2021 Photo Highlights

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Just like 2020, the year 2021 was, well, another year. I wanted to share a small set of photo highlights. You can see a larger gallery of 2021 photo highlights here.

Fairbanks certainly threw out a few unique photo opportunities. Like when the building next to my work burnt down (cover photo). I heard a series of explosions while working at the computer and stepped out to see thick black smoke filling the air and orange flames shooting from the roof. The fire departments had already arrived and ran a hose a 1/4-mile to the building, effectively blocking me from leaving. I was stuck there for hours, without work to do, so I took photos from our parking lot whenever the smoke was blowing the other way. See the complete photo set here: Structure Fire – May 5, 2021.

Some frigid air in January led to a few fantastic atmospheric optic effects. First was the most stunning example of fata morgana (superior mirage) I have ever seen of the Delta Mountains from Fairbanks.

A Fata Morgana, or superior mirage of the Delta Mountains from Fairbanks, Alaska. Due to the bending of light rays through air strata of different densities, the mirage, typical during a thermal inversion, often makes distant objects look much taller and sometimes inverted.

Only a few days later, I witnessed a fantastic light pillar display on the south side of town!


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Light pillars (more info) appear over the railroad tracks near Tanana Lakes in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Speaking of light displays, April brought quite a few northern lights shows. Usually, by mid-April, the aurora season is wrapping up for the Alaska Interior since it stays far too light in the night.

2021 Photo Highlights
Aurora borealis at Angel Rocks with sunlight on the horizon | Purchase Print

For the first time, I dedicated quite a bit of time to birding, especially during spring. The Alaska Songbird Institute does an annual Fairbanks Birding Challenge. I had a lot of fun, sometimes laying for hours in the grass near ponds just waiting for birds. I learned a lot about birds that I didn’t even know we have in the area. Here’s my full birding gallery from this year: Birding 2021.


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Horned grebe in the Chena River State Recreation Area | Purchase Print
Dall sheep ewe with lamb at Red Rock Canyon in the Alaska Range | Purchase Print

I was able to make an incredible number of additions to my Alaska Wildflower Guide. It has actually overtaken my hiking guide in daily page visits on my site. And I’m still writing posts from flowers identified over the spring and summer seasons.

Western Arctic Shootingstar (info) flowers at Nome Creek | Purchase Print
A 22° halo with strong parhelia and an upper tangent arc | Purchase Print
Alaska cotton (cottongrass) near Nome Creek in the White Mountain National Recreation Area | Purchase Print
Light in the birch leaves reflects off the water in a small slough/pond at the mile 28.5 river access along Chena Hot Springs Road | Purchase Print

Once summer hit, I spent a lot of time hiking. Unfortunately, Cat tore a ligament in her ankle at the climbing gym in late winter, so she wasn’t able to join me on most of them. I still got out to some cool new areas. I had a fantastic hike on Mt. Margaret and the primrose ridge (where there were tons of arctic primrose flowers). I got caught in a July snowstorm on the Gulkana Glacier in the Alaska Range (returning a week later during good weather). Also had some great days at Granite Tors, Wickersham Dome, Angel Rocks, and even managed to get Cat out to some glacier caves in the Canwell Glacier.

Looking east from Mt. Margaret in Denali National Park | Purchase Print
A large moulin on the Canwell Glacier (hiking guide) in the Eastern Alaska Range | Purchase Print
Tall seracs in the Gabriel Icefall on the Gulkana Glacier (hiking guide) | Purchase Print
A beaver dammed pond along the Granite Tors Trail (hiking guide) | Purchase Print
F-16 in hanger at Eielson Air Force Base during the Arctic Lightning Air Show | Purchase Print
A rainbow forms in a condensation cloud made by an F-35 | Purchase Print
Grizzly bear near Sable Pass in Denali National Park | Purchase Print
Denali and the Muldrow Glacier which was surging at the time | Purchase Print
My wife laughing at something dumb I said
Juvenile peregrine falcon watches me at Angel Rocks (Hiking Guide) | Purchase Print
Stunning blue ice in a Canwell Glacier Cave in the Alaska Range (Hiking Guide) | Purchase Print
Looking toward the entrance inside another glacier cave in the Canwell glacier | Purchase Print
Self-portait looking at the clear, blue ice under the Canwell Glacier | Purchase Print
The aspen leaves start to turn yellow in north Fairbanks | Purchase Print
Scraggly spruce trees near Nome Creek in the White Mountain National Recreation Area (Hiking Info) | Purchase Print
Autumn reflection in the Seasonal Wetlands at Creamer’s Field in Fairbanks, Alaska | Purchase Print
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Once fall hit, we needed to make a couple trips to Anchorage to fix Cat’s ankle. In September, we drove down for her pre-op appointment. The colors were just starting to change south of the Alaska Range. We got a tiny bit of hiking in in the Anchorage area at McHugh Creek Falls and Thunderbird Falls. Shortly after returning home, we got our first snowfall in Fairbanks.

Autumn color emerging at Byers Lake near Cantwell, Alaska | Purchase Print
Perfect stream at McHugh Creek Falls in Anchorage | Purchase Print
Thunderbird Falls near Chugiak, Alaska (Hiking Info) | Purchase Print
Smith Lake in Fairbanks, Alaska after a September snowfall | Purchase Print
A moose keeps watch of me while grazing on willows in the neighborhood | Purchase Print

Once winter took hold and Cat had her surgery, I wasn’t able to focus much on photos. But she is recovering great and doing awesome in physical therapy. We have high hopes to spend a lot of time outdoors in 2022!

Frost forming on the edges of a leaf | Purchase Print
Aurora bands throught the trees | Purchase Print
Northern lights dancing in the night sky over Fairbanks | Purchase Print
Fall foliage on the moss at Falls Creek along Turnagain Arm near Anchorage | Purchase Print
Frost and methane bubbles in Smith Lake | Purchase Print
Eerie afternoon fog in the forest | Purchase Print
Sunlight in the forest | Purchase Print
Partial lunar eclipse on November 19, 2021 | Purchase Print
Snowflake macro | Purchase Print
Gorgeous sky and color on the shortest day of the year – Fairbanks, Alaska | Purchase Print
Snowy forest at 2:30 pm on the winter solstice | Purchase Print

This was a small collection of my 2021 Photo Highlights. You can see the full gallery here (330 photos out of the 15,000 that I took in 2021).

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