour to Bhutan, Nepal or Canada in 2013? I teach workshops and lead international photo tours.

Photo Of The Day – Kyajo Ri, Nepal Panorama Exploration

Kyajo Ri Camp 1

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Title: Kyajo Ri, Nepal Panorama Exploration

Location: Kayajo Ri Valley, Solukhumbu, Nepal, Asia

Description: As we prepare for another day of trekking and climbing to reach the summit of Kyajo Ri (center of image, partially out of clouds) my climbing mates study the glacier we need to cross in the morning.

The image was shot freehand and stitched with AutoPano Giga.

Photograph Copyright Peter West Carey. Image Available For Licensing (email).

Would you like to join me on my next photo tour to Bhutan, Nepal or Canada in 2013? I teach workshops and lead international photo tours.

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Kyajo Ri Camp 1

Photo Of The Day – Canyonlands Gooseneck Bend Panorama Exploration

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Title: Canyonlands Gooseneck Bend Panorama Exploration

Location: Canyonlands National Park, Utah, USA, North America

Description: A short walk from the White Rim Trail, the Colorado River continues to eat away at Canyonlands National Park, making the landscape more dramatic year after year.

The image was shot freehand and stitched with AutoPano Giga.

The camera used was a Nikon D800E and Nikon 14-24mm lens thanks to BorrowLenses.com.

Photograph Copyright Peter West Carey. Image Available For Licensing (email).

Would you like to join me on my next photo tour to Bhutan, Nepal or Canada in 2013? I teach workshops and lead international photo tours.

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Stitched Panorama

Photo Of The Day – Deserted Taj Mahal High Resolution Exploration

Taj-Mahal-at-300

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Title: Deserted Taj Mahal High Resolution Exploration

Location: Taj Mahal, Agra, India, Asia

Description: Shot from across the Yamuna River in the Mehtab Bagh (Moonlight Garden), this high resolution image of the Taj Mahal is constructed from 104 images shot with a Canon 7D and 300mm lens. The image was shot entirely by hand and stitched with AutoPano Giga.

Photograph Copyright Peter West Carey. Image Available For Licensing (email).

Would you like to join me on my next photo tour to Bhutan, Nepal or Canada in 2013? I teach workshops and lead international photo tours.

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Taj-Mahal-at-300

Touring Hawaii Via Helicopter

Peter-West-Carey-Hawaii2012-1103-0155

Peter-West-Carey-Hawaii2012-1103-0155Taking off in a helicopter is unlike any commercial airline flight you have ever experienced. As forward thrust is not needed, there is no ‘pinned to your seat’ feeling. Your seat simply starts lifting into the air with what feels like effortless will despite the roar of the engine and blades above you.

While I flew over 100,000 miles last year in airplanes, it was the 250 miles we flew around Hawaii, The Big Island that are the most memorable.

Below are our images from the trip with Paradise Helicopters and our gracious pilot Koji Sato. The images are in chronological order and take off from the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa, circle the island counterclockwise and return to the same resort. Some of the highlights you will see in the images are:

Click on any image for a much larger version. Interested in purchasing an image? Drop me a line.

For the photographers in the crowd, all images were shot with a Nikon D800E and Nikon 14-24mm lens thanks to Borrowlenses.com. All but a few were shot at 14mm. That’s a mighty fine lens.

Thanks also goes to the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau and Big Island Visitors Bureau and Paradise Helicopters for hosting this helicopter trip we’ll never forget. The words and images are my own, so is the adrenaline rush I feel when thinking back to this trip.

Top 10 Photos Of 2012

Daybreak, Canyonlands National Park

My friend and fellow photographer Jim Goldstein is not only a great photographer, he invites people to share their work through his annual round-up of everyone’s best images from the previous year. I’m not one to participate in many “Best of…” lists, but it’s an honor for me to be included in Jim’s list as there is some stunning images shared on his site. If you would like to join in with your best images, follow the instructions on this post.

I picked my image for a few different reason. Most are because, for me, the images were technically difficult or rewarding to shoot. Some were just opportune moments and then there are fun or wonderful memories for me alone to enjoy. I hope the images tell you a story of the different locations where they were shot all over the world. And how beautiful our world and life can be.

For this year’s entry, I submit to you, my viewing audience, my 10 favorite images from 2012 in chronological order. Click each image for a larger version if you like.

Dinner For Two - Velas Vallarta

Shot in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, at the Velas Vallarta Resort, this image was not set up for me, but for a lucky couple. It was too perfect of a setting to not shoot while before they showed up. I used a reverse graduated neutral density filter (3 stop) to hold back the sun on the horizon while metering for the foreground.

There was a lot of work in Lightroom on this one to balance the light and I have been very happy with the result. It was hard to not sit down and soak up the setting before the intended guests showed up.

Canon 7D, Canon EF 10-22mm lens, ISO100, 10mm, f/6.3, 1/60

Sunset From Nahargarh Fort, Jaipur, India

Another shot that was technically hard, and another image to use the reverse graduated neutral density filter by Singh-Ray, the sunset in India is often a time when no filter can be used, simply because the haze mutes the brightness of our star. I wanted to ensure the ancient fort and the massive city of millions was well exposed and this filter helped with that.

Shot with a tripod and patience. What appear as ants on the sand hill below are Indians playing soccer and picnicking. What you can’t experience in this image is the call to Muslim call to prayer which had just started while I was instructing one of my photo tour guests on the use of the filter.

Canon 7D, Canon EF 10-22mm lens, ISO 100, 10mm, f/9, 1/10

Resting Tiger, India

A Bengal Tiger relaxes in the heat of the morning as she is surrounded by about 12 jeeps full of tourists eager to glimpse this beautiful creature. She soon got up from her spot and proceeded to walk to a water hole while the vehicles all jockeyed for the best photography position.

I have other pictures I enjoy more, pictures where she is walking through the jungle, but nothing captures her grandeur like a nice close-up. Shot in Ranthambore National Park, India, while leading a photo tour.

Canon 7D, Canon 28-300mm L, ISO 250, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/320

Layers - Oman

Oman was a fun and exciting trip with my girlfriend taken in the heat before summer. In this image, the sun was getting ready to set and I simply stopped by the side of the road as the layers in the mountains were too gorgeous to not shoot. We spent a week in the country and were happy to find so many stereotypes purveyed by popular US media were not the case.

