I am always on the lookout for unique photo possibilities of “objects on the wall, hanging or otherwise.” Here are some recent examples I found and photographed.
A definite highlight of our 2007 two-week exploration cruise to Alaska, the Bering Sea and Far Eastern Siberia in Russia was having an opportunity to interact with many people living a hardy life on remote islands and mainland areas in the region. We were given many native cultural presentations, noting that the people here have ancestors which date back over 2000 years. Many villages depend year-by-year on subsistence fishing and as such they are concerned with climate change in the region, not that I am taking a position either way on this subject. The basic fact is, when you depend on four large whales taken during the annual fishing season to feed the village, and you only get two for whatever reasons, life becomes much more difficult. I hope you enjoy the colorful and generally happy faces I was able to photograph while we were there. Especially the young people!
I suppose when many people think of Dutch Harbor it’s because of it being famous for being the hub for King Crab fishing, as seen on the popular TV show, “Deadliest Catch.” Actually, it is located on Unalaska/Amaknak Island which are a part of the western portion of the Aleutian Island chain. For us sailing on a small cruise ship in 2007, it was the last place we stopped before heading into the center of the Bering Sea, and northward to Eastern Siberia. The Japanese bombed Dutch Harbor during World War Two and it later became a military base for U.S. forces. Today it has become the number one fishing port in the United States measured in pounds of fish processed and the total dollar value delivered.
Early morning as we approached Dutch Harbor, my spirits sunk because the location was pretty much fogged in, a common occurrence. However, the closer we came to docking, the weather improved considerably, making it possible for me to make a number of interesting photos, some of which are shown below. My favorite series of images relate to the old Russian Orthodox Church with its onion-shaped spires, the oldest such style church in North America. Near the church I wandered along a steep bright green hillside containing many Russian Orthodox grave sites with their unique crosses. The fields were full of various wild flowers, which became subjects for my camera. It was a grand day, and one we will never forget. Oh yes, our incredible “photographic weather” which followed us throughout our two-week exploration cruise was wonderful when we needed it, but as soon as we left Dutch Harbor, the fog rolled back in. The hands of God were on us travelers for sure.
Here’s a nice contrast between two images I made while on a 2007 cruise to Alaska and the Bering Sea. As we cruised along the Aleutian Island chain toward the Bering Sea, we were expecting rough waters based on what we’d seen on TV, and very wet weather. Not so this day! I liked the small duck who floated by our ship, with nice patterns on the smooth water’s surface. Plus, while I never did capture a Humpback Whale fully out of the water, I did get a very nice image of the tail portion of a large one with water splashing down. It takes a lot of practice to time your shot just right. So, when we saw evidence of whales in the area, there were lots of shutter “clicks” being heard by the many digital camera photographers on board.
In my last post I presented several photographs I made at Madison Dry Goods store in Madison, NC. I mentioned that the owner of the store had gathered a number of antiques which he placed in the upstairs portion of the building, which once was a part of the Sterling Hotel. The hotel operated from 1908 to the 1920s, and had 16 rooms, a lobby and a downstairs cafe (now a part of the dry goods store). The intent of the “museum” setting is to offer the visitor a glimpse of what it might have been like when the hotel was operational, by displaying numerous items commonly found at that time. I noted that the rooms were quite small compared to those found today, but then there were much less demands for “comfort” when traveling back in the early 20th Century. A clean bed and a place to wash up and keep warm in cool weather was a main priority.
From a photographers standpoint I captured three images which I really liked for the “look” I saw. The “red lamp” in the brick-walled room, for example, and the image looking out the curtained window to buildings in the back of the hotel were two scenes I really liked. Lastly, I wanted to make an image of the old stairs leading to the rooms above to remind me of the many travelers which had gone up and down those well-worn steps to and from their rooms. It was all a rather enjoyable experience being at such an interesting place. I trust you will enjoy seeing what I saw.
Once again, I found a new and very unique photo opportunity in a location I have visited many times before. Madison, NC. It’s a small town located just south of the Virginia State line in the Piedmont Region, and was once a hub for the tobacco trade. Today, many stores remain open and owners work to restore a look of “history” as well as a uniqueness in the manner in which they present their products. Madison, unlike some other small towns in this area which I have visited and photographed many times, retains a vibrancy which attracts local citizens and visitors like me.
I parked and began to wander around a street looking for photo scenes that caught my eye. I liked the two flags, for example, which I saw in front of Madison Dry Goods, so I made a photo and then moved on. Returning later to my car, the owner of the dry goods store (Richard) stepped out of the front door and introduced himself, asking if I was enjoying myself making photos, and would I like to come inside to see what he had to offer. Wow, am I glad I accepted his kind and sincere offer! What follows are several images of the inside of his store. It is literally chocked full of things which many photographers love to see. On top of that, he has restored a portion of the building to the 1905 hotel it once was. In the restoration he has placed numerous original antiques all designed to give the visitor a feel for what it would have been like staying at the hotel. But, I want to save that portion of my photo presentation to a follow-on post.
