The past three years for me have been primarily consumed by creating my newest book, 'Soul of the Skagit'.  This is the story of the Skagit River watershed, told from its glacial headwaters, through its forests, and down to the delta and the Salish Sea beyond.  This project required many different types of photography, including wildlife, landscape, underwater, people, lifestyle, and macro photography.  The sort of diverse approaches needed to tell this story challenged and inspired me to create photographs with a completely fresh perspective.

One of the biggest challenges I faced was coming to grips with the rigors of wildlife photography.  Although this is something I have dabbled with in the past, I was really on a crash course to learn about animal behaviors and different photography techniques to  capture unique wildlife images.  

When most people think about wildlife photography, a telephoto image of a safari animal with a beautiful bokeh background may come to mind.  While this provides an up-close and personal view, it also removes the animal from the blurry landscape behind it.  I knew that in order to build the connections between individual species and the ecosystems around them, I needed to include more of their surroundings in my compositions.  It became not only about what the animal is and how they look, but more about how they are engaging with the world around them.

In this photograph 'Bull Kelp Sanctuary', I was 180-feet above the water on the Deception Pass bridge, photographing gray whales in the distance.  I noticed the whales heading towards the bridge, coming from Skagit Bay side and heading through the pass and towards the greater Salish Sea.  My hopes were to photograph the whales from above, as they passed under the bridge.  However, at a depth of about 200-feet, the whales swam too deep to photograph from above, and did not come to the surface again until they were some distance away.  

While it is great to have specific images in mind, it is equally important to be flexible and to be able to pivot at a moments notice.  I was keeping one eye on a harbor seal, cruising around the pass.  Around the time when the gray whales would have been passing under the bridge, the harbor seal made a dash for this kelp forest, presumably to hide from a perceived predator (although gray whales do not eat seals).       

In this moment, I was able to capture the harbor seal carefully drifting amongst the towering kelp as it kept an eye out for danger.  These kelp forests are not only vital habitats, offering shelter and food for countless marine life, but they also play a huge role in carbon sequestration.  Their ability to grow and photosynthesize at an alarming rate plays a direct role in reducing atmospheric carbon in the greater Salish Sea ecosystem.  Such is the connection in the Skagit that the glaciers high in the North Cascades benefit from the health and presence of kelp, almost as much as this harbor seal does.

If you find this story interesting, please consider backing my Kickstarter campaign for the pre-sales of 'Soul of the Skagit', and reserve your copy for up to 30% off list price.  You can also purchase limited edition copies of this print through Kickstarter.

Bull Kelp Sanctuary

'Bull Kelp Sanctuary' is one of the ten limited edition photographs from the book 'Soul of the Skagit'. This is a photograph of a harbor seal finding respite among the drifting plumes of bull kelp in Deception Pass.

The three sizes available are 16x24" ($350), 24x36" ($630), and 30x45" ($910). Each size is limited to 50 copies, and is printed on Fuji Crystal Archival Matte paper, with a 1/2" white border. A certificate of authenticity and a copy of 'Soul of the Skagit' are included with each print.

Reserve your copy now through the 'Soul of the Skagit' Kickstarter Campaign.

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