TWOI: 10/6/17

I like the variety in this week’s set.

First is a shot from outside the Eielson Visitor Center in Denali National Park.  I missed this on our first stop into the park, so I was determined to check it out on our way out.  Evidently, these two massive moose got locked in a battle – literally.  Unable to disentangle their antlers, they both died in the grass.  A backpacker later found the skeletons and brought them back to the park officials.  Now they’re on display for all to see.

This was also my submission for Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness.

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TWOI: 9/22/17

Happy fall, everyone!  If you’ve been following my site for a while, you’ll know I simply love love love love LOVE autumn!  I can’t wait for the brilliant colors to paint the town.  Look forward to photos of the Northwest bathed in oranges, reds, and yellows very soon!

This first image from this week on Instagram hails from Costa Rica.  I thought these roots of the “walking palms” were so fascinating.  By sprouting new roots and allowing older ones to rot away, these trees can literally walk along the forest floor.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

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The Alaskan Railroad

The first 24 hours of our grand adventure north was a tale of trains, planes, and automobiles.  So much distance to travel to reach the beautiful Alaskan wilderness!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

It began with a late night flight into Anchorage.  We managed to find flights at an insanely reasonable rate, but that price came only with one airline, and that airline literally had one flight to Anchorage a day, late at night.  I briefly considered flying in the night prior, as it wouldn’t require any extra days off from work (Friday night instead of Saturday), but I didn’t really care to putter around the city by myself for a day, and in the end, I was grateful for the extra day to finish pulling my things together.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

The craziest thing about that flight was the sun.  This far north, the sun sets very late; daylight clings on well past 9pm.  So when we took off around 9, the horizon still held a glow… and that glow just never went away.  When we landed several hours later, it was still dusk – well past midnight.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

The next day, we woke to drizzle as we packed our things, called an Uber, and made our way to the train station.  Checking our bags was considerably easier than in an airport (if a bit more wet), and we then waited for our train.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Our accommodations in “Adventure Class” aboard the Denali Star were quite pleasant.  There was no wireless aboard, and we were lucky to even get signal when we passed a town here and there.  However, there was more than enough room to spread out, and some chose to take advantage of that, sleeping away much of the trip.  I, for one, couldn’t fathom sleep when there was so much to photograph.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

I wandered back and forth, from the dining car to the car with the viewing bubble, filming clips (Aaron insisted I do a bit of filming in his absence) and snapping interesting vantages.

But my favorite spots, by far, were those between the cars.  These were open air, bare to the cool wind and the crisp air, and with unhindered views of the passing landscapes.  I’d shoot from one side, then dash to the other, then race to the far end of the dining car to get a different view of the cars both forward and back.  And just when I would tire of a view and return to my seat for a bit of a break, I’d notice something new that tickled my fancy.  Or I’d race back to my seat to change out a lens.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

And all throughout, our conductor (in an honest-to-goodness train conductor hat) would pop on the intercom to announce a passing site or point out spotted wildlife.  There’s a moose, or here you can espy the “Dr. Seuss Tower.”

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Along the way, we passed lakes, rivers, mountains, and marshlands; the famed Hurricane Gulch Bridge 296 feet above the creek.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

We even passed Summit, which is the highest point of the rail and where it claims to cross the Continental Divide.  However, in attempting to verify this, maps of the Great Divide show it actually snakes much farther north through Alaska, so I don’t understand how we could have been anywhere near it south of Denali.  I’m calling baloney on that claim, but if you happen to have any information on this, I would love to hear from you!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

We also passed a recreational park where a line of kayakers saw fit to drop their drawers and give the passing train a bit of moonshine.  I wasn’t quick enough with the camera to catch that… but you’re probably thinking that’s a good thing!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

All told, we rolled into the Denali station about 7.5 hours later, tired from the journey, and hungry for some real food.  Fortunately, Healy was more than happy to offer us the 49th State Brewery, where we returned each night for their killer frozen margaritas.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Day 1: train: achievement unlocked!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Stay tuned next week for Day 2: bus!


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WC: Milestones

The world is inundated with superb photographs on a daily basis.  It is an immensely saturated market.  As someone passionate about photography, I’ll never stop working at my craft and trying to find my edge.  However, I often feel grossly inadequate.  Who am I to try to break into this market when it’s sadly undervalued by the general public and already dominated by artists far more talented than I?

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Eclipse: A Preview

Alright.. So I know everyone’s anxious for my Alaska posts, and I even had something else originally planned for this week, but with all the excitement of this life-changing event, I had to interject an extra story.

This is just a preview, as I’m still working on the photos, but I’ll have the rest next week.  Follow my blog for all the latest!

Anticipation for the solar eclipse has been brewing for months, and “totality” invokes a very clear image in everyone’s minds.  For any living in the States, it’s meant booking hotels and campsites for exorbitant amounts, scrambling to secure legitimate solar glasses when half those sold were recalled a week prior, and selecting the best viewing spots.

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