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December 2012 "Nenana River Hoar Frost"
Nenana River @ -20 Degrees, Denali National Park

Interior Alaska has been unseasonably cold for the last several weeks, with temperatures locally never getting over -20 degrees, and with at least another very cold week in the forecast. The Nenana River is slowly icing over, although this section at the outlet of Riley Creek still remains fairly open. With such cold temperatures, the steam from the relatively warmer water readily forms hoar frost (fragile white ice crystals) on the nearby trees, here highlighted by the low mid-day sunlight.

Canon PowerShot S95, exposure of 1/250 @ f5.6, ISO 80.

November 2012 "I've Got My Eyes On You"
Cheetah and Topi, Mara North Conservancy, Kenya

When your life depends on it, animals on the African plains must be aware of their surroundings--especially the predators if you are the prey. But this female cheetah has no interest in the Topi, since it is very difficult and dangerous for a lone cheetah to bring down such a large animal. Cheetah siblings often do form coalitions, however--there have been numerous instances of three cheetah brothers on the Masai Mara--who successfully kill such large animals.

Canon 5D Mark II camera, EF 100-400 f4.5 lens at 400mm, exposure of 1/320 second at f9, ISO 160, handheld with Image Stabilization.

October 2012 "Too Much Water"
May You Live In Interesting Weather...

Most of mainland Alaska is slowly recovering from a week of very wet weather, after being caught between a stationary low and a stationary high that pumped warm air, high winds and record rainfall amounts from the Gulf Of Alaska into the Interior. From Seward to Talkeetna, lowlands were flooded when the rivers couldn't flush water back to the ocean fast enough. Some smaller rivers and streams reversed flow when the larger rivers spilled over into them.

Locally, even though most of the rainfall was south of the Alaska Range Mountains, the Nenana River quickly filled to levels not seen in present memory (and my memory goes back 37 years!). The narrow Nenana Canyon constricted the flow, which caused flooding on an upstream floodplain that shouldn't ever been built upon, and eroded the roadbed of the Parks Highway. The highway was restricted to one lane of travel for several days while the Alaska DOT struggled to stop the erosion.

Canon PowerShot S95 images.

September 2012 "Contrary To Popular Wisdom"
Leopard, Panthera pardus, Hunting In Daylight

Contrary to the popular wisdom that leopards only hunt from dusk to dawn, this mature male ventured out into the grassy plains of the Mara North Conservancy in broad daylight. Because of the abnormal rains on the Masai Mara, the grasses have grown to extraordinary heights, allowing this leopard to hunt in the mid-day sun. The grasses successfully concealed him from the warthogs, except the grasses also prevented him from seeing them! After several unsuccessful attempts, he returned to the forest.

Canon 5D Mark II camera, EF 100-400 f4.5 lens at 220mm, exposure of 1/320 second at f7.1, ISO 100, handheld with Image Stabilization.

August 2012 "Another Roadside Distraction"
Iceland Horses
Iceland Horses, West Fjords, Iceland

Continuing on the theme of Roadside Distractions that continually slow down a photographer's travels in Iceland--almost every farm has sheep, and many of the farms have Iceland Horses. These smaller horses, often mistakenly called ponies (but maybe with good reason, since their ancestors were ponies first brought to Iceland by the Vikings in the 9th century), are a hardy breed that has evolved in response to the harsh Iceland weather. They have a coarse double coat for extra insulation, and a characteristic long-haired mane and tail.

They frequently are found next to fences along the highway; granted, they are often fed there by the farmers, but I expect that the constant stream of tourists feeding them junk food has something to do with that too...

Canon 5D Mark II camera, EF 24-105 f4 lens at 24mm, exposure of 1/125 second at f7.1, ISO 100, handheld with Image Stabilization.

July 2012 "Roadside Distraction"
Iceland Waterfalls
Unnamed Waterfalls, West Fjords, Iceland

For a photographer, travel can be rather slow in Iceland--around every corner, on each remote farm, and along every mountain pass or fjord, there is something begging to be photographed. Each mountain pass has a river or stream, and as it descends rapidly towards the ocean, waterfalls large and small are formed. What photographer can resist?

Canon 5D Mark II camera, EF 24-105 f4 lens at 50mm, exposure of 1/5 second at f22, ISO 50, on Arca Swiss B-1 ballhead and Feisol tripod.