Cold Feet

Portage Lake, Alaska, Frozen in Winter

Taken at Portage Lake, Alaska, on January 6th, 2014

On a mildly windy, 25 degree day toward the end of a three-week winter trip to Alaska my friend and I decided to check out Portage Lake to see if it was frozen over or not. We arrived under overcast and slightly wet conditions to find the main body of the lake frozen, but the ice near shore broken up. The lines that the cracks and leads in the ice made intrigued my photographer’s eye and I waded out in the lake to the very tops of my boots. I wanted to get just a little bit farther out though, so I stepped up on the nearest hunk of ice to test its stability. Stable enough at first, the ice began an almost imperceptible shift under my weight and gradually began to capsize. Thanks to its slippery surface even that tiny bit of movement was enough to send me sliding into the water. Thanks to catlike reflexes and some ensuing comedic antics I was able to catch myself before I got completely soaked. But that little bit of instability was still sufficient to keep me nervous and glued to the shore from then on as I shot.

Pride of Lions

Steller sea lions, Resurrection Bay, Seward, Alaska

Taken in Resurrection Bay, Alaska on August 16th, 2009

Alaska is an surreal place. Where else can you see glaciers, mountains, whales, seabirds, and sea lions, all on the same cruise? These Steller sea lions were hauled out on some rocks in Resurrection Bay, basking in the sun as powerful waves crashed around them. Look closely and you can see a scientific ID number shaved into the female lion on the right.


Lofty Heights

Chiswell Islands and jagged mountains in Resurrection Bay, Seward, Alaska

Taken near the Chiswell Islands, Resurrection Bay, Alaska, on August 16th, 2009

Alaska is one of those surreal places of the planet: a place that has scenery so breathtaking it seems impossible. The peaks in Resurrection Bay aren’t particularly high, but their sharp spires and glacier-covered flanks make them seem unassailable. I wanted to enhance this fairy-tale, unreachable quality of the mountains, so I placed the warmer, gentler, rocky slopes of the Chiswell Islands in the foreground of the photo to provide a stark contrast to those looming crags off in the distance.


Lenticular Masquerade

Lenticular cloud and lupines, Gareloi Volcano, Aleutian Islands, Alaska

Taken on Gareloi Volcano, Aleutian Islands, Alaska on June 24th, 2009

Gareloi Island has clouds like no place else I’ve ever been. Clouds of all shapes, sizes, layers, and colors. Lenticular clouds formed above neighboring Tanaga Volcano constantly, but despite the similarities between Tanaga and Gareloi, we never had any lenticulars, just clouds like this weird, orb-shaped one. I finally got it when my girlfriend, Mel, pointed out that this was in fact a lenticular, just seen from underneath.

Aleutian Afternoon

Gareloi Volcano, Aleutian Islands, Alaska

Taken near the summit of Gareloi Volcano, Aleutian Islands, Alaska on July 23rd, 2009

A slog. That’s what the trek up to the top of Gareloi Volcano was: a vertical mile of knee-high grass, treacherous talus, and shifting snow. And despite my group’s steady pace, the summit never seemed to get any closer. When we finally did near the top, we were stopped dead by a steep slope of impossibly crumbly rock and icy snow. Since we didn’t have any technical climbing gear with us, we decided to stop where we were and savor the vista: an awesome view of Gareloi’s ever-steaming South Crater backed by the beautiful northern Pacific and the islands of Kavalga, Ulak, Amatignak, and Unalga.