Sea Otters have very expressive faces and gestures. Although it is anthropomorphic to say that they knowingly use their paws to make adorable gestures, we often can’t help but interpret those expressions in human terms. This Sea Otter looks as if he has just realized he’s forgotten something, pulling his paws to his face with an “oh no!” expression.
The Sea Otters of Halibut Cove in Kachemak Bay near Homer, Alaska are adorable. Sea Otters are often called the “teddy bears of the sea” with good reason because they are irresistibly cute and cuddly looking. We were lucky to find several rafts of Sea Otters floating near us on our visit. Many grasped their young to their bellies with their paws. This Sea Otter appears to be towing its young pup, the pup resting on the adult’s belly and rear legs.
The cow moose was busy munching on grasses and she looked up at us, our lenses aimed right at her. She was curious but not concerned and she quickly returned to munching on the side of the road.
Nikon D5, 500mm PF.
Denali, North America’s tallest peak, is shrouded in clouds most of the time. In fact, according to the National Park Service, because of its mass, Denali actually creates its own weather. The weather surrounding it changes constantly and a view of the mountain is not guaranteed. They say that there are two kinds of people at Denali: the 30% of visitors who actually see the peak and everybody else. During our visit, the mountain was either completely hidden or was tantalizingly veiled in wispy clouds. But, the photo gods and Denali were on our side and, after dinner on our last full day in Alaska, Denali threw off its shroud and was surrounded by the golden glow of the slowly setting sun. We were happy to join the 30% club.
The highlight of our unforgettable trip to Katmai National Park and Preserve near Homer, AK last week was the grizzly bear family that entertained us for hours. The mother grizzly and her three, almost grown, cubs were fascinating to watch. They pounced on pink salmon swimming upstream in the river. The cubs frolicked in the water and on the river bank playfully pummeling each other with their huge paws and gnashing their teeth. Twice they lumbered toward us getting within a few feet as our guides dissuaded their approach and coaxed them into turning away. They were never threatening to us nor did they seem concerned with our proximity. I was never afraid. Excitement was the emotion of the day.
After about an hour, all four turned and walked away from us toward the dunes. I thought that they might disappear from view but Mama Bear lay down on the sand and despite their age (probably three-year old cubs) and their size, the cubs eagerly nursed. Afterwards, we had three more incredible hours with them that day. This is one of my favorite photographs and memories from that wonderful experience.
An adult female moose is called a cow. We’d seen several moose, both bulls and cows, from a distance on our trip to Alaska last week but none close enough to photograph until we reached Kenai. There, we encountered a cow and her calf foraging on a grassy strip between the road and a walking path right across the street from the United States Post Office. No one was around when Moose (the two-legged variety) pulled into a parking lot and we emerged with our long lenses. Even without our tripods, the appearance of giant camera lenses draws a crowd and before long, cars were stopping and people were lining up for a better view. Moose had to yell at one oblivious person who was intent on walking directly up to the cow, a dangerous situation for him because the calf was across the road. Our attention span is much greater than the average observer, however, and after the initial hubbub died down, we were once again alone on the edge of the road with the cow and her calf. In this shot, she looks across the road to reassure herself that her calf, also foraging, was safe. I was able to position myself so that none of the roadway or distracting sign posts appear in the photograph.
Nikon D5, Nikkor 500mm PF.
We visited the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska last week and stopped near Nikiski to look at a jack-up oil rig that was docked. The erector-set type features of the rig and the sun low in the sky made an interesting graphic silhouette. What’s fascinating to me about the Nikon Z7 mirrorless camera is that the electronic view finder reveals exactly what your photograph will be when you take it. In this case, I could see the starburst appear exactly as I hoped it would in the frame the instant I took the photograph.
Nikon Z7, Nikkor 24-70/2.8 S
Our day on Halibut Bay on a water taxi from Homer, Alaska last week was delightful. I’d never seen Sea Otters before that day and to watch rafts of them floating by leisurely on their backs, some with little ones laying on mama’s belly, kept smiles on our faces.
The Alaskan skies were filled with storm clouds and Denali, North America’s tallest peak at 20,310 feet, was completely obscured by clouds on Saturday evening as we drove through Denali National Park in search of beautiful landscapes to photograph. We couldn’t see Denali at all but when I turned around, the clouds and light from the slowly sinking sun made a gorgeous scene.
Nikon Z7, Nikkor 24-70 /2.8 S
Tuesday morning, a short trip via a converted water taxi took us to Halibut Bay just outside Homer Harbor. Several rafts of Sea Otters floated by the boat. Many of the otters had pups. They were adorable. Shooting from a rocking boat was a huge challenge and there were seven of us jostling side to side as the rafts of otters floated by or the captain turned the boat around so we could get a better view.
Nikon D5; Nikkor 500mm PF