The people we interacted with were kind and warm, one of them even driving 8km out of their way, and back again, to bring us jumper cables. Then he climbed under the car and beat on the started, refusing my offer to compensate him and instead accepting a handshake and “Shukran” for his effort. It is a county to which I plan to return and explore more.

Canon 7D, Canon 28-300mm L, ISO 100, 235mm, f/9, 1/800

Sabrina Being Dangerous

Traveling with my daughter is almost always fun. No so much when it gets very hot (as it was for us in Jordan in the summer) but even then she plays along with my silly ideas. I picked this image because I love her and traveling with her. We were fortunately enough to be guests of Jordan and shown the many wonderful sites the small country has to offer.

Amazingly stable in an area of unrest (they have welcomed decades of refuges from Iraq, Syrian and Palestine) this was my third Islamic country for the year (UAE and Oman being the others) and another place to which I will return for more lasting memories.

Canon 7D, Canon EF 10-22mm lens, ISO 800, 15mm, f/18, 1/60

The Treasury At Night

Petra in Jordan is one of those places people talk about being a “Once in a lifetime” trip and I pray it is not for me. I want to go back and explore for a couple of days. The architecture and hiding places. The majesty. The colors. In this photo Sabrina and I were granted special permission to go inside The Treasury, something that is not allowed these days, to get a shot I have had in mind since booking our trip.

The shot is taken after the Petra By Night cultrual event which is well worth the price of admission. While many shots show the outside of the The Treasury at night, I was very happy with the results from this unique angle.

Canon 7D, EF 10-22mm lens, ISO 640, 10mm, f/6.3, 30 seconds

Breaching Humpback Whale, Alaska

Talk about unforgettable, watching humpback whales breach and bubblenet feed in the chilly waters of Alaska was a jaw-dropping gorgeous trip for Sabrina, my girlfriend and I. We went of separate trips (one week with my daughter, one week with my girlfriend) over the course of two weeks while I shot and taught photography aboard two great vessels run by InnerSea Discoveries.

These boats only hold 80 guests and bring nature up close and personal. Shot of renting a 20′ runabout, this is the best way to view whales in Alaska. Not to mention the delicious food and inspiring locations we visit. This was my first time photographing humpback whales and I’m severely hooked. We’ll be heading to Hawaii in April for another photo themed cruise if you want to join us!

Canon 7D, Canon 400mm L, ISO 200, 400mm, f/2.8, 1/4000

Daybreak, Canyonlands National Park

I love Southern Utah. Canyonlands, Arches, Bryce….so much great country to explore! I joined fellow Puget Sound photographer Michael Riffle and his wife for a few days of shooting in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in beautiful weather in October. Not only that, I was lucky to borrow a Nikon D800E and 14-24mm lens for the trip. I was in landscape photographer heaven and this trip was unforgettable.

Up early for each sunrise and up late for some start photography. One image is just not enough, so here are some more from that trip. While I love traveling internationally, Southern Utah makes an undisputed argument for never having to journey far to see world class landscapes that could fill a lifetime of exploration. I hope to return here in 2013.

Nikon D800E, Nikon 14-24mm, ISO 50, 14mm, f/7.1, 1/13

Lava Lake

I consider Hawaii to be international travel. While the money is the same and they mostly speak English, the land is so different from mainland USA that it seems a world away. That and the resurgence of colorful Hawaiian culture makes the islands feel warm and inviting. So warm, they even have lava, which is one thing you can see here and in few other places.

This was a special trip shared with my girlfriend and the chance to witness the island being created while flying over P u’u O’o, an active, sputtering hot spot on the edge of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, was a highlight for me. Located on Hawaii, The Big Island, this channel into magma beneath the surface is best viewed from a helicopter, thanks to Paradise Helicopters. If I could, I’d also include an image from our time SCUBA diving with manta rays.

Canon 7D, Canon 28-300mm L, ISO 1250, 170mm, f/5.6, 1/6400

Above The Sunset

My last favorite shot from 2012 is not from some exotic destination nor far reaching corner of the planet. In late 2011 I fell in love with an amazing woman who happens to live not in Washington, but in California. As my schedule permits, I am able to fly down the coast and spend time with her often and while the regular flights might seem monotonous after a while, I have always been awed by what I see out the window when passing geography I have seen dozens of times already. In this case, I picked a window seat knowing the sun would be setting close to touchdown in Southern California and I was rewarded with an amazing display. After the sun set below the high clouds at around 20,000′, there was still sunlight beaming below. You know how you see clouds just catch fire when on the ground? It’s equally amazing from the sky. Below the clouds is Channel Islands National Park, an area we plan to explore together in 2013.

Canon 1D X, Canon 28-300mm L, ISO 640, 170mm, f/7.1, 1/320, Seat 3F

——

It is true that picking just 10 images from a whole year of images (I shot more than 30,000 images in 2012) can painful. But it’s also fun. And I thank Jim for putting on this event to help me appreciate what 2012 brought to me in photographs.

I also want to thank those who helped me get to and take these photos, including, Velas Vallarta, Jordan Tourism Board, Mahfouz – our tour guide in Jordan, InnerSea Discoveries, BorrowLenses.com, Hawaii Island Visitor Bureau and Paradise Helicopters. And the two best travel companions I can ask for on many of these trips, my daughter and my girlfriend.

Photo Of The Day – Deserted Delicate Arch At Sunrise

Deserted Delicate Arch At Sunrise

 

Deserted Delicate Arch At Sunrise

 

Title: Deserted Delicate Arch At Sunrise

Location: Arches National park, Utah, USA, North America

Description: Delicate Arch stands basking in morning sun as nary a soul is to be found at this normally crowded and popular landmark. Early morning, while not the ‘perfect’ time to catch this majestic arch in the best of light, is still a exemplary time to render unique views without the crowds.

Camera Canon 7D
Lens Canon 8-15mm
Shutter Speed 1/800
Aperture f/8
ISO 400
Focal Length 9mm

Click HERE to purchase this 11″ x 14″ print at my Etsy Store. Use code 10POTD to receive 10% off as a blog subscriber.

Photograph Copyright Peter West Carey. Image Available For Licensing (email).

Would you like to join me on my next tour to Bhutan or Nepal in 2013? I teach workshops and lead international photo tours

A Day With The Mission Ridge Ski Patrol

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Peter-West-Carey-101218-113655-9279Approaching the top of the ski lift, I nervously fumble with my poles and camera bag, remembering just in time to keep my tips up. It is my first time on skis in 15 years and I am hoping the skills will come back to me, quickly. A light snow is blowing across my face as I regret forgetting my ski goggles at home, choosing instead to squint through the flurries.

