Aurora Borealis Article

I was hoping for a good aurora borealis display last night but alas, the lights did not cooperate. If earth's magnetic field doesn't shift far enough south, lights stay low on the horizon and are not visible back here in Eagle River Valley as we are surrounded by the Chugach Mountains. Since I have no new images to show, you may enjoy this short article about chasing auroras. I was recently interviewed by Melinda Munson of Tripod Communications for this piece. If you'd like to learn some of the basic science behind the northern lights and view some of my best images from over the years, follow this link: http://alaskafamilyfun.org/chasing-and-catching-the-northern-lights-p350-186.htm

Happy Aurora Chasing!

Colin

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October 9

Most days I come out here just to breathe, nothing more. When the thoughts stop flowing and I find my breath, that’s when the magic happens. That’s when I find inspiration, when I can imagine.

Happy Birthday John Lennon.

Colin

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September

September came on with a vengeance and now it has nearly passed. When the first dustings of snow arrived above 6,000 feet, I assumed it would quickly melt. Instead, it continued to accumulate, hopefully a sign of a snowy winter ahead. Have a great weekend out there, wherever you are!

PS - Don't forget about my signed & numbered bear print promotion. It's not too early to begin holiday shopping: http://www.colintyler.com/online-store/

Colin

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Brown Bear Sow and Cub, Artist Proof Prints, $75 each

Hello and happy Thursday, friends! I am grateful for the overwhelming response to the photos of the brown bear sow and cub that I shared recently. I have added both images to my online store, available on canvas, metal, or high-gloss photo paper. I have also decided to release the first ten artist proofs, 18x12" high-gloss prints, signed and numbered, for $75 each

It's never too early to begin shopping for the holidays! Follow the link to my online store: http://www.colintyler.com/online-store/

As always, thank you for following my journey. Every purchase helps to keep me out exploring and sharing with the world. Feel free to share!

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Morning Brown Bear Cub

Occasionally, if your mind is in the right place, opportunities are presented when subject and light briefly collide. After the moment has passed you may find yourself short of breath, reeling from the exhilaration, knowing that you captured the moment perfectly and no matter how many times you go back and look at the image, scanning for details of exposure and clarity, you nailed it.

When the universe provides such a moment, I am grateful for the experience first and the images second. Given a choice of responding with either ego or gratitude, I will always choose gratitude.

Colin

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Crow Pass

It was a long day but we made it over the Crow Pass Trail, down to Eagle River and to the Yukla Yurt in about 16 hours (21 miles with a 2,000' ascent followed by a 4,000' descent and numerous water crossings to boot). We started off a bit later than planned and, as a result, finished the final 8 miles in the dark. Many thanks to the crew - Tyler, Jennifer, Amanda, and of course, our fearless canine leader, Freija. We were dragging by the end but everyone arrived intact. I'd been saving this bottle of pinot noir that I brought back from Aurum Wines in 2014 - a winery I lived & worked at in New Zealand. I decided this was a worthwhile event to finally open and share it with friends. More photos to come. Thank you for all the well wishes before our departure and, as always, thank you for following along on my adventures.

Cheers!

Colin

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Alaskan Llamas

It is not uncommon for a visitor at the Nature Center to inquire about finding an unusual set of tracks while hiking the trails here, smaller than moose but similar in shape. My automatic response, naturally, is that they are the tracks of an elusive unicorn. When that doesn’t fly, I explain that there is a local couple that hikes with their llamas here quite regularly. Last week, I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with them. It was a great experience. They made good company, even hauled my tripod for me, and I certainly llearned a llot about llamas!

Colin

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Iowa Sunset

Back at the airport after a quick weekend getaway to Minnesota and my mom's hometown of Decorah, Iowa to surprise my uncle Harold at his 80th birthday party. Many thanks to my cousin Nikki for taking me out to enjoy the scenery last night and setting us up for this lovely Midwest summer sunset. Let's hope I can get back to Alaska in a reasonable time flying standby.

As always, thank you for following along...

