December 17th, 2013 by Carl
The northern lights rising over a small creek, with the Brooks Range mountains in the background, part of Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.
I am just now back from a trip to the arctic looking for the northern lights; 4 of us went north of Fairbanks, to the Brooks Range, and spent a dark, cold week rambling around the mountains, enjoying what is ordinarily an incredible place; in the winter, a unique and somewhat amazing experience.
The northern lights themselves dropped by for a visit each night; we were indeed fortunate. We had cloudy skies for part of just one night, and all the moonlight anyone might ever hope for to light up the foregrounds. In the arctic, the moon doesn’t really pass ‘overhead’, but circles around the sky, so though it’s not high in the sky, it stays out for quite a while.
We were also lucky with the weather; there was just enough wind around (particularly higher in the mountains) to keep things from getting too cold. Weird, huh? Wind (generally) keeps things warmer in the winter. On our final day, there was not the slightest breath of air, and the temperature dropped a lot .. hitting minus 40 right as we departed for the drive south. For the duration of our trip it had been (mostly) in the 0 to minus 20 range; Fahrenheit, of course).
Photography in the cold, at night, can be a challenge, but we were all well prepared, and managed to make some keeper images. I’ll write another post later about tips and ideas to alleviate some of the problems folks run into in such conditions. For now, I gotta catch up on some sleep.
December 3rd, 2013 by Carl
Northern lights rising over the boreal forest, arctic Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.
Just finished photographing bald eagles, and I’ll be heading back up north to this area next week, again loping for the northern lights. Should be a gaggle of fun.
This was one of the most memorable nights I’ve had shooting the northern lights, in the middle of nowhere off the Dalton Highway, in minus 30 degree temperatures, wind blowing like crazy, and we had an absolute blast! You haven’t lived until you’ve stumbled around in the dark in the snow in the wind in the cold trying to take pictures.
For what it might be worth, I shot this photo at ISO 2000, f1.4, and a shutter speed of 5 seconds, with a 24mm lens.
I only have a space or 2 left yet for next March on the Aurora borealis photo tours, so drop me a note if you’re interested in coming along. I can’t guarantee we’ll see a display like this one, but we’ll do our best to be in the right spot if it happens!
Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.
November 14th, 2013 by Carl
A fun little trailer for the annual “Year in Review” video, due for release sometime soon.
2013 - All For Glory
November 5th, 2013 by Carl
John rests on a rock and looks out over the Little Bremner, Bremner and Copper River valleys. The Chugach Mountains are something else! Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.
Here’s an image I took of a guest one morning on our Bremner – Tebay Trek this August. John was sitting quietly before breakfast, on this rock by his tent, and I had grabbed my camera to shoot some landscapes when I saw him here.
The fog in the valley below was amazing; so thick it looked like you could walk across it. Then as silently as it had appeared before dawn, it simply vanished and the entire valley scene opened up. We had a grand, but tough, day’s hike ahead of us, and ended up doing in one day most of what I would typically do here in 2 days.
This is a tough hike, and I don’t recommend it to people lightly; a guide from another outfitter leading his clients made it about 3 days into the hike and turned around, as he felt they weren’t going to make it out in the allotted time. It definitely helps to know the area better, and avoid the brush and the gnar.
It also helps to have such grand weather. This trek has always been good to me, weather wise, so far I don’t think I’ve had anything burlier than a hail storm the day we flew in, and a light rain/snow the next morning. Other than that, I’ve always had good weather here.
For strong intermediate to advanced backpackers, for sure. And definitely give yourself a good 10 days on this route. It’s a “bit of a mission”, as my friend Gabby from New Zealand would say.
November 1st, 2013 by Carl
2 polar bears hard at work, or play. Twins, these 2 year old polar bear cubs played hard on the early snow in fall, in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, Alaska. Polar bears, Ursus maritimus, ANWR, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.
Just back from the arctic and another fantastic experience photographing polar bears. More images to come. This was our last or 2nd last day, and a coupe of the young bears really went to town giving us a great show. Everyone came away with some fantastic photos of the bears playing and wrestling, it was pretty awesome. This photo is one of my favorites from the action.
Getting ready for the bald eagles in Haines, so I’ll try to post something “eagle-ish” before too long. And watch out for a new video coming your way!
If you like the photo, please show some love with a comment below, or at least a little ‘Facebook’ share or like. Thanks all.
