Monday, August 2, 2010

Dalls Porpoise!

I've been getting extremly lucky while using my Tamron 17-35mm f2.8 lens on the water this month and extremely lucky just seeing things. Just last Thursday I ran into some amazing Dall's Porpoise with Capt. Bryan while giving a photo safari tour.

We were on our way back in and planning to make a few stops along the way when Capt. Bryan saw the animals splashing in the water. He started to turn the boat in circles so that the dalls porpoise could ride the boat wake and we lucked out. They not only rode the wake, but also the bow getting so close we got splashed!

While on the bow, the dalls porpoise came up so quick that everyone who had their mouths open got a little bit of porpoise snot and salt water. I didn't really mind because it is such a unique experience to see whales, let alone dall's porpoise, or even better, dall's porpoise playing with you.

These porpoise are extremely fast and skiddish and they stuck around for what felt like 10 minutes. They were so fast that could stare into the water and see a quick glimpse of the porpoise before it came to the surface only to disappear again.

The scene could not have gotten any better. In the background Eagle and Herbert Glacier majestically sit there beneath the infinite clouds. The two glaciers come out of the Juneau Icefield which separates Juneau from British Columbia. The one of the right is Herbert and the one on the left is Eagle.

While photographing extremely fast moving subjects, it is easy to get lost in the frame unless you keep both your eyes open. Keeping both eyes open allows you to see whats in your camera as well as what is around you and about to happen. By doing this I got some really good photographs of the Dall's Porpoise. Besides getting these awsome shots I also got a great experience because I got to see all the action when the shutter curtain went down.

After three years of whale watching, I've only had the pleasure to see Dall's Porpoise this close one other time and I hope there will be more encounters down the line. Here are some photographs of that day.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Whale's Smile

Last week, while at work whale watching with Colin, a client came up to me and asked if I was seriously going to photograph whales with my 17-35mm lens. I was in the process of telling him that I have always wanted to get a wide angle, close-up photograph, but have always missed my chance because I always had my telephoto lens on. Not to mention it rarely ever happens. Half way through my explanation a humpback calf surfaced within arms reach of the boat and I finally got my chance!

While whales have only gotten this close to the boat a few times, I've never been able to get a photograph of it until now. It is always amazing seeing whales, but to see them this close is out of this world. These first couple photographs are of the whale swimming around the boat and diving underneath us. This last photograph is one of the last dives that the whale did before allowing us to leave. Once a whale gets to close to the boat there is nothing to do but wait for them to leave. In this last photograph you can see Captain Colin trying to snap a photo with his iPhone.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Summer's Here!

Well with the thawing of snow, and the increasing daylight everything has gotten better. My knee is finally healed enough to hike and bike and the photographing has increased due to the new mobility. Last month I joined S.A.G.A. guides on their training trip to Chicagof Island for a 10 day kayak trip. The trip was amazing and a full trip description will be coming soon as I get around to editing photos.

The tourism has started up once again and I have been working long hard hours taking people whale watching and teaching photography. Last week it was really sunny and got these photographs on the Trail of Time.

The first one is of a backlit. Cow Parsnip plant in front of a dark wooden wall. Whenever you approach this plant be careful! There is an oil on the plant that is similar to poison ivy or poison oak, but this oil is photosensitive and can create burns on your skin as well as spread over the body. Not everyone is allergic to this plant, but you don't really want to find out.

This photograph was taken right after the Cow Parsnip shot on the Trail of Time. Whenever the sun comes out, the forest changes completely and dapple lighting is everywhere. I've found that it can be difficult to photograph inside a forest with direct sunlight coming in, just because the shadows are so dark and the highlights are too bright. You can always try some HDR or bring some lights, but I've always liked exposing for the highlights, using some of that sunshine we never see, and letting the light isolate my subject from the dark backgrounds.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sale on All Photographs

For the month of March there is a 30% off sale on all photographs at Checote Photography. To activate the coupon, type in "March" at the bottom of the shipping page and receive 30% off anything in the store. If there are photographs not listed, feel free to contact me at and I will add them.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Injured Knees and Night Photography

Last Thursday was an awesome day to ski. No one on the mountain, good fresh snow, and I made friends with a guy named Arden who showed me a lot of secret untouched spots.

Everything was going awesome until the run before lunch. I was cruising down steeps and trees and having a blast connecting all the tight turns with steep drops. I got the the bottom of the run and stopped so that the other guys could catch up and take a breath. Arden took the lead again and we came out of the trees. I took off in pursuit, hit a jump stomped it, and then started cruising fast again when my bindings popped and I ate it hard.

I always know something is going to hurt when my perception of time starts to move as slow as molasses. When that sarts to happen my mind goes into survival mode so that I can minimize damage. For this particular incident, my right leg started moving out to the right. I tried to turn around backwards so that I wouldn't catch an edge, but the ski popped while almost in 180 and then caught an inside edge tweaking the hell out of my knee and sending me to the ground. I think skiing season is officially over for me, but I can still hop around and photograph.

Since then, I've been cooped up inside. My room mate Nate was nice enough to take me on a mini road trip around Juneau to photograph some stuff and change the scenery. This shot below is lit by the headlights of the truck and the camera was resting on a guardrail post. The red flare looking stuff on the left is actually my hands and fingertips moving in the light. I noticed this on a shot and tried to imitate flames.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Foggy Night with Stars Above

The night has always been one of my favorite times of the day. I can be tired all day long and then as soon as the sun sets, the night brings me energy and with that new energy I start to imagine what I can create in the dark natural studio of black sky.

I've been planning a photograph around this building for a while, but the shot I've been planning involves a model clam digging. Unfortunately, you cannot dig clams in this area because of the high levels of mercury content left over form the Treadwell Mine. This building is the old water pump house resting on the old mine tailings. The pump house never worked properly and the mine as well as the town of Treadwell burned to the ground and this is one of the few reminders that there was ever a town.

This photograph was taken with a half moon rising camera left pretty far behind me. The mountains in the background are covered by a lowering fog that almost compromised the photograph and almost socked in the sky. The purplish light coming form the left side of the image is light pollution from Douglas and Juneau.

As always, more images are available on my website

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

In the Belly of a Glacier

Today Libby and I went on a hike on the East Glacier Trail and went searching for some old mine ruins. I showed her a tunnel that had been dug through the side of a mountain. We followed the tunnel until it stopped and then took some photographs and in the process she tried to light my leg on fire.

Here is a photo from today.

Last Wednesday, Libby and I went to the Mendenhall Glacier Ice caves. As with most of our adventures we had cameras in hand trying to capture the moment and I realized that it was near impossible to capture the majestic beauty that surrounded us as we stood underneath the belly of the mighty Mendenhall Glacier, but why not?

Here are some photos from last week.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Skiing on Islands

Well, when you ski on an island in Alaska you get the great advantage of seeing other islands and the Pacific Ocean in between and Pittman's Ridge at Eagle Crest ski area is the perfect place to see this.

The Eagle Crest ski area is closed during the week so my friend Libby and I decided that it was a perfect time to make the hike up to The Ridge. There are not many crowds in Juneau, and if you ever have to wait in line at a lift, even for a few moments then that is considered busy, but on this day there were very few people out and about. Mostly little specs on other mountains enjoying the same view as us.

Once at the top of Pittman's Ridge you can get a clear view of Admiralty Island, which is where this photograph was taken. Admiralty is most know for its dense population of brown bears and has very steep mountains.