• Alyce Bender

Monthly Review: February 2019


Wow! What a short month February turned out to be! So much went on that it seemed before I could blink or catch my breath, March was already here. So, let me recap what has been going on as this was a month of travel but not in the RV.

I started February in Japan. My husband meet me in Tokyo and we traveled to see friends and family in Akita Prefecture (one prefecture over from where I use to live). It was also an area I had not had the pleasure of visiting during winter, other than once for snowboarding. This time I was able to find snowy hiking trails with powder up to my knees, moody weather over a volcanic lake, and tons of minimal artistic intimate landscapes.

After spending a week in Akita, we headed to Sapporo on the northern most island in Japan, Hokkaido. Our visit to this great city coincided with the famous Ice Festival where ice and snow sculptures several stories high line the downtown park. Enjoying beer and beef, two of Hokkaido's star eats, we took a few days to enjoy the city life before heading off into the rural Eastern coastal lands where my photography would take center stage.

Arriving in Kushiro we picked up our rental car and hit the road. Being without a car for over a week had been really hard for me as it takes away the freedom of flexibility I have come to rely on so heavily. I know, first world problems, but I have always said I would rather give up a house than my car. Probably why I now mostly live out of an RV when in the States, but I digress.

Anyway, once we had the car we would be revisiting the areas I had shot last year when in Hokkaido for winter wildlife photography. Changes this year included having my husband along for the ride and trying some different lodging options as I prepare for next year's Photography Adventure that I will be hosting to the area. You can find more information on that on my Photography Adventure page or by clicking here.

We spent several days in Kushiro. I photographed the red-crowned cranes by day and in the evening we would explore local restaurants for the best eats. Then we moved up to Rausu, for two night to take a wildlife cruise to photography Stellar's sea eagles before heading towards Nemuro for more eagles, deer, and foxes. I will do a full review of this trip in an upcoming article but I have tagged my articles reviewing last years trips which can be found under related posts.

A long trip that started in late January and ended mid February, going back to Japan felt like going home but unfortunately it did have to end. After the long haul back to Las Veges, I found the desert in the midst of an unusual winter storm cycle. With heavy rains crossing from California over the Southwest, I decided to take a day trip to Death Valley and see what the conditions were like.

While it was predicted to be a cloudy day, I ended up with really pleasant weather to be outside in but not ideal to be shooting. So I worked on a few personal projects that are concentrating more on the artistic side of photography than the epic realistic renditions of a scene we are so use to seeing.

Then Las Vegas was hit with snow. And I'm not talking about just a dusting, but several inches on the valley floor. Of course I could not let that go without trying to get some images. I'm still working through many of them but my favorite by far was this one, a beautiful family of wild burros standing in snow with the red rock of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area behind them. This was the first time I had seen the wild burros in the Red Rock Canyon area and I could not have asked for better conditions.

Over the last week, Las Vegas hosted two very large photography conferences, both

in which I participated. The first was the North American Nature Photography Association Summit. Here, the best of the best nature and conservation photographers gathered for a massive celebration of nature photography that includes networking, education, and inspiration. It was just absolutely an amazing experience!

After three full days of mingling with such a phenomenal group of photographers, I left with a much renewed confidence in my vision and passion for my business. As well as quite a few business opportunities, but more on those at a later time.

I also got to meet up with a bunch of new friends and see some old friends as well. It was so much fun to go out shooting after the Summit with my friend Frank Gallagher where we explored Floyd Lamb Park for all its birding opportunities before heading to Valley of Fire for sunset.

The second event here in Vegas was WPPI (Wedding Portrait Photography Intl). For this, I went to just the Expo portion in order to catch up on all the latest in gear, see and handle various printing mediums, talk with business service providers, and take in some micro sessions that the big names such as Nikon, Tamron, and Sony were presenting for free. I ended up at the expo two days as the first day was all taking it in and talking with vendors. The second day I was able to bring in my Tamron lenses to their booth and have them professionally cleaned, checked and updated at no cost! So thankful they were offering this service as it means my favorite lenses were able to be maintained properly and never had to leave my sight.

So that literally takes us all the way through the month, minus a day or two somewhere in the middle. It has been non-stop! March is going to be a bit slower as I am hanging around Las Vegas for a bit while I take care of some business that requires me boots-on-the-ground in town. I will also be taking one of my final classes for my degree, and I am waiting to see where the wildflowers are going to pop up after such a wet winter. I'm itching to get back on the road so we will see exactly how long I actually stay put...

I hope you enjoy following my adventures with these brief summaries. I will have more specific location guides coming out over the next few months. Until next time, cheers!

#2019 #Kushiro #ValleyofFire #DeathValley #burros #LasVegas #Tamron #monthlyreview #February #wildlifephotography #hokkaido #naturephotography #Nevada #Japan #PhotographyAdventures #birding #cranes #fox #seaeagle #ImpressionistPhotography

     A Bender Photography LLC      |     Las Vegas, NV    |     bender@abenderphotography.com