One thing about living where we do in this region of the United States which I enjoy is the friendliness and hospitality of the small town “folks” we interact with, who are more than willing to become “friends’ no matter the length of time of the interaction. If you are interested, I recommend checking out Madison Dry Goods web site. Very interesting indeed.
Before our 2007 trip to Alaska, my wife Barb and I had been there together on two other occasions. We saw lots of wildlife, including black and brown bears, but never really up close. With our 100-passenger cruise ship anchored in a sheltered bay in Katmai National Park, we formed into small groups and boarded Zodiac inflatable boats with outboard motor, and with a guide at the tiller, off we went to see what we could find over several hours of riding slowly and as silently as we could along the shoreline with lots of undersea vegetation exposed. We were, in my opinion lucky to have an extremely capable guide who knew where to look. And what we saw caused our jaws to drop open in awe, and camera shutters began clicking excitedly. We were required to stay about fifty yards away from any bears we saw, and to be as inconspicuous as possible. Some like me had 300mm telephoto lens attached so we were able to get in much closer visually than the fifty yard limit. Our guide told us about a passenger he had on another cruise who had a habit of whistling to get a bear’s attention so it would look into the camera lens. After he did it twice, the guide told him once more and he’d be banned from further excursions. So, we were being exceptionally quiet.
As we floated along we began to see bear after bear, feeding and otherwise browsing around the intertidal zone. There were two mother bears with cub and I was able to capture several very nice images of them. Then there was the “sleeping bear” we snuck up on. What a scene! In fact it was so good, I had the photo enlarged professionally and framed and it is now hanging over the head of my bed. While the photo opportunities came one after another, we eventually began to find fewer bears. But we did spot an Eagle sitting along the shoreline. And then I spotted a young brown bear walking down the shoreline toward the Eagle. My heart raced and I prayed the Eagle would not fly away. Thankfully, the majestic bird sat solidly as the large brown bear walked by. It was an incredible photo opportunity and something I will always remember.
In summary, that day seeing so many brown bears in Katmai was a distinct highlight of our two week trip But, there’s more to show you so stay tuned for the next installment.
Katmai National Park and Preserve is a United States National Park and Preserve in southern Alaska, notable for its brown bears. In 2007, my wife Barb and I were visitors there aboard a small, approximately 100 passenger cruise ship and were simply overcome by the beauty we saw from the deck of our ship as we cruised along the shoreline, getting ready to anchor in a sheltered cove, where we were to load in small groups of six into Zodiac rubber inflatable boats, to quietly ride along large sections of the shore, seeking to find as many brown bears as we could, and whatever else came our way. I will save the “bear story” to my follow-on post, but here I wanted to give you a feel for the beautiful landscape which spread before our eyes. The day did not begin on a hopeful note, for when I stepped onto the small patio outside our cabin right after I got up from my bed I saw low, gray clouds and dull-colored water. But, as we got closer to shore, and the sun began to rise, it all turned perfect. Simply perfect! As the day began, a float plane landed and tied up next to the ship, with a National Park representative who would serve as the ship’s guide and “pilot” to escort us through the pristine and protected region. I was lucky to have my camera ready when the plane made a low pass overhead.
Note: You can see the tan colored remains of volcanic ash covering large sections of the open slopes of many high mountains. There are numerous dormant volcanoes in this area, thus its name “The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.”
To continue my photoblog series of photographs taken during our 2007 trip to Alaska, the Bering Sea and Eastern Siberia, I’d like to focus on a location where we had always wanted to visit … a spot where most tourists never get to because of its remote location in the Gulf of Alaska. The night before our arrival my excitement level rose and I started to pray for good weather in order to provide for some nice photography. We woke up early, ate breakfast and then went on deck to watch as the ship began to slowly sail toward the harbor, Not only was it not sunny, but there was a low fog bank covering much of the island’s coast and high mountains. My heart sunk, until from nowhere my prayers were answered and a ray of sunshine poked through, illuminating a beautiful expanse of the island. From that point on during the day, it was “sun out, sun in” and we even had a few light rain showers. However, it seemed that every time I found a great photo opportunity, the sun came out, or the light was really nice even when it was a bit cloudy. We first toured the center part of the City of Kodiak with its Russian Orthodox Churches, and then boarded a bus which took us off into the interior of the island where we could hike through rain forests and stand on high cliffs overlooking a portion of the rugged shoreline. The wild flowers we saw were beautiful, especially seeing and photographing a rare Chocolate Iris. It was a great day!