Aurora Borealis Over the Knik River Alaska

Aurora Borealis Over the Knik River

This is a photo of the aurora borealis over the Knik River and the Chugach Mountains near Butte Alaska.

This photo was taken August 25th, 2013 at 3:09 am. I had just arrived at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport around midnight that night on my first trip to Alaska and I was already photographing the northern lights. My purpose was to get to know Darlene first, and to photograph this amazing state second. Darlene and I had been on a couple dinner dates on a few of her trips to Oregon but we had never really spent a lot of time together doing what we both enjoy, hiking and taking photos.

From the airport we drove to her cabin on the Knik River. We were sitting at her table when she was describing where she lived, the layout of the land, mountains, proximity to the Knik River etc when I suggested that we grab our cameras and tripods and go to the river. Darlene agreed so off we went. We spent the next week travelling around from the Kenai to the Mat-Su Valley to Denali NP taking photos of the amazing landscapes there. We would eat, sleep and start over the next day with a mission.

As we left the light of her cabin and into the forest behind we followed a path, me in front with Darlene right behind explaining where to go, under a bright half moon when as my eyes adjusted I saw a green glow in the sky through the trees. I yelled "aurora!" amd started running down the trail toward the river oblivious of the chances of a bear or even worse a bull moose crossing my path.

This particular night was an amazing night for me. I fell in love that night. Within three hours I was standing on the edge of a glacial river in Alaska with a beautiful woman and a sky dancing with bands of green aurora.This is how Alaska greeted me that night and Alaska has blessed me with such amazing experiences ever since.

As we got to the river's edge, this was the view. Can you fault me for falling in love? 🙂

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The Plight of A Photographer in 1912

A Photographer in 1912

A Photographer in 1912 - It seems that not a lot has changed since the old days of photography. This poor fellow lays it all on the line with his sign. It reads:

AMATEURS PLIGHT

  1. CAMERA.
  2. TRIPOD.
  3. PLATES.
  4. DEVELOPER.
  5. FIXER.
  6. CARDS.
  7. TRAYS.
  8. RED WORKING LIGHT.

MONEY ALL GONE
BUSTED
IF YOU WANT A PICTURE
COUGH UP 10¢ IN ADVANCE
U WILL GET ONE SURE
DONT SAY GIMME ONE
IT DONT SOUN GOOD.
-PHOTOGRAPHER

Sunday Driver Photographers – Stopping Along the Way

A Sunday Drive

Have you ever been driving down a country road and glanced to the side and then slammed your brakes, put it reverse, jumped out to snap a photo and then drive on? A photographer can be the worse Sunday Driver to get behind when the light is right unless they're in a hurry to get somewhere in particular. This is not the case in this situation. On this morning I had a non photography destination in mind but decided to take the long way instead of the highway with the commuter crowd, which took me away from traffic and through rural settings about sunrise.

As I drove I glanced to my right and saw this pass by. Because I was the only one on the road at that moment I decided in a split second to pull over get the shot. I'm glad that I did. Not only did I get a nice photo that morning, but the break from driving allowed me to relax, breath in the fresh air and enjoy the rest of my journey.

This is just a simple roadside scene at sunrise on a beautiful Autumn day.

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Fishing with Meadow Muffin

Columbia River Sunset

I thought that I would post one of the very first digital landscape photos that I made. Anything that I did prior to this was terrible due to the primitive cameras that I had. And the photo can't be truly appreciated without a side story about Fishing with Meadow Muffin.

This photo struck me when I looked at it on the computer. This is before I was using any post processing software on my photos, and I certainly had not discovered raw files. I took this on Auto as a jpeg. But it stirred something inside that I have yet to recover from. I've been chasing digital landscape photography with vigor ever since. This is why I tell people that settings matter little. Go out and take pictures.!!

This photo was taken in September of 2003. I was fishing on the Columbia River near Sundial Beach with my good friend Ron "Meadow Muffin" McComber. We were sturgeon fishing. As we were coming back to the boat launch the sunset exploded in this amazing red. I had to get some photos of it. My life has never been the same since that day.

Some may question Ron's nickname. Ron and I go way back. His family and my family were neighbors back when we lived in the little Columbia River Gorge town of Bridal Veil. Back then sturgeon fishing and drinking cans of Hamm's was our favorite past time, both of which we've grown out of, well Ron still fishes but his Hamm's days have passed. But either way, we all had nicknames for each other. We never called each other by our real names while we were fishing, and everyone that we went with had one. I can't attest to how he got the name because I didn't give it to him, but I can tell you how I got mine.

My nickname back then was Hairball. Yep... and back then I had short hair. The name didn't come from my hair, or any hair for that matter, but it came from the first time that I tried casting a 12 foot bank rod with 100# test nylon monofilament and a glob of rag mop (pickled herring) and some earthworms on it. For those unfamiliar with casting with a levelwind the size of a truck winch, let me try to explain.

The first thing that you have to realize is that you have to cast wayyy out there. I'm talking a cast that's about 20 or 30 yards or more, depending one one's ability usually. For that you have to really have your technique down to a science to get the fishing rod to throw the bait that far. While you're casting the line out of the reel you have to make sure that the spool doesn't get ahead of the line that's paying out because if you do you are liable to get the nickname "Hairball". The line going out meets the line wrapping the other way and you end up with this huge ball of twine and a sore thumb.

That's exactly what happened to me. Nobody warned me that the 100 pound monofilament line creates a lot of friction between it and your thumb while you're trying to keep some drag on it. It heats up to somewhere a few degrees less than the sun, and when it did I picked up my thumb from the reel and all kinds of fishing hell broke lose. I had loops of fishing line flying in all directions until it all wound up in a knot the size of my fist.

Needless to say I had a mess to sort out. Luckily a sturgeon didn't grab the bait or it would have brought me in... or most likely my friend's fishing rod. I learned quickly why Ron had a crochet hook in his fishing tackle box. They come in handy when trying to disassemble a hairball in a fish reel.

I need to call up my buddy Meadow Muffin and see how he's doing. We always have fun dredging up the past.

To learn more about Gary CLICK HERE.

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