Arctic Autumn

While on assignment in Iceland last October-November, I took the time to shoot some footage of the bleak yet beautiful landscapes of the arctic. Being here in the autumn is taxing physically– the climate vacillates around freezing but the rain/sleet is constant and the wind whips across this treeless land at 25mph without a break.

Nonetheless, I hope you get a feeling for the starkness of the treeless tundra, a land of arctic foxes and lichens, volcanoes and the dancing of the Aurora.

Remember to click HD on the video to see it in HD!

The magic of kayaks and building boats: Another Escape Magazine

40710007

“When I’m kayaking in Canada off Vancouver Island, I see a lot of sea otters – it is one of my favourite things. In the places where there are a lot of them, they do this amazing thing called a sea otter raft where they float on their backs and hold hands. Sometimes there are gigantic rafts of hundreds. It’s fantastic to see.”

In 2014, I spent a few days with photographer Elias Carlson, on assignment with Another Escape Magazine from England. We paddled kayaks in the waters off Seattle, hand-carved a paddle from driftwood on Olympic coast, and chatted about adventures around the sea. Today Another Escape released their new website and the full article is available along with Elias’ gorgeous photographs of our time together. It’s a peek into my life as a person who has taken the path less traveled in life, and whose life has revolved around the natural world.

Check out the article at Another Escape.

40700007
“THERE’S JUST SO MANY WONDERFUL THINGS TO DO AND TRY IN THIS WORLD, AND HOLDING ON TO ANYTHING TOO HARD JUST STOPS YOU FROM LIVING YOUR LIFE FULLY.”

 

Inspiration at the Lifetime Agency

IMG_9392-2It’s been a busy summer jaunting about Europe building kayaks and taking pictures! I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak at the amazing 3e Lifetime Agency. Based in Minneapolis, they are the creative team behind Lifetime Fitness and quite a group of inspiring people themselves.

I gave a presentation on shooting photographs, of course, but when it comes down to it, I think to a large degree what I was talking about was Life. It was really about this quote from photographer Jay Maisel:

If you want to make more interesting photographs, become a more interesting person.

Life is best lived not worrying about the past and future so much as simply going on inspiration and learning to follow the power of saying Yes.

3e posted a blog entry. They were inspired as well and I found it amazing to chat with so many interesting people so dedicated to creativity and fitness together–a few of my favorite things.

http://www.thelifetimeagency.com/play/kiliii-fish-brings-all-the-inspiration/

The day I was almost swallowed by a Humpback Whale

“Sea Lions!”, my friend Tom yelled to me, barely audible over the chaotic roar of thirty lightning quick flippers, surfacing and disappearing in a boil of water to my right. Then one thumped into my kayak hull and I knew I had maybe 10 seconds. I pulled my camera away from my face, laid it sideways on my lap above a pool of saltwater on my skirt. 6 seconds… I nabbed my paddle, flipped it and planted it into the water with the awkwardness of going too fast.

I could suddenly hear myself breathing as my heart became audible and I pushed backwards with a stroke. 3 seconds… A few more strokes and my kayak gained momentum and slid, frictionless, through the water, away from the sea lions. And then suddenly the sea lions vanished beneath the surface.

Continue reading

The day I was almost swallowed by a Humpback Whale

“Sea Lions!”, my friend Tom yelled to me, barely audible over the chaotic roar of thirty lightning quick flippers, surfacing and disappearing in a boil of water to my right. Then one thumped into my kayak hull and I knew I had maybe 10 seconds. I pulled my camera away from my face, laid it sideways on my lap above a pool of saltwater on my skirt. 6 seconds… I nabbed my paddle, flipped it and planted it into the water with the awkwardness of going too fast.

I could suddenly hear myself breathing as my heart became audible and I pushed backwards with a stroke. 3 seconds… A few more strokes and my kayak gained momentum and slid, frictionless, through the water, away from the sea lions. And then suddenly the sea lions vanished beneath the surface.

FISH-140722-HUMPLUNGE-0436-Edit

A quiet moment passed but I kept paddling, then swiftly raised my camera with one hand. Suddenly, the ocean in front of me burst open as three humpback whales lunged, enormous jaws agape, straight out of the water where I had been moments earlier. Those 50 ft whales with jaws 15 ft long pushed up and footlong anchovies shot everywhere, sparkling silver amidst white foam. That’s the goal. They were here for the anchovies. We were here for the whales.

In Monterey Bay, California, anchovies school in large numbers and attract humpbacks who feed on them through a technique known as bubble-netting. The whales swim around a school in circles, releasing a steady stream of air bubbles. The fish won’t cross this wall of bubbles and become corralled into a tight ball, at which point the whales dive deep and come up, mouths wide open, swallowing ocean and prey alike.

FISH-140722-HUMPLUNGE-0390
Tom and I had paddled out in our handmade traditional kayaks, having noticed the rare coincidence of a small ocean swell and whales not far offshore. We shot out of the marina a few hours before sunset, fully loaded with photo gear. Straight out of the gate we heard them blowing, the smell of a fish market lingering in the air.

Minutes later, a lone humpback surfaced in front of my bow, ten feet away. I stopped paddling and braced, one hand on my paddle, the other on my camera. It snorted and blew a fine mist sky-high, which landed all over my kayak and lens. I was still clicking despite my heart having stopped beating.

FISH-140721-HUMPLUNGE-0018-Edit

An hour later, we spotted a group of feeding humpbacks and paddled to about 100 yds away, careful to avoid disturbing them. From afar I watched and learned the patterns of their behavior— first the whales would dive, exposing their tail flukes, and then the sea lions and pelicans would start diving in a frenzy. Moments later the humpbacks would come crashing out of the deep blue as they inhaled and strained anchovies through their baleen. The thing about wild creatures, though, is that they don’t stay put very well. The whales moved around us as I watched, and then they were amongst us.

FISH-140722-HUMPLUNGE-0522
Truthfully, despite having paddled thousands of miles in beautiful waters and having had lots of wildlife encounters, this one tops the list. To be in the gaping maw of wild creatures in their environment is a bit transcendental. As a person, I died that evening, and was born again, like a sudden gust of wind or a wild thing on a wild sea.

Filming Goshawk Nestlings by Remote Camera

I sure do love my job. I spent the night over in the goshawk woods east of Seattle about 100 miles, woke up, and worked with falconer Aaron Allred to install a remote camera. Aaron did a tree climb about 100-150′ up and placed the camera at a terrific angle and we ran 500′ of cable to our blind to kick back and watch the goshawks get fed and grab some terrific footage. Here’s a quick glimpse.

Featured on Cover of Another Escape

AE-CoverSeawolf Kayak’s Kiliii Fish is on the limited-edition cover of British Magazine Another Escape!

Thanks to fabulous photographer Elias Carlson for his gorgeous photography, I had a blast with him out on the Washington coast, making paddles and talking kayak. I also chatted with the editors of Another Escape about kayaking the outer limits of endurance, sea otters, and the essence of the traditional and hand-built life.

You can get the issue here.

Continue reading