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6 shots from Alaska

Discussion in 'Birds' started by Ron Reznick, Aug 17, 2005.

  1. I just returned from Alaska shooting with a number of friends, and thought you might like a few teasers taken the first two days. I have only been back today, and have a lot of shots to process, but these ought to be a reasonable start :D 

    (click the landscape images to view the actual shot without the adulteration caused by the forum's resampling algorithm)

    This first shot of a Grizzly boar was taken on the first day. We only shot the latter part of the afternoon, and there were a couple of special moments with a pair of cubs playing (I think I'll let some of the others post those first), but this fellow was pretty impressive. 300VR + TC14e (420mm) at f/5.6:

    The rest of this set was from the 2nd day, and shows that same sow with two cubs that we shot playing on the first afternoon. The mother brought the cubs down to fish, but only one of the cubs would go in the water. The other sat up on the bank and bawled a lot like a human baby...

    Here's the intrepid Mom chasing a salmon (the salmon is at the lower left), 300VR + TC17e (510mm) @ f/5.6:

    This is the brave cub, calling to the timid cub on the oppposite bank. 300VR + TC17e @ f/5.6:

    Mom finally went back to try to get the timid cub down to the water... 300VR + TC17e @ f/5.6:

    ...then she went back fishing again, but the cub stayed put. 300VR + TC17e @ f/5.6:

    Finally, after the sow and the other cub were all the way to the next creek and calling the timid cub, the timid cub walked down the trail, directly towards us (that was interesting!).
    300VR + TC17e @ f/5.6:

    The family was reunited not long after this shot... the cub went down the bank and across the creek before encountering us (thankfully). Mom may have gotten peeved if we got between her and the cub.

    These shots are all in AdobeRGB.

  2. Enjoyable Ron and looks like a super trip. The cub story is fascinating.
  3. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl

    I just love those great big Teddy Bears :>))

    What a great trip this muct have been and beautiful sites you have seen , make me very jealous :<((.. I will never get to Alaska..

    Please share all the pics you can.

    I sure love them

    Your images are teriffic.

  4. HarryB


    Jan 28, 2005
    Viera, Florida
    Marvelous shots Ron. Its always a pleasure seeing your work.
  5. Steve S

    Steve S

    Feb 1, 2005
    SE Florida
    Boy, these are gooood!

    Hi Ron, hope you're having a good time up there. How did you get along with the bugs? :?
    Love the brave cub calling shot, and the mom & timid cub up on the embankment shot the best. Hope to see more of your adventures!
  6. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005
    Just wonderful pictures Ron. Hard to pick a favorite, but the cub calling his sibling is close. Looks like you had a pretty good trip. Wish I could have joined you.

    Was this part of a guided tour or were you guys pretty much on your own?
  7. Awesome shots Ron, bet you couldnt bear to leave that place... :oops: 

    Looking forward to more.
  8. JMartin

    JMartin Guest

    Incredible shots as usual Ron, the detail in the fur is unbelievable. I really like the first shot and the shot of the cub calling it's sibiling.

    Alaska is such a beautiful place, it is up there on my must see places.

    Thanks for sharing your photos Ron. I can't wait to see the others.

  9. drueter


    Apr 24, 2005
    Southeast Texas
    Absolutely beautiful shots, Ron!! Can't wait to see more.
  10. Wow Ron, you have kicked some butt with these images. Good lighting and all very well done. You must have had a really good time on this trip.
  11. Gordon Large

    Gordon Large Guest

    Ron - These are wonderful images. As always, you've got the talent to capture the action and nail exposure and the techie stuff. You're gonna teach me that in NH, right?

  12. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
  13. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
  14. Hiya Gordon,

    Getting the exposure certainly does help -- saturation is improved considerably and processing time is reduced by a tremendous amount. Sure... I'll show you how to do it. Capturing the action is part luck, but mostly anticipation. You've got to watch the subjects and learn their way of telegraphing action... although sometimes they don't and then it's fast reaction times that get the job done.

    Two Gordons in a row... :) 

    We had a blast! Denali was a bust due to the smoke from several wildfires up in the Fairbanks area making it look like Pasadena on the worst day imaginable, but Silver Salmon Creek was spectacular. Overall, a great trip. By the way, they have 14-16 hours of shootable light depending on your lenses and technique in early August. "Golden hour" in the morning is over two hours long, and in the evening you get closer to three and a half.

    Don, I'm going to be sidelined with eMail all day today and probably at least part of tomorrow, but I'll get back to processing ASAP. Meanwhile, here are a few to hold you:

    Horned puffins, 300mm VR + TC14e (420mm) @ f/8
    Horned puffin in flight, with fish (these guys really scoot -- they're tricky as hell to catch in the air) 200mm f/2VR + TC17e (340mm) @ f/8
    Another Horned puffin in flight with fish, 200/2VR + TC17e @ f/8
    Here's a juvenile (4yr old) bald eagle taking off into shadow, 300VR + TC17e (510mm) @ f/8
    This was a tight shot of a porcupine that panicked and went under the trailer (we travelled around in a pair of trailers pulled by a 4-wheel ATV). 200mm VR at f/2

    Joe, Alaska is truly spectacular. I'm going back for certain. I'm planning on arranging sessions there next July at Brooks Falls and Silver Salmon Creek... maybe we can join each other?

