Archive for the ‘Urban’ Category

Grebes

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009
Grebes

So, we decided to take a little break before heading back out for our final destination with Daniel.  After a relaxing evening, we took the canoe out of the garage and walked over to Jewel Lake for a late paddle.  I was eager to see if the loons were around, as well as to take my nephew out for another nature experience here in Alaska.

While we did not see the loon family – just one lone loon out there, fishing along in the middle of the lake – we did end up seeing a lot of red necked grebes.  This is quite a change from last year, when we just had a lone grebe living on the lake.  Now, there is at least one full family of grebes – two adults and four of this year’s chicks.  Well, at least we figured that was the situation – we found two chicks with two parents and later on down the shoreline two more chicks by themselves.

With my Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 lens, we were able to keep some distance while I hand-held from the stern of the canoe.  At one point, the two adults and two chicks really got into a squawking match about something.  I guess there are a few things to learn about grebe behavior.  Fortunately, living so close to a lake with an active population will help.

Great to the end

Sunday, December 28th, 2008
Great to the end

After a gorgeous morning out in the field, I returned home to spend some time at the computer editing and organizing. I kept looking outside, watching the light and longing to be somewhere deep in the mountains. But, the ongoing work as a photographer often finds me indoors when I would rather be out, working in Photoshop or Lightroom or some other avenue to take my captured works and make them useful. At around three I left home to head toward Earthquake Park to see how the evening light would look on the city skyline. After the sun went down, I went to Point Woronzof to look for opportunities to photograph in the dusk and decided to park and wait for a departing plane.

After it became dark enough, I went downtown to Town Square Park to photograph the ice sculptures in the Crystal Gallery of Ice for the Anchorage Downtown Partnership. Only about half of the sculptures were done, so I will have to return again in a few days to check on their progress. Fortunately, the forecast calls for cold, cold and more cold in the next week, so there is no concern about any melting.

Wild about Waxwings

Monday, December 1st, 2008
Wild about Waxwings

I love winter. As a photographer, I find it just as magical and wonderful as those summer days, high up on some alpine slope, photographing a field of wildflowers in the waning light of the day. The light in winter is golden, almost all day long. And, I get to see feathered friends I do not get to see any other time of the year. Just like we know that spring is here when Mike has his reindeer dog stand out by the old federal building on Fourth Avenue, we know winter is here when the Bohemian Waxwings, in their chittery flocks in the several hundreds, descend upon our trees.

Occupying a third-floor office in downtown Anchorage, I get a front-row view to the Waxwings, as they flock about, eating at birch buds and mountain ash berries. I love their sound, which reminds me a great deal of the sound that Tribbles make. I find them entertaining, sometimes happy to share a tree with a magpie, and other times taking flight in the hundreds when one comes in for a landing. While most birds flee this part of the world during the cold winter months, Waxwings come to us to visit at our coldest and darkest hours. In addition to their beauty that I appreciate, I value them for their heartiness to come here and join us for the winter.

They’re back

Saturday, November 15th, 2008
They're back

We were once again visited by the cow and calf we have seen in our neighborhood, and on our property, several times during this autumn. I figure they probably bed down in the muskeg to the south of Jewel Lake, just a block or so away. This time, they came along to munch on the Halloween pumpkins we had left out, specifically for moose to feed on. The calf was almost brushing up against the picture window for our dining room as it snacked away on the Jack-o-lantern on the porch, while mom worked on the one near the side door. As a consequence, I was a little late leaving the house to go photograph the state volleyball championships. Fortunately, the first games were consolation games for fourth place. Anyway, mom apparently had difficulties with the pumpkin on the side, so she came up to fight with her offspring over the porch pumpkin. Things got a little off track, though, when another cow came walking down the street and the calf became confused and started following it away. Mom belatedly noticed what was happening and trotted away to catch up with her wayward child.

