Summer Solstice 2019

Happy Summer Solstice! Today marks the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere with the sun setting at 11:43 pm this evening in this part of the world.


This was taken two years ago through a haze of forest fire smoke, similar to what we are seeing now due to the fire on the Kenai Peninsula. The atmospheric particles diffuse the sun and if you look closely, you can see an active sunspot, which is the source of aurora borealis. The sun is "spot-less" right now and even if there were auroras, it doesn't get dark enough at night to see them this time of year. In any case, I hope the fire is extinguished soon.

Have a great weekend and get out & chase the light!

Colin


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Summer Digital Photography Class

Hello everyone! Just a quick shoutout before the weekend to announce that I am offering a beginning digital photography class at the Eagle River Nature Center on Sunday, July 21 from 9 am to 5 pm. Cost is $75 and limited to ten people. If you or anyone you know would like to learn more about nature photography while gaining a better understanding of digital cameras and shooting in manual mode, please follow the link below to register. One person has already signed up and I anticipate that this will fill quickly, so don't hesitate!

Thank you and have a fantastic weekend!

Colin

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


Sweet Face

How can you resist a face like this? Such a feminine pose - chin down, head tilted, ear back, she's a natural model and simultaneously a fierce protector of her cub and their fishing grounds. I observed and photographed this sow and her then first-year cub on many occasions last fall, so it's great to see them back for another season. With other adult brown bears in the area, hopefully territorial disputes won't turn ugly.

Colin

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Wildflowers and Closeup Photograph Class

I never claimed to be a serious macro photographer but I truly believe that it takes a true artist to celebrate the ordinary. From time to time, I find myself looking for a new perspective on this mountain valley I call home. With wild roses, bluebells, and geraniums in full bloom, now is a perfect time to find beauty in small places. Speaking of which, I still have a few spaces left in this Saturday's class on closeup photography at the Eagle River Nature Center (Alaska). If you are interested, please click the image below for more details and registration. Cost is $75 and limited to 6 people. We will spend some time outside photographing wildflowers and then go over fundamental Photoshop techniques to get the most out of your images. I ask that participants have a basic understanding of shooting in manual mode and also provide their own laptop with Adobe software installed (i.e., CS or Lightroom).

Thank you and feel free to share!

Colin

 

 

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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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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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

 

 

Harding Icefield

"I don't wanna come back down from this cloud." Looking out over Harding Icefield from the end of the trail above Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park on July 4, 2017. The icefield consists of 800 square miles of ice that spawns upwards of 30 glaciers. I couldn't have imagined a better way to spend the holiday. Many thanks to my good friend and hiking partner, Jerome Flynn, for the photo. 
 

Sunspot

We've had some unique sunsets recently with the atmospheric haze, creating the giant fireball when the sun is low on the horizon. This was taken two nights ago and if you look closely, you can see the big sunspot AR2665, which is a storm on the surface of the sun. If you are not familiar, this is what causes aurora borealis. According to Spaceweather (http://www.spaceweather.com/), the sunspot currently poses just a 15% chance of major flares. Even if a flare was earth-directed at this point, our skies are still too bright to even see the aurora. Let's hope it comes back around when we start having darker nights again!

4th of July, 2017

Happy (belated) 4th of July! I spent the day hiking up around Exit Glacier to the Harding Icefield in Kenai Fjords National Park with a good friend who is visiting from Minnesota. It was a spectacular day, albeit grueling at times (ten miles round trip with a 3,000 foot elevation gain & descent). I carried my biggest telephoto lens and tripod, which drew numerous comments from passersby but seeing a trio of mountain goats in great light against the glacial backdrop made it all worthwhile.

Colin

Summer Solstice

Happy Summer Solstice! With 19 hours, 21 minutes, and 18 seconds of daylight in south central Alaska today, the pendulum of light now swings the other direction until December 21, at which time we will have approximately 5 and a half hours of daylight.

This is Glacier Lake, the headwaters of Eagle River. I took this one year ago today on the Crow Pass Trail using the "Big Stopper" 10-stop neutral density filter from LEE Filters to obtain a 60-second exposure.

Solstice Trek

One year ago my good friend Tyler Howie and I set off trekking on the Crow Pass Trail Pass Trail with his dog Freija leading the way. It was pouring rain when we started, which continued for the first 8 miles or so, eventually clearing off for a spectacular midnight sky. We are planning to do the hike again this year with pack rafts and float most of the way back to the Eagle River Nature Center. Traveling in a pack raft with my camera gear is going to be a new experience for me, so I've been spending some time on the river to get used to maneuvering before we depart.

The Sun is Setting on Summer

After a break in the weather, it is apparent how quickly summer is drawing to a close. Since June 21, we've lost nearly 4 hours of daylight. During the longest days, evening sunlight bathes the valley until almost midnight, now the sun drops behind the mountains to the west shortly after 8 pm. This was taken around 9:45, with the last rays of light entering the valley.

Monday's Moose Fact

 Moose antlers are 95% grown by the first of August, which stands to reason since they will soon be shedding the velvet tissue layer that nourishes them as they grow throughout spring and summer. In other words, this guy isn't going to get much bigger this time around. He should drop these antlers in mid-to-late winter and will perhaps be sporting more impressive headgear at this time next year. 

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High Water

I’m fairly certain I’ve never seen Eagle River this high before. What was dry land just a few days ago is now completely underwater. When I saw this partially submerged dwarf fireweed, I instantly envisioned a photo. As usual, getting the shot in my mind’s eye meant getting my feet wet. By using a two-minute exposure, I was able to accentuate both the moving water and the flowers bouncing in the current.