Daily Photo

Daily Photo

20 04 2020
Ballaine Reflection After Sunset

Silhouetted boreal forest and reflection at Ballaine Lake along Farmer’s Loop in Fairbanks, Alaska.

CameraNikon NIKON D7000
LensSigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM
Focal Length17.0 mm (25.0 mm in 35mm)
Aperturef/9
Exposure Time0.04s (1/25)
ISO160
17 04 2020
Eagles

A juvenile bald eagle attempts to steal a fish from an adult. Taken at the Solomon Gulch Hatchery in Valdez, Alaska. I was out watching the sea lions and seals catching salmon when a bald eagle landed on the shore nearby. He started pecking away at one of the dead fish (there were a lot). About a minute went by before there were 6 eagles (mostly juveniles) fighting over the same fish. There were salmon everywhere, but they were all intent on this one.

CameraNikon NIKON D7100 (Current model NIKON D7500)
LensNikon 200-500mm f/5.6E ED AF-S VR
Focal Length390.0 mm (585.0 mm in 35mm)
Aperturef/5.6
Exposure Time0.001s (1/1000)
ISO400
16 04 2020
Aurora Blast

This was taken back in February of 2015. I think it is still the brightest display of the northern lights I’ve ever seen. Although, that brightness only lasted for about 2 minutes before returning to calmer, more diffuse lights.

CameraNikon NIKON D7000
LensSigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM
Focal Length17.0 mm (25.0 mm in 35mm)
Aperturef/3.5
Exposure Time0.5s (0.5)
ISO2500
14 04 2020
Soft Boreal Sunrise

The interior of Alaska is pretty dark in winter, but on our shortest days in December and January we essentially get all-day sunrises. In Fairbanks on the winter solstice, the sun rises at 10:59 am and sets at 2:41 pm. It never gets higher than 2° above the horizon. If you look at your hand, arm extended, holding out two fingers sideways place the horizon in line with your bottom finger. The top finger is about how high the sun gets. If there is a hill to your south, you may never see it. If you live a little farther north, you won’t see it.


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We may not have the sun, but we do get some gorgeous colors. Since the sun spends so much time hugging the horizon, we basically get sunrises/sunsets that last for hours. Then, in the night, if it’s clear we often get to see the aurora. Coupled with the snow-clad boreal forests, the place seems magical. As tired as I get of the dark, I start to miss this gorgeous color in the summer months.

CameraNikon NIKON D7100 (Current model NIKON D7500)
LensSigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM for Nikon (For Canon cameras)
Focal Length19.0 mm (28.0 mm in 35mm)
Aperturef/2.8
Exposure Time0.00156s (1/640)
ISO250
10 04 2020
Monstrous Moulin
A monstrous moulin on the Black Rapids Glacier in the Alaska Range

This was an absolutely monstrous moulin we came across on the Black Rapids Glacier in the Alaska Range a few years back. Moulins are one of the ways that water from snow and surface melt make it down to the bottom of a glacier to help drive glacier motion. Essentially, they are waterfalls that flow deeper into the glacier, sometimes all the way to the base. Eventually, this water along with melt at the base from motion and sometimes geothermal heat are what form those really cool ice caves that can frequently be seen at the toe of a glacier.


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On the ice surface in the summer, water forms numerous channels much like rivers form through land. These don’t necessarily always follow the same path each year, rather it seems to be dictated more by how the snow begins melting in the spring and early summer months. One areas these channels are almost always flowing is near the margins of tall moraines, big ridges of sediment often stripped off mountainsides as the glacier flows downhill. The sediment and rock insulates the ice beneath it, which melts slower than the surrounding ice. This creates a natural barrier to water flow, so many of the larger channels often end up flowing along these moraines.

This photo is of a bigger channel along a moraine, actually on a big tributary to the Black Rapids Glacier called the Loket. You can see the much higher debris-covered ice on the right and the bare ice on the left. Moulins often originate in crevassed areas where the water can flow into a crevasse. As the ice moves downstream beyond a crevasse region, the ice eventually “heals” and the crevasse closes, except at areas where there is extensive, especially perennially draining water that keeps a spot open. This moulin didn’t initially drain to the bottom of the glacier (would have been a few hundred feet deep here), but only about 40 feet down to what sounded like a small sub-glacial pond. From the little we could see, it looked like it was probably draining to the margin of the glacier from there where it would eventually find a path to the base.

I have some more photos of moulins here.

CameraNikon NIKON D7000 (Current model NIKON D7500)
LensSigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM for Nikon (For Canon cameras)
Focal Length18.0 mm
Aperturef/9
Exposure Time1/125
ISO100
Image constructed from two photos stitched into a vertical “panorama” with Hugin – Panorama photo stitcher
09 04 2020
Murphy Dome Sunset

Soft pink and blues in the sky over the rolling hills of the Chatanika River Valley. This was taken on Murphy Dome at sunset in March. In the distance you can see the White Mountains peaking out slightly above the surrounding hills on the right. The sparse stands of spruce trees get slightly more dense and taller as you head down the trail into the valley.

