Alaska - Day 1

Well, here I am again, in one of my absolute favorite places...Alaska. I'm here to photograph the great Alaskan Brown Bears. I just spent the day on Kodiak Island. I'd been here once before, and never had a chance to really see the island. I'm so glad that I arrived a day early this trip, and that allowed me to see some of the incredible beauty of this place.

The forest along the coast was absolutely magical.

One of the animal species you just naturally think of when you think of Alaska is the bald eagle. I probably saw more bald eagles today than I have in my lifetime. At one location, I saw 62 bald eagles gathered together. I was trying for photos of eagles in flight, and managed to get a few frames, despite not having the right lens with me.

Tomorrow, the flight over to Katmai National Park, and up close and personal encounters with bears! I'll blog more, but probably not until I get back. Internet access is pretty much nonexistent over there. I'm so excited to be here again. It's a nature photographer's dream, along with a trip back to true wilderness. What could be better?


The Spring Migration

Spring is always such a great time of year. The woods slowly "wake up", gradually tuirning green again, wildflowers appear, and an annual migration of birds begins. It's always exciting to see what will show up at the bird feeder at this time of year. There are always a few surprises.

One colorful character that I always enjoy seeing is the Rose-breasted Grosbeak. They never seem to stick around for more than a week or so, but they sure supply a splash of color as the leaves begin to appear.


This year we got an extra surprise in a very wet 5" snowfall in May. Winter just doesn't want to let go. This time of year the Goldfinches, which have been here all winter, are regaining their bright colors, and really stand out against the snow.

Another that's been around all winter, but is now here in large numbers is the Pine Siskin.

Unusual for me is this White-throated Sparrow.

But the real treat for me so far this year is this Red-headed Woodpecker. These are pretty rare around my part of the state. It's a bird that used to be extremely common in the state, but as it's preferred habitat, savannah, has disappeared, so have they. I love the spring migration. You just never know what's going to show up.


A long day

Well, the day started early.  I wanted to try my hand again at night photography.  This time I let the camera do all the work.  I set it up to take the pictures while I slept.  I really think it does a better job than I do, at least sometimes.

The work began when I got up for the sunrise. I really didn't get the classic sunrise at Monument Valley. It was cloudy every morning. That's the way it works out sometimes. Below are the mittens in the brand new sun.

Sometimes when things don't work out, they still work out ok.

One of the things I wanted to do on this trip was revisit some places I've been before, but wasn't really satisfied with the images I got. I drove over to Page, Arizona and spent some more time in Lower Antelope canyon.

It's really a pretty neat place, and I think that I could easily find new photographs every time I visit.

More to come.


In the valley

There's a 17 mile loop through the valley that you can drive, carefully, but to get off the road you need a guide. I hooked up with a great one, Ray. We loaded up in his truck and headed for the back country. He took me to some of his favorite spots, and I got to see some really interesting country.

We were kind of cursed with bald blue skies, but it's an expansive land with lots of big rock formations.

The mix of colors are what is truly impressive.

Well off the beaten path and accessible only by 4-wheel drive vehicle is this view of sand dunes leading up to the totem pole rock formation. A few clouds made the skies a little more interesting.


Red Rocks

There's just somethng about the American southwest. Part of the attraction is being in warm temps while snow flies back home, but the red rock just wants to draw you back.

I'm in Monument Valley, home of numerous John Ford movies. As you look across the valley, it's not hard to envision that cavalry troop galloping in a cloud of dust. The warm evening sun warms the landscape, making the rock almost glow.

A real treat here is an unobstructed view of the night sky, and very little light pollution. That allows an ideal opportunity for night photography. The view from the room reveals a sky full of stars.

Probably the biggest feature of the valley is it's very size.  The scope of the landscape really has to be experienced to understand it. More to come.