Friday, 30 December 2011

Congratulations Hans Blohm

Hans Blohm, Member of the Order of Canada
©Bob Davis, 2009

Congratulations to my dear friend, fellow photographer and author, Hans Blohm, for being appointed a Member of the Order of Canada by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada.  The official announcement came early this afternoon from Rideau Hall.  The honour pays tribute to Hans' lifelong commitment to "preserving Canada's northern heritage through the lens of his camera".

For over three decades, Hans, an internationally acclaimed Master Photographer and author, has criss-crossed the North by floatplane, automobile, sailboat, snowmobile and dog team while in pursuit of capturing images and stories of Canada's Arctic and its peoples.  His iconic landscapes and portraits have graced the pages of countless books and magazines, while his photographs of the aurora, mountains, minerals, and pristine waterfalls have been honoured on numerous Canadian postage stamps.  In 2006, First Air chose his stunning Inukshuk image to adorn the pride of the famed airline's passenger jet. Blohm's photo exhibits have travelled the globe and been admired by thousands, while his 15 books, ranging from 'coffee-table' pictorials to a collection of essays from northerners, have sold worldwide and been translated into German and Inuktitut.

Hans is also hailed as one of the best computer microchip photographers in the world.  In 1981 he was commissioned by Mitel to photograph 1/25th of a 1/4" square microchip and have it enlarged 16 million times in area.  The murals were displayed in the front lobby of the Mitel Complex in Ottawa.   Hans  is also an accomplished architectural photographer.

Born in 1927 in northern Germany, and immigrating to Canada in 1956, Hans' charismatic character is infectious, his love for Canada's North undying and his commitment to hear and share the stories of the northern people unwavering.  All of these have gained him the trust, respect and friendship of Inuit and non-Inuit throughout Canada and around the world.

The honesty and openness of those relationships, and the shared respect on which they are built on, continue to inspire him.  And while it may be true that Hans Blohm's outstanding northern images have long documented the very essence of northern culture, it is the man's lust for life and the friendships he's formed in the North that continue to bring new joy and laughter to those who he meets.

The Order of Canada, one of our country's highest civilian honours, was established in 1967 to recognize a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.

Congratulations Hans on finally receiving the recognition you so well deserve!

For a more detailed look into Hans' life and accomplishments please check out HANS BLOHM WIKIPEDIA


Hans Blohm WEBSITE

VOICE OF THE NATIVES, one of Hans' many books

Monday, 26 December 2011

2011: A Retrospect

Happy New Year, Parliament Hill (Ottawa)
January, 2011

Crystal Palace, Winterlude Celebration (Ottawa)
February, 2011

Northern Lights dance over the Yukon (Pelly Crossing)
March, 2011

Return of the Swans, Tagish (Yukon)
April, 2011

Spring colours across the Yukon
May, 2011

Onboard HMCS Whitehorse, Skagway (Alaska)
June, 2011

Happy Canada Day, Museum of Civilization (Gatineau)
July, 2011

Whale watching, Cape Cod (Mass)
August, 2011

Grizzlies of the Chilkoot (Haines, Alaska)
September, 2011

Spectacular Autumn Days (Pelly Crossing, Yukon)
October, 2011

Bald Eagle Festival (Haines, Alaska)
November, 2011

Winter scenery (Pelly Crossing, Yukon)
December, 2011

Here's to new year filled with wonderful memories and endless photo opps.

Cheers and Happy Holidays

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Northern lights dance over Pangnirtung, Nunavut

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years!  
Thank you for your continued interest and support over the past year.  I have appreciated your comments.
Here's to another year filled with health, love, friendship, adventure and endless photo opps - 2012 promises to be an exciting year.
Join me in the coming days as I share some of my favourite images from the past year - stay tuned for "2011: A Retrospect".
Once again, Happy Holidays to all!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

The Grizzlies of the Chilkoot

Living in this rugged corner of our country certainly has its perks.  Whether you're into outdoor pursuits, photography, adventure, or simply want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, the Yukon is the place to soothe and satisfy the soul.  

