Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

Anything winter related – Alaska winters, like any winters of the circumpolar Great North, are a thing unto themselves. This section relates to all things winter, photos of Alaska winter scenes, snowshoeing and skiing, and a whole bunch more.

Image of the Month, Jan, 2012; Lunar eclipse

Saturday, December 31st, 2011
The moon glows in the difused light of a full lunar eclipse.

The full moon glows in the diffused light of a full lunar eclipse. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Welcome to 2012!

This image of the lunar eclipse was taken in December. What a cool phenomenon that was to see.

I hope you enjoy this shot, taken from Glenn Alps way too early in the morning.

Cheers

Carl

Free Wrangell – St. Elias winter ski/photography trip

Friday, December 23rd, 2011
Snowshoeing in winter in the boreal forest of Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Snowshoeing in winter in the boreal forest of Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

A Holiday Season Special – Spring Equinox Celebration

 

Please note: – 10:00pm Jan 17th; entries are now closed. The drawing takes place the morning of the 18th – see below for details!!!

OK, this one is so simple it’s ridiculous.

In the best of the holiday spirit, here’s what I’m doing. I’m offering a free trip to Wrangell – St. Elias National Park. This offer is open to any who who think they’d enjoy a trip like this. The more people that enter, the more people will win.

If fewer than 250 people enter, I’ll give away a trip for free to 2 people. If I get more than 250 people enter, I’ll give away 4 free spots on the trip.

Wrangell – St. Elias National Park. 6 nights in a backcountry cabin; days spent snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and/or hiking, enjoying some winter landscape photography, possible northern lights photography and the quietest, peaceful-est cabin you never been to. Here’s what you need to know.

The Trip

We leave Anchorage, drive 5 hours to Wrangell – St. Elias National Park. 5 nights in the cabin, March 18-23, and return to Anchorage on March 24. During the day, we can either snowshoe, cross country ski, or, depending on weather and snow conditions, hike.

We’ll have the van nearby so we can easily saunter down to the van, drive 10 miles down the road, snowshoe all day, drive back to the cabin and enjoy the comfort of a wood stove, hot food and a quiet like no other. Next day, we can do the same in the other direction.

The exploratory opportunities are literally endless here. Winter landscape photography opportunities abound. This is a massive landscape; Mt Sanford rises over 16 000′ right out the window. It’s also an intimate boreal forest, for some great shooting opportunities. There’s a decent chance of seeing moose in the area, and possibly caribou. The northern lights are a strong possibility; displays are typically strongest and most active right around the Equinox, so this timing is optimal for great northern lights viewing/photography. There are never any guarantees with the aurora, of course.

Price: Normally $1400.00 per person, this year 2, or possibly 4 people get to come out for free.

Dates: March 18-23, 2012

My holiday gift and thank you to everyone who’s supported what I do.

Requirements to enter (more…)

Happiest of holidays to everyone

Sunday, December 18th, 2011
Winter in Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Kuskulana River, Alaska.

Winter in Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Wrangell Mountains, Mount Blackburn, Kuskulana River, Winter, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

I’d like to take a few minutes to say thanks so much to everyone for a really great year this year. We had some fantastic adventures, I met some wonderful people, and am so grateful to you all for coming out, as always. It really means a lot to me that so many people come out and share this amazing place with me. Thank you.

And I’d like to wish everyone the absolute happiest of holidays, and all of my very best to each of you for the coming New Year.

Travel safe, and travel well. Thanks again.

Cheers

Carl

Tips for aurora borealis photography – part 3

Monday, November 21st, 2011
Northern lights, over the Copper River, and Mount Sanford, Mount Drum and Mount Wrangell, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Northern lights, over the Copper River, and Mount Sanford, Mount Drum and Mount Wrangell, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Part 3 of my complete guide on aurora borealis photography. So far, on Page 1, we’ve covered the initial stuff. Finding the aurora borealis, scouting your locations during the day to find potential composition sites, what clothes you need to keep warm and comfortable, the importance of bringing along a good headlamp.

Page 2 addresses the question of what camera gear you need when photographing the northern lights, and what camera settings are most useful. Page 2 also covers a broader range of issues you’re likely to run into, like how to find critical focus in the dark northern sky. Page 3, to wrap things up,  begins with some thoughts on composing your aurora borealis photos. (more…)

How to photograph the northern lights – part 2

Monday, November 21st, 2011
Aurora borealis lights up the winter night sky over Mt McKinley, highest mountain in North America, also called Denali. The Waxing Crescent Moon is setting just above the horizon of the Alaska Range.

Aurora borealis lights up the winter night sky over Mt McKinley, highest mountain in North America, also called Denali. The Waxing Crescent Moon is setting just above the horizon of the Alaska Range. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks

Page 2 of my complete guide to photographing the northern lights. We got started on Page 1 with a discussion on where you might find the aurora borealis, and then on scouting your locations during the day. Clothing to keep you warm in the cold polar winter and the importance of a good headlamp choice round out Page 1. We’ll start this page with a look at camera gear choices and considerations.
(more…)

How to photograph the aurora borealis – Part 1

Monday, November 21st, 2011
Photographing the Aurora borealis, Alaska.

Photographing the aurora borealis in September, surrounded by fall colors, Chugach Mountains, Glenn Highway, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

The aurora borealis is one of those experiences we can have that stay with us a long, long time. Not just in our minds and memories, but in our body, in our hearts, in our soul, in our very being; witnessing the aurora borealis stays with us in how we see the world around us. It’s a moving and powerful event, and I’m always grateful and humbled by the moment. It really is that incredible.

