The Coastal Brown Bears of Alaska

The Coastal Brown Bears of Alaska

Bucket List

The Coastal Brown Bears of Alaska

I just finished up a fantastic photo tour in Alaska’s gorgeous Lake Clark National Park and Preserve last week. With the incomparable Silver Salmon Creek Lodge as our gracious hosts, we all found the access to the majestic coastal brown bears to be unequaled anywhere in the world. We had a variety of weather – sun, rain, and fog – and an unending variety of world-class wildlife opportunities with enormous bears. Bears fishing, playing, foraging, and lots of interaction between sows and cubs. And rarely did we ever need a lens longer than 400mm!

Here are just a few of the many hundreds of photos from the trip. All photos were captured with a Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X Lens. Enjoy!

Coastal brown bears stalk the shores of Cook Inlet, Lake Clark National Park, Alaska

This brown bear sow took a unique, laid back approach to fishing. Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Two young cubs follow their mom through a sedge meadow, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Foggy coastal weather helped create this ethereal wildlife image, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

This alert sow stands guard over cubs, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Brown bear cub, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

A tender moment between a mom and her cub, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

A coastal brown bear munches on some tasty grass, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

For the best wildlife photography techniques, be sure to check out my new book available on Amazon, Wildlife Photography: From First Principles to Professional Results.

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer is the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than 1.2 million followers across social media platforms. He leads photography tours and workshops all over the world and is a high-demand keynote speaker. For more great information on new images, book projects, public appearances, photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Richard's Email Newsletter.

Sri Lanka Belongs On Every Photographer’s Bucket List

Sri Lanka Belongs On Every Photographer’s Bucket List

Bucket List

Sri Lanka Belongs On Every Photographer’s Bucket List

The Island Marco Polo believed to be the “Most Beautiful Island in the World” is a true Tropical Paradise.

At the tender age of 24, Marco Polo was dispatched by Kublai Khan, Emporer of China, to the island now known as Sri Lanka, to receive the tooth of the Buddha, one of the holiest relics in Buddhism. That quest was ultimately unsuccessful but he did leave with a newfound respect and admiration for the tropical island. Marco, no slouch in the travel department, declared Sri Lanka as “Undoubtedly, the finest island of its size in all the world.”

Sri Lanka offers some of the best historic and cultural photography (the ancient cities of Anuradhapura, Kandy, and Polonnaruwa boast of five UNESCO World Heritage Sites), wildlife safaris that rival many itineraries in eastern Africa, and some of the most stunning tropical beaches in the world for the landscape shooters. There are tea plantations in the misty mountain highlands (a train ride through the tea country is a once-in-a-lifetime experience), colorful fishing villages and open markets, and much more. Many of these vastly different photography opportunities can be experienced within the same day. After a closer look, it’s easy to see why Sri Lanka should rank high on any travel photographer’s bucket list.

Wildlife and Nature

The wildlife of Sri Lanka is as varied as the general photographic opportunities. 12 percent of the country’s land is protected as wildlife and conservation sanctuaries so that many generations to come can enjoy encounters with nature and wildlife on the island. More than 400 species of birds live here as well as leopards, elephants, deer, monkeys, and prolific marine life such as whales and sea turtles, Yala and Minneriya National Parks are two highlights for wildlife and nature photographers.

Sri Lanka is also home to inland mountains with dozens of photogenic waterfalls and some of the most picture-perfect tropical beaches in the world. The seaside village of Tangalle in the southern part of the island is one of my favorite places for sunrises over the Indian Ocean and photographing sea turtles.

Sri Lanka and the Cultural Triangle

In 1972, the people discarded the country’s old name of Ceylon and officially introduced the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the world. In Sinhala, the language spoken by the majority of the people, Sri means “blessed” while Lanka is the name of the island. In Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle located in the country’s mid-section, there sits a host of ancient monuments, Buddhist temples, and historical royal cities that once served as the center of early Sinhalese people and civilization. The points of this geographic triangle are comprised of the hill capital of Kandy, Anuradhapura – a rich collection of archaeological and architectural wonders, and Polonnaruwa. This rich cultural area also contains the spectacular rock fortress of Sigiriya and the cave monastery of Dambulla (my favorite cultural location for photography).

