Windows of Opportunity

Windows of Opportunity

Sometimes life gets in the way and you cannot get out and shoot as much as you like.  I had not yet been out to photograph since snow fell on the ground here in the lower part of Anchorage a month ago, so I determined I would get up early on Saturday and head out.  The conditions looked good in the morning; skies to the east and west were dark and clear, with stars twinkling throughout.  With a 9:33 sunrise, I headed out just after 8:00 toward the Turnagain Arm, one of my favorite staples for morning photo locations.  Living in south Anchorage also makes me lean toward that southerly destination.

But as I approached the Turnagain Arm while heading south on the Seward Highway, I could increasingly see that the Arm was enshrouded in clouds.  I decided to keep going, hoping that I would see some windows in the clouds that would allow the sun to shine through once it rose.  I had to get all the way to Girdwood before I was able to see any such opening, and even then, it only was wide enough to show just a pair of peaks across the Turnagain Arm in the Kenai Mountains.  I kept going, looking for more openings, but as I continued southeast and ultimately down Portage Valley, the clouds simply grew thicker, more even, and lower.  My best hope was the pair of exposed peaks back up by Girdwood.

I headed back toward Girdwood and found a good vantage point where I could see the two peaks, stopping once to capture a moody scene of the arm and the cloudy landscape.  Once the sun finally rose, it sidelight the two peaks, showing a hint of alpenglow.  I captured a few images, and started to work my way home.  I still held out hope that, as I approached the mouth of the Arm, broken clouds would allow light to come through.

My hopes were fulfilled, for as I approached Bird Ridge, I started to see more glimpses of sunlight here and there; broken shafts offering narrow bands of sunlight on mountain ridges, or glowing highlights of mountains through thinning clouds.  I stopped at Indian Valley, Bird Creek, and past Beluga Point near McHugh Creek.  While I was not able to capture the alpenglow first light I had hoped for, the scattered clouds and shafts of light provided more than enough drama for any landscape photographer to be happy about.

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