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December 1, 2013


Beaver, Castor canadensis, Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Thousands of summer tourists have watched this beaver swimming in Horseshoe Lake, near the entrance of Denali National Park, but very few have seen it on the final days of October, just before the cold temperatures seals the lake's surface with ice. The three resident beavers, with their daily forays seaching for food, had kept the last several hundred square feet of the lake free of ice with their movements. Several days later I returned to find the lake completely frozen over.

The unusual coloration of this image, a blue beaver in almost golden water, was the result of difficult photographic conditions: The open water was in the shade of trees, with no chance of direct sunlight; the golden reflection in the water was sunlight reflected off a nearby rock wall; and the wet beaver's back was reflecting the clear blue sky. And since the air temperature was well below freezing, 'blue' also described my fingers...

Canon 5D Mark III, EF100-400 f4.5 IS lens at 400mm, exposure of 1/320 second at f8, ISO 1250, handheld with Image Stabilization.

Leaf Monster

November 1, 2013


Leaves and Foam, Presque Isle River, Porcupine Mountains State Park, Michigan

Who knew there was a monster lurking in the eddies of the Presque Isle River, in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Michigan's Upper Peninsula? I knew the habitat (eddies along the banks of slow moving rivers), knew the best season (peak leaf colors) and the conditions (lower water levels), but had to search many streams and rivers for this particular monster... :-)

I've just returned home from a long planned photographic safari of the western USA National Parks--my goal was to catch the flora and fauna in fall colors--plans that were stymied by the government shutdown and our extreme weather of late.

After being forced out of the western National Parks by the shutdown, and then chased further eastward by the first big snowstorm of the season, I finally found one of the subjects I was looking for, in Upper Michigan.

Canon 5D Mark III, EF 24-105 f4 lens at 55mm, exposure of 1/100 at f11, ISO 320.

Sandhill Cranes

September 18, 2013


Lesser Sandhill Cranes, Grus canadensis, Interior Alaska

Residents of Interior Alaska have learned that the appearance of the V formations of migrating Sandhill Cranes in mid-September signals a change in the weather. Despite the deceptively clear blue skies, these cranes are fleeing the state, ahead of an approaching Arctic cold front. They have spent the summer in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, or even Siberia, and are migrating to the American Southwest and Mexico for the winter. Several miles to the east of my house these loose formations join in huge upward spirals as they gain the altitude needed to cross over the Alaska Range Mountains.

As many thousands passed overhead (this Yukon-Kuskokwim group is estimated to total 200,00) while I was working in the driveway, the clouds quickly built, the temperature slowly dropped, and by the next afternoon, fine snowflakes were falling. Sounds like the cranes had the right idea...

Canon 5D Mark III, EF100-400 f4.5 lens at 400mm, 1/400 second exposure at f8, ISO 100, handheld.


September 1, 2013


Prickly Rosehips, Rosa acicularis, near McCarthy, Alaska

One of the signs of another summer ending is the appearance of rosehips, the fruit of the Prickly Rose flower so commonly found around Alaska. Very edible with a taste resembling apples, but often overlooked by people harvesting the other more common berries, rosehips are usually left for the moose and other wildlife to eat throughout the winter. A shame, since they are packed with vitamins, as well as lycopene, thought toprotect against cancer.

Canon 5D Mark II, EF50mm f2.5 macro lens, exposure of 1/125 second at f5.6, ISO 200, handheld.


August 1, 2013

THE IMAGE OF THE MONTH FOR AUGUST   "A Different Kind Of Reindeer"

Metal Reindeer Sculpture, Middle Of Nowhere, Iceland

Imagine yourself driving in the middle of nowhere in the Eastern Iceland highlands, on an early summer day that still looks and feels like late winter, and finding a stainless steel sculpture next to the road. Digging into my guidebook, I found that this is actually a vent pipe for an underground penstock for the Karahnjukar Hydro Project, feeding water from a remote dam to a hydroelectric generating station near the coast. Leave it to the Icelanders to turn a rather mundane eyesore into a work of art...

Canon 5D Mark II, EF24-105 f2.8 lens @ 50mm, exposure of 1/500 second at f9, ISO 100, handheld.

Stuffed Animals

July 1, 2013

THE IMAGE OF THE MONTH FOR JULY   "Animals Of A Different Kind"

Stuffed Animals Along The Roadside

For many years, in rain and snow and smoke from forest fires, I've noticed a couch full of stuffed animals stoically watching the traffic passing along the Parks Highway, in the Nenana Hills near Fairbanks. I don't know the story behind this display, but someone has been periodically adding more animals, tending to the fallen, and even hauling the couch back up the embankment after someone had pushed it over. Just one of those mysteries....

Canon 5D Mark III, EF24-105 f2.8 lens @ 24mm, exposure of 1/125 second at f11, ISO 100, handheld.