Colin

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Autumn Photography Class

Hello and happy Saturday, everybody! I will be offering a digital photography class on Sunday, September 24, at the Eagle River Nature Center if you or anyone you know may be interested. It begins at 9 am with a classroom portion and then we will go outside for the rest of the day (weather permitting). The focus will be on understanding basic principles of digital photography and shooting in manual mode with an emphasis on capturing fall colors. We will finish around 5 pm. The cost is $75 and is limited to 10 people. Follow the link to register and, as always, feel free to share. Thank you for following along!

http://www.ernc.org/courses/digital-photography-workshop

Colin

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Remembering Crazy Jeff, Portraits of an Alaskan Hitchhiker

It's not often that I share the "Facebook Memories" that show up in my newsfeed, but this is worth sharing. It's been 8 years since I decided to take chance by offering a ride to a stranger, which turned into a great friendship. This was written in 2014, after the world lost a very unique soul:

It was a dull, overcast day when I was was on my way to Denali National Park to photograph fall colors and give a slide show lecture to a tour group at one of the lodges near the park entrance. Driving through the endless strip malls and stoplights that make up Wasilla, the scenery matched the muted skies as the line of traffic moved slowly along. As I was passing yet another row of box stores, I noticed a gaunt, lanky fellow alongside the road thumbing for a ride. I caught just a glimpse of his face, but it was enough to see that he had a unique look and exuberant personality that I wanted to photograph.

I’ve been known to give someone a lift when they need it, but this guy looked a little shady; not to mention the large, bone-handled knife on his belt that didn’t put me at ease either. For the next few miles I debated going back to pick him up. I was on a mission to get through Wasilla and up to Denali as quickly as possible but I also saw a potential photographic opportunity that I didn’t want to ignore. I ultimately decided to turn around and offer him a ride in exchange for photos.

I parked my truck and walked over to him, camera in hand. As he stood up from his crouched stance and looked at with me an inquisitive, wild-eyed gaze I asked: “Where are you going?” “Willow” he said, which is only an hour up the road in the same direction I was headed. I replied: “Tell you what, I’ll give you a ride in exchange for letting me take some photos of you, you’ve got a great look.” At that moment, he dropped his head to the side and let out a big laugh, showing off years of poor dental hygiene that only served to compliment his piercing blue eyes, sharp cheekbones and braided goatee. He was the embodiment of Alaskan redneck, standing well over six feet tall and topped off with a hand made birch bark hat. “Sure” he said, and we introduced. His name was Jeff but I silently gave him the nickname “Crazy Jeff” as I shook his hand. I picked up my camera and watched the personality I saw gleaming from the side of the road come to life before me.

There was never a dull moment on the ride to Willow, Crazy Jeff had a lot of energy and I was keeping an eye on the Crocodile Dundee knife still riding on his belt. I brought him to his son’s place and he showed me around the sawmill equipment he had stored there; he was a logger from California who moved to Alaska in his early twenties, continued to work in the lumber industry and did his share of gold mining as well. He was hoping to get his saws and truck moved over to his cabin near Hatcher Pass to start his business up again. I took more photos of him, gave him the sandwich and banana I had packed for the road and continued northward to Denali after getting directions to his cabin.

A couple weeks later I would find my way out to Jeff’s place, the absolute quintessential Alaskan log cabin on the banks of the Little Susitna River, complete with electricity and a stellar view of the Matanuska Range but no running water. Seeing as he was not getting adequate nourishment, I brought him some basic groceries, fresh vegetables from my garden and a few jars of canned salmon. Looking around at his hand made log furniture, books, and guitars it was clear that he was a very talented individual. After that day I would routinely visit my friend, usually with some food I made up at home and a bottle of wine or a few beers. I would show him photos I’d taken; sometimes we would play guitar and one way or another we would almost always end up in some sort of philosophical discussion. A friendship was formed that day I stopped to give Jeff a ride, and to be honest I didn’t do it out of good will, I really just wanted to photograph the crazy bastard!

I hadn’t seen Crazy Jeff, or CJ as I began to call him, for almost a year. I’d been a lot of places since that last visit and I was looking forward to catching up with him and sharing my recent adventures and photographs, so I made a point to stop by his cabin on my way to Valdez yesterday. When I pulled into the drive I saw a number of people outside – four men standing around a pile of lumber and two little girls riding bicycles. Something didn’t feel right, in all the times I’d been to CJ’s cabin I never met another person other than his oldest son Tyler. I walked up to the men, who appeared to be doing some remodeling on the home, and asked if Jeff was around. One of them walked over to me with a blank expression, it was Tyler. He informed me that his dad passed away last November, the result of a brain tumor.

CJ was a man who chose to live in the corners of society and for much of his later years, in solitude. He was extremely intelligent and always up to date on current affairs, but I often wondered if he suffered in his isolation, causing his occasional mood swings. He is gone now, leaving behind children, grandchildren, and at least one person wishing he could have seen that infectious smile one last time.

Shine on you crazy diamond, you were one of a kind and a true friend. Thank you for the wisdom and character you imparted. May the four winds take you safely home.

