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.

Sporting Thursday: Snowshoe Hair tracks and a Geocache.

Alaska, Landscapes, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized, Wildlife

Cross-country skiing, either skate or classic, is a great way to exercise and get outside during the long Alaskan winters. Sticking to a groomed trail or breaking your own through the woods both provide ample opportunities for fun sights.

A trip on March 13, traversing trails just north of Fairbanks from my house to a friend’s, had a few hidden surprises.

While stopped to discuss which direction to go I spotted some snowshoe hair tracks off the trail. My shadow provides a little perspective while some unidentified tracks disappear off frame.

Snowshoe hair tracks and shadow.

Snowshoe hair tracks and shadow.

From there we followed what appeared to be a well-tracked snowmachine trail. While continuing to appear well traveled, it quickly delved into a walking only trail, then abruptly stopped in a clearing. Again, while debating our next move, I glanced around, noticing a cache in snow.


After a brief inspection it was discovered to be a geocache. Geocaching is a global game where people upload the longitude and latitude of a cache online for others to find. Inside was a variety of objects: a pipe cutter, crayons, paint, playing cards, a Pez dispenser and a mosquito net to name a few. The rules simply state if you take something you must leave something.


Glad our lives didn’t depend on the contents.


We fell under the “found by accident” category.

The ski was close to 10 miles, and that worked up an appetite. So to finish off “Sporting Thursday” is a picture of a fellow winter adventurer captured while waiting for pizza.

A winter biker casts a long shadow outside Corner Campus Mall, March 13, 2013.

A winter biker casts a long shadow outside Corner Campus Mall, March 13, 2013.

Sporting Thursday: Nanook Hockey Playoffs

Alaska, Photography, Sports

It’s time for another inauguration of another theme, Sporting Thursday. Having an active lifestyle has always been important to me, it’s only natural I should continue that through my photography. For todays first post of Sporting Thursday, we travel to the Carlson Center, Fairbanks, Alaska, for the first round of the soon-to-be defunct Central Collegiate Hockey Association, where the Michigan State Spartans traveled to play the University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks. 

Friday, March 8, was a intense, low scoring game. Despite the Nanooks 35-15 shot on goal advantage, 3 minutes into overtime, MSU’s Matt DeBlouw slipped the puck past Nanook goaltender John Keeney.

The image I have of DeBlouw’s game-winning goal is an interesting thought experiment. Occasionally the discussion of sport-journalists acting as cheerleaders arises. In this particular instance I had positioned myself in hopes UAF scored the overtime goal, a better angle then if MSU did. As we know MSU scored first, had I kept a neutral position it’s likely I would have a cleaner image with the puck easier to see. Of course, sports are unpredictable, and would-be images frequently happen out of range or obstructed.

This cheerleading mentality can also manifest in war reporters. Stories get edited, or completely untold, to protect the reputation of the military. That is not something I have experienced, and a discussion for another post.

UAF goalie John Keeney realizes the game is over after MSU scores in overtime.

A good chance goes without a goal for UAF's Trevor Campbell

A good chance goes without a goal for UAF’s Trevor Campbell

The Nanooks won Saturday, I game I did not attend, 4-1, forcing a deciding game three on Sunday.

I showed up sometime in the second period, the score tied 1-1. Within five minutes MSU went up 3-1, both goals I may have got a good shot of, if I had been ready. Also within that five minutes two players broke some glass, causing over 20 minutes in delay. MSU then went up 4-1, and the game ended 4-3, with UAF being done for the season.

UAF goalie John Keeney hangs his head after MSU scores their 4th, and ultimately game-winning goal.

UAF goalie John Keeney hangs his head after MSU scores their 4th, and ultimately game-winning goal.

Broken glass created a lengthy game delay in the second period.

Broken glass created a lengthy game delay in the second period.