Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Denali (McKinley) Views, Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska


 Continuing from a previous post, I would like to share more images of North America's highest peak - Denali (Mt. McKinley). I camped deep inside Denali National Park & Preserve to capture Mount Denali in bright fall colors. With unusually nice weather, I successfully photographed five beautiful sunsets of the famous North Face of Denali. In addition, I captured the view from the Eielson Visitor Center, another well-known park icon. 


 I climbed the ridge above the Eielson Visitor Center to get a better view of the valley with Mount Denali and the Alaska Range. The surrounding tundra was draped in warm autumn colors.

I discovered the view of Denali from Stony Hill to be stunning and easily became one of my favorites. When visitors ride the shuttle from the entrance, Mount Denali can be seen in its entirety only after a few hours of riding. When the bus turns the corner on clear days, the view is impressive. I clearly remember that awe inspiring experience back in 2001. I wanted to capture this "first impression" of Denali.

I had to wait a few hours for perfect lighting at Stony Hill... Dozens of shuttle buses passed by as clouds drifted by... I like the shadows of clouds on the vast tundra field. A few hours passed easily, I noticed a few buses stopping on the road down below... This means wildlife presence, normally. Sure enough, I spotted a small black dot moving on the road. It was a bear - a grizzly bear! More buses joined the bear viewing. Those passengers were lucky to see the bear very close by. Slowly, the black dot moved away from the road and walked into the hilly tundra. The bear started climbing up the hill ... It was a small dot and soon its was out of sight from where I was at. Then, the next time I saw him, the small dot got bigger and closer. He was coming my direction! I quickly packed up my gear and began walking to one of the shuttle buses parked by. The bear climbed up this steep hill so fast and with ease. The shuttle driver yelled to the passengers to get inside the bus. I too joined them. Soon, the huge grizzly bear came close and walked behind the bus then crossed the road! Thank goodness, the bus was here at that moment.

Here is another photo of the Grizzly Bear, I took earlier in the day.

I'll have some more Denali images to share on the next posting. Please check back soon!


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Denali (McKinley) Reflections, Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska


 Reflection Pond in Denali Park is a favorite spot for photographers especially when it is a clear and calm day. North America's highest peak, Mount Denali (McKinley) and its mountain range reflects on the small tundra pond.

 During my stay in Denali Park, I commuted to Reflection Pond several times. The pond was usually still in early morning and late evening. This is under morning lights.

 Since the evening lights were the best on this side of Denali, I wanted good sunset glow on the reflection shots. The first night I tried shooting at Reflection Pond but it was too windy... I sat by the shore for a few hours with some other photographers as the pond rippled all evening... So, I returned there the next evening and it was much calmer successfully capturing beautiful reflections.

My 5 nights in Denali Park was nothing less than perfect. I captured 5 spectacular sunsets in a row. I have been busy editing thousands of images from Denali. I will continue posting more Denali images on my next blog. Please check back!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Mt. Denali (McKinley) Northface - Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska in Autumn


My week long Denali photo project was success. I camped deep inside Denali National Park & Preserve for 5 nights in early fall to capture Mt. Denali (McKinley) at sunrise and sunset. The weather was more than perfect, Mt. Denali was out for my entire stay, which is extremely unusual.

 In late August, interior Alaska is already in autumn colors. The tundra started turning bright orange against the blue sky; the most beautiful time of the year. Nature showed off their its prime beauty before another harsh winter.

 The lake was a little calmer in the morning... Denali reflected on Wonder lake.

 This is the entire Wonder Lake, about 4 miles long, and Denali on a calm morning.

 After a long and challenging bush whack, I made it top of the range... The entire Wonder Lake and Denali was in view on my site with a bright crimson tundra hill! This one of the best views of Denali and Wonder Lake. The midday light was too harsh... I may have to come back there for sunset on a future trip.

 A few hours before sunset, I arrived at the spot where I dreamed of photographing the mountain at sunset. After 4 nights of sunset shooting, I selected this spot where I could capture the perfect reflection of Denali on Wonder Lake. I set up my camera, carefully adjusted it, and waited for sun to slowly shift toward the horizon. As the breeze slowed down, the ripple on the surface smoothed out. The bright white sun on the mountain slowly turned to a warm golden light, then orange to pink... The entire range glowed magenta as the sun lowered. It was the brightest glow during my 5 evenings in the area. The lake was flat at the time, and a perfect mirror image was on! The glow was shifting up to the highest peak the North America, then faded... It was the image that I dreamed of since I first saw the mountain 15 years ago.

When I made it back to the campsite, the northern lights started dancing above the sky. The lights were very active that night; waving, swirling, then spread over the sky. Then the faint light band stretched over Denali...

On one morning, I was shooting the mountain by the lake and a large caribou was found feeding on tundra. He was calm and quiet, I didn't notice him until he came close by... He rose his head and looked at me but he went on continuously feeding. He seemed at ease not caring about my presence.