“Are you ready?” asks Aaron Taylor, the Assistant Patrol Director for Mission Ridge Resort, just outside of Wenatchee, Washington.

“I hope so. It’s been a long while,” I reply with a halfhearted smile and rising pulse. “I’ll try not to knock you over.”

“Don’t worry about it. You’ll be fine,” are the last words I hear before the chairlift crests the exit ramp and I am sent skidding and sliding sideways into Aaron in a vain attempt to hold my balance and protect my pride for eminent bruising. My efforts fail as I knock Aaron’s skis with my own, nearly toppling him, before I crashing into fresh powder at the side of the exit ramp.

“Are you okay?” Aaron asks. When I nod, he turns his attention to one of the resort’s volunteer staff, instructing her to rope off the area to the left of the lift until a proper barricade can be brought up the ridge.

It’s going to be a long day following the Mission Ridge Ski Patrol.

Aaron Taylor of the Mission Ridge Ski Patrol

Aaron Taylor of the Mission Ridge Ski Patrol

I know the ski patrol is there to help when things go wrong. More than once I have seen them assisting an injured skier down the slopes either on the chairlift or in a toboggan. Until today, that has been my only impression of their duties; help injured skiers. Sometimes they also yell at skiers who fail to obey posted warnings or are skiing recklessly. Surely it is a comfortable job with only a few hours of work being rewarded by an annual lift pass? Today is the day I find out my simple view of a professional ski patrol member’s duties is only the tip of the iceberg.

Dusting myself off, I look around the top of the ridge and noticed only red and blue coats milling about. The red coats are volunteer ski patrol and the blue coats are the six paid staff who work year round at the resort. They are the first ones on the ridge each morning, arriving hours before the first guests and, on most days, well before sunrise. Aaron chats with a few of the volunteers before we begin our first run.

The first guests of the day ski past us and Aaron waves “Hi” as they pass. He knows more than half of the regular skiers by name and most know him and his group, lifting a pole to wave to them. I’m taken aback at first as my impression of ski patrollers has been as disciplinarians, someone to avoid. I ask Aaron about this when he pauses to wipe off a bright orange “Thin Cover” sign.

“Because we are only 15 minutes from Wentachee and the only ski hill in the area, there is a larger family atmosphere here than you might find in other ski areas. I’ve only had to pull a lift pass from a few kids in my entire time with Mission Ridge.” He goes on to explain the patrol’s philosophy on managing the rule breakers: Most often those skiing out of bounds or too fast in areas marked “Slow” are younger kids. In these instances the patrol will require the offender to write a short essay describing what they did wrong and why it was dangerous.

“Parents tend to like that approach,” because it helps not only educate the youth on the dangers of reckless skiing, it also educates their friends when the teen explains he can’t go skiing. The pro patrollers favor education over restriction and it has helped to build a cooperative, welcoming atmosphere on the ridge.

Following Aaron down a blue run along the Northern edge of the resort, he stops me at a display set back from the trail. Encrusted in wind blown snow is a descriptive sign next to a six foot wide piece of metal. While I am pulling out my camera and Aaron is dutifully cleaning off the sign, a skier glides close and touches the metal display with the tip of his ski pole, causing it to resonate a dull clanking sound. As he cleans the sign, Aaron reads the story of an ill-fated training mission in 1944 when an Army Air Force B-24 Liberator airplane clipped a wing while attempting to clear the ridge.

Stitched Panorama

The resulting crash killed all aboard, scattering debris over a wide swath of the ridge cliffs more than 20 years before the resort opened. The metal on display is a section of the bomber’s wing. When he spots my perplexed look, Aaron explains the superstition behind displaying the wing. At one time the wing section was removed from the ridge. Coincidentally, that is the only year the ridge did not receive enough snow to open for business. The wing section was returned the next year and now skiers will go out of their way to give the metal a tap for good luck. Even when this particular run is closed, the patrol will receive special requests from guests wishing to be escorted to the sign to pay homage.

Peter-West-Carey-101218-101436-9232Aaron races down the mountain to move warning signs to thinly covered areas. Mission Ridge will often only receive 120 inches of snow fall a year compared to the 300 inches many Western Washington resorts encounter. This has lead to an extensive snow blowing operation yet it does not cover the entire mountain. When we reach the bottom of the run, Aaron is carrying three of the warning markers and hands them to a volunteer, assigning him an area to cover.

As we start our second run down the ridge, I am worried about holding back Aaron from his regular duties. I haven’t seen him rescue anyone or yell at someone to slow down. Surely I am hindering him from his key responsibilities. While directing patrollers is a large part of his job, Aaron deadpans, “If this ridge can’t run without me, I’m not doing my job right.”

Indeed, a large part of a pro patroller’s job is hidden from guests’ view. Walking into the patrol hut atop Lift 2 I am greeted with smells of fresh brewed espresso, a slight musty nylon hint and a stern growl from the Search & Rescue dog sitting in the corner, letting me know who’s hut this is. The walls are adorned with packs, gloves, helmets and other gear from the five patrollers inside. On one wall is a massive chart and Aaron explains how they record precipitation, snow pack, moisture content of the snow, temperatures and other data to be able to predict conditions on the ridge. Pulling the top page back reveals years of history to use as reference. Every day, well before the ski season starts, patrollers head out to collect these readings and correlate with data from automated weather stations.

Peter-West-Carey-101218-091954-9220

Beyond basic weather tracking, the charts help with an important aspect of the patrol’s duties; avalanche control, or AC. Aaron and other pro patrollers have attended local and national training in avalanche prediction and management in order to insure safe operation of the resort. Mission Ridge and the patrollers offer their knowledge twice a month during the winter in free Avalanche Awareness classes held in the basement of the patrol hut, a hut built by donations from a memorial started after patroller Steve Burchett lost his life during an avalanche control operation. That memorial fund now helps secure avalanche training for the greater snow activity community as well as more advanced training for regular members of the volunteer ski patrol.

On the days of avalanche control, a wake up call is sent at 3:30am to insure all members of the pro patrol are on hand. At 5am the patrollers meet and two are sent for the explosives. Each operation requires patrollers to work in tandem for safety reasons. The ski patrol will typically be on the mountain from well before sunrise until opening time at 9am, working to clear unstable snow. Aaron and another pro patroller, Marco, demonstrate the body signals they use to communicate when setting charges, bobbing their bodies as if doubling over from being gut punched. The method is needed because high wind often carries voices off the ridge and clear communication is vital for safety.