CameraNikon NIKON D7100 (Current model NIKON D7500)
LensSigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM for Nikon (For Canon cameras)
Focal Length32.0 mm (48.0 mm in 35mm)
Aperturef/4
Exposure Time0.00625s (1/160)
ISO250
08 04 2020
Northwestern Glacier

Northwestern Glacier is located in Kenai Fjords National Park at the head of the Northwestern Fjord, a nearly 10-mile long, narrow, and steep inlet. This tidewater glacier is reachable only by boat, almost 70-mile boat tour from Seward, Alaska. It was named after Northwestern University, located in Illinois by Ulysses S. Grant (not the Army General and President) in 1909. The origin of Northwestern Glacier is the Harding Icefield, the same icefield that feeds the more well-known Exit Glacier in Seward, 30 miles away as the crow flies.

CameraNikon NIKON D7100 (Current model NIKON D7500)
LensSigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM for Nikon (For Canon cameras)
Focal Length35.0 mm (52.0 mm in 35mm)
Aperturef/5.6
Exposure Time0.0005s (1/2000)
ISO400
06 04 2020
Snowy Moose

A moose with a mouthful of willows. Fairbanks, Alaska.

CameraNikon NIKON D7100
Focal Length195.0 mm (292.0 mm in 35mm)
Aperturef/5
Exposure Time0.00313s (1/320)
ISO500
05 04 2020
Dusting McGinnis

The southern face of McGinnis Peak and surrounding mountains after a July snowstorm. The contrast of the snow on the rock was incredible, especially when the sky started to clear. At our elevation we only got rain. Very wet rain.

CameraNikon NIKON D7000
LensAF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED
Focal Length105.0 mm (157.0 mm in 35mm)
Aperturef/6.3
Exposure Time0.002s (1/500)
ISO100
03 04 2020
Gabriel Icefall

The Gabriel Icefall on the Gulkana Glacier sits between Ogive Mountain (left) and Skull Peak (right). This impressive mass of heavily crevassed ice is nearly 700 feet tall, originating in one of the 4 accumulation basins on the Gulkana, the Gabriel being the lowest on the glacier. It’s an impressive sight that can be seen from the Richardson Highway and is one of the first major features that can be seen on the short hike to the glacier. The icefall was named by Troy L. Péwé, a well-known geologist and permafrost scientist with the USGS.

Icefalls are really interesting features on glaciers, often very pretty and impressive as they convey a powerful image. They are heavily crevassed and form seracs because they flow at a much faster rate than the ice can deform plastically like it often can above or below the icefall.

CameraNikon NIKON D7100 (Current model NIKON D7500)
LensSigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM for Nikon (For Canon cameras)
Focal Length44.0 mm (66.0 mm in 35mm)
Aperturef/7.1
Exposure Time0.00125s (1/800)
ISO160
02 04 2020
Soft Trails

Golden light shines through the trees and a bit of fog on a crisp autumn morning. Taken on the trail system at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

CameraNikon NIKON D7000 (Current model NIKON D7500)
LensAF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED
Focal Length105.0 mm (157.0 mm in 35mm)
Aperturef/5.6
Exposure Time0.0125s (1/80)
ISO500
01 04 2020
Sanctuary River

The clear water of the Sanctuary River in Denali National Park is located at mile-23 along the Park Road. This was taken last year on April 5 while biking into the park. In stark contrast with this year, we currently have 3.5 feet of snow in the front yard that hasn’t even begun to melt yet. Thanks to Facebook and Google notifications reminding me of all the awesome trips we were able to go on last year at this time. Between the late road opening, possible long-term closure of the road before Polychrome Pass, and current travel restrictions due to COVID-19, I’m very interested in how the atmosphere of the park differs from regular seasons, especially beyond Polychrome.

CameraNikon NIKON D7100 (Current model NIKON D7500)
LensSigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM for Nikon (For Canon cameras)
Focal Length17.0 mm (25.0 mm in 35mm)
Aperturef/9
Exposure Time 0.004s (1/250)
ISO125
31 03 2020
From Alaska With Love

My daily photo is a video today. I put this compilation together yesterday of footage I’ve taken over the years. I usually focus on taking still images, but every once in a while I like to turn the video camera on. Hopefully you can find this inspiring if you are stuck at home now. Brighter days are ahead! Stay well, stay happy, stay in touch with one another, and stay motivated!

From Alaska with Love,

Lee

29 03 2020
Calving

A big splash from a calving event on the Columbia Glacier in the Chugach Mountains. The block that collapsed was the full height of the glacier face, over 100 feet tall. I have more photos and a gif of the collapse at the link below with some information on the tours available in the area.