 

People

A trip to Sri Lanka focuses not only on the cultural, historical, and the natural attributes of this stunning country, but also the beautiful people who live and work here. In all my travels, I have rarely met as many open, friendly, and cooperative photography subjects (on two feet anyway). On a train ride through the high-country tea plantations I met and photographed dozens of outgoing, friendly people in small villages, working the tea fields in the mist shrouded mountains.

Gray langur monkeys (Semnopithecus entellus) in Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka. In addition to the prolific monkeys, Polonnaruwa is home to ruins of a ancient city and was claimed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Sunrise over the Indian Ocean, in Tangalle, southern Sri Lanka. Tangalle is just one of the many world-class tropical beaches in Sri Lanka  that affords some amazing sunrises and sunsets.

Hunnasgiriya waterfall (Hunnas Falls) in Sri Lanka’s lush and beautiful mountain highlands.

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer is the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than 1.2 million followers across social media platforms. He leads photography tours and workshops all over the world and is a high-demand keynote speaker. For more great information on new images, book projects, public appearances, photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Richard's Email Newsletter.

Free e-book: Iceland, Our Amazing Planet

Free e-book: Iceland, Our Amazing Planet

Bucket List

FREE e-book: Iceland, Our Amazing Planet

Iceland, Our Amazing Planet, explores the pure magic that is this small country in the northern Atlantic Ocean. Here are two dozen photographs of Iceland’s mountains, waterfalls, glaciers, wildlife, and beautiful light captured by renowned nature, wildlife, and travel photographer, Richard Bernabe. This virtual tour of Iceland will visually demonstrate why Iceland truly is one of our planet’s most amazing places. Come take the tour!

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Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer is the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than 1.2 million followers across social media platforms. He leads photography tours and workshops all over the world and is a high-demand keynote speaker. For more great information on new images, book projects, public appearances, photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Richard's Email Newsletter.

Antarctica, Terra Incognita

Antarctica, Terra Incognita

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Antarctica, Terra Incognita

Antarctica is sometimes known as terra incognita, the unknown land. It’s also the last untouched continent and one of the most pristine wilderness locations on Earth. With ten thousand foot peaks rising straight from the ocean, crystal blue icebergs the size of office buildings, hundreds of glaciers (on the Antarctic Peninsula alone), and beaches teeming with seals and penguins, my trip to the continent at the bottom of the world didn’t disappoint. With a turn of the ship into every harbor or bay, more of the same awaited us. And most of this magnificent  landscape has never had a human foot tread upon it. This amazing place most certainly is terra incognita.

Below are just a sample of the photos I captured on my recent trip. Sorry for the abundance of penguin images but they are so plentiful and such photogenic, expressive creatures. Enjoy!

Antarctica

“Adelie Waddle” Adelie penguins at Brown Bluff, East Coast of Tabarin Peninsula, Antarctica

“Terra Incognita” Iceberg and foggy mountains in the Gerlache Straight, Antarctica

“Half Moon Solitude” A chinstrap penguin surveying the icy landscape at sunset, Half Moon Island, Antarctica

“Weddell Seal at Yankee Harbor” A Waddell seal catches some rays while on the ice, Robert Island in the South Shetlands, Antartica

“Rock Thief” Chinstrap penguins at Half Moon Island, Antarctica. The penguin in the middle has just stolen a rock from a nest and the others are justifiably upset.

