Bohemian Waxwings in Black And White

Alaska, Black & White, Photography, Wildlife

Hundreds of Bohemian Waxwings flocked in frigid 20 below fahrenheit. I arrived unexpectedly on the scene and realized time was short.

I took five frames. Luckily I was at a very fast shutter speed, so four are nice and crisp. While all four images are fairly similar, they’re stronger as a set. Flowing patterns of birds in flight mixed with minimal tree reference and high contrast make complicated scenes and challenging composition.

In the day of digital photography it’s a great feeling to take only five photos and truly enjoy four. 

Click on any image to view in carousel.

Beaune, France.

architecture, Arts, Black & White, Landscapes, Photography, Travel

Above: Chatting on church steps at sunset. Beaune, France.

Tucked away in Burgendy region, southeast of Paris, is the peaceful small town of Beaune. Fantastic food and wine may be Beaune’s mainstay – they are both salubrious – but the proximity to vineyards, vistas, and ancient architecture offer adventure galore. One of the most enjoyable days in Europe was spent bicycling 22 miles on smooth, paved paths through the small villages surrounding Beaune. I will feature that in a future post.

Today is a brief overview of Beaune.

Music Monday: Thought Trade on Alaska Live

Black & White, Music, Photography, Portraits

Above: Thought Trade warms up for their performance on Alaska Live in the KUAC studios. Left to right: Daniel Opgenorth, Casey Smith, Travis Burrows, Sabe Flores, and Patrick Mailloux. 

Fairbanks band Thought Trade was featured on locally produced Alaska Live on June 26, 2013.Given the right mood their fluid, rhythmic, stream-of-conscinouse style of playing can put one into a trance. Listen for yourself to the Alaska Live podcast, or check out their blog with interesting insight and links to more music. 

Thought Trade sound check. Nine people and lots of gear in a petite room.

Thought Trade sound check. Nine people and lots of gear in a petite room.

iPhone photos – dragonflies, logs and a dog. Oh my!

Alaska, Black & White, Iphone, Photography, Portraits

Time for another iPhone photo collection. For me iPhones are true slivers of life. It could be my other camera is just out of reach, or I need to be quick – dramatic light in a restaurant or a dragonfly landing on my leg. My favorite is attempting to capture the impromptu; that picture that must be shot out of a car window with little time for composition, a logging truck or a man and his dog.

Palace at Versailles: Hall of Mirrors

architecture, Black & White, Photography, Portraits, Travel

Above: Le château de Versailles as seen from the gardens. 

In continuation with Palace at Versailles Part One, it’s time for part two.

There’s more Palace de Versailles then a person could fathom to tour and document in one day. Between hordes of people and long walks with minimal refreshments or restrooms the end of the tour was welcome.

One of the highlights was the hall of mirrors, also known as la grande galerie. The hall of mirrors was the utmost symbol of power and vanity from a time when mirrors were were only for the wealthy. Perhaps the most well-known story involving the hall of mirrors – if not the entire Palace – is the Treaty of Versailles. The armistice that ended WWI on June 28, 1919, also often credited the leading cause for WWII, was signed in this hall. has a detailed and succinct post about the treaty. has a photo credited to U.S. National Archives of the absolutely packed hall during the signing.


Here’s the hall of mirrors from a not-so-high vantage point I shot July 13, 2013. The similarities and differences between the amount of people but their purpose for their visit are shocking. Chandeliers and much decoration have apparently been since added. 

Lots of people.

Lots of people.

Decoration and mirror closeup.

Decoration and mirror closeup.

And for good measure an image from the other end of the hall of mirrors.

Versailles, France.

Versailles, France.

The Palace at Versailles – Part One.

architecture, Black & White, Photography, Travel

Above: The private cathedral at the Palace of Versailles.

Chateau de Versailles is unlike anything I have ever seen. Enormous, gaudy, deluxe, extravagant, historical, overwhelming and beautiful, all barely begin to describe the centerpiece of the Paris suburb of Versailles. 

Originally built as a hunting lodge for King Louis XIII, the Palace at Versailles was the official seat of power for courts and the government from 1682 until the French Revolution in 1789. Indeed, Chateau de Versailles played a large role in the anger French citizens had directed toward the aristocracy – and the resident King Louis XVI and his wife Marie-Antionette were forced to flee the palace, before both being executed. 

Louis XVI was preceded by his grandfather, Louis XV, who allegedly foresaw the revolutions, as legend says he proclaimed “Après moi, le déluge,” which translates to “After me, the flood.”