October 19th, 2013 by Carl
A young polar bear cub in snow, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. Ursus maritimus. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.
I just got back from 10 days in the arctic, photographing polar bears. Amazing creatures to watch and be around. We were lucky to have a few opportunities with mothers and their cubs (mostly 2 year olds). This particular afternoon we found a young sow and her cubs of the year (born this past January) and they were about as cute as cute gets. Great fun and everyone had a blast watching them.
I’ve got about a thousand things to do right now, so I’ll try to get around to editing some images and posting something more over the weekend or early next week, but for now, hopefully you’ll enjoy this cute little polar bear cub.
October 6th, 2013 by Carl
2 male brown bears playing in Katmai National Park, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.
Told you there were bear photos to come!
Just in from a few weeks in Katmai National Park where we had an amazing time with the bears and a whole lot more. Some incredible situations.
This one we were lucky enough to have these 2 adult male brown bears decide to play and wrestle away the day .. for nearly 30 minutes we watched, photographed and videoed the action. Good times indeed!
I’m heading to the arctic for polar bears. Catch ya soon,
September 16th, 2013 by Carl
A harbor seal in Kukak Bay, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.
Just back in for a day or so between trips, and thought I’d post a photo from this last trip; the Coastal Brown Bear Photo Tour. So, of course, I’ll post a photo of a Harbor Seal, instead of a bear. We had a few great days with the bears, in Geographic Harbor, Kinak Bay and then went up Kukak Bay for the last day and a half, where we were able to find some super, uber tolerant Harbor Seals. It was a real blast seeing them up close and personal.
We also got to photograph some bald eagles, which was neat, as well as a couple of wary sea otters. Sea otters are ridiculously cute, but can be challenging to photograph. We saw a beautiful gray wolf in Geographic Harbor, and also saw whales on our flight over from Kodiak to the Katmai Coast. All in all, a really fun trip.
Bear photos to come.
September 10th, 2013 by Carl
PFDs, helmets, drysuits, spraydecks, gloves and more for whitewater packrafting trips.
Big, big fun .. HUGE fun at the end of a recent (and very soggy) hiking trip, from the Kennicott Glacier, up hidden Creek, over the pass and down to the Lakina River. At the end of the trip, the clients flew back to McCarthy for a hot shower and dinner, while I met up with Jule (fellow guide and cook extraordinaire for our Grizzlies in the Fall Photo Tour) and 2 other folks for a packrafting adventure down the Lakina River. At high water, the river runs a solid Class II, III and a couple of III+ rapids. We bombed down the river in about 5 hours, including a couple of quick stops for bodacious snacks, bathroom breaks, etc.
Just a few moments of this made it on to my video camera, so I edited them together for this little Packrafting Trip video teaser. More info and trip details to come, but for now, enjoy the clip, and read up about Alaska Packrafting Trips – you’ll be wanting to come on a packrafting trip before you know it. Great fun stuff!
September 6th, 2013 by Carl
A slow, careful approach allowed us to get up close and personal with these Harbor Seals on our Sea Kayaking trip. Please click the image above to view a larger version of this photo.
Another photo from our July sea kayaking trip to Icy Bay. After a great day paddling across the bay, hiking along the edge of the Karr Hills and taking a close look at the Yahtse Glacier, we paddled back toward camp and found Harbor seals .. lots of Habor Seals. There are an estimated 3500 harbor seals in Icy Bay, and we saw plenty this afternoon.
It seemed like every other ice floe had a small family of seals lazing upon it, resting on the ice in the sun. Though any of them are somewhat skittish, because they’re so NOT used to human visitors, we had our share of seals that allowed us a closer look.
One interesting aspect of the wildlife ecology here is the prevalence of Harbor seals yet complete absence of orcas, a major predator of the seals. I’ve never heard of anyone, ever, seeing an Orca in Icy Bay; for some reason they just don’t come into the area. As a result, the seals are abundant, and somewhat casual, less wary than they can be elsewhere.
I shot a few video clips of the seals on the icebergs, as well as a number of still photos, as well. It really helps to have such relatively calm waters to sea kayak in when photographing, and Icy Bay is great in that regard. Even though some times its windy here, generally the water is reasonably calm and protected; great sea kayaking.
Heading off for a Brown Bear Photo Tour soon; I’ll maybe catch some more harbor seal photos on that trip, as we’ll be along the Katmai Coast. Big fun!