CameraNikon NIKON D7100 (Current model NIKON D7500)
LensNikon 200-500mm f/5.6E ED AF-S VR
Focal Length200.0 mm (300.0 mm in 35mm)
Aperturef/7.1
Exposure Time0.0002s (1/5000)
ISO320
28 03 2020
Aurora Borealis and Moonlight

The northern lights dancing over a snow-covered spruce forest lit by moonlight in Fairbanks, Alaska. We finally have clear skies at the house and a good-looking aurora forecast for the next couple of days after a week of snow. It might be time to set up a camera or two around the house tonight!

CameraNikon NIKON D7000 (Current model NIKON D7500)
LensSigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM for Nikon (For Canon cameras)
Focal Length17.0 mm (25.0 mm in 35mm)
Aperturef/2.8
Exposure Time1.3s (1.3)
ISO2500
27 03 2020
Golden Touch

Golden light on the trees and snow-capped peaks reflecting off a pond at the Ruby Creek Overlook along the Richardson Highway. This was taken in early June last year shortly after 11:00 pm on the way back to Fairbanks from the Gulkana Glacier. I am definitely looking forward to the return of long days after spending so much time indoors this year, first the cold and now the COVID. Time to do some garden planning!

CameraNikon NIKON D7100 (Current model NIKON D7500)
LensSigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM for Nikon (For Canon cameras)
Focal Length32.0 mm (48.0 mm in 35mm)
Aperturef/4.5
Exposure Time 0.005s (1/200)
ISO250
26 03 2020
Visitor in the Snow

I spent some time packing down the fresh snow on the trails behind the house yesterday. We’ve had close to 18 inches of snow over the last two days. Fairbanks doesn’t typically get a lot of snow at once, usually a few inches here and there. But it’s cold here, so it doesn’t melt. What falls in October stays until April. We had already built up about 3 feet before the last few days, so it’s getting really deep now. I would figure that out every time a foot stepped off the trail.

Something caught my eye above me, as I looked up these massive, light tan wings were held open in front of me. The owl saw me the same time I saw it, and it abruptly turned west through the spruce trees.

I followed the trail slowly back to the house with my head turned up, trying to scan every tree branch around. The wind was kicking up big chunks of snow off the trees all around, sending my eyes all over. About 100 meters from the house a dark blob appeared in a birch tree with a couple of black tufts sticking out the top.

I saw the head following me, it was a Great Horned owl, the tufted ears being the giveaway. The Great Horned is the only tufted ear owl in Alaska. It watched me with squinted eyes in the snow as I took photos, trying to stabilize myself against a tree while standing in knee-deep snow. It stayed long enough for me to go back to the house and bring Cat out to watch.

Later in the day, I heard some ravens making a fuss down in the woods so I went to see if they were chasing the owl off. Sure enough, I startled the owl out of a tree about 15 feet away, I didn’t see it at all until it lifted off the branch. Once in the air, those wings are silent! I wasn’t able to find it again, but with the number of squirrel nests we have in our trees, I’m thinking that it might be preparing to nest in the yard. There’s no shortage of snowshoe hares in the area.

CameraNikon NIKON D7100 (Current model NIKON D7500)
LensNikon 200-500mm f/5.6E ED AF-S VR
Focal Length500.0 mm (750.0 mm in 35mm)
Aperturef/5.6
Exposure Time0.002s (1/500)
ISO500
25 03 2020
Falls

A waterfall into the beautiful colored waters of Prince William Sound near Valdez, Alaska. The waterfalls in this region of the Chugach Mountains are gorgeous and everywhere.

CameraNikon NIKON D90 (Current model NIKON D7500)
LensAF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED
Focal Length34.0 mm (51.0 mm in 35mm)
Aperturef/5
Exposure Time0.01s (1/100)
ISO250
24 03 2020
Spruce Ballroom

Snow-clad spruce trees at sunrise. Sunrises have to be one of my favorite things about Fairbanks, next to the aurora, and the mountain range to our south. Our sparse boreal forests give nice open views of the sky too. I love seeing those subtle arctic blues behind the brilliant colors. Almost every morning in the winter is wonderful!

CameraNikon NIKON D7000
LensSigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM
Focal Length17.0 mm (25.0 mm in 35mm)
Aperturef/5
Exposure Time0.00625s (1/160)
ISO400
23 03 2020
Gulkana Glacier

Along the Richardson Highway at mile 197.6 on the Richardson Highway is a little pull-off with a monument on the east side. The monument is for Wilds P. Richardson, a brigadier general the U.S. Army. He was well known as an Alaska explorer and was commissioned to construct the 380-mile Richardson Highway (later named in his honor). The monument is situated on a little hill north of Summit Lake and overlooks the Gulkana Glacier. The view is spectacular and it’s definitely worth stopping if you find yourself on the drive.

CameraNikon NIKON D7100 (Current model NIKON D7500)
LensSigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM for Nikon (For Canon cameras)
Focal Length50.0 mm (75.0 mm in 35mm)
Aperturef/5.6
Exposure Time 0.0025s (1/400)
ISO200
 
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