If the charges don’t start a controlled avalanche, the patrollers often have to ski cut a dicey patch. This entails skiing on what is known to be unstable snow in order to purposefully trigger an avalanche, while insuring enough room for the patroller to exit the area before being swept away with the slide. If I ever encounter a cranky patroller in the future, it’s possible they have been up since 3:30am performing this type of work for my safety and everyone visiting the Ridge. As Marco preferred to jokingly frame it, “We’re all just superheros in training.”

Patrol radios come to life with a call from a volunteer on the ridge.

Peter-West-Carey-101218-114657-9360“Go ahead,” Aaron answers.
“We have an injury just above the Terrain Park. Possible busted ankle.”
“Copy that 82, thank you very much. Break. Is there any controller near Midway?” Aaron asks from the warmth of the patrol hut.
“This is Jody, I’m at Midway”
“Could you respond just above the temporary Terrain Park? Injured skier. Possible ankle.”
“Copy that. and I will get on it,” comes the response.

While the patrollers in the hut debate why the Ridge still uses inches instead of centimeters, with a lone Canadian defending the metric system, a little more than two minutes pass before the radios come back to life, letting the dispatcher know a toboggan has arrived for the injured skier.

“Affirmative and we’ll be taking the guest down to the first aid room in about three minutes.”
“Copy. I’ll log both of those times.”

The time elapsed from the patroller first encountering and assessing the injured skier until the time the skier arrives in the Ridge’s first aid room is approximately seven minutes. The communication is swift and exacting and all the times are recorded on a spreadsheet for data logging. Two minutes and forty-five seconds after the last transmission the voice on the radio calls out a crackled, “Patrol to Dispatch. We have left the scene.”

Peter-West-Carey-101218-111835-9251Aaron informs me true search and rescue efforts are few and far in between. He has only witnessed one helicopter evacuation in his time at Mission Ridge, although the patrol has been alerted to a few skiers ending up in nearby Ellensburg after skiing out of bounds, a walk of about eight miles in ski boots through the woods before encountering a house with a phone. Another time a group of nine youths skied into the wrong bowl to the East of the groomed runs and stopped when they realized what had happened. One of the skiers called his mom, also skiing at the ridge, who happened to be riding the chairlift with Aaron at that moment. She handed the phone to Aaron and before they both reached the top of the lift, he had coordinated with other patrollers, who located the group and were en route to direct them safely to the lodge.

Aaron shows me the lower floor of the patrol hut, the space where Avalanche Awareness classes are offered. It is a small, twelve foot by twelve foot concrete basement. A picnic table sits in the middle and Aaron explains that it was damaged, so the patrol is fixing it. Rolls of webbed barricade sit in one corner, defrosting to make them pliable for their next assignment on the ridge. A few power tools line a workbench, spare toboggans are propped up against one wall and a massive water jug sits in a corner.

This room is testament to the unseen duties of the pro patrol. During the Summer and Fall months the crew is busy fixing and maintaining the grounds. Ski runs are sometimes widened and facilities are spruced up. It’s work that is put off during the non-stop ski season and keeps the patrollers busy year round.

On our last chairlift ride Aaron points to a group of half a dozen red jacketed patrollers all facing one in blue. “More training,” he states. With up to 30 volunteers in red jackets on the ridge during busy weekends, the effort to keep them fully trained on avalanche safety, CPR/First Aid, weather prediction, skier safety and more can be daunting. But the job is not without its rewards, especially in the quiet moments.

Peter-West-Carey-101218-111959-9255Off the lift and back at the patrol hut Marco reflects on his favorite time to be on the ridge. “When the sun’s coming up, everyone is asleep and the sky turns orange for just a bit.” The others in the hut nod in agreement. “Then it’s time to check the runs, position signs, run barricades…” His voice trails off while he turns back to the espresso machine to refill his cup.

On my final run down the ridge I at last catch a glimpse of Aaron doing what I presumed he does all day long; stopping to help a downed skier. I was lagging behind and he took off when he spotted a snowboarder sitting in the snow while her friend stood over her. Before I reached the scene, two volunteer patrollers arrived, one taking a position uphill like a human traffic cone and the other offering assistance. Aaron stayed long enough to make sure the snowboarder was OK while one of the volunteers helped her walk down the mountain.

Exhausted, my day with the Mission Ridge Ski Patrol comes to an end even before the lights for night skiing come to life. Aaron shakes my hand at the base of the hill before heading back to the lifts, asking, “Is there anything else you need?”

I reflect on all the work he and the rest of the ski patrol perform daily to insure all the visitors to Mission Ridge have a fun and safe time on the snow.

“No thanks. You have done more than I can ask for already. Thank you.”

Peter-West-Carey-101218-114440-9312

One Year: No Gift Cards, No Gift Lists

words

With Christmas just three days away and I in my normal last-minute scramble for gifts, I have decided to try something new. It seems to be working for this holiday season.

The idea is simple and was sparked by my friend Tiffany pointing me to this article from Semi-Rad.com pointing out the best gifts are not things you ask for.

The challenge is this: Spend one year buying gifts for friends and families without resorting to asking (or seeing) a gift list or ‘buying’ a gift card.

Why? Because I found out this year, so far, I can buy things for people that may not be on their list. I enjoy opening a gift and seeing something new, not something that I asked for, and I think others do to. It seems backward sometimes, to make a list and say “buy me this”. I know it helps people who aren’t familiar with my likes and dislikes, but if someone doesn’t know me well enough to pick out a gift they think I’ll like, then it’s okay to not get me anything at all. I won’t be offended.

And thus, I have purchased gifts for nieces and a nephew almost totally at random. They might already have them. They might not like them, but that’s okay. Maybe I’ll be known as the uncle who always gets crappy gifts the kids didn’t ask for. If that’s my place in family history, so be it.

I’d rather take the time to sit and think about what my family and friends would really like than to just check things off a list. It will help at birthdays because as it goes now; the birthdayee sends out a list of things they want. The other family members email each other explaining what they got. Phone calls are made when we can’t remember ‘the list’. It’s a hassle. I’d rather think about my brothers and find something that has some meaning behind it rather than something on a list. It has more meaning, I feel.

