Ethiopia, Taiwan, Japan, and lots of time underwater - 2015 was a fun year! It was also a year of learning as I moved to a DSLR for underwater and a Leica M for travel. Interestingly, the Leica system really changed my approach to photography. I found that the manual focus and exposure mechanisms of the "M" really forced me to slow down and be more thoughtful about the layers (background, mid ground, and foreground) of an image. Exactly what I needed this year.
Happy new year! Starting off the year with some amazing winter light.
I love to walk the streets in Japan. Everywhere I turn there seem to be fun contrasts. Hand painted lanterns beside modern buildings, traditionally dressed monks walking past Japanese hipsters and Christmas trees .... what fun ...
I've been photographing Longshan Temple in Taiwan for almost 10 years. Every time I photograph people praying at the incense burners, I come away feeling like the images don't really capture the feeling of the moment. This time feels different. A rainy day, a crowd of people, and an old lady with a clear plastic umbrella. I love it when everything comes together!
Cold water, high winds, rough waves, and SEA LIONS!!!!! This is why I love cold water diving. Norris Rocks in British Columbia is the winter home to a population of Stellar sea lions. Diving with them was my single greatest nature experience. These 800 lb "puppies" would dart around and play, occasionally stopping to be petted or to gently bite me or my camera. Words don't even come close to describing this.
Of course, there were comic moments as well as playful and gentle ones. Like when this sea lion came in to give my arm a little love bite while I was mugging for the camera!
One of my favorite things to do in Asia is wandering through temples early in the morning. I love these tiny oases. Ancient and modern at the same time. The tall buildings and car noises fade away and are replaced by gentle prayers and the movements of worship as people start their day. Just the place to unwind before another crazy day of meetings.
This is the magical time of year in Monterey when humpback whales gorge themselves on sardines, anchovies and krill. These 45 foot long mammals need to eat around three tons of fish a day. They accomplish this by lunging through schools of fish with their giant mouths open. An incredible spectacle.
Of course, because it's Monterey there is a staggering array of other wildlife. Otters, seals, sea lions, cormorants, turns, dolphins and sunfish were all on display this morning.
I've completely fallen in love with diving in the cold waters of British Columbia. Yes, the visibility can be poor, the currents can be rough, and the water is ... well ... not warm! But the wildlife is spectacular. Where else can you get eye to eye with a giant pacific octopus, or lay on the sea floor watching a wolf eel?
The first thee images are of an extraordinary experience with an octopus. Sitting on the gravelly bottom of the Georgia Straight I was literally eye to eye with this "little" (7 foot) octopus. I got to spend over 20 minutes watching it play with David duChemin and Jason Bradley cameras (they like the warmth in the strobes). Sadly, my air ran low and I had to surface. I guess I'll be getting a rebreather soon!
We dove out of Hornby Island. A tiny but peaceful island that's two ferry rides away from Vancouver Island. Hornby Island Diving run a fantastic dive operation there that I would absolutely reccomend/
This weekend I concentrated on photographing the tiny things in Monterey. A 2 inch long Rainbow Nudibranch that looks like a tiny ocean fire; tiny bug-eyed fish that dart across the sand; and patches of miniature sea anemones. While these are all small creatures, they are extraordinary to watch and interact with. What a marvelous world we have beneath the waves!
Lately I've spent so much time below water that I had forgotten about the marvelous things that happen on the surface. Monterey gave me a great reminder today. Otter and sea gulls fighting over a crab, a visit from a black footed albatross, and the awe of being surrounded by over a dozen humpback whales at the same time. Fantastic stuff!