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The "Lucky" Few

It's that time of year again when the (normally) fresh mountain air holds a tinge of decaying salmon. On average, out of 4,000 salmon eggs laid only two adults will return to their birthplace to spawn. This is one of the "lucky" few that were strong enough to endure a lifespan that included a few years at sea running a gauntlet of predators that includes seals, orcas, fishermen, and finally, bears. Hopefully this male was able to contribute to a future generation of sockeyes before becoming a meal for a hungry brown bear

It's also a good time of year to be aware of your surroundings when traveling in the backcountry and avoid succumbing to the circle of life just yet.

Colin

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Glacier Wedding Shoot, Behind the Scenes

A few days ago I posted 3 photos from the glacier wedding portrait session I did last Saturday with Kristian Burchat and Brittni Marquezat Matanuska Glacier. The positive feedback on my Facebook Page has been overwhelming and I can't express how much I enjoyed working with this lovely couple (and their dog, Ginger) or how truly inspiring the session was. I channeled some beautiful energy that day and set out to create unique, breathtaking images.

Here are a few more photos from that day, including some behind the scenes shots to tell the story. One aspect I truly enjoy about this work is having to improvise when you're in the field. As it turns out, a large reflector serves many purposes, including a makeshift changing room.

Thanks again for following along and if you or anyone you know is considering glacier-themed portraits, please contact me!

Cheers,

Colin

www.colintyler.com

#nikonusa

Glacier Wedding

He hails from Australia and she, from California. Fate brought them together and love took them to Alaska. Later this year they will make their way south, eventually traveling the entire Pan-American Highway to Patagonia, the southernmost portion of South America. Yesterday I had the honor of capturing their special day in a very special location – Matanuska Glacier. This was my first opportunity to shoot wedding portraits on a glacier. While the lighting was challenging – a white dress against white ice on a sunny day – it certainly was a unique and very inspiring session. Normally, my largest lens is reserved for wildlife photography but yesterday it proved worthy as a portrait lens. I wanted the compressed look of the telephoto for a dramatic effect. Congratulations, Kristian Burchat and Brittni Marquez, and thank you for including me in this beautiful adventure called life.

On a side note, if anyone is planning a glacier wedding please contact me!

Colin

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World Photography Day 2017

Happy World Photography Day, 2017! I just returned from spending the afternoon shooting wedding portraits on a glacier. On this day, I am reminded of an eagle photo I took in 1997. I was just figuring out the Nikon camera I’d received as a gift the previous Christmas & having some fun on the beach in Homer. After having the film processed and printed, I came to this image and felt a strong sense of satisfaction in what I’d captured. Looking back, I realize it’s not an award-winning photograph by any stretch, but it was enough to sustain my interest in photography, which blossomed into a passion and even more, a way of life. If I hadn’t captured this image, I may have ended up on a different path and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to earn a living creatively, let alone spend the day shooting portraits on a glacier. As always, thank you for following along. 

Gratefully yours,

Colin

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Beauty abounds in Homer

"A natural beauty should be
preserved like a monument
to nature." (Neil Young).

Fireweed is blooming, summer is slipping past, and beauty abounds in Homer, my happy place.

Colin

Summer Sunset, Albert Loop Trail

August is almost upon us. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, wild roses and geraniums have bloomed and faded, leaving the fireweed in all its glory. Salmon will be returning to spawn any day now, followed closely by the brown bears. Summer is short but intense in this part of the world; there is never enough time to capture all of the moments and harvest all of the bounty that is provided, but this is a land of abundance and with each season comes new opportunity to explore and appreciate Alaska for all it has to offer.

Here is a recent sunset from one of my favorite trails here at the Nature Center, the Albert Loop. With the return of the salmon and, consequently, hungry bears, the state park closes this trail annually to minimize human & bear encounters. I’ve been spending a lot of time out here while I still can, listening to the water rush past and absorbing the sounds of solitude.

Colin

 

 

International Tiger Day, 2017

Tigress, Bandhavgarh National Park, India

Happy International Tiger Day, 2017! Over the past century, the world has lost approximately 97% of the wild tiger population while 3 subspecies have gone extinct. Thanks to the tireless work of NGO’s such as
Panther, World Wildlife Fun, and International Tiger Da, as well as cooperation with regional governments, tigers are beginning to rebound in some areas, perhaps nowhere is this more evident than India, where anti-poaching efforts and habitat preservation have provided very encouraging results. 

I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to witness and photograph many species of wildlife, both in my home state of Alaska and around the globe. I can tell you that nothing matches the exhilaration of seeing a tiger in the wild. They truly are magnificent creatures and I hope that our own species will continue to reverse the trend and bring them back from the brink in all areas where they are threatened. 

Colin