And don’t get me started on gift cards! “Here, I took some money and turned it into plastic.” I’d rather give cash. Or as I call it, “The US Gift Certificate; good at any store or drug dealer. Even accepted in some countries worldwide.” If you have no clue what to get the person, give them a card with a time and date on it. That time and date is for the two of you to go shopping (even if you don’t like shopping, because you’ll get bonus points if the person knows you don’t like shopping). If you’re going to just give the person money because you have no clue, at least use the money as as chance to spend time together.

I’m going to try this for a year and see how it goes. I have almost made it through one major holiday so I’m thinking the rest should be a breeze.

What about you? Are you up for the challenge?

Don’t Neglect Your Personal Projects

PeterWestCarey-Mountains-20111219-102812-6464

Have you ever been busy?

I mean real busy, for months.

Or have you ever made excuses as to why you can’t spend time on a project that is, to most, frivolous and non commercial?

As someone who makes my living from photography in various means (shooting, instructing, writing, leading tours) I’m constantly having to think about my next payday. This means I often put out work that will appeal to a wide audience. Luckily, most of my interest is in an area of board likeability; landscape, scenic, travel. Happy stuff. Pretty stuff with bright colors.

I have found that posting high saturation colors, especially orange and red, tends to draw a crowd. Sunsets are a big hit looking at stats on Facebook and 500px.com. But that’s not all I shoot.

And likely it is not all you shoot either.

Do you have a particular subject matter that appeals to you but is not necessarily commercially viable material? I’m here to tell you to keep shooting that stuff. Keep at it, even if it is not popular.

That stuff feeds your soul or passion or whatever you find at the center of you when all else is quiet. It will probably never make you rich, but it will make life a little lighter and probably put a smile on your face.

Take time to shoot your personal projects. Plan it. Place it on a calendar. Give yourself 30 minutes each week to edit photos just for the fun of the photo, not because you think someone else will like it. Then post it anyway. Share it with the world if you like. Chances are someone else will find some inspiration in your ‘not popular’ images and that helps create more art. Which, I feel, makes the world a better place.

My personal projects come and go. One that has stuck with me for a while is a fascination with clouds. Mind you, I know squat about them, except the water holding part. But I like to shoot them and am enthralled with stormy days when clouds pass by, twisting and turning and lighting red and orange at sunset.

Below are images from this personal, not-so-profitable project on clouds. Please share yours in the comments section below. One picture or a hundred, it doesn’t matter.

Photo Of The Day – Prayer Wheel Wall

Prayer Wheel Wall

Title: Prayer Wheel Wall

Location: Kathmandu, Nepal, Asia

Description: Along the outer wall of Swayambhunath, or Monkey Temple, Buddhist prayer wheels wait for monks, paritioners or visitors to give them a spin and send forth prayers of peace. Kathmandu, Nepal.

Camera Canon EOS 5D
Lens Canon EF 28-300mm L
Shutter Speed 1/100
Aperture f/6.3
ISO 400
Focal Length 28mm

Click HERE to purchase this 11″ x 14″ print at my Etsy Store. Use code 10POTD to receive 10% off as a blog subscriber.

Photograph Copyright Peter West Carey. Image Available For Licensing (email).

Would you like to join me on my next tour to Bhutan or Nepal in 2013? I teach workshops and lead international photo tours

Photo Of The Day – Daybreak, Canyonlands National Park

Daybreak, Canyonlands National Park

Title: Daybreak, Canyonlands National Park

Location: Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah, USA, North America

Description: Looking down on the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park, Utah from Dead Horse Point State Park is like looking down through time. Eons of bedrock has been worn away by time, wind and water to expose a beautiful landscape rich in history and color.

Camera Nikon D800E
Lens Nikon 14-24mm
Shutter Speed 1/13
Aperture f/7.1
ISO 50
Focal Length 14mm

Click HERE to purchase this 11″ x 14″ print at my Etsy Store. Use code 10POTD to receive 10% off as a blog subscriber.

Photograph Copyright Peter West Carey. Image Available For Licensing (email).

Would you like to join me on my next tour to Bhutan or Nepal in 2013? I teach workshops and lead international photo tours

Photo Of The Day – After And Before Sunset

After And Before Sunset

Title: After And Before Sunset

Location: 17,000′, California Coast, USA, North America

Description: An anomaly of being in the right place at the right time; the sun has set below the clouds at approximately 12,000′ but has not set past the horizon. The result is yellow layer above and a pink, magenta layer below the clouds. From the ground this would appear to be another beautiful sunset off the California coast. From our vantage point at 17,000′, it is breathtaking.

Camera Canon 1Dx
Lens Canon EF 28-300mm L
Shutter Speed 1/200
Aperture f/7.1
ISO 640
Focal Length 70mm

Click HERE to purchase this 11″ x 14″ print at my Etsy Store. Use code 10POTD to receive 10% off as a blog subscriber.

Photograph Copyright Peter West Carey. Image Available For Licensing (email).

Would you like to join me on my next tour to Bhutan or Nepal in 2013? I teach workshops and lead international photo tours

Photo Of The Day – Sunset Over Canyonlands National Park

Sunset Over Canyonlands National Park

Title: Sunset Over Canyonlands National Park

Location: Canyonlands National Park, Utah, USA, North America

Description: Watching the sun set from the rim of Canyonlands National Park, overlooking the Green River, is a calm time. The slowness of the landscape seeps in and we realize just how little time we have to soak in all the majestic beauty of this land.

Click HERE to purchase this 11″ x 14″ print at my Etsy Store. Use code 10POTD to receive 10% off as a blog subscriber.

Photograph Copyright Peter West Carey. Image Available For Licensing (email).

Would you like to join me on my next tour to Bhutan or Nepal in 2013? I teach workshops and lead international photo tours

Photo Of The Day – The Treasury At Petra By Candle Light

The Treasury At Petra By Candle Light

Title: The Treasury At Petra By Candle Light

Location: Petra, Jordan, Asia

Description: The Treasury at Petra takes on a surreal feel when lit by the candles in hundreds of luminaries during the Petra By Night program held at the UNESCO World Heritage Site. More than just a visual experience, local storytellers and musicians set a tone to match the true grandeur and timelessness of the ancient city.

Camera Canon 7D
Lens Canon EF 10-22mm
Shutter Speed 30 seconds
Aperture f/4.5
ISO 800
Focal Length 10mm (16mm equivalent)

Click HERE to purchase this 11″ x 14″ print at my Etsy Store. Use code 10POTD to receive 10% off as a blog subscriber.