    Hey Harris,

    Cute pun. :p  It really was fabulous at Silver Salmon Creek, no doubt. Wish you could have been with us...

    Frank, we had John (a young biologist) as our guide. We could have worked on our own, but the experience was greatly enhanced by John's presence (besides, he knew where he was going). I wish you could have been there too -- you'd have been in heaven.

    Steve, the bugs were sometimes pretty nasty, but I didn't get bitten nearly as badly as in Florida. Skin So Soft (Avon) was the reason, along with the Permethrin I applied to my clothing. I still got about 30 bites on my hands, but it could have been MUCH worse.

    Hi Harry! I'm pleased that you liked these. Some day, I'm going to have to get back to Florida, and see you, Harris, Thornton and Gaye. I wish I could have made that Merritt Is. shoot...

    Hi Gale,

    It really was spectacular... sometimes we had to wait quite a while but we were never disappointed at Silver Salmon Creek. The next time, I'm heading up a little earlier to catch the bears in the sedge grass (before the berries are ripe in the forest and before the silver salmon are running, the bears munch that sedge grass in higher concentrations -- it's a seriously target-rich environment then). I'll post more when I can.

    Paul, the 300VR offers a little higher contrast at the wider apertures than the 300 AFS-II, and it's about a pound heavier but yields better work handheld due to both the VR and the balance. Other than that, any of the 300/2.8 AFS lenses are really special tools. I nearly pulled the trigger on another 300mm AFS-II twice after selling mine to Frank -- I missed that lens a LOT. It is one truly superb piece of glass that should be in anyone's kit who shoots wildlife. Yes, it's a little short for small birds at distance, but as you can see it does well with both the TC14e and TC17e, giving good results at 420mm and 510mm for those times when you need the reach. When you really need to reach out there, there is no substitute for the big glass, but I'd rather have the 300mm with me most of the time unless I know that I am really going to need serious reach, such as when shooting smaller birds at distance.

    I prefer the 300/2.8 to the 200-400 due to the ease of working with it in the field -- it's smaller, easier to carry and get out of the bag, easier to hike with, easier to deal with all around. It's exactly like comparing the 500mm and 300mm with regards to size -- the weight of the 300mm is not all that much different than the 200-400 or the 500, but the size of the 500mm or 200-400 is about 50% larger than the 300mm. The advantage is significant, and when combined with the fact that any of the 300/2.8 AFS lenses can shoot cleanly at f/2.8, yielding significantly better results than the zoom can at f/4 (while the 200-400 can get nice results at f/4, it shines at f/5.6-f/11), this means that the prime is better when the light drops as well as offering better results when isolation is desired. I know you didn't ask this, but I figured to save time in case the other question was asked by someone.

  15. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
  16. Hi Ron,

    Good to see that you returned in the same number of pieces as you left!

    Great bears, but the Puffins are spectacular! Nan & I have tried to shoot them and as you indicated they can really move. We were never able to get shots with the fish catch in the beak.

    You will like Brooks next year, the bears are closer and more predictable, but the good dates are fairly limited.

    We will be watching for more.
    Bob & Nan
  17. Hi Paul,

    That is one of the toughest decisions there is when it comes to glass. The convenience offered by the 200-400 is extreme -- it allows you to compose when the target is moving in close using the zoom, and sometimes that is of high importance, but what you are giving up is aperture flexibility and easy carrying, hand-holdability and the ability to keep the shutter speed reasonable when the light drops. As you know, many animals/birds are most active early and late, and while we all want to shoot during the golden hours, often you need to shoot in pre-dawn or twilight to get the behavior you are after. VR is handy, but not when the subject is moving at 1/30 sec. I prefer the ability to drop to f/2.8 with high clarity -- you don't reach optimum clarity with the 200-400 until f/5-f/5.6 depending on focal length (to my standards), and to work with the zoom in the lower-light conditions, you have to raise the ISO which can mean more noise in the shadows that are always going to be present in that sort of light. Tough decision... but given my needs the prime is the right choice. If your needs are similar then you may want to go the same way. Of course, if you're shooting sports, or shoot more often in good light, then it may be better to have the zoom.

    Tough call.

    Bob, those puffins stress your technical abilities to the maximum. You have to underexpose the sky by as much as a stop to hold the highlights, and they move so fast that it's like shooting darting hummingbirds. Getting clean results is very tricky.

    I'll be doing research on Brooks Falls as soon as I can... hopefully July is right, or early August, because that is when I'm thinking of going.

  18. Hi Ron

    We were at Brooks for two nights, July 31 and August 1, 2004.
    We were towards the end of the first salmon run that attracts the bears. It would probably be at peak a week earlier, but we saw plenty.
    I had six bears in one photo, but the ranger said "you should have been here last week, there were 17"
    All our bear photos were taken July 31 afternoon and August 2 morning. We took the all day tour to the Valley of 10,000 Smokes on August 1. If it helps, some of the bear photos are posted here:
    and the trip to the Valley is here:

    At Brooks you are very close to the Bears, check the EXIF's on the posts. Sometimes 300mm is way too much,
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    You feel safe(?) on the platforms, but not particularly so on the mile hike through the woods from the Lodge to the platforms.
    Bob & Nan
  19. bfjr

    bfjr Guest

    Great shots
    How lucky you are to be out there capturing them and we are to be seeing them :) 
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