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.
A skier traverses towards shade on the Diamond Glacier in Thompson Pass.
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.
Dreamy cherry blossoms 2
Dreamy cherry blossoms 1
Dreamy cherry blossoms
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.
Hikers climb and play on one of the many formations at Angle Rocks. May 17, 2014.
Colorful patterns created by shadows, leafs and rocks result in a busy but fascinating scene.
Trek 45 minutes past the main rock attractions to get a panoramic view all the way to the Alaska Range, hundreds of miles south.
Stretching silhouette at Angel Rocks.
Angle Creek trail winds though green spring trees in the valley opposing Angle Rocks. Specks of people can be seen in the lower-right rock formations.
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.
Evening boat rides around canals are incredibly popular.
Some boaters passed a serenade.
Above: Alps rise just north of the German-Austrian border. The winding road leads to the summer house of Kind Ludvig II, whose main castle I featured in an earlier post. Photographed August 6, 2013.
Mittenwald is a small village in the German state of Bavaria. It’s situated on the German Alps and shares a border with Austria. A friend of mine lives there, so it was a few-day stop while traveling in Europe.
Mountains are a high-hop and quick-skip away. Architecture follows strict guidelines. Ski hills and mountain bikes are popular pastimes. There’s more to come from Mittenwald.
Breakfast in Bavaria. A fantastic way to start the day.
Bavarian architecture must follow strict codes, this was one of the nicest examples.
Mountains, lakes and vibrant greens in the German Alps.
Stunning scenery, helicopter-like views and spectacular snowboarding on sometimes treacherous terrain are just a few of the experiences I was fortunate enough to have in Whistler, British Columbia. Whistler and Blackcomb are two mountains in the town of Whistler, where the 2010 Winter Olympics were held. It is one of the premier skiing destinations in the world, with good reason.
Thanks to the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, which features the worlds longest unsupported span, almost two miles, and the worlds tallest lift at 1,427 feet, Whistler and Blackcomb are the worlds largest continuous lift system. The amount of accessible terrain is insane.
Snowboarding in Whistler is an experience I will never forget, and hope to have again soon.
Note: These were all shot with my iPhone, I have GoPro media I hope to edit soon, but realistically may not.
Looking towards Whistler Mountain at the start of the more than 2-mile long Peak 2 Peak.
Hard living in a spectacular condo après-ski.
The gondola’s shadow sits in majestic scenery, a group a skiers barely visible.
Skiing and strange trees on Whistler.
Sun illuminates snow blowing off a cornice.
Roughly 1,400 feet in the air on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola.The only comparable view would be from a helicopter.
Shredding the backside of Blackcomb.
I rarely talk about picture specifications. But on this occasion, through some stroke of luck, a difficult image turned out.
These sprawling sunflower fields were shot from the window of a moving train, somewhere in Switzerland. Camera settings were ISO 3200, 1/800 of a second at f 4.0.
Even though the picture isn’t fully sharp, it would have been nearly impossible to get a better result. I could have slowed my shutter speed to get a smaller aperture, giving more sharpness, but with motion I think a fast shutter speed is more important. ISO 3200 is already pretty high, so I don’t think much would be gained by going to 6400 and getting more noise.
A good image captures a feeling, and to me this represents a very fleeting moment of extraordinary beauty.
Above: The Rhine River bisects the town of Schaffhausen, in northern Switzerland.
Been a long time since my last post, was on a road trip I will soon be posting photos of. But back to blogging!
Schaffhausen is a small town, about 35,000 people, bisected by the river Rhine in Northern Switzerland. A circular 16th century fortification called the Munot is one of the main attractions in town and offers great Switzerland cityscapes.
Spent one night in Schaffhausen before heading to Germany. I (re)learned a valuable lesson at the train station: know when the camera is on manual or automatic focus. Needles to say the picture is 100 percent not in focus, and will not be shown.
On a hot day the shade and cold, damp stone of the Munot provided fantastic relief. Skylights lit chambers inside, outside sprawling roofs showcased Switzerland architecture.
A family pauses beneath a skylight inside one of the Munot’s chambers.
Switzerland architecture in in the town of Schaffhausen.
A watch repairman in Switzerland.
Above: Rolling hills occupied with farm houses and fields weave toward the Swiss Alps, July 24, 2013.
On the northern edge of the Swiss Alps, Teufen is one of many small villages situated along a rail line and parallel two-lane highway. Quaint sights were common while walking the main road. Farms, fields, flowers and felines, mountains, meteorological stations, clouds and signs all spoke of Switzerland.
Directly off the train a colorful sign post and Lambrecht Polymeter, a hygrometer-thermometer instrument that can measure humidity, dew-point temperature, saturation temperature and partial pressure of water vapor.
Click on any image to view in carousel.
Moderately confusing direction sign at Teufen train station.
Lambrecht’s polymeter station 1
Lambrecht’s polymeter station 2
A short walk was abound with great sights.
A hayfield begins in this backyard, construction cranes visible in the distance.
Swiss facade with flowers and feline.
Luminous and contrasted clouds.
Above: Beautiful vineyards and lake landscape shot through a train window in Switzerland. When photographing from any moving object a fast shutter speed is the number one factor to a good image. This was shot at 1/800 of a second, f 5.6, ISO 400.
After taking the cable car to the top of Europe on the Aiguille du Midi it was time to change countries. A brief trip through Switzerland was next on the list.
In my post Train Station Stretch I talked about the pleasures of riding on trains. Fantastic, constantly changing scenery and a intimate view of locals living day-to-day often made getting from A to B very enjoyable. This train was en route to St. Galen, northern Switzerland.
A good time to catch up on the news of the day is the evening train.
The grand scale becomes evident after noticing the small sailboat near shore.
Preparing for the evening.