Scenery and a sandpiper

Above: The Eastern Alaska Range backdrops the Delta Clear Water, a spring-fed river in Interior Alaska. A small canoe can be seen in the lower third of the photo,

The Delta Clearwater is an Interior Alaska river true to its name: clearwater. An early summer float trip provided astounding views and some small wildlife.

Bohemian Waxwings in Black And White

Hundreds of Bohemian Waxwings flocked in frigid 20 below fahrenheit. I arrived unexpectedly on the scene and realized time was short.

I took five frames. Luckily I was at a very fast shutter speed, so four are nice and crisp. While all four images are fairly similar, they’re stronger as a set. Flowing patterns of birds in flight mixed with minimal tree reference and high contrast make complicated scenes and challenging composition.

In the day of digital photography it’s a great feeling to take only five photos and truly enjoy four. 

Click on any image to view in carousel.

Post Number 100!

Above: Heidi in the Hood, a selectively-saturated portrait.

It sounds and feels like a lot – this is my 100th post. Thanks to everyone who visits! I have spent a lot of time running Far North Light and loved every minute. It’s great to have so many people show an interest in seeing things through my lens for a little while.

To commemorate 100 posts I have made major formatting changes. Most notable is the blogs appearance, it now includes a homepage with a slideshow, and will in the future include more galleries and portfolios. Please check out my updated about page as well.

I decided there would be no better way to mark 100 posts then to revisit some of the most popular. Note: as this is the second incarnation of Far North Light some of the images were not previously on the blog, but needed to be revisited regardless.

Do you have a favorite photo that I didn’t include in the best-of? Let me know and I’ll make a follow-up post.

Strange Day was the first 4×5 large-format negative I ever took, and one of my first images ever accepted into a juried art show. The following image is a scanned silver-gelatin fibre print. If I knew how I achieved such black clouds, I would tell you.

Strange Day

Strange Day

Stange Day was taken at Creamers Field, which was a diary farm and is now a migratory wildfowl refuge, and one of my favorite places to photograph. It’s excellent for everything from landscapes to portraits. The next is a wind drift closeup from Creamers, also 4×5.

Wind Drift

Wind Drift

 

I don’t often go in search of wildlife, but when given the opportunity do photograph it.

Migrating Canada geese.

Migrating Canada geese.

One of my favorite posts is from Halloween 2012. 

Ravens play on a windy Halloween day.

Ravens play on a windy Halloween day.

No compilation post about photography would be complete without some of my photojournalism. From Oct. 17, 2012

Research Vessel Sikuliaq gets its first taste of the water, Marinette, Wis.

Research Vessel Sikuliaq gets its first taste of the water, Marinette, Wis.

And from my coverage of presidential candidate Ron Paul’s visit to Fairbanks.

Ron Paul visists Fairbanks, Alaska.

Ron Paul speaks in Fairbanks, March 4, 2011.

As I’m sure is obvious this is but a small collection of the posts and stories I’ve shared. Many of my personal favorites I put into the homepage slide show. I hope you enjoyed, and stay tuned for many more images!

Redpolls, robin egg, beehives and PRI.

My old theme had been giving me problems, hence the new appearance.

A very similar story to the subject of this post was on Public Radio International during my drive to UAF: Magpies as pests. The story about how magpies, cousins of the fascinating raven I love  to photograph, are often exterminated because of their aggressive nest-plundering habits. In defense of the magpie it was said other animals, raccoons, squirrels and deer probably steal more eggs. I’ve been unsuccessful finding the podcast, if I do I’ll post it.

In truth it’s just nature, the favorable location or easy meal will get taken.

I have three examples of similar subject matter today: First, a bird home overtaken by bees; second, former chickadee’s nest taken by redpolls; and finally, a scavenged North American Robin egg.

A beehive in a bird house at Creamers Field, late April, 2013.

A beehive in a bird house at Creamers Field, late April, 2013.

 

BirdNest1

Snow flies as a redpoll eyes its nest.

 

A redpoll warms the eggs, May 17, 2013.

A redpoll warms the eggs, May 17, 2013.

 

Three of the four light-light blue eggs in a rotting birch tree.

Three of the four light-light blue eggs in a rotting birch tree.

 

Bright blue and broken.

Bright blue and broken.

Orbital.

Orbital.

Rough-legged Hawk

It’s May 18, and it snowed in Fairbanks again today. Lovely fall weather we’re having. Such dramatic weather must be hard on wildlife. There has been some crazy bird spectacles, as reported by the Fairbanks News-Miner.

This included, to the best of my knowledge, a Rough-Legged Hawk hanging around Farmers Loop Rd. I got a few opportunities to photograph it, though nothing spectacular it was good practice in an area I have little experience.

A Rough-Legged Hawk hung around Farmers Loop Rd for a few days early in May, 2013.

A Rough-Legged Hawk hung around Farmers Loop Rd for a few days early in May, 2013.

RoughLeggedHawk

Very-Temporary Fossils

While nothing in Interior Alaska can be considered typical, Fairbanks – typically – isn’t very windy. This winter has brought no shortage of windy days. While occasionally bone-chilling cold, wind also creates exciting conditions. Ravens seem to have fun when currents whip up.

Ravens play in high winds above UAF's Fine Art Complex. April 17, 2013.

Ravens play in high winds above UAF’s Fine Art Complex. April 17, 2013.

The next day, slowly picking my way down a steep, slippery hill, my preferred route between car and classroom, I found evidence some ravens had been using strong winds and currents to their advantage.

Spiraling strike marks decorated the snow’s surface. A raven had been hunting, likely a small rodent. My friend accurately described it as a “very-temporary fossil.” Indeed unlikely the imprint would be preserved more then a day or two.

A hunting raven leaves evidence in the snow, April 18, 2013.

A hunting raven leaves evidence in the snow, April 18, 2013.

At the time I was en route to grab class materials, happy just to spot the strike, I didn’t linger. Deciding to court a safer path back up the hill, my attention was once more drawn toward patterns in the snow. I couldn’t pass the opportunity to photograph another strike mark. Even if it meant going back to my car to swap tennis shoes for boots.

A pedestrian walks up a path at UAF, near a imprint a raven left in the snow, akin to a temporary fossil.

A pedestrian walks up a path at UAF, near a raven imprint in the snow, akin to a temporary fossil.

Close-up of an imprint left by a hunting raven.

Close-up of an imprint left by a hunting raven.

A Halloween murder… of ravens.

The wind whipped all Halloween. Soaring and swooping ravens took advantage of the strong drafts to have some fun. A flock of ravens is also called a murder, fitting for this last day of October.

Ravens have long held a place in lore. Tricksters and shape shifters are among the most common Alaska fables. Raven Steals The light is a popular North-West Native American story where the earth begins bathed in total darkness. Accounts vary, but the plot often involves the character of Raven pretending to be the grandson of an old man who holds all the light. Raven then steals it and shines it over earth and water.

“And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!”  – Edgar Allen Poe

Here a murder of ravens flies above UAF. © Robin Wood

Ravens and tree. Oct. 31, 2012.