Sandhill Cranes and More in Othello


I spoke this past Saturday at the Othello Sandhill Crane Festival in Othello, WA. It was an amazing experience! The room was filled at 9 am for my presentation Celebrate Birds Through Photography.

This festival is incredible in both its size and number of speakers/tours. It is well worth the adventure to Eastern Washington for the event.

It was interesting to discover how easy it was to see the cranes flying, but nearly impossible to see them in the fields. The photograph above is of a field with over 50 cranes amoungst the cattle.


Looking upwards, it was easier to see the cranes flying through in small groups. Thankfully, the sky was blue with white clouds. The cranes stood out against the background, and were easier to see.

The other amazing birds we saw were yellow head blackbirds. I actually thought they were blackbirds landing behind reflectors on the irrigation pipes. What a pleasant surprise when I discovered they were beautiful yellow and black birds.


Happy Shooting. . .Karen

Visualize ~ Create ~ Evoke

Spring is Coming!

copyright Karen Ulvestad

Spring is coming! It is an amazing time along the Oregon coast, with thousands of seabirds coming to land to raise their young. I’m looking forward to visiting my favorite nesting colonies, and exploring new locations.

If you wish to join me, just leave a message. . .

Happy Shooting. . .Karen

Port Susan Snow Goose Festival

Just a quick note. . .

The Port Susan Snow Goose Festival has been canceled for this year. My workshop is also canceled. If you are interested in an in-the-field workshop on that weekend, please leave a comment. I am putting together a small workshop on that weekend, if there is interest.

Thank you & happy shooting. . .Karen

Swans & Geese in the Skagit & Stilliguamish Deltas


Light is everything in bird photography! The time of day will affect the number and types of birds seen in flying overhead or feeding in the farm fields. The photo above is taken at dusk, and the birds are Trumeter Swans. Both Trumpeter and Tundra swans migrate and winter in the Skagit and Stilliguamish deltas.

During the hunting season, fewer Snow Geese are in these areas, due to hunters in the farm fields. During this time, there usually are many flocks of swans in the area. The easiest way to tell the difference is the length of the neck and color. Swans have longer necks, and snow geese have black wing-tips.

copyright Karen Ulvestad

The birds in the photo above Snow Geese. These birds fly in flocks of a few individuals to several hundred. Later in the season (March – April), they gather by the thousands as they prepare for the long migation back to Wrangle Island in Russia. Annually, about 60,000 to 70,000 Snow Geese winter in the area.

Stanwood holds an annual festival celebrating the Snow Geese. It’s called the Port Susan Snow Goose Festival. This year, the dates are Febraury 25 and 26, 2017. I will be speaking on Sunday morning with a following field trip (optional). It is free!

I’ll leave you with one more photo. . .

Happy Shooting. . .Karen

“The Art of Photographing Birds” Feb 26, 2017 at 11 am – 12:30 pm, Registration Required

Architecture & Gardens. . .

copyright Karen Ulvestad

Architecture lends itself to both color and black & white photographic images. Often times, it becomes a composition of lines, shapes, and color / tone. The photograph above shows a modern building with the reflection of historic architecture. The old and the new sit across the street from each other.

This is the story of downtown Oakland. It is a city rich in contrasts and opposites.

copyright Karen Ulvestad

The historic Tribune building rises above other period buildings. In this incident, it is framed by a modern sculpture. The primary colors of red, yellow, and blue work together to make the brown & cream colored building stand out in the image.

copyright Karen Ulvestad

Another way to frame a building or architectural element is with living elements. In the photo above, I used blooming cherry trees to frame the Gothic architecture of the University of Washington. In this case, the cloudless blue sky is the perfect background for the pink flowers and brick buildings.

It is great to contrast man-made structures against or with nature.

Happy Shooting. . .Karen

“Architecture & Gardens Through the Viewfinder” ULearn (Edmonds CC), Apr 27 – May 18, 2017 (Thursday nights)

Story Telling in Black & White


The photo above is one of my favorite story-telling black & white images. This was taken at the zoo, and I loved the wise look on the gorilla. The bonus was the child looking through the glass.

A successful story-telling image gives the viewer an engaging subject with just enough details. Black & white photography cuts out the color, and brings the image to a basic tonal quality. Without the color, the photo relies on the relationship between the elements of the image.


Architecture lends itself to black & white well. In the photo above, the lines, texture, and contrast create a timeless image of a historic house along the Oregon coast. The cloudy sky contributes to the image by fading into the background. The details of the house bring the viewer’s attention to the building.

The linear aspects of architecture, whether historic homes or sky-scrapers, becomes the driving force in the composition. It is more delineated in black & white.

So, what is the story to tell, and should it be color or black & white? Photographer’s choice. . .

Happy Shooting. . .Karen

“Not Your Grandma’s Black & White” ULearn (Edmonds CC), Feb 9 – Mar 2, 2017 (Thursday nights)

Black & White


Black and white photography uses tonality, contrast, and composition to engage the viewer. It is the origins of photography, and the favorite of famous photographers such as Ansel Adams.

This type of photography takes a different “eye” than its color counter part. The tonality of black and white succumbs to the vibrance of color in color photography. Often, a photographer is good at one or the other, but not both. It requires 2 different ways of “seeing” the shot.


The mood of the black and white image is more than its tones. The clarity of the image or softness add to the composition. The top photograph evokes a feeling of a storm, while the second is crisp and shows clarity. Each stands on its own composition, telling 2 different stories of the Oregon coast.

I’ll leave with 1 more image. . .


Happy Shooting. . .

“The Oregon Coast in Black & White” July 1-2, 2017 at Sitka Center for Arts & Ecology

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