Archive for December, 2008

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008
Happy New Year!

So maybe we celebrate a little early in Anchorage. It’s not like we don’t have a long night of darkness in which we could shoot off fireworks. I think perhaps the city fires them off at 8:00 p.m. local time because it is midnight on the east coast. But, here was the scene, earlier this evening, at Town Square Park in downtown Anchorage, at about -10 F, with a hearty crowd of cold-ready Alaskans ready to celebrate the new year.

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.

Patience pays

Sunday, December 28th, 2008
Patience pays

There are a few stands of snow-covered spruce in Conner’s Bog I have had my eye on for over a week. Each morning I have hoped that the sun would come out in the morning and give me the light I wanted, but each day I have been disappointed … until today. I saw the stars out last night and hoped that the forecast would hold true for clear and cold in the morning. Up early, I saw that the skies were still clear, so I grabbed the gear I have had at the ready for the last several days and, along with Michelle, headed out to Conner’s Bog to be set up for the first light. It was certainly as cold as it looks, but, with proper layers, head gear and snow shoes, I was set to go out and spend some time among the trees.

I think I will head out to Lake Hood and do some photographing later this afternoon. If the skies remain clear, it will be a good evening for shooting the downtown skyline. Then, off to Town Square Park to photograph the ice sculptures, which are supposed to be completed today.

Moving forward with multimedia

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

At long last, I can now post slide shows on my blog. This will be a regular feature, allowing me to combine images from a particular project with music or narrative. It is actually one of the key things I wanted to be able to do with my new web site. The first slide show is “Gates by Air,” with images compiled from two different trips to Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve in 2008. Enjoy!

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

ESPN Publication

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

I had one of my photos from the Alaska state high school football championships published on ESPN.com. Here is the link.

Cold is gold

Sunday, December 14th, 2008
Cold is gold

After yesterday morning’s cold, crisp and beautiful early light, I decided to get up early today and head out to Portage Valley for dawn and first-light photos. Michelle joined me, book in tow to keep her busy while I was out capturing images in the early light. We stopped and picked up some espresso drinks on the way down, not wanting to wait as long as Girdwood to pick up drinks from the coffee shop there at the gas station.

I was a bit disturbed at first about the atmospheric conditions. It was clear that there was a thick fog bank hanging over the Anchorage bowl, but we headed out anyway with the hopes that conditions would change. Once we got around Beluga Point, it became fairly evident that the fog conditions were localized. I began to see breaks where clear skies showed the pale Periwinkle of early colors. We got to Portage Lake at around 8:20, well before the sun was to come up, but early enough to have some nice pre-dawn light adding a little glow to the ridge lines. I shot the frozen lake extensively, even working the frost crystals on the surface with the macro. As conditions continued to remain fairly stagnant, I decided to join Michelle back in the truck and head back out down the valley to see what the light was doing. I looked for a good spot with the Portage Creek in view and some ridge lines for backdrop. Just as I found the right spot, the first light started to hit the peaks. I proceeded to then work non-stop for another two hours before heading back toward Girdwood and Chair 5 for lunch. I stopped along the way near Twenty Mile to photograph a scene I liked, but turned back when I post-holed into a creek. Next time, snowshoes.

In the evening, after finishing an outdoor portrait session up at the Glen Alps area, I shot some of the late light on Mt. Redoubt and include those in this post.

Frosty moon

Saturday, December 13th, 2008
Frosty moon

So, Michelle tells me that the full moon we have right now is one of the visually largest to come in a while, apparently because of the close proximity of the moon’s orbit. Well, it is perfect timing for us to finally have some clear skies — which also means really cold temperatures — so we can enjoy it. I had to spend the day indoors today, unfortunately, photographing the 123A West State Volleyball Championships. But, as I pulled into the parking lot for Dimond High School, I saw the moon being framed by the frosty trees and took some time to stop and set up the tripod. I will be out early tomorrow morning to head down to Portage Valley for first light, so I will be looking for the moon then, too.

Upcoming Hawai’i presentation

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008
Upcoming Hawai'i presentation

Eighteen years ago, I visited Hawai’i for the first time. I am not counting the two trans-Pacific flights I did through Hawai’i as a kid when we lived on Guam. No, this was a bona fide stop for four days with my ship, the U.S.S. David R. Ray, as she deployed from Long Beach Naval Station to the Persian Gulf, for what would turn out to be anything but a routine deployment.

Then, last December, Michelle and I spent about ten days on the Big Island, where I asked her to marry me. We trekked all over Hawai’i, spending time on the Kona Coast, going through the island on the saddle road and up to Mauna Kea, and down to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park (where I learned I have been mispronouncing “Kilauea” all my life – the stress is supposed to be on the second syllable, not the third). For those of you who visited my old web site, before I had this blog, I posted the narrative of our daily treks on a travelogue on my site. Then, just a few months later, I traveled with the crew of the U.S.S. Peleliu from San Diego to Pearl Harbor to take crew portraits for their cruisebook covering their deployment to the Persian Gulf.

This coming Tuesday, December 16, I will be giving a presentation at the weekly meeting of the Alaskan Prospector’s Society at 7:30 at the First United Methodist Church on the Delaney Park Strip in Anchorage. I will talk about my experiences in Hawai’i, including some humorous notes on local culture, and present a slide show. The slide show will cover photos from both Hawai’i trips, in a piece called, “Hawai’i: By Land and By Sea.” While I know many marine officers were concerned about possible action in Iran, I am pleased to say that the ship and the 15th Expeditionary Marine Unit returned home to San Diego last month.

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.