Not only are we spoiled with breathtaking landscapes and vistas, we are also blessed with chance encounters with its wildlife.  I've lost count the number of times I've driven past moose, wolves, elk, grizzly or black bears while they were foraging on the side of the highway.  On one occasion, this past March, I was fortunate to have spotted a lynx sitting quietly in the snow as it was basking in the warmth of the late afternoon sunset.  Unfortunately for me that day, my camera was out of reach because it was buried beneath a mountain of gear in the back seat of our truck.

As a photographer, I also take advantage of the fact that I live within driving distance of Alaska - a State known for its coastal rain forests, untamed rivers, calving glaciers, majestic mountain ranges and plenty more wildlife viewing opportunities.

This past Labour Day weekend I introduced a friend to Haines, a picturesque fishing village sandwiched between the glaciated mountain peaks and marine waters of the Lynn Canal.  The highlight of that weekend was photographing grizzly bears fishing for spawning salmon in the Chilkoot River.

Each year, between the months of mid-August and early-October, a handful of female grizzlies and their cubs emerge from the surrounding mountainous brush and descend upon the narrow Chilkoot (translated by the Tlingits as a "basket of large fish") to feast on the thousands upon thousands of spawning pink and sockeye salmon.  With their winter hibernation looming, the burins spend countless hours fishing for salmon as they stock up on much needed energy reserves that will see them through the long winter months which lie ahead.

What a treat it was to photograph the bears in such a pristine environment.  Each bear had character and its own style of fishing.  For example,  one sow was a master at herding fish into isolated pools of water while another sat patiently in the milky waters waiting for an opportunity to plunge at an unsuspecting fish.  Others simply swam after the fish or snatched them with one powerful swoop of their formitable claws.

Many of us, who gathered alongside the shore to photograph the bears, chuckled as we watched the cubs try to imitate their mothers' tactics with little or no success.  After several unsuccessful attempts, the cubs simply gave up and darted for the riverbank where they frolicked in the shallow waters waiting for mom to deliver their next meal to them.  What fun!

By the end of the weekend we had spotted 12 individual bears of varying ages.  Photographing them was certainly one of my most memorable shoots of all times.  Never before have I seen so many grizzlies within a short period of time.  

The images above were captured with a Nikon D700 and a Nikor 300mm f/2.8 lens attached.  

Hope all is well in your corner of the world - thanks again for your patience in waiting for these images to finally make an appearance on my blog.


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Check out "Oceans North Canada"

If you have a few minutes I invite you to browse through the Oceans North Canada website.  Well worth a read.  

Oceans North is a campaign led by The Pew Environment Group. It promotes science and a community-based conservation of North America's Arctic Ocean and the resulting well-being of indigenous Arctic residents who rely upon its natural wealth.  

The Pew Environment Group has become one of my most recent clients.  

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

There's no looking back now!

Bald Eagle, Haines Alaska 

Just a quick posting to say "I'm finally back!!"  The last few weeks have presented me with some challenges and important life lessons, many of which have thrown me completely off course.  Glad to say  I'm back to my usual self again, thanks to a few days of photography in Haines, Alaska.

Photography plays an important role in my life as it allows me to temporarily mask my thoughts of the day.  I've quickly learned, and have been reminded by many friends and colleagues these past few weeks, that there's no better medicine for the mind, body and soul than to spend a few hours behind a camera.  Who knows what you will capture as you step out that door?

In my world it's very possible to be completely caught off guard as enormous curtains of northern lights suddenly begin to unfurl and flutter across the Northern sky.  A few seconds later you're left breathless as a few thousand trumpeter swans suddenly descended, en-mass, onto a nearby lake to herald the end of yet another very long, and bitterly cold, Yukon winter.  Or, for the refined photographers,  one can immerse themselves for hours in the fine details and textures of the delicate pedals of a prairie crocus or be captivated by the elegance in design, form and function of a pod of narwhal swimming gracefully in the icy waters along the Flog Edge in the High Arctic.  All moments, and memories, you wouldn't want to miss with a camera (or sketch pad).

