Travel Photography

One Question You Must Ask Yourself

Tweet Facebook and Instagram are full of nice wildlife photos. It’s harsh, but no one will care if you take similar pics as everybody else. Instead of whining about it, I see this as a great opportunity to improve your photography. And the only way to improve, is to be more creative, and take photos…

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Story of a great horned owlet

Hi there,   Just 4 things. (1) How I’m doing (2) What I’m pondering (3) Camera news (4) A wildlife story and my thought process   1. Summer break   My Facebook feeds have been filled with lovely pics of bear, mountain goat and loons families in the last few days, which warmed my heart, and reminded…

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Just Do It

I have been obsessed with wild animals since I was a kid. Besides school, I would always be doing these back then:While waiting at dad’s work place after my school, I would rewatch the recorded video tapes of wild animal shows, again and again. I particularly remembered a scene of a peregrine falcon dive-bombing from…

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The First Encounter

I wiped my eyes twice to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. They were there.After 7 days of glaring at the pure white landscape searching for them through the uneven icy and snowy terrain, I confessed I had a little doubt that I might not see them at all in this trip. We rarely saw any…

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Welcome To The World

Some people inclines to spend their vacation in luxurious cruise, enjoying the buffet and sunbathing at the deck. Some inclines to spend their vacation under the hood of their cars working on modifications. Some inclines to sit in their couch watching Netflix.Three days ago, I found a strange kind of people with a very different…

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10 Best in 2015

I literally started 2015 running barefooted in the snow. To be exact, I had my pair of socks on but they were soaked in icy water, and the cold penetrated from my feet throughout my body. My snowboots were nowhere to be found. They got stuck 30 feet behind in some crusty snow and I…

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Tin Man Polar Bear Encounter