This is first in a series of three posts with pictures from the Palace at Versailles. 

Beginning the tour of the Palace, July 12, 2013.

Beginning the tour of the Palace, July 12, 2013.

Every square inch is decorated, and ceilings become canvases for colorful paintings. As well as the cause of a sore neck.

Every square inch is decorated, and ceilings become canvases for colorful paintings. As well as the cause of a sore neck.

Statues and busts fill any available spot, often portrayed in classical greek style.

Statues and busts fill any available spot, often portrayed in classical greek style.

Statue, Palace of Versailles.

Statue, Palace of Versailles.

Calm Before the Storm

Alaska, Black & White, Landscapes, Photography

Above: A strange system moves in prior to a strong winter storm, seen from University of Alaska Fairbanks.

A storm that blew into Interior Alaska recently brought with it snow, rain, strong winds, three days of closed public schools and left an estimated 14,000 people without power, heat or both. An article from the local News-Miner has more details along with photos of toppled trees.

The dramatic-sounding storm wasn’t as bad as the front that hit western-Alaska towns. And certainly nothing compared to recent Typhoon Haiyan that ripped apart the Philippines, a monumental tragedy.

My photographs are from the night before the storm, and rather unusual for Fairbanks.

A streetlight obscured by trees blends fog nicely into the frame.



A streetlight obscured by trees blends fog into the frame.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Eerie Spiders

Alaska, Macro, Photography, Weekly Photo Post, Wildlife

Above: The much smaller wolf spider can be seen in the clasp of an orb weaver. 

The weekly photo challenge for Nov. 1 through Nov. 7 is eerie. Of course it was announced just one day after I posted about the Paris Catacombs, which would have fit the bill perfectly. Not uncommon for me to have great ideas ahead of their time. 

So for this challenge I’m heading to the archives. In 2010 I was slowly experimenting with digital – and often forgetting to make sure I was shooting RAW files.

I did have some extension tubes to attach to my old Canon Rebel XTi. Extension tubes increase macro capabilities by moving the lens farther away from the sensor. So when I saw a large orb-weaver spider killing a smaller wolf spider I ran to grab my camera.

Spiders are eerie enough when they aren’t cannibalizing other spiders.

Reservations for one.

Reservations for one.

Securing the pray for later consumption, July 11, 2010.

Securing the prey for later consumption, July 11, 2010.

Halloween Special: Necropolis under Paris

Black & White, Photography, Travel

Above: Skulls and bones in the Paris catacombs.

“Arrête, c’est ici l’empire de la mort.”

“Halt, this is the realm of death,” the carving above the entrance to the elaborate labyrinth reads.

To set the mood: 

It’s dark: the light from incandescent bulbs casting hard shadows. It’s warm and damp: 130 tight steps and 20 meters, or 63 feet, below the streets of paris – the temperature rises as water drops from the ceiling. It’s huge: The ossuary under Paris is the world’s largest, with over 2 kilometers of walkways and more then 6 million skeletons!

Originally a limestone quarry – likely where the stone to build Notre Dame Cathedral was mined – earth this deep dates from the Lutetian period, between 48 and 40 million years ago. During the French revolution there was a land grab, and cemeteries surrounding churches were dug up. The bones were then stacked in piles underground, and on April 7, 1786, the catacombs were established.


Long exposures create ghost-like figures, blurring the lines between life and death.


A sickly green accent light helps illuminate an untold amount of bones.

A family with surprisingly young children work their way through the catacombs.

A family with young children work their way through the bones of the catacombs.

Paris Street Photography

Photography, Street, Travel

Above: A kiss and some butt grab in Paris, July 10, 2013.

A quick post for today, some various street photography from Paris, France. Be sure and check out tomorrows halloween post, when we’ll visit the Paris catacombs, the world’s biggest.

I talked previously about my struggles with street photography, mostly blurry images. Some of these would benefit from being sharper.

What caught my attention for the first image – aside from the rich, wafting smell of tar – was the nearly archaic buckets these workers were using to patch street asphalt.

Using old wooden buckets to transport tar

Using old wooden buckets to transport tar.

I wanted to capture the contrast between simplicity and depth for the next image. The elements all worked out, starting with the hair, to the face in the mirror, and unexpectedly the pedestrian crossing the street with a lawn chair.

Mopeds, pedestrians and tour busses.

Mopeds, pedestrians and tour busses.

Finally: I loved seeing people reading newspapers, always trying to get a decent photo.