Image of the Month for March, 2013, is a brown bear from Hallo Bay last year on the Coastal Brown Bear Photo Tour. 2 spaces are available for the tour this year, scheduled for mid-September. Drop me a note if you’re interested.
Just editing some of my files from this past summer, and I ran across this picture from our August Iceberg to Bremner Mines trek. I shot this photo with my little Nikon pocket camera, a Nikon Coolpix L22. I started carrying a point and shoot (P&S) this summer, for the first time in I don’t know how long; too long!
It’s definitely nice to have something handy and accessible, without trying to deal with a larger SLR hanging from a strap while hiking. I generally carry my SLR or SLRs inside my backpack, stashed away where they won’t get (a) damaged and/or (b) left behind quite so easily. It’s SO easy while backpacking to stop and take a quick break, put something down, and walk off without it. That sucks when it’s a can of bear spray or a Nalgene, but it REALLY sucks when it’s something like an SLR, and insanely expensive.
So this summer I hiked with a trusty little Nikon Coolpix L22 in my shirt pocket – the perfect size for a P&S camera. I miss the image quality, of course, when I get home to view the images, but I mostly miss the functionality of the camera in the field. This could well be simply because I’m not as familiar with that camera as I should be, and so I just “point and shoot”, rather than fussing with trying to make some kind of manual controls. There were a few times when I really thought “man, I wish this camera would let me do x-y-z” – which of course I could easily have done if I’d had the SLR in my hands. Continue reading…
A backpacking blog with no post about hiking boots? What gives?
Hiking boots are one of those subjects that are SO subjective that it’s invariably a much lengthier conversation than a blog post might, or should, be. Different boots fit different people well, and different boots fit different situations differently. I can suggest what works well for me, in situation x-y-z, and that pair of boots might be completely inappropriate for you in the same situation. or, they might be completely inappropriate for me in situation a-b-c.
So it’s extremely difficult to try to write a ‘general’ idea about boots. I’ll give it a shot.
Leather vs synthetic. The biggest question most start with is “leather boots versus synthetic”. Full leather boots will typically tend to be more durable, provide a little better ankle support (though I have doubts about how much), be heavier and more expensive. If you backpack off-trail a lot, carrying a heavy load, and want a pair of boots that will last a long time, my suggestion is a leather pair of boots. But, if you hike mostly on trail, don’t carry a big heavy pack very often, and don’t mind replacing your boots more frequently, synthetic boots are often a good choice. Continue reading…
Photographers, think about heading on up to Alaska in November, 2013 and join me for the bald eagle photo tour there. It’s a weeklong trip, based out of Haines, Alaska, all accommodation and ground transport included, and we’ll spend the week shooting the world famous bald eagle congregation. Every fall, as many as 3500 bald eagles may show up to the Chilkat River area to feed on a late salmon run. While most of the rivers in Alaska are freezing over by that time, warmer ground water from a couple of nearby springs keep parts of the Chilkat and neighboring rivers open, and the bald eagles drop by for a feast.
This photo tour is also, for those so inclined, a photo workshop, where I’ll teach and discuss some techniques to help improve your photography; particularly we’ll look at wildlife photography subjects, such as tracking and shooting fast moving and flying subjects. We’ll look at in the field practices that involve trying to maximize your shooting opportunities on the ground; how to be in the right place at the right time.
The bald eagles here offer us a variety of photo opportunities, from close up headshots and portraits to action shots of bald eagles fighting and fishing, soaring against spectacular mountain backdrops and trying to create some of those grand “animal in the landscape” photos. Continue reading…
This year (2013) seems to definitely be the year that photographers want to head north to photograph the northern lights here in Alaska; the number of websites that have suddenly added an “Alaska Northern Lights Photo Tour” to their schedule seems to have tripled in about 6 months.
That, and considering the number of photographers heading up here on their own, or with friends, to photograph the Aurora borealis this winter/spring means we’ll very likely see dozens, if not hundreds, of really, really amazing northern lights photographs from this coming season. I know I’m sure looking forward to seeing all the great images.
Given this influx of folks from “down south”, I thought a good subject to write about, one that I hope many people will find useful, might be winter driving and winter travel in Alaska. Coming, as I did when I moved here, from a background of very little real “winter conditions”, I had a lot to learn when I arrived, and some of that might be helpful for others headed this way. Not just about the physical driving on snow and ice. What to bring with me. What hazards I’m likely to encounter. And on and on. Continue reading…
Just a quick post to announce the calendar winners from the recent giveaway are Natalie, David and Jason. Happy New Year to these three, and the calendars are in the mail. Congrats all, and thanks to everyone for your entries. Tons o’ fun!
The name of the mountain was Mount Blackburn, from Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve. The photo in this post was taken from the other side (east) of the mountain, winter solstice a few years ago. Mount Blackburn stands 16 391′ high, and is the 5th highest peak in the United States, the tallest in the Wrangell Mountains.
Welcome to 2013. Here’s a photo of the Milky Way, towering high over the Copper River, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Standing outside at minus 40degrees to shoot at night here is a chore, but a pretty amazing experience all the same.
What better way to celebrate the new year than a quick tip of the hat to Expeditions Alaska’s trip of the year for 2012? The winner, for me, was the Malaspina Glacier traverse we did in August. 12 awesome days on the southern coastal edge of Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, I led a group of 5 hardy adventurers over the largest piedmont glacier* in North America, down to the beach, and along the coast to our pickup place.
A sketchy start, as our backcountry bush pilot informed us, right before we departed, that we wouldn’t be able to fly to our intended destination in the Samovar Hills. The huge snowfall we’d had over the previous winter hadn’t yet melted out enough to land safely at the remote backcountry strip. Continue reading…
In the holiday spirit, I’m offering three 8″x12″ monthly calendars as giveaways this year. All you have to do to enter is (a) be a subscriber to the “Ramblings” newsletter (you can subscribe below), and (b) correctly answer the question posed in the latest version of that newsletter.
You’ll see the information on the “Holidays 2012” newsletter here.
Please do NOT enter your answer on this blog post, but send it to me via email.