再別北極 (Please scroll down for the English Version)人生第一次看到北極熊,我沒有拍下照片。那一剎卻永遠烙印在我腦中。那是二零一二年九月二十四日下午, 我在阿拉斯加, 一艘五人小船上。船一直向前駛。 我正觀看著遠處的雪山,享受著北極的漂亮風光。忽然聽到約五百尺外傳來撲通一聲。隨著聲音望去,看到岸邊濺起一片水花。待水面平靜後, 我看見了她們。原來是熊媽媽帶著兩隻小熊跳進水裏,我隱約看見熊媽媽正回頭察看小熊是否安全。來得太突然,我還沒做好心理準備。真的是北極熊嗎?我全身凝住了,不能自己。徐徐放下相機,我完全沉醉在這一刻。當時我不明白為何有如此大的沖擊。直至有一年在阿拉斯加一所博物館看到星野道夫的遺作和文字,被深深感動,才開始有了一些理解。 From the Museum of the North, Fairbanks. 這次回香港搞影展, 認識了一位好友梁先生, 幫我找到了夢寐以求的星野道夫中文版「與時間的河約定」。其中有一章,說他在北極雪地看到了灰狼的腳印,他寫道: 我經常在想,在我們生活中最重要的環境之一,就是圍繞在人類身邊的豐富生命,牠們的存在不僅療癒了我們,更重要的是,牠們也讓我們理解,人們究竟是甚麼。終其一生有幸親眼看見灰狼的人,我相信少之又少。姑且不論是否能遇見灰狼,灰狼與我們同樣生長在這個地球上的事實,以及清楚意識到這個事實的行為,才是人類最寶貴的事物。不只是灰狼,任何生命在人類眼中的意義都是一樣的。這段話的深刻意義,我想了許久。大自然的確療癒了我, 令我對世事寵辱皆忘,煩憂盡掃;也讓我開始了解自己,了解自己在野外的極限,也從野生動物如何在牠們神秘的世界生存下來,令我對牠們肅然起敬,也意識到生命的無奈,哀愁,淒美和那永恆的愛。畢竟,我們都只是被困在時間和命運的塵網中,徘徊在生命的愛與痛之間,這個行星的過客。–亨利比斯頓一三年十月中旬,我又重回這片極北的土地,準備再用四天拍攝北極熊。一年之隔,想不到和最敬愛的婆婆已陰陽相隔,連說再見的機會也沒有,噩耗傳來前機天亦剛剛經歷分手。本來已準備取消行程,因為真的沒有心情,但一年前已訂了機票和付了團費,已退不了,便帶著沉重的心情出發。飛機抵達愛斯基摩小鎮後已是黃昏,離日落只有一小時,我們八個人本來訂了兩艘小艇,卻只得一艘出現,原來另一位船長有急事已離開了小鎮。八個人躋不進四個位的小船。正在猶疑誰先坐。「你們先去吧,我們來過好幾次了。」兩位領隊和一對夫婦讓我們今天先乘船,至今我仍對領隊和那對夫婦感激不盡。快日落了,天黑前找不找得到北極熊也是很大疑問。​船開了半小時, 海上滿是一片片剛凝固的冰塊, 不斷聽到船身與冰塊碰撞格格的聲音。 說是小艇不如說是機動舢舨, 引擎發動後不斷傳來陣陳的鐵鏽和汽油味。這氣味總把我的思緒帶回童年坐船回鄉探望婆婆的回憶。我那時候總喜歡站在甲板上倚欄遠眺,希望看到鯨魚浮出水面呼氣。冰水時而濺進來, 船的地板是濕濕的, 我一手抱著600mm鏡頭, 一手夾住租來的200-400mm,  雖然重三十磅, 但我不想放到地板上去。寒風有種清新但刺骨的感覺,早已把我的臉凍僵了,手指也開始發麻。這些短暫的痛苦,總讓我感到生命力。船一直前行。我們四處張望,尋找北極熊的蹤影,遠處的雪地白茫茫一片,沒有本點動靜。北極黃昏的陽光十分柔和, 像是天然的柔光鏡,大地被灑上一層迷朦的薄紗。還有十來分鐘便日落了,看來是空手而回。期望總會帶來失望。也不錯啊,能身處小船在北極過一個漂亮的黃昏。愛斯基摩土著的船長傑克見時候不早,便準備回程。這時,我看見遠處的雪地有一團稍微隆起的小山丘。我指著問傑克:「那是甚麼?」傑克:「可能是頭北極熊。」說時已把船駛向那方向。船越駛越近, 距離約二百尺時, 我們看見了,果然是一頭北極熊。不,是一頭母熊和她的小熊! 她們正安詳地躺在雪地上睡覺。我們不想打擾她們, 船長馬上把引擎關掉, 讓小船隨著海浪載浮載沉。我們靜靜的看著她們, 感到世界好像只有我們和這北極熊母子。這樣過了十來分鐘, 天空被夕陽染成一片金色。就在這剎那,她們醒來了, 微微抬起頭好奇地看著我們。 我問傑克可否把小船開到左邊一點,因為背景會比較好看。傑克點點頭,船慢慢向著左邊開動。 意想不到的是,原來還有另一頭小熊躲在母熊身後。只見他偷偷探出頭來, 生怕我們見到。不一會她們又睡著了。過了幾分鐘, 太陽已在地平線上。晚霞的餘暉把十月剛剛凝固的薄冰照得一片鮭肉色, 色彩延綿數十公里,一望無際。只見趴在前方的小熊突然張開了眼睛,望了我們一下,然後伸了伸懶腰,一個翻身竟像人一樣坐了起來,背倚著熊媽媽, 腳掌對著我們,好像穿了雙草鞋。他把雙掌放在膝蓋上,突然張開小嘴深呼吸了一下,就像對這極北的家園感到無限恩喜。 小船被海浪沖得左搖右擺,時而漂得離她們越來越遠,時而卻很近,為了安全起見,船長得馬上輕輕開啟引擎駛遠一點。這樣時近時遠,令攝影變得非常困難。我站在搖晃不定的小船上,一方面要在轉瞬之間對好焦及更換沉重的鏡頭,另一方面要保持平衡以免掉進冰水裡,我紮好馬,雙腿仍不斷顫抖,結果也把腰弄傷了。但看著小熊優悠而輕鬆自在的動作,像完全接受了我們幾個來到他們世界的訪客,我再一次被凝住了。我又放下相機,凝望著眼前的景象,淚眼盈眶。小熊坐了一會, 把熊媽媽和他的兄弟一下子吵醒了,但她們馬上又睡著了。 看到媽媽和他的兄弟都睡得這麼酣,小熊又骨碌一聲躺下到雪地睡去了。我這才看看一直在我旁邊的好友卡爾, 我的眼睛在問他是否相信剛才的一幕, 他點點頭, 也激動得說不出話。四周又回復寂靜。這時我回頭看了看我身後的海洋, 一輪明月剛剛升起。海洋另一邊的繁囂文明世界, 人們都在營營役役,…

