In Costa Rica now for an upcoming commercial shoot for Merrell. Two things: I really need to blog some images from the last month + of shooting, I have a lot I’d like to share on this platform. Second, I have the new Canon camera: 5d Mark III and, combined with a new favorite lens –the 24mm f1.4– I’m feeling a high awesome-image yield coming on for this weekend’s shoot. And, so far, the butter and honey light is making itself known.
Stay tuned in the coming week as I may try to find the time to post an image-a-day from my time here. Here’s my general all-around-awesome shoot (organizational) assistant Whitney today at the scene of a waterfall we’ll be shooting at next week!
COLD. I’ve never loved it more.
I recently skied into Tolovana Hot Springs in the interior of Alaska with a couple friends. It was my second time out there, along the 11-mile–sometimes packed by snow machine–trail that runs from one dome down into a valley, up and over a second dome before dropping into the edge of Tolovana River Valley where the hot springs are located.
The main difference between this trip and the last (3 yrs ago) was that this one we spent the entire trip well beneath 0 degrees on the Farenheit scale. This made it way more fun since severe cold is a reality that forces you to be a better, more thoughtful, controlled version of yourself in order to survive. The best is when you can not only survive it, but thrive in it.
What kind of cold are we talking about here? Well, nothing record-setting and a rather typical cold snap for mid-winter in interior Alaska. Most our time in the hot springs it was anywhere from -20 to -31F but when we first crossed the Tolovana Hot Springs Dome (notorious for cold temps and far worse–read windy–conditions than we saw) it was somewhere around -40, possibly as cold as -45F but this was counting wind chill and it was nighttime by then. Departing the springs after 3 nights in one of the cabins, we saw -35F ambient (aka, no wind) atop the dome. That was spicy cold. Daylight, no wind, -35F.
[I guess it would be unfair to leave out the second major difference with this trip. A recent windstorm had blown snow in strange, unpleasant formations across sections of the trail and, on the backside of the steep dome we had to ski down (2 miles in the dark), there were downed trees. The worst/most fun moment of the trip for me came when a chest-high tree appeared in my headlamp light as I barreled down the hill, pulk in tow. I was able to drop down, drag my butt on the ground and clear the tree before popping back up and snowplowing to a stop. Then cut I ran back up and cut the tree down before my companions could encounter it.]
Enough talk. I wanted to share a series of my favorite images from the trip–mainly the ones that best depict the feeling of cold. Can you feel it? This is a series I’m very interested in exploring a lot more in my life. Turns out I live in a good place for that. It’s also fun to try to keep your camera working at -40 in the dark. Scroll over images to see any caption information.
Summertime. This seems like a foreign concept. It’s been in the single digits for a couple weeks now here in southcentral Alaska. The snow has that crispness that, when treaded upon in the denseness of frigid air, becomes a significant part of the audible landscape. The crackle of the snow under my ski boots, for example, has been booming through the air for weeks. Life slows down in the winter, stays indoors, goes underground–so the available sounds are fewer, more distinct (mainly outside of town) so they become more noticeable, individual. They break the silence of winter. The crackling of snow underfoot, the guttural, melodious communication among ravens, the roar of a car through a distant mountain roadway piercing giant snow banks. Man! Writing this makes me want to go outside right now and take a walk. I’m not sure why I’m writing about sounds.
All of this is a great contrast to a lovely hike I took last August with some visiting friends. It was the Kesugi Ridge trail that we took north to south, paralleling the Alaska Range as we went (with views of North America’s highest peak–Denali–the entire time!) Sunshine followed us the entire few days down the trail. We also met with ripening blueberry patches, howling wolves, icy lake swims, and 5am heavenly light on Denali after an early morning hike up to a vantage point. I love the winter, but I quite enjoyed looking back over these photos that I hadn’t really sifted through and thinking about the promise of a freedom that the inhospitable nature of winter could never match.
Scroll over a photo to see information about it.