It is hard to put into words how joyful I feel when I am lucky enough to witness a powerful display of the Northern Lights!
This night, I was very, very lucky. This night the lights played from dusk to dawn.
I'm 60 miles outside of Fairbanks, Alaska, around 11pm. Suddenly, half of the lights turn from green to red, with a tall evergreen in the middle! The lights stayed like this for only about 2 minutes before dimming, changing shape, and moving to a different part of the sky.
The wind is blowing hard. It's cold and wet. What's not to like?
I set up my tripod a half a mile from the lighthouse, I use a small telephoto lens to compose the shot.
I take shot after shot trying to get a photograph with the waves breaking just the way I want them to.
After every shot I have to tilt the lens down and clear the snow from the front of the lens.
I am in Antelope Canyon when a sandstorm hits the area. The narrow canyon walls protect me from the wind. But, the storm starts dropping a lot of very fine sand and dust from the sky. This makes every shaft of sunlight really stand out.
Walking around a bend in the canyon, I see a beam of light shooting through a notch in the rock wall!
If I had gotten to this spot just 5 minutes earlier or 5 minutes later, I would have missed my best shot of the day.
The Temperance River is not very old. It was formed at the end of the last Ice Age. It flows through a large crack in the hard bedrock. Sharp corners and jagged edges.
This shot was taken in the spring.
I waited for a cloudy bright day,
so as to avoid harsh shadows.
A number of viewers have asked me if I had placed that 4,000 pound tree trunk across the river for artistic affect!
The answer is no, I do not have super powers.
The Pileated is America's largest Woodpecker. It is a beautiful bird, and I really wanted to get a good photo of it.
I had heard that the best place to see the bird was in the Corkscrew Swamp, down in Florida.
And yes, there they were! My research had paid off.
One small problem. These woodpeckers did not want me to get a good shot of them. No matter what telephoto lens I used they always stayed just out of range! They would look down on me and let loose with their famous call. Hahaha- haaaaha!
Weeks later, back in Minnesota, I tell my sad tale to a friend. He tells me he knows of a woodland, not too far away, where a pair of Pileated are nesting!
He points out a dead tree in the middle of the forest. It has 3 nest cavities drilled into the tree truck. I spend my first day determining which hole the birds are using, and how much time they spend away from the nest. I had be very careful not to do anything that might cause the birds to desert their chicks.
While the parents are gone, I set up my tripod with my most powerful telephoto lens. I focus on the active nest hole, then attach a very long cable release to the camera. I move away at a 90 degree angle from my camera and hide behind a large tree.
When one of the parents finally return, I take a few shots. The woodpecker can hear the sound of my camera, but can not see anything that looks like a threat, so it goes back to looking after its 3 chicks. After a number of days, I finally get a good shot.
The Great Gray Owl is the largest owl found in North America. It is known as "The Ghost of the Forest" because it is so hard to find.
But, when it gets colder than -10F the Great Gray must hunt 24 hours a day to keep it's body temperature up.
So it is -16F, and my wife and I are slowly driving the back roads of Aitkin County in northern Minnesota.
What great luck!
A gray owl sitting on a bare branch near the road!
I drive a few hundred yards past the owl and stop.
Put my biggest telephoto lens on my heaviest tripod.
Slowly get out of my van. Slowly set up my tripod and
take a shot. Slowly move forward a few yards. Take
another photo. Keep repeating the drill until the Great
Gray fills the frame of my 60mm camera.