Photograph Copyright Peter West Carey. Image Available For Licensing (email).

Would you like to join me on my next tour to Bhutan or Nepal in 2013? I teach workshops and lead international photo tours

Photo Of The Day – The Edge Of Canyonlands National Park

The Edge Of Canyonlands National Park

Title: The Edge Of Canyonlands National Park

Location: Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah, USA, North America

Description: Shot from Dead Horse Point State Park just before the sun began lighting the thousand foot cliffs of Canyonlands National Park, the Colorado River continues to carve through eons of sandstone, shaping a magnificent land.

Camera Canon 7D
Lens Canon 8-15mm Fisheye
Shutter Speed 1/13
Aperture f/5.6
ISO 1000
Focal Length 15mm (24mm equivalent)

Click HERE to purchase this 11? x 14? print at my Etsy Store. Use code 10POTD to receive 10% off as a blog subscriber.

Photograph Copyright Peter West Carey

Would you like to join me on my next tour to Bhutan or Nepal in 2013? I teach workshops and lead international photo tours

 

Lava Patterns In Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Peter-West-Carey-Hawaii2012-1103-7429

Loving patterns as I do, it was a feat of Herculean proportions to peel myself away from the lava covering Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii, The Big Island.  I only had part of a day to trounce around the hardened flows with the ample explanations from Warren Costa, owner and operator of Native Guide Hawaii. Warren’s knowledge helped me to understand what the heck I was looking at with all the different types of lava and formations.

I come from the West Coast of the US and half the time I live within 100 miles of Mt. St. Helens, which famously erupted three decades ago. I thought this gave me some volcano street cred but our little lahar creator is a world away from the shield volcanoes and lava that make up the Hawaiian Islands. The lava takes on two main forms in the park: Pahoehoe and ‘A’a.

Pahoehoe is the smooth stuff seen in flowing lines with rope like shapes at times. ‘A’a is the rough stuff that ripped through the shoe of one person on our tour. Within each of those main types there are a myriad of variations and textures.

Below is a gallery taken inside and out of the park. Some are from a helicopter, which was a thrill in this section of the island as it helped us get close to Pu’u ‘O’o cinder cone (that’s the bubbling lava in some of the pictures). The other images were taken in the park, up close and personal. Enjoy!

(Click on images for larger versions)

My thanks go out to Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau, Big Island Visitors Bureau, Native Guide Hawaii and Paradise Helicopters for helping me explore Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, a true gem in the islands. It’s a dark gem, but sometimes it is a molten gem. A gem nonetheless.

Photo Of The Day – The Cliffs Of Hawaii

Cliffs Of Hawaii - Peter West Carey Photography

Title: Cliffs Of Hawaii

Location: Hawaii, The Big Island – Hawaiian Islands, USA, North Pacific Ocean

Description: Along the Northern Shore of Hawaii, The Big Island, lays a land untouched by man but drenched in time and precipitation. Cliff soar 2000′ in the air as waterfalls rain to the ocean. Special thanks to Paradise Helicopters for getting me into position for a shot I can take no other way.

Click HERE to purchase this 11? x 14? print at my Etsy Store. Use code 10POTD to receive 10% off as a blog subscriber.

Photograph Copyright Peter West Carey

Would you like to join me on my next tour to Bhutan or Nepal in 2013? I teach workshops and lead international photo tours.

Hawaii, National Parks And Travel

PeterWestCarey-Utah2012-1023-7852

If you noticed the Photo Of The Day posts having a slight drop, as well at the 31+ Days Of Photography Experiments, it’s been due to travel, in a good way.

Last week I visited Arches and Canyonlands National Park with fellow photographer Michael Riffle and his wife and that had me concentrating on shooting, scouting and napping (shooting star trails at night and sunrise the next morning takes a toll!).

Now this week, I’ll be heading to the Big Island of Hawaii on Friday for 6 days of a press trip concentrating on Eat, Play, Love. Emphasis on ‘Play’ as well as ‘Love’ as my girlfriend will be with me. Snorkeling, SCUBA diving with manta rays, visiting Volcanoes National Park (third National Park in two weeks!), visiting the summit of Mauna Kea, star gazing, stand-up paddle boarding, Kona Coffee Cultural Festival and a helicopter tour of the island. I’m quite stoked.

All this means writing takes a back seat and for that I’m sorry. Press trips, while fun, are usually non-stop and Utah was gorgeous activity as well. November and December will see me plopped down in front of my home computer, editing photos and writing up a storm, including finishing off 31+ Days Of Photography Experiments.

Here, as a consolation, enjoy some more pictures from Utah.

PeterWestCarey-Utah2012-1022-7461

Peter-West-Carey-Utah2012-1020-6452-2

PeterWestCarey-Utah2012-1023-7847

PeterWestCarey-Utah2012-1022-7647

PeterWestCarey-utah2012-1021-7290

PeterWestCarey-utah2012-1021-6681

PeterWestCarey-utah2012-1021-7248

PeterWestCarey-utah2012-1021-7319

Photo Of The Day – Milky Way And Balanced Rock

Milky Way And Balanced Rock

Title: Milky Way And Balanced Rock

Location: Arches National Park, Utah, USA, North America

Description: Shot with a Nikon D800E and 14-24mm lens for 30 seconds at ISO 3200, Balanced Rock and a nearby stone frame the Milky Way arching overhead.

Click HERE to purchase this 11? x 14? print at my Etsy Store. Use code 10POTD to receive 10% off as a blog subscriber.

Photograph Copyright Peter West Carey

Would you like to join me on my next tour to Bhutan or Nepal in 2013? I teach workshops and lead international photo tours.

Photo Of The Day – Mesa Arch At Sunrise

PeterWestCarey-Utah2012-1022-7461

Title: Mesa Arch At Sunrise

Location: Canyonlands National Park, Utah, USA, North America

Description: As the sun peeks over the horizon, the reflection off cliffs below lights up the bottom of Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park this morning. If you want to take this same picture, get up early! We were there at 6am and there were already a dozen photographers vying for the best spots.

Click HERE to purchase this 11? x 14? print at my Etsy Store. Use code 10POTD to receive 10% off as a blog subscriber.

Photograph Copyright Peter West Carey

Would you like to join me on my next tour to Bhutan or Nepal in 2013? I teach workshops and lead international photo tours.

