Olympic Peninsula (1/3)

Photography, Travel

For years my grandma told me Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is her favorite place to vacation. Last spring I finally took some time to check it out — and immediately understood her enthusiasm. From expansive beaches to the rain forest and climbing into the high alpine, all in one day, Olympic National Park has something for everyone.

Being a land-locked Alaskan familiar with world-class mountains, I was most excited by the stunning beaches and joys of exploring tide pools. This post I’ll featuring a few of the sea anemones and star fish I photographed at Kalaolch’s tide pools.

Next post I’ll highlight the dramatic scenery of expansive beaches.

 

Fall around Fairbanks

Alaska, Landscapes, Photography

Above: The University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute, with a satellite-receiving dish on the roof, sits tucked among trees as a runner makes her away along trails far below, visibly only by a bright blue jacket. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game the boreal forest, that which is found around Interior Alaska, is largest terrestrial ecosystem on earth. 

Interior Alaska’s fall comes fast, and leaves even faster. With only a small variety deciduous trees we don’t get a large variety of color, but the bright yellow leaves among dark green spruce still make dramatic scenes. It can take less than one week for trees to shed their leaves if a hard frost is followed by a strong wind or rain. 

Sun streaks through smoke

Abstract, Landscapes, Photography, Travel

Orcas2014

A sunset on Orcas Island, Washington, illuminates smoke from a nearby campfire.

I like how the qualities of the above photo mesh with the two following abstracts photos: grass floating in water. All three pictures have a smooth quality and share cool green tones. The sun streaks, a more literal picture, still offers plenty of room for the imagination to wander. In contrast the two grass pictures offer very little reference, perhaps a few small dragonfly if you look closely. 

Orcas-4 Orcas-5

Scenery and a sandpiper

Alaska, Landscapes, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Above: The Eastern Alaska Range backdrops the Delta Clear Water, a spring-fed river in Interior Alaska. A small canoe can be seen in the lower third of the photo,

The Delta Clearwater is an Interior Alaska river true to its name: clearwater. An early summer float trip provided astounding views and some small wildlife.

Night hike of Granite Tors

Alaska, Landscapes, Photography

Earlier this summer three friends and I took advantage of Alaska’s 24-hour daylight to night hike Granite Tors in the Chena River State Recreation Area.

We started aaround 8:30 p.m. and finished the 15-mile loop trail around 3 a.m. We ran as much as possible of the challenging trail and took one or two snack breaks.

Two benefits are immediately noticeable when night hiking. Catching spectacular sunsets and avoiding scorching mid-day heat.

Skiing World Class Thompson Pass

Alaska, Landscapes, Sports

Above: Mt. Diamond backdrops Eli Sturm as he skies down a couloir in Thompson Pass, where the scenery and snow are world class. 

The 2,805 foot Thompson Pass pass is outside the coastal town of Valdez, and averages more than 550 inches of snow per year. Skiers and snowboarders travel from all over the world to make turns in Thompson. Copious runs are accessible right off the road, while endless mountains provide the potential for extended excursions. 

My friend Eli and myself made the six hour drive south from Fairbanks last Saturday for two very full days of riding. We mostly used climbing skins — directional skins you attach to the bottom of your skies to ascend mountains.

On the first day we skinned about 4.5 hours, climbing roughly 4,000 feet, to the top of a couloir, a steep narrow gully on a mountain. The result was some of the best and most scenic riding of my life. 

Descending towards Diamond Glacier in Thompson Pass with spectacular snow.

Descending towards Diamond Glacier in Thompson Pass with spectacular snow.

A skier traverses towards shade on the Diamond Glacier in Thompson Pass.

A skier traverses towards shade on the Diamond Glacier in Thompson Pass.

Dreamy cherry blossoms

Macro, Photography

Above: Water on whimsical cherry blossoms.

Dreamy is the current Weekly Photo Challenge. To me, dreamy conjures feelings of contrast. Dreams are often simultaneously crisp and cloudy. Things that don’t make sense feel true. Entire dreams can be vague narratives shrouded in mist, except for one hyperreal detail — perhaps a pair of eyes.

In these photographs a shallow depth of field helps create a dreamy and uncertain aesthetic. 

 

Angle Rocks in spring and fall

Alaska, Photography, Travel

Above: Sun shines on a granite tor of Angle Rocks and trees in golden fall colors, to the right the Chena River snakes through a valley cast in shadows. September 11, 2014.

Angle Rocks is almost assuredly the most popular hiking spot near Fairbanks. It’s a 3.5-mile loop in the Chena River State Recreation Area, about 45 miles from Fairbanks, that takes trekkers through and around a variety of tors formed from granite.

The tors were formed hundreds of millions of years ago when magma bubbled up from the Earth’s mantel, but failed break through the ground. They then slowly become revealed as erosion striped the surrounding land, exposing the giant rocks.

I hiked Angle Rocks twice this summer, once in spring and once in fall. Both seasons provided fantastic and vibrant colors. The cool and calm spring greens and the energetic and exciting gold of fall.

Amsterdam Street Three

Photography, Portraits, Street, Travel
Stealing a kiss on a canal in Amsterdam.

Stealing a kiss on a canal in Amsterdam.

Final installment of Amsterdam street photography. As with the previous two posts canals and bicycles are prominent. Never have I seen the possibilities of street photography as in Amsterdam, The few I’ve shared don’t scratch the surface. 

Amsterdam is a young town, with a energy and openness like none other. 

Being from a small town I underestimate how fast scenes in cities  evolve, many times I should have been using a faster shutter speed.  

Bike sharing is incredibly.

Bike sharing is incredibly.

Even boats around canals are incredibly popular.

Evening boat rides around canals are incredibly popular.

Some boaters passed a serenade.

Some boaters passed a serenade.