Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Manoa Falls and Rain forest - Oahu, Hawaii

Greetings from Honolulu, Hawaii!! After 6 years of living and photographing in Alaska, I made a big move to Hawaii.

Hawaii's natural landscapes is very different from those in Alaska or mainland states. As a photographer, I enjoy capturing the majestic nature that this tropical island offers. You may think Hawaii is all about beaches... Yes, beaches and coastlines are huge attractions here; however, Hawaii offers diverse landscapes and other spiritual beauties. I am especially fascinated with tropical rain forests with jagged mountain ranges and waterfalls.

Less than a half hour from the famous Waikiki Beach, this island creates different climates and terrains. With significant amounts of rainfall, Manoa Valley is filled with thick green vegetation. Surrounded by tall trees, Manoa Falls vertically drops 150 feet to a forested valley.

One of my first photography trips in this island was to Manoa Falls. Within a short hike, I was already at the falls.

Manoa Falls itself is beautiful but more than the falls, I was stunned with the "jungle" plants along the stream. I wanted to capture the entire atmosphere of the area... so I set up the camera in the stream among the leaves and waited for the lights to arrive at the spot. By the time I finally got this shot, my legs were chewed by mosquitoes.

Beyond Manoa Falls, I explored the trail that reaches the overlook of Nu'uanu Valley. The trail leads through various tropical plants including a patch of bamboo forest. I tried capturing the "zen" kind of atmosphere where the bamboos and tree roots blend. Of course, there were more mosquito bites. 

After the muddy climb up a wooded cliff, I made it to Nu'uanu Valley overlook. The valley looked like a remote countryside! It is not too far from the heavily populated city of Honolulu!

Back from the trail, looking up above Manoa Valley, the tree canopies are outstanding!! The pattern of branches and leaves that created the detailed artwork in the sky! To capture this image, I handheld the camera straight up to the sky. I really like how this image turned out.

Okay, you may want to see an image of the ocean, here is sunrise at Sandy Beach, the south side of Oahu, Hawaii. I'll keep posting more images from paradise!

I'm heading to Alaska soon for a bear photography project. I'll stay in the McNeil River Sanctuary, north of Katmai National Park, for 4 days to photograph bears. In late July, the river is filled with salmon where the large brown bears (grizzlies) gather at the river. When it's peak season, as many as 70 bears can be seen in the area feasting on salmon! It is one place I am eager to visit...

Next posting will be in a few weeks after get back from Alaska.  Please check it back!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Denali Autumn – Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska

For the past several blogs I’ve been posting photos from Denali National Park from the 2016 trip and this will be the last.

It was a short autumn season while camping and photographing the highest peak of the North America; Mount Denali (formerly named Mt. McKinley). With unusually nice weather during my stay, I successfully captured five stunning sunsets glowing on the mountain.

The photo above is the sunrise glow on the east side of Denali, with autumn colored tundra carpeting the landscape.

The fall is the most beautiful season in interior Alaska. The tundra turns to golden fall colors with vivid red patches… I like the way the tundra glows under the warm evening light. 

Here are some more images at Wonder Lake. When the days are calm, the lake reflects Denali.

The old antlers were shed on the tundra hill. Mount Denali is in the background.

Denali glowed bright orange at sunset. This is the spot where Ansel Adam captured one of his famous black & white images, “Mount McKinley and Wonder Lake” in 1948.

Late August is the peak season for blueberries in Denali! The fully ripened berries were everywhere in the park. After 6 years of living in Alaska, I had never seen so many blueberry bushes. 

Frosted tundra leaves. At the end of August, the temperature drops in early mornings in Alaska. Nevertheless, it is art in nature.

The last image is from the Polychrome Pass area. The hill is turning to autumn colors. 

Interior Alaska, includes Denali National Park, is covered with snow with harsh subzero temperature during the long winter months... 

After this Denali photo project, I moved to Hawaii. After 6 years of living and capturing wild Alaskan nature, I was ready to move on to new subjects. I have been capturing beautiful yet different landscapes in this tropic island since September. I will post some of the photos on my next blog posting. Please check back in 2 weeks!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Denali Wildlife, Alaska

 In addition to North America's highest peak, Denali National Park & Preserve is known for a variety of wildlife. Wild animals roam the more than 6 million acres of the vast wilderness along the slopes of Mount Denali (McKinley). During the fall season, animals are in their prime. They are well fed, their fur is prepared for the coming winter, and their antlers are fully grown for the mating season.

 Denali National Park is a sanctuary for wildlife; they are somewhat used to the shuttle bus and visitors traffic within the park. Wildlife, even bears, sometimes can be viewed close by the Park Road. Here is a bull caribou, feeding by the road.

 As much as I enjoyed the close up opportunities, I also love the "animal landscape" images. Here is a grizzly bear strolling along an autumn tundra hill with Mount Denali (McKinley) backdrop.

 Here is a bull moose in autumn colors. The tundra hill warmed by the morning sun.

 Here is another bull moose in bright autumn colors.

 Sometimes little critters will pose for a photo. Arctic Ground Squirrel with fall foliage.

Here is yet another caribou running across the valley.

I'll post some more photos from Denali Park on my next update. Please check back in a few weeks!

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!