Win An 11×14″ Fine Art Print This Month

Peter-West-Carey-India2012-0418-7575

First, I want to congratulate Joyce Reidenbach as the winner of my previous raffle for a fine art print of Wadi Rum.

Now it’s your chance to…

Win An 11×14″ Fine Art Print

The contest is easy to enter and takes all of 30 seconds for the most basic of entries. Yes, you can jump through hoops for extra entries if you are into social media stuff, but you need not do that.

The print is one of 40 images to be printed in this limited edition run. It will be signed and numbered by me and will be ready for framing. It is printed on archival Ilford paper with professional inks and is hand inspected before being shipped.

Just tell me, in the form below, what subjects you might like to see on a 2013 calendar.

You can also like my Facebook page, tweet the contest daily for extra chances and subscribe to this blog (if you already subscribe to this blog, you get a bonus entry! Just tell me you are already subscribed in the spot provided).

Contest ends November 1st, 2012 at just one minute past midnight. I will ship the image worldwide as long as the contest is valid in according to your federal and local laws.

Good luck!  Drawing will be held on November 1st and winner will be notified via email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Photo Of The Day – Layers, Oman II

Layers, Al Hajar Mountains, Oman - Peter West Carey Photography

Title: Layers, Oman II

Location: Oman

Description: Sometimes I am tempted toward embellishing the image I see into what I want to see. In this case, after experimenting with a black and white version, I settled on the original color version. I have not added sepia tone, that is all natural. I did adjust the exposure to more fully show the range I felt that day. And that’s the important part; not all photographs should be exact reproductions of what we saw, for they never truly can be. As an artist and not a reporter, it’s more important to me that my images represent what I felt as I hope to convey that to you, the viewer.

Click HERE to purchase this 11? x 14? print at my Etsy Store. Use code 10POTD to receive 10% off as a blog subscriber.

Photograph Copyright Peter West Carey

Photo Of The Day – Seattle Sunrise II

Seattle Sunrise - Peter West Carey Photography

Title: Seattle Sunrise II

Location: Kerry Park, Seattle, Washington, USA, North America

Description: Part of a series, this shot just after sunrise, as the light hits the Space Needle, is full of the warmth I felt that morning in August.

To purchase a 30″x10″ panoramic print of this image, visit my Etsy Store. Photo can be shipped worldwide.

Camera Pentax 645D
Lens Pentax FA 645 55mm f/2.8
Shutter Speed 1/125
Aperture f/6.3
ISO 100
Focal Length 55mm (43mm equivalent)

Photograph Copyright Peter West Carey

Would you like to join me on my next tour to Bhutan in March or Nepal in October of 2013? I teach workshops and lead international photo tours.

Photo Of The Day – Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Title: Wadi Rum

Location: Wadi Rum, Jordan

Description: Tracks of humans, camels and cars intermingle in Wadi Rum, an area where nomadic life is still alive.

Camera Canon 7D
Lens Canon EF 10-22mm
Shutter Speed 1/400
Aperture f/8
ISO 100
Focal Length 10mm (16mm equivalent)

Photograph Copyright Peter West Carey

Would you like to join me on my next tour to Bhutan or Nepal in 2013? I teach workshops and lead international photo tours.

2013 US National Parks Calendar Now Available

Cal

Would you like to discover a new National Park each and every month next year?

For 2013 I am offering a 12 month Majestic US National Parks calendar perfect for your office, garage or outhouse. Each month offers 2 – 5 images from parks throughout the USA, including:

  • Yellowstone National Park – Wyoming
  • Glacier Bay National Park – Alaska
  • Haleakala National Park – Hawaii
  • Badlands National Park – South Dakota
  • And eight more!

Click here to see a full preview of the calendar.

The price is currently $22.50 until October 3rd,  which includes a 10% discount. After October 3rd, the price will be $25.

Shipping is available to a wide array of countries. Click through to the Lulu.com page to inquire if your country is covered. Other than the USA, I know they can ship to Canada, UK, Australia and India.

If you would like to order in bulk for a discount on orders of 10 or more, please email me.

You can order your calendar (and one for a friend!) directly from Lulu’s site found here.

2013 Nepal Himalaya Photo Trek

Nepal Himalaya Photo Trek

I have recently updated my site with information for my Fall 2013 Nepal Himalaya Photo Trek.

The tour runs from September 29 until October 19, 2013 and is a total of 21 days in country. We’ll start by visiting cultural and photographic highlights of Kathmandu to be followed by 17 days of trekking in the Himalayas.

Why trek with me?

  • We go slow, slower than most any trekking group, because we are not there to cover huge amounts of miles, but instead, we take our time to hunt for the perfect light
  • I love to teach photography and I love Nepal
  • I have been shooting for 21 years and this will be my fourth trip to Nepal, yet I still get excited about each and every trip
  • We use a local guide who grew up in the region and someone I have worked with for a number of years. He handles the logistics and that frees me up to teach you all you want to know about photography in the mountains.
  • My trips include all lodging, transport (including domestic flights in Nepal) and meals. All you have to do is show up and shoot!

More details and photos can be found here. Please pass on this page to anyone you think might be interested in a once-in-a-lifetime photo trek in one of the most gorgeous, photogenic regions of the world.

Photo Of The Day – Calm

Sunset, Orange County, California

Title: Calm

Location: Orange County, California, USA, North America

Description: None needed.

Camera Pentax 645D
Lens Pentax FA 645 55mm f/2.8
Shutter Speed 2 seconds
Aperture f/8
ISO 200
Focal Length 55mm (43mm equivalent)

Photograph Copyright Peter West Carey

Would you like to join me on my next tour to Bhutan in March of 2013? I teach workshops and lead international photo tours.

Photo Of The Day – Prickly Situation

california Sunset

Title: Prickly Situation

Location: Orange, California, USA, North America

Description: I am testing out a Pentax 645D medium format digital camera and so far it is dreamy. The amount of details is impressive and the shutter sound is delicious. Yes, a shutter can be delicious. If you heard it, you too would salivate.

Camera Pentax 645D
Lens Pentax FA 645 55mm f/2.8
Shutter Speed 1/25
Aperture f/13
ISO 500
Focal Length 260mm (416mm equivalent)

Photograph Copyright Peter West Carey

Would you like to join me on my next tour to Bhutan in March of 2013? I teach workshops and lead international photo tours.

Experiencing The Mujib Biosphere Reserve In Jordan

Mujib Biosphere Reserve, Jordan

I was saddened when we were told Sabrina would not be allowed in the slot canyon of the Mujib Biosphere Reserve in Jordan. She’s 10 (nearly 11!) but they said it was too dangerous, even if she wore the required personal floatation device (PFD).