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2015 Tin Man Gear List

(Above: the bear checking out his new gear– our ATV (all terrain vehicle)… Alaska)In addition to vision and techniques, our gear is critical for our success in photography. At times, our survival in the wilderness relies on it. So one shouldn’t cut corners when choosing their travel gear. Here, I share with you my gear…

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7 Unusual Tips on the Zen of Travel

A loud braking sound penetrated through the cold, crisp morning of the Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, as a Jeep stopped right behind me. I was all alone, standing behind my tripod on the backroad. The driver lowered the window and said, “Hey, what’s out there?” “A great gray owl.” I said. He seemed confused. He…

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My Quest for Barn Owl: 7 Unforgettable Experience

“Haunting, beautiful, startling, innocent, ghostly, adorable” — all these words came to mind as I was clicking the shutter nonstop like a machine gun, before the loud voice in my brain said “DODGE!!!” … Barn owls are nocturnal. Photographing them flying with natural light is not supposed to be possible. If you have seen pictures of…

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How wildlife photography taught me about life

What’s it like then, the road of life? Just like geese taking off from the muddy snow. (excerpt from a poem by Su Dongpo) Who would have thought I had the opportunity to experience what the grandmaster Su Dongpo wrote 900 years ago, here in one of the biggest snow geese takeoffs in the world. It was…

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Surprising power of Less in Wildlife Photography

Ever watched a movie when in the first few minutes you had no idea what was going on? It felt like the movie started from the middle of nowhere. Then as the story unfolded, as the protagonist overcame one danger after another, you gathered more and more information. In the last 20 minutes of the movie,…

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The Number One Secret to Wildlife Photography

Recently I have been enjoying a little book called “Anything you want” by Derek Sivers. He started with a question to the readers: “What’s your compass?” Excerpt: Most people don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing. They imitate others, go with the flow, and follow paths without making their own. They spend decades in…

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6 Things you don’t know about Mountain Goats

I said to myself “Tin Man Lee you are a freaking genius” when the idea suddenly bestowed unto my head. “If I go to Mount Evans in June instead of July like last time, I could get photos of newly-born mountain goat kids in the SNOW before it was melted. Woohoo.” Pre-visualizing your shot. Check. And…

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How goose changed the world of literature and photography

“Please tell me that geese do mate for life.” I chased down my good friend Melissa Groo, who is an expert in birds as well as an excellent photographer, and texted her in a big hurry. She immediately said, “Yes, but why did you ask?” I slowly sat down, my eyes fixed on this one particular paragraph of a…

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How I do Wildlife Photography

I did those too. Circa 1999… Things weren’t good. Sometimes I wondered if I could just find one thing in life I didn’t suck at. Every evening, I would stroll to the Photography section at my local Barnes and Nobles to pick out the same two books. (i) The Art of Bird Photography by Arthur Morris…

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My Quest for the Snowy Owls: Four Unforgettable Experience

I regretted not listening to my friend Conrad who had been here before. “The snowy owls are on the beach. It’s cold. It’s a long walk. Bring more water,” He said. Living in Los Angeles, I imagined any beach would be like Santa Monica Beach, where I would park my car next to the ferris wheel and…

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Close Encounter with a Bull Moose

I know you like moose… I want to tell you my 12 notes of how this photo happened: 1. It was snowing in the Alaska Arctic in late Sept, 2012. We saw the moose from far away near a river. We were led by pro photographer and leader Hugh Rose and trekked for half a…

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Yellowstone National Park in the Winter: My 6 Unusual Encounters

  My hope was slowly fading away. Five days have passed. For each of those days, we left at six in the morning and drove for twelve hours straight, back and forth, on a figure “8” shaped road inside Yellowstone National Park. We were desperately trying to track “her” down through the snow covered mountains…

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Yellowstone: One Small Step

I still remember an incident that happened in the Spring time at Yellowstone several years ago. We were driving on a mountain road when we came to a big traffic jam. Over ten cars were parked on the side of the road. Big traffic jam usually meant wildlife sightings. I quickly took my cameras and…

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Last Moments of a Bison Calf

  Our photographer group of seven saw them around eight in the morning. We were in Lamar Valley, at the north of the Yellowstone National Park. There are frequent wildlife sightings, including the gray wolf, bighorn sheep, bison, coyote, and elk. A three mile long two-lane road going from east to west penetrated the Valley,…

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