What a first day in Alaska. It started with arriving at the Anchorage at 2:30 a.m. and then catching a 6 a.m. flight to Fairbanks. That meant catching a few winks in the airport, very few.
Walter and I hit the ground running, heading right out to shoot in the beautiful weather. Our plan was to head to Copper Center near Wrangle-St. Alias National Park, the nation’s largerst and least visited. We stopped in North Pole on the way to make fun pictures with all the Santa stuff, then it was down the Richardson Highway. We stopped for lunch along a river and then met our first big animal. A moose who was happy to pose for pictures. The rest of the day featured big mountain ranges, following the Trans Alaska Pipeline, watching a loon family and ending along the Klutina River.
Read daily details at Walter’s blog.
The plane for Seattle was delayed for two hours. So much for making our planned connection to Fairbanks tonight. There’s always a silver lining, or in this case, an orange lining. The light on the horizon as we are in flight is brilliant orange then topped by a deep blue. It is gorgeous, what a way to start a photo adventure. Then the plane has WiFi internet connection, so I’m close to heaven.
I stopped by my friend Walter Choroszewski’s house this evening to go over final plans for our Alaska trip next week. After we wrapped up, I drove through the country keeping an eye on the setting sun. I came across these trees on the other side of a field just as the sun set and the colors lit up the sky.
Today was the summer solstice, the first day of summer, the longest day of the year, the most sunlight. As the sun was setting behind some light clouds, swallows were diving near the water of the South Branch of the Raritan River. I like the way the bird silhouetted against the clouds reflecting in the water.
When I first came to New Jersey for a job interview in 1987, I wasn’t too sure about leaving the Midwest for N.J. I’d been through the state a couple of times, the last being on a bus while I was at USA Today and we came up to play a softball game against David Letterman in Central Park. The bus came up the NJ Turnpike, which is packed with cars and goes past tons of oil refineries. Not where I want to be. I drove around a lot after the job interview and soon came upon two grain silos. That was a good sign for me. It is great to see that 23 years later the silos are still there on the working farm.
After a long week of too many meetings, it felt good to head out into the countryside this evening. I spent about 45 minutes stalking three young bucks playing in a field but they were too far away to make a good picture. I headed over to my favorite hill where I made a pretty fence photo back in April. The hill has a meadow and some unique trees and a great views. You’ll see a picture of the trees some day when the light is right. Tonight the setting sun was hitting rolls of hay and the color of the light on the hay really contrasted the green grass.
Thursday I was joking after photographing a turtle in my back yard about all the “wildlife” around here.
Today, it was real wildlife as a young, 150 pound black bear was in a tree seven blocks from my house. Bears wandering through the area isn’t uncommon but they don’t come to Somerville very often. This guy had been seen in the area the last couple of days. He had been captured in Parsippany last week and released in a state forest near Chester earlier this week. He made the 20-mile trek to Somerville during the week. The bear climbed down from the tree after a couple of hours and was shot with a tranquilizer gun by state wildlife officials. They put him in the bear jail and took him away, hopefully this time farther away from towns.
Every summer Friday night in downtown Somerville, classic cars line the streets and people walk around looking at them.
Today was my last day in Vermont on this trip – back to the reality of work. Overnight rain turned to morning fog, which created a nice mood for a shot of the phlox along the Ottauquechee River in Quechee. I don’t know if the wild flower was more prevalent this year or I really hadn’t noticed it before, but it is everywhere, at least near water. The little flowers are either white or purple and they’re beautiful. A couple of hours after sunrise, the sun broke through and made the water drops glisten.
I went back to the big pond on the property I visited yesterday. It was the perfect day and place, the air was warm but not too hot, the scenery was beautiful and the only sounds were frogs, birds and wind. It is a place of total relaxation, I’ll be spending a lot of time there.
I was driving along the Ottauquechee River this afternoon just west of Woodstock, Vermont, when I saw a Common Merganser sitting on a rock with some chicks. The road was about 20 feet above the river and the bank was pretty much straight down. I found a place I could climb down with my big lens and monopod. I thought I was far enough away that I wouldn’t scare them but when I finally got to the river I saw them floating down the river away from me. I climbed back up the bank and drove downstream to see if I could find them again. There wasn’t any access to the river until I got to a trailer park, so I drove in and found a place I could get to the river. The merganser was right there with her chicks. She seemed pretty nervous and stayed on the other side of the river and hid under a boulder. I sat quietly and they finally relaxed and came out and swam down the river.
I was hoping for a sunny day so I could photograph the beauty of Vermont in morning light. I saw a little bit of sun but the clouds took over and created a soft light. I found a large patch of ferns, so I put the soft light to work with them. I like to photograph ferns, and they look better, or at least more natural, when there isn’t strong sunlight hitting them. Harsh shadows and ferns don’t work for me.
As I was driving along the Ottauquechee River in Woodstock and saw a bird in the river. It was swimming upstream slowly, and I walked along the river and made pictures until it decided to take off. I thought it was a loon until I looked closer, it was a Common Merganser, with a red head. I would have loved to had sunlight illuminating that color. Maybe tomorrow.
It has been a couple of months, but I was finally able to get back to our home in Woodstock, Vermont. As I was driving, I was looking at a swamp just north of Bennington in hopes of seeing a moose. I swear the Vermont state tourism department is in charge of putting up Moose Crossing signs, because I’ve seen dozens of signs but no moose near them. But I’m always looking. As I was scanning the swamp I saw there was a small Great Blue Heron rookery. There were about a dozen nests and all of them seemed to have birds in them. The road was up high and the swamp was about 75 feet lower than the road. The closest tree with a nest was at the same height as me. I could see right into the nest and there were two or three younguns and a parent. It is pretty unusual to be able to photograph into the nest of a heron without going to extreme effort to get up high.
As I pulled into a parking spot this morning on the parking deck’ second level, I notice a reflection of my grill on the wall. The sun was shining brightly on the front of my Jeep and it made a rather ghostly reflection of the classic Jeep grill.