“Branford Ice” A lone seabird flies by the face of an enormous blue iceberg, Branford Straight, Antarctica

“Braving the Storm” A Gentoo penguin during a gust of harsh wind and snow, King George Island, Antarctica

“Nesting Gentoos” Gentoo penguins sitting on their nests, Useful Island, Antarctica

“Larsen’s Shelf” A giant iceberg from a broken piece of the Larsen Ice Shelf, Branford Straight, Antarctica

“Catching Snowflakes” A pair of gentoo penguins appear to be catching snowflakes – or singing. Actually, they are vocalizing, the method they use to attract mates, Paradise Bay, Antarctica

Extras

Extras

Extras

A fascinating website that offers information on conserving the southern continent’s ecosystem, promoting responsible tourism, and the latest news is the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition. Take a look when you get the chance.

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer is the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than 1.2 million followers across social media platforms. He leads photography tours and workshops all over the world and is a high-demand keynote speaker. For more great information on new images, book projects, public appearances, photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Richard's Email Newsletter.

Chefchaouen: The Blue Pearl of Morocco

Chefchaouen: The Blue Pearl of Morocco

Bucket List

Chefchaouen: The Blue Pearl of Morocco

Nestled into the rugged Rif Mountains of Morocco is the brightly painted blue city of Chefchaouen. The city’s stunning mountain surroundings, brightly-painted blue streets and alleys, and the exotic culture and shopping make Chefchaouen a must-see location for the travel photographer and casual tourist alike.

Chefchaouen is most famous for being the blue city. That’s what most people call it – “The Blue City” or “The Blue City of Morocco” since most tourists cannot spell or pronounce Chefchaouen. The city was founded  in 1471 but didn’t receive its famous indigo hue until around 1492, when a large influx of Jewish refugees arrived, escaping the Spanish inquisition. The color, many say, was chosen since it’s the spiritual color for the Jewish people (also used on Israel’s flag), while some historians believe the color was a tribute to a nearby mountain spring that made this settlement possible in this arid land. Locals today will claim that the blue color keeps the mosquitoes away.

The most interesting (and colorful) part of Chefchaouen is the Old City or medina.  Here you will find a Byzantine maze of narrow streets and alleys through blue and whitewashed homes and buildings of Spanish and Moorish architecture. It’s a great (and fun) place to get lost.

The Plaza Uta-el-Hammam is Chefchaouen’s cultural and commercial center with excellent restaurants and shopping. There’s also a museum in the plaza that’s a converted kasbah, a medieval fortress. You can purchase spices, rugs, ceramic pottery, fresh tea leaves. and locally made leather goods for sale in the many shops, markets, and open air souks. Don’t pass up the Moroccan mint tea while you browse!

Chefchaouen is a 125-mile (200 km) drive from Fez and a 210-mile (340 km) drive from Casablanca. There are also daily flights to and from Casablanca to Chefchaouen on Royal Air Maroc and bus services as well. Once you’ve arrived, you’ll have dozens of hotels to choose from but try to stay in the medina if possible. For more information on visiting Chefchaouen, you can check out the website of Morocco Tourism on Chefchaouen.

All text and photos © Richard Bernabe

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer is the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than 1.2 million followers across social media platforms. He leads photography tours and workshops all over the world and is a high-demand keynote speaker. For more great information on new images, book projects, public appearances, photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Richard's Email Newsletter.

My Favorite American National Parks For Photography

My Favorite American National Parks For Photography

Bucket List

America’s National Parks: My Favorites for Photography

My recent travels have taken me to some amazing places around the world (Iceland, Patagonia, Myanmar, Tanzania, and others) but many of my all-time favorite photography locations are the National Parks of the United States. Most of these parks are beyond beautiful, easily accessible for recreational activities, and are preserved as sanctuaries for pristine mountains, deserts, forests, seashores, tundra, and the wild creatures that inhabit them.

The writer, historian, and environmentalist Wallace Stegner is credited with coined the phrase America’s Best Idea when referring to the National Park System. Here’s what he said in 1983: “National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.”