Photographing the aurora borealis, on the other hand, can be one of those frustrating and anxious experiences that similarly stay with us a long, long time; raises our blood pressure, causes depression, causes exhilaration, frostbite, tiredness, insomnia and too many other ailments to mention. It’s difficult, extremely challenging, and infuriating. It’s cold. It’s dark. The aurora borealis is often fleeting, ever changing, and virtually impossible to rigidly predict. It requires a clear, or nearly clear, sky. That means long hours of waiting, photographing, deleting, photographing, waiting, not photographing, shivering, mumbling, drinking coffee. It means fighting to stay awake, tearing your hair our wondering where is the best location to head toward, hours before even setting up a tripod. In short, it’s not easy.

This 3 part article is intended to help you plan for (and work around, best we can) some of the struggles and pitfalls that await. It’s still up to you, your camera and the gods of luck to actually bring home the images, but hopefully this article will help you with that. If you see any thing repeated in this article, figure that repetition probably suggests emphasis. Please feel free to add your own thoughts, questions, and so forth, in the comments section below. (more…)

Cold Weather Photography Clothing

Monday, November 21st, 2011
Snowshoeing, McCarthy, Alaska.

Snowshoeing on snow machine trail on Kennicott River, winter, McCarthy, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

The cold in Alaska, in the winter, is incredible. Its stillness, its silence, its depth, and the intimacy of really feeling alone in the frozen north woods is an experience like no other. it’s It’s almost as if the cold is some thing, some being itself, a tangible reality rather than a temperature. It’s a unique experience, and it’s not at all entirely bad – in fact, I love it. But I don’t love freezing my tail off. My friend Patrick Endres, longtime Alaska resident and a fantastic photographer says it best, “I like being in the cold, but I don’t like being cold”. It’s really an extraordinary experience, and I do look forward to the winter. But I don’t want to be cold; I want to be bundled up and cozy, and enjoy the cold from inside my insulation.

Photography in the cold is a tough gig; snowshoeing or skiing is rough when the mercury falls beneath minus 20, but doesn’t come close to trying to photograph in similar conditions, in my opinion. I haven’t found any activity that compares to photography; standing around, not moving much, trying to operate fiddly, frozen camera controls and tripods with fingers that refuse to move. I’ve crosscountry skied 10 miles and more at 45below, and I’ll take that any day over futzing with my camera at 30 below. When those mitts come off and my fingertips touch frozen metal, it burns like, well, like I don’t like it at all. So, if you’re headed to Alaska for some winter photography, such as for the Iditarod or to photograph the aurora borealis, hopefully this page might provide you some use.

Your winter clothing should align with the Three L’s: “Loft, Loose, and Lots” of it. That’s the key to warmth here. Big puffy down jackets, loose, not tight fit, and lots of clothes, head to toe = warm. Don’t skimp.

A good basic rule for cold weather clothing (and I mean, crazy, Alaska-winter cold, not 45 degrees F chilly) is a simple one; looser fits = better. Tighter fits, especially with footwear and handwear, are colder = NOT better. So keep that in mind when you order your boots, socks and gloves.

Comfort isn’t the bottom line here; at 40 below, comfort means warm. So buy your gear a little bigger than usual – a half size or so, if possible. Don’t go crazy, but don’t go with that sleek, skin-tight muscle shirt and form fitting, skin tight lycra pants you prance around in during the summer. Trust me. 🙂

The specific items list below is not meant to suggest these items are what you need, or even that these are what I think is best; it’s simply a look at what I have, or what I wish I had. Most of it works pretty well, and I’ve noted any items here that I think might not be the best choice. So, for now, my cold weather photography (i.e., not backcountry-travel) clothing goes a little something like this: (more…)

Image of the Month – June 2011

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011
Photo of Mount Blackburn alpenglow, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Mount Blackburn in alpenglow, across the Root Glacier and Donoho Basin, winter time, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Image of the Month for June, 2011. Mount Blackburn, in all the glory of a clear winter morning.

This is another of those photos I really wanted to shoot for along time. As grand a scene as Mount Blackburn is in the summertime, from Kennicott or McCarthy, it doesn’t get that really great alpenglow like this, because the sun rises and sets so far to the north during those months.

For years I thought about making the effort to shoot Mount Blackburn in the winter in rich warm light. Finally making the photo was a nice treat.

Cheers

Carl

Image of the Month, April 2011

Friday, April 1st, 2011
Mount Sanford, Copper River Basin, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Mount Sanford and the Copper River Basin, winter, dawn alpenglow, boreal forest and tundra, Wrangell Mountains, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

From a trip to Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve last month, here’s a photo of Mount Sanford and the Copper River Basin.

The wind was fairly whippin this morning, and it was way colder than I like for it to be, but the light was nice. What a  mountain, eh?

Cheers

Carl

Northern Lights over Denali

Friday, March 11th, 2011
Aurora borealis and Denali, Denali State Park, Alaska.

Aurora borealis lights up the winter night sky over Mt McKinley, highest mountain in North America, also called Denali. Viewpoint from Denali State Park, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey folks

The highest mountain in North America, Denali, or Mt McKinley as its more officially known, of the Alaska Range are dwarfed by the Aurora borealis, spiralling overhead in the night sky.

What a treat it was to see this last night. Well worth waiting up for. It’s 10:45am right now, and I’ve only been home maybe 30 minutes. A long night, cold and windy, but some fantastic sights to see. Winter in Alaska can be long and cold and dark; but those things are quickly forgotten in the moment.

On another note, my thoughts and prayers go all the way out to those folks in Japan; I haven’t seen all the reports yet, but from what I understand, the situation is pretty horrible. I feel for you.

Cheers

Carl

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Owner and guide Carl Donohue.

 

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