Horse looks longingly

Alaska, Photography, Street

Farmers Loop, just north of Fairbanks, still lives up to it’s name. Multiple residences have horses right along the road. There’s still a hayfield and the occasional garden visible. This photo shows a horse, at what must be a common spot for him to stand, watching people and traffic pass by. Shot at 9:26 p.m., June 16, the low sun illuminates his mane nicely.

A horse looks longin

A horse looks longin

Bicycle Beat: Munching Moose and a May Day Sun Dog

Alaska, Landscapes, Photography, Street, Wildlife

“Bicycle Beat” is an idea I have wanted to start for some time. And until recently was hindered by winter. Bicycle Beat is my reporting from a bicycle. I have often felt bike riding is the ultimate way to capture great photos. Unlike driving, stopping and turning around is almost instantaneous, and it’s much easier to spot interesting subjects traveling 10 mph rather then 50. Consequently, also much faster then walking, greatly expanding the range of your photographic canvas. Also important is inconspicuous. You draw a lot more attention stopping a car then a bicycle.

I went for a very brief 3-mile bike ride last night and in the short time happened upon two photo-worthy subjects. It’s been a very testy spring in Fairbanks, with multiple inches of snow the last week of May. Greenhouses are opening despite unavailable exterior space. One of them is Plant Kingdom.

Mayday! A sundog is visible on May Day. A sundog is an atmospheric reaction when light deflects off ice crystals in the air, producing a halo effect. They are common to cold weather.

The snow and cold on May 1, producing a sundog, mixed with the open Plant Kingdom sign, is a significant juxtaposition.


A sundog is frames the Plant Kingdom sign on May 1, 2013. It has been one of the coldest springs on record in Interior Alaska.

I slung my camera around my neck and hopped on my bike, only to travel another half-mile before finding another photo.

While I may have stopped a car to take the sundog picture, I never would have seen this young moose right off the bike path. Maybe 15 yards away, it would have been a great opportunity to get a wide-angle shot of a moose. Having a zoom lens however, my first instinct was to zoom in as close as possible. Probably 2 or 3 years old, I did make sure no mother moose was visible before shooting.

A moose munches off Farmers Loop Rd.

A moose munches off Farmers Loop Rd.

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

Weekly photo challenge: Solitary

Alaska, Black & White, Film, Landscapes, Photography, Portraits, Travel, Weekly Photo Post

Solitary: being, living or going alone or without companions. The word instantly conjurs images of some distant wayfarer or contemplative individual. For this installment of the Weekly Photo Challenge, I will show you three of my interpretations of solitary, images I believe convey the mood through subject matter and compositional elements.

First: a very literal interpretation of solitary. In Denali National Park, a lone-grazing caribou is seen in vast tundra. I wont even begin to speculate on the distances, however it was shot with a 300MM telephoto lens on a Canon 7D. The importance of the 7D is the smaller APS-C sized sensor increases the 300MM lens to an effective focal length of 480MM! As focal length increases, the depth of a picture is flattened, making the relationships of everything seem closer.

In short, this caribou is very alone.

Please click on the images to view full size.

Lone caribou in Denali National Park, Sept. 16, 2012

My second image is more metaphorically solitary. The model and her shadow are all the viewer has to dwell on. I think her gaze off the edge of the frame, often deemed poor composition because the viewer wonders what the subject is looking at, gives the feeling that there is nothing besides more wall, adding to the solitary feeling. Also helping is the edge of the 4×5 film, terminating any curiosity about what else there may be.

Crystal at Creamers Field

Finally a somber event that would leave anyone feeling solitary. A woman walks past a cutout to honor a victim of domestic violence. The plaque reads,

“Nancy Tegoseak, Age 40, April, 2004. Nancy was born in Tanana and the loving mother of five children. She was beaten to death by her boyfriend. She leaves behind three children.”