Portage morning magic

Portage morning magic

No matter the time of the year, my favorite place to photograph the first light near Anchorage is Portage Lake in Chugach National Forest.  About 45 minutes from Anchorage, Portage Lake also offers the most accessible glaciers within a short drive from the city.  While just a couple of decades ago the glacier spilled out onto the lake and within easy sight of the Begich-Boggs Visitor Center, it now has fully receded around the corner of the mountain and fully off the lake.  However, nearby Byron Glacier is easily accessible from a short 3/4 mile trail from a nearby trailhead.

I was a little late getting to the lake in time for sunrise.  My alarm went off at 4:00, and I was out the door ten minutes later.  By the time I got to the lake, it was about five, some five minutes after sunrise, well within time to start seeing alpenglow on the peaks.  But, a thin layer of clouds to the east that I saw on my way down was keeping the light away from me.  Twenty minutes later, though, the sun did start shining on the peaks around the lake and it was gorgeous, crisp light, bringing a hit of warmth to a blue and rather cold-looking scene.  It wasn’t too cold, though, as I worked my way down to the shore wearing shorts and a fleece, stepping gingerly on the scree slope that served as a shoreline.

I used a Lee hard graduated neutral density filter, either 2- or 3- stop depending on the composition, to balance out the exposure between the highlights and the shadows.  Working for about thirty minutes, I stopped when the light was getting far down on the opposing ridge lines.  I wanted to stop at a few places along the way out of the Portage Valley to explore a couple of possibilities, including a hanging glacier on the east side of the valley.

Leave a Reply