Our guide had already secured for us special access at Petra a couple nights before so I know he tried his best to gain Sabrina access. I asked one more time with pleading eyes, but the answer was still, “No” form the man behind the counter. In a hurry, and after talking it over with Sabrina, we decided she would stay in the shade of the visitor’s center, pad of paper in hand, while Mahfouze and I would take a short walk up the river to snap some photos, then head back.

The temperature was about 100F that day and worse in the sun. But the nice aspects of visiting Wadi Mujib, as it is also known, are twofold: First, the exploration of the biosphere reserve is up a slot canyon carved by eons of water on sandstone. This means we won’t be baking in the morning sun. Second, a river still flows down the canyon, meaning we will be wading in and out of the water to help cool us. it sounds like a good plan and I hug Sabrina goodbye as we descend steps to the river below.

What follows is a short, but truly awesome, hike up a river course through sandstone cliffs. The walls aren’t red, as are some sandstone slot canyons, especially in the US Southwest, but are instead a darker color. Swirls and curves and patterns emerge with each twist and turn. Visibility forward is maybe 70 feet at any given point in time and the way meanders tightly uphill.

As mentioned, I stopped early. But further on is the chance to climb along side waterfalls as well as rappel (abseil) down through them. Trips can be arranged on your own or with a guide and last from short walks in the river to full day treks up the canyon. The area was listed with UNESCO as a biosphere reserve only one year ago and even my short visit showed my the natural beauty worth preserving in this unique canyon. Part of the larger Mujib Nature Reserve, the lowest nature reserve on the planet, Mujib Biosphere Reserve will be on my list to explore on my next visit to Jordan.

And I’ll be sure to bring a water proof camera. (Click on images for larger versions)

Here is a link to current prices for visiting the reserve. For directions to the entrance to the canyon, head toward the Dead Sea from Amman then take a left on 65. Stop when you get here. It’s pretty easy to find. Oh, and don’t wear flip-flops! You’ll want serious footwear with good support.

Photo Of The Day – Sunrise On Prayer Flags

Sunrise On Prayer Flags

Title: Sunrise On Prayer Flags

Location: Dingboche, Nepal, Asia

Description: Getting up early in the Himalayas almost always pays off with a spectacular sunrise.

Camera Canon 7D
Lens Canon 28-300mm L
Shutter Speed 1/1000
Aperture f/8
ISO 100
Focal Length 28mm (45mm equivalent)

Photograph Copyright Peter West Carey

Would you like to join me on my next tour to Nepal in September/October of 2013? I teach workshops and lead international photo tours.

Petra By Night

The Treasury light by hundreds of candles during the Petra By Night event.

Petra By Night is a special occasion to experience the majesty of one of Jordan‘s crown jewels as lit by hundreds of luminaries after the sun has set. The crowds are less, the heat of the day is gone and a hushed calm pervades the burnt, orange sandstone walls.

The event is run only a few nights a week (check schedules here) and includes classic Bedouin folk music and storytelling. After winding down the Siq, with its hundred foot high cliffs and narrow passage, visitors emerge to a grand scene in front of the Treasury.

Click on any image for a larger version.

The sun setting over distant hills in Wadi Musa is a great end to the day and the start of Petra By Night.

The first view of the Siq, light by hundreds of candles down its length.

The Big Dipper makes an appearance heading down the Siq toward the Treasury. A light from a passing visitor is seen at right in the image.

Upon exiting the Siq, guests are greeted with this site. While I take pictures for a living, pictures can not do this marvel true justice.

A super long 10 minute exposure of the Treasury allows for the starts to streak overhead.

Getting closer, the Treasury holds mystery within its walls.


The magic in this place is palpable. Sitting quietly, soaking it all in, time and place slip away and beauty, man-made and natural, is all that is left.

Experiencing Humpback Whale Bubblenet Feeding

Bubblenet Feeding Humpback Whales

You hear the gasps of fellow passengers before you hear the commotion from the water.

“There!! Over there!”

“Oh, wow!”

“They’re doing it again. Did you catch that?”

It’s our fourth day on the water and it is here, in Icy Strait, Alaska, that I first experience bubblenet feeding. I have read about and seen footage of this remarkable phenomenon, but as with more remarkable events, this one needs to be experienced in person. My goal with this post is to light curiosity inside you, excite you and maybe, just maybe, get you up to Alaska to witness this spectacle for yourself. I receive no commission, no kickback. I’m not even mentioning which small cruise line I was on while taking these shots because that’s beside the point.

The point is, I knew about whales and kinda cared about them from a philosophical standpoint before my encounters in Alaska. Big, majestic creatures. Cute in a way. I got it.

After experiencing that majesty in person, up close, in real life 3D, I have a deeper appreciation for those whales and their habitat.

All that being said, this will be the closest you come to whales today, I’m guessing. My photos can’t do them justice, but I hope they can start to stir something in you.

A note on bubblenet feeding: This technique is not used by all whales and only a handful of whales in Alaska actually congregate to practice this feeding frenzy. Humpback whales, by nature, are solitary feeders in the waters of Alaska’s Inside Passage during the summer months before heading South to Hawaii or Mexico. But once in a while, we still don’t know how, really, some whales will coordinate their feeding into this technique.

It starts with all the whales in the hunt taking a deep breath and diving deep. On the surface you may not see the whales for 1-3 minutes, maybe more. Then, if the water is calm, you will notice a peculating of the surface, followed by wide open mouths jutting to the sky. Some raise 10 or more feet out of the water as they top off on fish.

What you missed below the surface was a whale, or whales, slowly exhaling while swimming in a circle. This loose ring of bubbles floats up under a school of small fish of various kinds and, acting on instinct, the fish gather together…safety in numbers. Or so they hope. If you are lucky enough to have a hydrophone under the surface you can hear one whale signal the charge. A long, deep note. It sent my flesh to goosebumps when I first heard it.

With the signal given, all whales swim up through the bubbles, mouths agape, and slurp up all the fish they can, breaking the surface before sliding back below the waves to swallow their catch.

It’s amazing. Please go see it.

{NOTE: Humpback whale’s mouths open near the top of their head. In the images you will see an enlarged pouch under this, much like a bullfrog, and that holds extra water to catch more fish and krill while feeding.}

How many fish can you count in that last image?