At the time of this writing, there are 59 National Parks in the United States. By my last count, I have photographed in 32 of them. Here – in no particular order – are my 5 favorite parks, with a few honorable mentions as well. If you have a favorite that American National Park that didn’t make my list, let me know which is your favorite in the comment section, including why.

Yosemite National Park

No other place in the world inspires photographers quite like Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. Iconic landmarks such as El Capitan, Half Dome, and Yosemite Falls are burned into the psyche of landscape photographers in both name and visage. Spring, particularly the month of May when the waterfalls have the highest flows and the dogwoods along the Merced River are in bloom, is the most popular season for photographers. The summer months, with bumper-to-bumper traffic in Yosemite Valley, should probably be avoided but any season will produce fantastic images, including winter. Regardless of the month, Yosemite is always a good idea!

(Top) The Yosemite Valley floor and Bridalveil Falls with ground fog. (Bottom Left) A stand of Giant sequoia trees in the snow. (Bottom Right) Last light on Half Dome.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

It’s the most visited of all the national parks in the United States as well as one of the most ecologically diverse. Often dubbed “Wildflower National Park” because of the profuse blooms each spring (mid to late April is best) the Smokies have so much more to offer than flowers. There is spectacular autumn colors in late October, stacked mountain ridges, and wildlife too, including the highest density of black bears in the world. The Smoky Mountains National Park is also my “home park” and the place where I honed my photography skills many years ago.

(Top) Rolling clouds through the mountains from Clingmans Dome. (Bottom Left) Splendid autumn colors on the ridge lines. (Bottom Right) Trillium wildflowers in bloom near a spring cascade.

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park in Maine is one of the few places in the US where you can capture both deciduous autumn color (second to third week in October) and dramatic seascapes in the same frame. Favorite photography locations within the first national park east of the Mississippi River include Jordan Pond, Jordan Stream, Otter Cliffs, Monument Cove, Cadillac Mountain, Duck Brook, and Hunter Beach Cove. Nearby Bass Head Lighthouse can be crowded with other photographers at sunrise or sunset but it’s certainly worth a visit anyway.

(Top) A vivid sunset at Hunters Beach Cove. (Bottom Left) Autumn reflections and lily pads in The Tarn. (Bottom Right) Twilight at Jordon Pond and The Bubbles.

Arches National Park

Delicate Arch is the most famous landmark in Arches National Park (it’s featured on Utah’s license plate) but it’s certainly not the only shooting location. All in all, there are more than 2000 sandstone arches in the park as well as many other geological formations, windows and fins that make superb photo subjects. With Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park nearby, the town of Moab, Utah makes a great location for a week or two of landscape photography and you still won’t scratch the surface of the available locations.

(Top Left) Rainbow and Balanced Rock. (Top Right) A sunstar peaks through Delicate Arch. (Bottom Left) Shadow and light on the sandstone wall at Skyline Arch. (Bottom Right) Light painting and star trails at Double Arch.

Yellowstone National Park

As America’s first national park established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park is best known by photographers for its wildlife and the many geothermal features found within its 3,468.4 square miles (8,983 km2). I’ve been traveling to Yellowstone for wildlife for more than 20 years and it never disappoints for the wildlife opportunities or the geysers, mud pots and fumaroles. Lamar Valley is often referred to as “America’s Serengeti” because of the sheer abundance of wild animals and is one of those places no wildlife photographer should miss during their lifetime. My favorite seasons for visiting for photography are spring, autumn, and winter while summer is a bit too crowded for my personal taste.

(Top) Fountain Geyser with dramatic evening light. (Bottom Left) Bison in harsh winter weather at Midway Geyser Basin. (Bottom Right) Pine tree skeletons on a foggy morning.

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer is the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than 1.2 million followers across social media platforms. He leads photography tours and workshops all over the world and is a high-demand keynote speaker. For more great information on new images, book projects, public appearances, photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Richard's Email Newsletter.