I’m something of a desert rat, so while the Alaska trip was not my first experience with extreme cold it’s not something I do on a regular basis. This post is intended to be a summary of what worked and what didn’t.
While our trip to Alaska was primarily to photograph the aurora, it turns out there was quite a bit to do during the day as well. When we arrived in Fairbanks the latest snow storm was just wrapping up and we took a little walk around downtown. Smaller than I expected, Fairbanks has a population somewhere around 32,000 which makes it the 2nd largest city in Alaska.
I don’t have a “Bucket List” per se, although there are things that I would like to get around to doing. One of those things has been to see the Aurora Borealis. This month the Missus and I spent a week in Alaska where we had the chance to do just that at a Northern Lights workshop presented by Beth Ruggiero-York along with Arizona Highways Photography Workshops . There is an element of luck involved in viewing the Northern Lights. The closer to the pole you are the better the chance, and of course it needs to be dark enough to see it, which means winter. The weather needs to be clear, and finally the sun has to cooperate by being active.
Last March we went camping at White Sands National Monument for the first time. The weather was fairly mild although a bit brisk in the morning. The winds were impressive. It turns out that 50 mph gusts are not unusual in the windy season. We enjoyed the trip, but since we only stayed the one night we didn’t get to do as much hiking as we would have liked, so we decided to return during the off season. With our schedule it turned out the second half of January was a good time, and watched the weather and the launch schedule for the missile range to plan the date. This last week the weather was perfect for photography – cloudy with rain in the forecast and temperatures unseasonably warm with to lows above freezing, and no closures scheduled. Off we went…
Earlier this month we took a trip to Acadia National Park in Maine for a taste of autumn. Living in the southwestern desert as we do we were expecting uncomfortably cold weather, but to our pleasant surprise it generally didn’t feel as cold as the temperature sounded.
We’ll be traveling to Acadia National Park in Maine shortly, to photograph the colorful fall leaves. From my trip to New Hampshire last week, I think our timing is going to be right on.
Some final thoughts in closing out the South Africa trip posts… While the animals are fascinating, the country itself is beautiful. One thing seasoned travelers frequently notice is that when you go to a new region, it smells different. Usually the first impression is slightly unpleasant, but you quickly adjust and no longer notice. South Africa is the first place I’ve been that immediately smelled good. I associated the smell with good earth, the kind you could plant a good crop on.
I’ve been trying to post to themes on our South Africa trip, but I still have some photos that didn’t fit in. We had the opportunity to get up close and personal with most of the animals we saw throughout our trip.
Most of the animals we saw on our trip to South Africa are grazers. The Red-billed Oxpeckers on the back of this giraffe probably aren’t, although that’s what it looked like to me.
Most of the time photographing wildlife is done at some distance. Depending on the animal and the environment that may be as close as a few feet, but more likely twenty feet would be considered close and 50 to 300 feet not unreasonable. While most of the animals we photographed were free running on game preserves, there were some that were captive and allowed for closer shots. The male White Lion above is at Shambala and is fenced in at the owners property along with two females. They’re fed and cared for, but are certainly not pets. Their human interaction consists of being fed from a distance and being hopeful that one of those tasty looking photographers will fall into the enclosure.