Midnight at midtown

Sunday, October 12th, 2008
Midnight at midtown

After photographing the wedding of Jenny and Todd at the Anchorage Museum, I stopped by the Loussac Library to photograph the fountain. The lights are pink for the month of October in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I was not sure when winter would set in. I wanted to get a nice long exposure on the flowing water. While I was there, I took the typical view, looking from the west side of the fountain to the east, which provides for a nice black background. I switched to this angle because I wanted to give the fountain some context — it is, after all, located at the library. And the Loussac itself is a neat architectural feature, replete with great lines and curves. This image was created from seven individual photos, stitched together using Photomerge in Photoshop CS2.

Love in the neighborhood

Saturday, October 4th, 2008
Love in the neighborhood

Yes, the Powerline Pass area above Anchorage, in the foothills of the Chugach Mountains, is a prime location for viewing and photographing moose at this time of year.  The rut is pretty much in full swing, and a dominant bull will have a harem of about ten cows by now.  But you do not have to go all the way up there to see rutting action.  As I was getting breakfast ready before heading out to photograph the state cross country championships out in Palmer, Michelle told me to grab my camera, the cow and calf were back in our yard.  The camera was in the trunk, waiting to go to Palmer.  But, I was able to go out and get the camera, with the cow and calf standing a mere fiften feet away.  They were not concerned with me because the cow was distracted by the mid-size bull moose working his way down our street toward her.  Ignoring her spring calf, the cow wandered over to the bull, lowering her head to sniff him and allowing him to sniff her, wimpering and letting out mixed signals of being interested and wanting to be left alone.  She wandered across the street, and he followed; yet she stopped and let him sniff her again.  They continued on through the neighborhood in that fashion, cutting between houses as the rutting chase went on.

Exit moose

Sunday, August 10th, 2008
Exit moose

There is one cardinal rule for living the life of a photographer in a town like Anchorage. ALWAYS have your camera with you. Whether winter or summer, there will always be photo opportunities that present themselves in the form of weather, wildlife, or spectacular scenery. Sometimes, if you are caught without a camera, you can go grab one and come back to the scene, so long as the lighting or weather conditions do not change rapidly. Of course, since it is a rule, I do not always follow it. I missed out on an opportunity earlier this summer when I took an exit loop from International Airport Road to Minnesota Boulevard southbound. I looked inside the loop, where a miniature forest stood, and saw a fox resting in the grasses. While I was able to get home and back to still see him, I lost my opportunity to approach him.

Fortunately, this evening I had a full range of gear in the trunk as Michelle and I had taken a drive down the Turnagain Arm to check out photo opportunities and were on the way home. We had started to take the exit from Minnesota to Dimond Boulevard when we saw a large bull moose browsing in the grasses and willows along the side of the road. Actually, I saw the gathering of cars along the shoulder before I saw the moose. But being a wildlife photographer requires you to be familiar with behavior. I recognized the human behavior as a sure sign of wildlife, so I slowed down and looked for it. I stopped to photograph the moose, who was in deep shade, but also believed he was eventually going to move to the left into an open grassy area out in the sun, so I moved ahead and waited. A few minutes later, my guess proved correct and I was able to snap off a few shots before the sun went fully behind a row of trees on the other side of the road.

Urban wildlife

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008
Urban wildlife

As a nature photographer, I love living in a city like Anchorage. On any day of the week, you can be driving, biking, or walking along and easily encounter anything from fox to moose and, especially these days it seems, bear. But you always expect those encounters to be OUTSIDE the house. Late one night I heard a commotion — no, it did not involve a fat man and reindeer — and got up at around 4:00 a.m. to find the cats running around in the living room. All four of them. I clicked on the light to see what the fuss was about, and saw a bat flying laps in the room.

Of course, my first thought was to wake up my fiance, Michelle, who I knew would appreciate it because we have talked about building a bat house on our property. Through our research, we felt we had good habitat for bats, and who can beat an animal that eats 5,000 mosquitoes a day. When Michelle came out, the bat had already tucked away in between the book shelves and the wall. Unfortunately, he was gone in the morning, but now we know that we have a great location for bats.