Last week I had the opportunity to photograph some of the 3,000+ bald eagles that have gathered along the shores of the unfrozen Chilkat River in Haines, Alaska.  These majestic birds arrived a few weeks ago to feast on an abundance of salmon.  What a sight it was see so many eagles in one spot.

Join me in the coming days as I share some of those images and stories from the "Gathering of Eagles".

Yes, I know - grizzly bear photos (and much more) will be posted too.

Hope all is well in your corner of the world.


Saturday, 5 November 2011

Dreaming of Spring....already

Lesser Yellowlegs, near Pelly Crossing Yukon (Spring 2011)

Once again, my apologies for the lengthy delay in updating this blog.  Lots on my mind these days.

Most of the Yukon is finally ankle-deep in fresh snow.  Daily temperatures remain well below zero degrees with the mercury hovering near the minus 20 degree mark during the night.  The days are noticeably shorter and I'm finding it a challenge to catch even a fleeting glimpse of the sun.

As we adjust to another winter season my thoughts drift back to this past April and May when the entire Yukon landscape was basking in the glow of the midnight sun.  Regardless of where one looked, the entire Territory was alive in colour, song and endless photo opps.

I'm finally sorting through the thousands of images of shorebirds, swans, grizzly bears and scenery from that fabulous spring.  Pictured above is one of my favourites - a lesser yellow legs ruffling its feathers in a small lake near Pelly Crossing.  Oh, how I long for those endless days of spring when I can spend countless hours outdoors chasing birds and searching for that perfect shot!

I know, winter does offer the photographer some wonderful photo opportunities as well.  One just has to bundle up and make the effort to get outdoors and search for the image that captures the beauty of the land during this season of pure white snow, delicate textures and the soft pastel colours of a northern sky dominated by the silhouettes of rugged mountains, thick stands of black spruce and soaring ravens.

I promise - grizzly bear images from my trip to Haines Alaska will be posted in the next day or two.

Hope all is well in your corner of the world.


Sunday, 2 October 2011

October Lights

Nikon D700, Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 @ f/3.2, 14mm, 3200 and 4000ISO, 10 sec

Greetings once again from the Yukon!

My apologies for the lack of postings as of late.  In the coming day's I'm hoping to update the blog (and my website) with images from a recent trip to Haines (Alaska) where and friend of mine and I were treated to some spectacular views of mountains, pristine rivers and twelve grizzly bears feasting on spawning salmon.  I'm hoping to have those images up by mid-week.

The northern lights continue to dazzle as they signal the beginning of what promises to be an exciting few months for photographing the aurora borealis.  Last night the aurora took centre stage for an hour of so as they danced over the waters of the Pelly River.  

Thank you for your patience - new images and tales from the Yukon will be posted this week.

Hope all is well in your corner of the world.  


Monday, 12 September 2011

Welcome Back

Northern lights over Pelly River - ISO 800, 18mm,  15sec

Greetings once again from the Yukon! 

It's official - summer 2011 has had its swan song.  

Last night the aurora took centre stage as they began to dance across our night sky.  After a season dominated by the midnight sun it was a treat to see the curtains of green, yellow and pink unfurl across our northern skies once again.  

It was a bittersweet moment to say good bye to summer but at the same time a joy to welcome the first aurora of the season.  By all accounts the coming months should bring some stunning displays.  Stay tuned!

I look forward to sharing more images from both the Yukon, and from my adventures and misadventures over summer, with you.

Hope you enjoyed your summer.


Sunday, 24 July 2011

A parasitic plant

Photographed with Nikon D700 and Nikor 105mm f/2.8 lens.

Last week I had an opportunity to join a couple of friends in Algonquin Park (Ontario) for a 12 km hike.  While hiking through a mixed forest we stumbled upon a small cluster of white plants growing on the forest floor.  What seemed strange at the time was the plants were growing in an area of the forest that did not receive direct sunlight.

As it turned out we came across Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora), a native plant to the temperate regions of Asia, North America and northern South America.  

