Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and the aurora borealis photo, or northern lights, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.
We’ve had some pretty great weather here through the month of February, and that means, a great time to get out and look for northern lights. Working on my own project, rather than photo tours, I was able to hit a few destinations I wanted to shoot that are a little more hit and miss; less reliable than some others, but places I wanted to shoot nonetheless.
One of those places is Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Inevitably I’d be in the wrong place at the wrong time in a place slightly larger than the country of Switzerland; I’d head off in one direction and then have fog and haze cloud up the skies, or I’d head off in another direction, and the lights display would be directly behind me. The mountains in front me being what I want to shoot, and the lights behind me. Not a great mix.
But, such is what happens when you have specific ideas in mind; it’s important to be flexible in nature photography, and particularly so when shooting the northern lights, but part of working on a project involves fulfilling your own ideas. Spontaneity is great, and I’m all for it. But I’m also interested in trying to make a photo of something I envision ahead of time, and working toward that.
Winter snow load bends the small spruce trees of the boreal forest in arctic Alaska, along the Dalton Highway. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.
Just a quick post between trips here. This image is from a recent trip to northern Alaska, poking around along the Dalton highway looking for some aurora borealis and nice winter arctic landscapes. We found these spruce trees up north, and had a grand afternoon photographing them. It’s a treat indeed to find trees like this, as winds and slightly warmer temperatures will quickly move all the snow and hoar frost from the trees.
I love how the snowload bends those trees over in such cool shapes.
Spruce trees in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.
2013. It’s a new year already. The days are getting longer, so I’m told. I’m another year older, slower, fatter and balder. But a new year can also mean a great time to focus on our work. Draw it into focus by outlining and giving voice to where we might like for it to go. Without that articulation, it’s easy to wander in circles, and not really move forward with our art.
I’m reminded of a great line by my friend Craig Tanner, when he was asked what is the most important concern to him, as an artist; his answer, so simple, was “the only thing that matters is, is my work moving forward”.
What can we do to move our work forward? Well, make some goals to move toward, for one thing. And really, goals is the wrong word, I think, for art. We don’t score goals. We don’t target anything; we make art, we create stuff. That’s all. Continue reading →
Aurora borealis, or northern lights, over spruce trees, White Mountains near Fairbanks, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.
Apologies for the long delays in getting back to the blog. I’ve been busy working on a new website (details coming soon enough, I hope), and then the last couple of weeks over in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park for a snowshoe trip, and then a week in central Alaska looking for the aurora borealis.
Now I’m back for a couple of brief days before heading out again to the park for another trip, snowshoeing and photographing. So I won’t be around much at least for another week or so.
This shot was from last night in the White Mountains, just north of Fairbanks. The aurora rocked all night long. We got back in the cabin at a little after 5, then up at 9, breakfast, and on the road back to Anchorage. I was hoping to go back out tonight, but I don’t see that happening at this point. I’m tired.
People tend to underestimate how difficult it can be to shoot the aurora. It means long nights, and often little sleep. And very often, very little good photographic fortune. But sometimes we get lucky.
Black and white photo of wind blown snow on a snow covered ridge, winter, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.
Sometimes black and white just seems to work. And usually it’s apparent before I even set up the camera. Rarely do I convert images to black and white after I’ve shot them if I hadn’t planned on doing so beforehand.
This photo I shot a few winters ago, high on a ridge in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park. I like the backlit snow, and a slight breeze kicked up, blowing snow over the ridge.
I’m looking forward to getting out and shooting a bit more over the next couple of months; this winter has seen me tied to the computer more than I hoped, but hopefully that’s almpost past and I can go shoot a little bit more. Some of these old photos from past winters have inspired me to go do it some more, and I’m looking forward to getting out soon.
Wintertime on the Kuskulana Glacier. Abstract photo of ice patterns and colors on the glacier, Wrangell Mountains, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image to view a larger version of the photo.
It’s interesting to think about how technology and cultural constructs shape what we think and feel. Today we live in a somewhat bizarre world, where digital mediums both record and present way too much of our lives; we can watch Australia’s then Prime Ministerial candidate Kevin Rudd (he went on to win the election) pick something from his ear and eat it during gov’t Question Time, we watch a person rush over and catch a baby falling off an escalator, etc, etc. So much of our lives is recorded and witnessed again, from the mundane to the exciting, the thrilling to the disheartening, our greatest moments and our worst. Whether recorded intentionally or unintentionally, today we see it almost all on the big screen.
In some ways, the power of visual imagery has only increased, it appears, with the inundation of imagery that digital technology has yielded. Some folks might suggest that this flood of images waters down its potency, but it appears to only strengthen with increased volume. The more imagery we’re subjected to, the stronger, apparently, their hold on us. Continue reading →
Black and white photo of Mount Sanford, one of the highest peaks in the Wrangell Mountains, at dawn, from a small frozen kettle pond. Winter snow creates patterns on the frozen lake. Mt. Sanford, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the thumbnail above to view a larger version of this photo.
Here’s an image of Mount Sanford, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, I took a while ago, that I converted to black and white in photoshop. I shot this after the alpenglow had faded, and the sun rose high enough in the sky to light up not just Mount Sanford’s massive peak, but the entire floor of the Copper River Basin.
It’s very easy to be tempted to pack up and head off after the alpenglow on a mountain wanes; I often find the light immediately following the alpenglow to be unappealing to me. The sky has a weird yellowish tint to it, and the contrast between the dark, shaded foreground and the brightly lit peak is too great to really photograph well; for me, anyway. Continue reading →