A Halloween murder… of ravens.

Alaska, Black & White, Landscapes, Photography, Wildlife

The wind whipped all Halloween. Soaring and swooping ravens took advantage of the strong drafts to have some fun. A flock of ravens is also called a murder, fitting for this last day of October.

Ravens have long held a place in lore. Tricksters and shape shifters are among the most common Alaska fables. Raven Steals The light is a popular North-West Native American story where the earth begins bathed in total darkness. Accounts vary, but the plot often involves the character of Raven pretending to be the grandson of an old man who holds all the light. Raven then steals it and shines it over earth and water.

“And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!”  – Edgar Allen Poe

Here a murder of ravens flies above UAF. © Robin Wood

Ravens and tree. Oct. 31, 2012.

Critter Corner: Mt. Rainier and Georgeson Botanical Garder Frogs

Alaska, Landscapes, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

A few weeks ago I posted images of real bears in Denali National Park and a bear statue from UAF’s Georgeson Botanical Garden. Today I’m posting a similar diptych: A frog from Reflection Lake in Mt. Rainier National Park and a frog from the botanical gardens.

The first image the frog is the only subject, he was an itty-bitty frog, maybe half a deck of cards. The mostly brown hues were rather ugly, so I did a quick and dirty desaturation of the image, converting it to black and white. I think the the black and white does a better job accentuating the frog’s natural camouflage. The shadow provides a small amount of depth to the mostly flat image.

The second image I like a lot because of layers. Shooting through a fence, with more fence in the background. The frog is far from the main subject. What’s fun for me is comparing the two subjects, the real frog in nature and the artificial frog in a man-made environment. I enjoy both, though the statue was a little easier to shoot.

© Robin Wood

A frog floats in Reflection Lake, Mt. Rainier National Park

Georgeson Botanical Garden frog statue.

Critter Corner: Three bears and Georgeson Botanical Garden.

Alaska, Photography, Wildlife

Bears, what needs to be said? Large, viscous, cute, curious, smart, omnivorous, powerful and today, wooden. Bears in Denali National Park got a lot of attention this year, when a hiker photographing a grizzly was mauled to death last August. Remarkably, this was the first fatality in the Park’s 95-year history. Bears are incredibly fast, and the estimated “50 yards” between the bear and his victim leaves little room for evasive measures. Keep your distance.

Keeping distance wasn’t a problem during the Denali Park Lottery last September. This Alaskan lottery allows 400 vehicles a day to drive all the way into the park, a trip usually reserved for tour buses. Park Rangers are fast to converge on eager photographers, keeping them safe distances from wildlife.

Please click images to view full size.

Bear gazing over riverbed.

A bear pauses while climbing a steep, rocky slope.

For some slightly different bear action, check out this statue of a bear at UAF’s Georgeson Botanical Garden, the northern-most botanical garden in North America. I hadn’t walked through in awhile, and found lots of lovely sculptures had been added. What originally caught my attention, though hard to see in the picture, was an ear of corn someone had placed in the bears paws, reminding me of the fall harvest.

Georgeson Botanical Garden Wooden Bear

Swans and bikers on the Richardson Highway

Alaska, Landscapes, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

The Richardson Highway is 368 miles of pavement connecting Fairbanks, Alaska with Valdez to the south. The highway is typical of those found in Alaska: crossing mountain ranges and a very steep pass, with the occasional view of a glacier. Also common among many Alaskan roads, wildlife viewing. A trip down to Valdez earlier this summer brought multiple sightings and photo opportunities of swans.

Please click on the image to view full size.

The first group of the birds were farther off the road and didn’t allow me to get very close before taking flight, but offered me a nice action shot in the process.

The second group, much closer to the road, was far to concerned with eating to be spooked by my presence.

Then, after a few minutes of photographing, I got that unique shot photographers hope for. There in remote Isbabel Pass, more then 100 miles south of Fairbanks and with Gulkana Glacier in the background, a long-distance biker seemed to come out of nowhere, stopping to take a picture himself. Unfortunately without the preceding picture one easily looses the beauty of these large, graceful and powerful birds.

Lake Washington, panoramic and a spider.

Landscapes, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

My parents are currently visiting my grandma on the shores of Lake Washington. Since I wasn’t able to make it down on this trip I figured I should post some pictures from last time I was in the area. Maybe they will find their way to my relatives.

Lake Washington and spider

I was only in town for a few days, but caught gorgeous fall weather, allowing me to take this picture of a large orb weaver silhouetted by the setting suns reflection.

Lake Washington panorama

I also took the opportunity to take a panorama. These are very easy to create, simply shoot multiple images, select them all in a viewing application such as Bridge, and choose photo merge. It’s amazing how good the program is at combining images. Unfortunately I didn’t overlap a few images enough and lost a few frames, so overlap significantly.

Everyone dances

Alaska, Arts, Black & White, Photography, Portraits, Wildlife

While down in Anchorage photographing a character study of Sue Perry, a seamstress making costumes for Alaska Dance Theater’s production of Othello, I took some time off to photograph rehearsals. The fluid movements and long extensions often seen in ballet were there, but wonderfully contrasted with sharp, edgy lines and tense, jerky motions showing both internal and external character struggle. I was lucky enough to have my telephoto on when through the window I caught raven making his own graceful movements. I couldn’t find the mythological view of ravens as tricksters, shape shifters and on rare occasions sinister, more fitting while looking at the dancers practice this dark play penned by Shakespeare. Sometimes life shows true serendipity.