The 5 nights at Wonder Lake in Denali was amazing... It was nonstop photographing and exploring the area. The place is truly magnificent. I'm deeply in love with Denali...

I will post more Denali images on next few blogs.  Please visit back soon.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Mount Denali (McKinley) Southface, Alaska


North America's highest peak, Mount Denali, formerly known as Mount McKinley, faces Kesugi Ridge which is located north of Anchorage, in Denali State Park. (Yes, Denali State Park is distinct from the well known big brother Denali National Park & Preserve)

To capture sunrise glow on Denali's south face, I backpacked Kesugi Ridge which parallels Denali and the Alaska Range across a valley on a beautiful weekend in July. The trail ascends through forest, then rocky terrain, and opens up to alpine tundra. Soon after climbing above the tree line, majestic Denali was supposed to show off... however, Denali was hiding behind clouds, as is not uncommon. With an elevation of 20,310 feet (6,190 m), the mountain creates its own climate and often generates clouds around the mountain although it was a perfectly clear day.

Once getting up on the ridge, the trail was almost flat and continued along the ridge. The clouds over Denali slowly departed, and showed off the entire mountain while I was setting up camp. It was a perfect evening as the sun lowered behind the Alaska Range. The light rays lit the silhouette of Denali...

The sky above Denali was still clear at sunrise. View of Denali at camp. It was windy and cold at dawn as I set up the camera outside the tent door and while sitting inside my warm sleeping bag, I was able to capture the sunrise on Denali. It was early July, under the midnight sun, there was only a few hours of twilight instead of darkness. When the sun appeared on the edge of the horizon, the very first light hit the highest peak! Slowly, the golden light shifted downward...

As the sun slowly rose, the glow on the mountain lowered... The thin clouds behind the mountain turned to peach colors... In the northern latitudes, sunrise and sunset take much longer. Photographers appreciate this long "magic light" for sure!

Stunning morning lights painted Denali and the whole Alaska Range in warm crimson. Several unnamed creeks from melting snow flowed down Kesugi Ridge. What a perfect morning in wilderness.

I had captured the south face of Denali, next will be the famous north face view. I'm heading to Denali National Park & Preserve this weekend. Camping for a week, I'm hoping to capture the sunset glow on Mount Denali with bright red fall colors of tundra. Wish me good weather!


Monday, August 8, 2016

Virgin Creek Falls, Alaska


It was mid June and I finally made it to this small but tranquil waterfall in Girdwood, Alaska. This small valley is covered with thick green rain forest which reminds me of the scenery of the Pacific Northwest that stretches north to Southeast Alaska. With a short walk, the picturesque Virgin Creek Falls appeared in the woods.

The water level was higher than normal due to the heavy rains. The waterfalls were larger and more powerful as a result.

The creek was surrounded with green vegetation and moss covered rocks. It is like a little fairy tale world! I've always been attracted to the waterfalls with its lush green landscapes for my photographic subjects.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Sunset Reflections - Kenai Mountains at Cook Inlet, Alaska


 It was beautiful spring evening in Alaska as I was headed south toward the Kenai Peninsula along Cook Inlet. It was almost 11 o'clock, the tide was low and the mud bottom of the ocean was exposed. The sun slowly settled down seemingly into the ocean.

The rose-colored light glows on the snow capped Kenai Mountains above the ocean. I quickly selected the site and set up the camera gear to capture this special moment. The sky against the snowy mountains were a beautiful lavender color.

The setting sun painted the other side of the sky in bright orange!

The magical twilight sky lasted about a half hour after sunset. Slowly, the tide came in, and darkness descended upon the inlet. It was already past midnight when I packed up the gear and left.




Sunday, June 12, 2016

Camera Test at Reflections Lake, Alaska


I had been pretty happy with my camera for the past 7 years and didn't upgrade when the 5D Mark III came out. However, 5DsR is a major spec change. With 50.6 Megapixels, 30 x 40 inch pictures with crispy sharp detailed prints can be produced!! After waiting for a several months, I finally purchased the Canon 5DsR in early May.


I headed to Reflections Lake, north of Anchorage for test shooting. It was a beautiful evening, clear skies with a few clouds, and no wind. I selected the perfect location along the lake shore. The spring was here already with fresh leaves growing on the trees. As its name states, the perfect reflections of Chugach Mountains - Pioneer Peak and Twin Peaks were on the surface of the lake! As I was setting up, I realized that I left the filters at home... oh, well...

The low angled sun painted the mountains with warm orange lights. There was some snow on the higher elevations... Lake is still like a mirror for a long time. Since I forgot to pack the filters, the sky was darkened with post processing... The image came out better than I expected.

As sun set on the horizon, the purple colors enveloped the entire area. This image is HDR, 3 different exposed images combined into one.

Over all, I'm more than happy with the 5DsR.