Unlike most other plants, Indian Pipe is white and does not contain chlorophyll (the pigment that gives the green colour to all other plants).  Chlorophyll also provides energy for plants but in order for that to happen the green pigment (found in the leaves) needs to be exposed to sunlight.  So, how does the Indian Pipe generate its energy if it lacks chlorophyll?

The answer is quite simple.  Instead of producing energy from sunlight, the Indian Pipe is parasitic - meaning that the plant feeds off another living source. The plant hosts a certain fungi that has formed a relationship with the roots of trees growing near by.  In general terms, the fungus 'steals' the energy from the roots of trees growing in the sunlight and this energy is then supplied to the Indian Pipe plant.

This special, but complex, relationship created by the fungus allows the Indian Pipe to grow in the very dark environment such as the understory of a dense forest.  Now, that is neat!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Photographing Gulls

All images captured with a 105mm f/2.8 lens (VR set to 'on')

What do you do when a Cape Cod beach is closed for swimming due to strong currents and heavy winds?   Well, if you are a photographer you would throw Goldfish crackers in the air and photograph the gulls as they perform a variety of aerial acrobatics overhead ....

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Postcards from Nauset, Cape Cod

Gentle surf - f/22  2 sec. exposure

Moon light over the water - f/22  18 to 30 sec. exp.

Greetings from Nauset Beach, Cape Cod.

One of my favorite places on Earth is Nauset Beach located in Orleans, Cape Cod.  Its ultra-fine sand, the gentle surf and the most incredible evening light have always captivated my soul ever since my childhood days when visiting the Cape with my folks.  Very little has changed since then.

I could easily spend the entire summer on the Cape capturing its beauty and its countless moods on film.

Speaking of which, I guess I should slowly make my way back to the beach.

Cheers, enjoy your day!


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Sunset over the Cape

Sunset, as seen from Race Point (Cape Cod)

Ahh, life can't get any better!!!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Whale watching

A humpback whale swimming on its back

What a day at sea!

Yesterday afternoon I joined a whale watching tour that took us ten miles off the shore of Cape Cod.  During our four-hour tour we spotted 15 humpback and 18 minke whales feasting on an abundance of aquatic invertebrates, fish and plants.  The highlight of the afternoon was spotting a mother humpback with her six-month old calf in tow.  We were also treated to some fin slapping and breaching (unfortunately I was too slow to capture the breach on film - only managed a shot or two of the enormous splash).  According to the biologist onboard fin slapping on the water is a form of communication between whales.  Toward the end of the tour I managed to photograph a humpback swimming on its back.  Incredible creatures!

Our marine biologist was able to recognize most individuals that we spotted thanks to the unique colour patterns and markings on the the backs, tails and fins of each whale.  He was extremely excited to have observed that the mother humpback and her calf were new to the area (and as of yet un-named).

Photographing these marine mammals was relatively straightforward.  Throughout the photo shoot it was important to keep in mind that a whale may breach or slap its tail very close to the boat and the resulting splash may very well drench the camera gear (salt water is unforgiving to electronics).  I always carry a plastic bag large enough to cover the camera and lens just incase.    For my images (available on my website) I used a Nikon D700 with a 300mm f/2.8 lens attached.  The vibration reduction mode was switched to 'on' to compensate for the rocking motion of the boat.  I also decided to use Aperture Priority mode as this took care of the ever changing light conditions which allowed me to concentrate on the composition of my images.  You will also need to figure out an ISO that is high enough for fast shutter speeds which makes for crisper images since both the boat and whales are constantly moving.  Using the Continuous High Shutter Speed mode allows you to shoot numerous frames per second.  Depending on light conditions you may wish to underexpose your images by as much as 1-full stop (this ensures the white colour markings on the whales are not blown out). 

Here's another useful tip - the straps on the camera and lens are there for a reason - USE THEM!!  Also, try not to hit the heads of excited kids with your lens.

More images from yesterday's photo shoot are available on my website.

Hope all is well in your corner of the world.


Friday, 8 July 2011

Postcard from the Cape

Hello from Cape Cod!
This shot was taken shortly before sunset at Race Point Beach.
I always look forward to photographing the evening colours of the Cape.