Read the stories behind all the previous photo of the month images below:
This is one of my personal favorite images. It was a tough four mile hike to get the fox den a friend had told me about. On my first visit, two fox pups were so curious of me that they came right up to my feet and were sniffing my shoes! I could hardly get a good shot because they were too close. On my second visit to the den, I only saw one fox who was quite wary of me and stayed mostly out of sight. I was about to give it up and go home when he appeared for a moment on top of a hill and looked directly into my lens.
I chose this image as May's photo of the month in honor of my first wedding anniverssary. I took this picture a year ago on our honeymoon in Italy. We stayed at an old farmhouse deep in the heart of Tuscany. Part of the farmhouse was converted into an apartment we rented for a few nights. On our last night at the farmhouse I realized I had not spent much time photographing the beautiful landscape, could you blame me? We could see this villa and the surrounding hills from our kitchen window and terrace. As my wife began making homemade raviolis in our private kitchen (the best meal I had in Italy by the way) I grabbed my gear and drove down the road to set up for this shot. It was a beautiful evening and as the sun sank low on the horizon the green hills glowed and sparkled. It was truly magical. I raced back to the farmhouse where an authentic Italian meal was waiting for me. I'm a very lucky man.
Last month, to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary, my wife and I spent a week on the big island of Hawaii. My mom has lived on the big island now for over a decade and conducts spiritual seminars and takes many lucky people from all over the world swimming with wild spinner dolphins (take a look at her website! http://www.DolphinSpiritOfHawaii.com).This past month was my wife's first opportunity to swim with these incredible animals and she was simply blown away. This image of the dolphins was taken on a previous trip to Hawaii when I owned, for a brief period, a nice Nikonos underwater camera. Whenever I get the chance to swim dolphins I am always very respectful of their space, I was in their home! You never have to chase them to experience a close encounter. I floated on the surface of the water with my snorkel gear and camera and waited. Sure enough I began to hear the unmistakable sound of clicking and singing and I knew they were close by. I didn't begin searching for them, there was no need, before I knew it a small pod of dolphins were below me and next to me, though still too far away for a good shot. I continued waiting until they came back around, and when they did, a pair of dolphins, what looked to me like a mother and child, drifted very slowly just below me. As I could see they were comfortable around me, I dived under water very casually and took their picture. I thanked them as they swam on their way.
This image was taken the very first time I ever saw the Grand Tetons. I drove into Jackson Hole, Wyoming a few nights earlier in a total white out, I could hardly see where I was driving. I tried to shoot the tetons for a few days but they were completely covered by clouds so I decided to go next door to Yellowstone for the remainder of the week. On my way back, I stopped again in Jackson Hole for a night and decided to try one last time to photograph the tetons the next morning. I had asked a park ranger where a good spot to set up might be, and the next morning I crossed my fingers and set up well before dawn. As the first light began to illuminate the glorious tetons I began shooting. I was in complete awe of this spectacular mountain range and knew, after several attempts in bad weather to get a good shot, I nailed it. It's moments like this that truly make me feel alive.
I had been meaning to shoot this lighthouse for a while when I took this shot. I was doing an internship with a very talented professional photographer by the name of Gary Crabbe who had a beautiful image of this same lighthouse. My goal was to make an entirely different image of the same subject. I had put off this goal for too long, I decided,and just had to go out and do it. I was driving home from Yosemite with a very good friend of mine, Gary Paulazzo, and some people from Italy who we were playing tour guide for. As we drove home I could see the sky may just be ripe for the shot I wanted on the coast. I urged Gary to race home so I wouldn't miss my chance. When we got back to the Bay Area I still had a good hours drive to Pigeon Point. I got in my car and drove as fast as I could. When I reached my destination I could already see the beginnings of what I hoped would be a beautiful sunset. I drove back and forth along the highway looking for the perfect angle. Finally I knew I was running out of time and made my decision. I set up and snapped this shot just in the nick of time. I had all of about ten minutes before the sun was gone. Sometimes everything just works.
I think everyone should take the opportunity to see the northern lights at least once in their lives. It is simply the most amazing thing I've ever seen. This image was taken on Sept. 15, 2003, my last day in Alaska after working my second and final summer in Denali National park. The lodge I worked at was in the interior of Denali past Wonder Lake and all the employees had to be driven out of the park at the end of the season. We all spent our last night together at a group of cabins just outside the park. We were hanging out in front of these cabins with a barrel fire going when this incredible display of northern lights began. I had seen the lights before but they had not lasted long and sometimes you could hardly distinguish them from clouds in the sky. This time I knew they were going to be terrific because they initially lasted more than a few minutes and were very bright. I didn't even have my camera with me, so I got up and ran for my cabin to retrieve it. I had been drinking a bit since this would be my last time to hang out with my friends and after I returned with my camera I was concerned that any picture I might take may not come out very sharp. The lights were covering almost the entire sky at this point. I focused on the cabin with the lights behind it and began shooting. i didn't know if the shots would turn out since I had no previous success shooting the lights. I couldn't have been more pleased with the result!
This was the first shot I took on my second visit to Alaska. I was on my way to Palmer to visit a friend before my final leg to Denali and to my surprise I was ahead of schedule. I decided to make a quick detour to Valdez. On the way I was stunned at this sight and just had to take a shot. These kinds of images are passed by all the time by photographers on their way to shoot something else they already have in mind, I've done that many times myself. Sometimes it pays to take a little extra time to photograph things you weren't expecting.
I had shot this scene before at the suggestion of my father (thanks dad!). You can view the previous results on the first page of my Northern California gallery. I knew that someday I would come back and shoot the same scene with the moon rising above the barn and oak tree. It's just the perfect location for such a shot. As I approached the location, I saw other vineyards displaying beautiful gold and deep red leaves, I couldn't wait to start shooting. But when I got to this spot I could see that this particular vineyard was past it's peak. Most of the vines had lost their leaves completely. I was disappointed but there were still a few vines with gold leaves at the front of the vineyard. I figured I could position my camera in such a way that the bare vines wouldn't be very visible, and hope the trajectory of the moon cooperated. It did and I was able to create this resulting image.
February / March 2006
I had just bought the most expensive, and heavy, lens I've ever had the pleasure of owning; a 600mm F4. This is the type of lens you need a football player to carry. I bought it used and was a bit worried that the optics may not be up to my standard and decided to test it out at the nearby San Francisco Zoo. I spent the day just getting used to working with and carrying the thing. I shot whatever looked interesting so I could look at a variety of shots later to inspect the optics. I wandered around a corner and saw this magnificent peacock behind a fence preening. By the time I set up my rig, the bird had ended its show and was wandering aimlessly. So I waited. Finally the peacock once again spread its plumage for only a few moments, but it was enough time for me to grab this shot. Though I knew what kind of potential this kind of shot could have, I had no idea until I got the transparency developed that I had indeed captured the moment. Thanks 600mm F4! This lens has since been my primary lens for shooting wildlife and ever since this image was captured, I have had the utmost confidence in it and, though through human error I have botched many chances at capturing wonderful images, this great lens has never let me down.