"This doesn't look good," Seth Kantner muttered, peering at the pale gray end of a spark plug, then passing it to Vic Walker and me for inspection. The top plug on my side looked even worse—grains of aluminum piston speckling the electrode, sure signs of a damaging, possibly fatal, engine overheat.
This past summer I spent seven days in Glacier Bay National Park as photo leader for Dolphin Charters on board Ronn Patterson's 52-foot M/V Delphinus. Eight photographers joined us for a full week in Glacier Bay National Park, and we had an amazing trip. Over the years I have spent somewhere between eight to nine months in the park, and I always look forward to my return to this national treasure. Glacier Bay never ceases to amaze me, and the more time I spend in the park, the more I realize how much of it there is. - Mark Kelley
I grew up in a small town in southern Wisconsin where I developed a passionate interest in nature and the outdoors. In 1981, after high school, I set my sights on Alaska, seeking adventure in a wilderness landscape, along with a university education in Fairbanks. Following graduation, I combined my childhood love of the visual arts and outdoor interests to forge a career as a freelance nature photographer. My Alaska is revealed in the collection of images that defines my photographic career, which now spans four decades. The pictures tell a small part of a larger story, one of a curious student in nature's grand classroom. Along this personal and professional journey of life and art, I'm continually reminded that the gift of seeing requires more than the eyes that see. Where to photograph in Alaska?
Excerpted from The Northern Lights: Celestial Performances of the Aurora Borealis by permission of Sasquatch Books Daryl Pederson figures that he misses capturing a great aurora image nine out of every 10 attempts. But 10 percent is pretty good, he figures, especially when the effort rewards him like it did a November night long ago. He pulled on his parka and ventured from his home in Girdwood, Alaska late at night to see the snow glowing red. The hills reflected one of those auroras that made his heart beat as if he was a hunter hearing twigs snap at the approach of a bull moose.
The shadow of our single-engine plane coasted north over a landscape that grew increasingly brown and bare. Serpentine rivers which once carved through a sea of trees near Fairbanks now ran naked beneath the sun. I craned my neck over the pilot's shoulders, impatient for mountains to surface. Believed to be 126 million years old, the Brooks Range spans 700 miles across northern Alaska and the Yukon Territory of Canada. Part of this range is protected within the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, which measures the same size as Switzerland and is inaccessible by trails or roads. Within this park I would find what I had been searching for: caribou skin mask makers in the village of Anaktuvuk Pass.
I slept well, but then again, A Secret Service agent stood just outside. The agent wasn't there because of me, but rather guarded former President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalyn, who were in the cabin next door.
Mark Bly has two passions in life: flying and cooking. At the tender age of 11, he won his class cooking competition. He baked a ham! At 16, he began flying lessons at Anchorage's Merrill Field—without his mother's blessing. When Bly left home, he took two of his most important possessions—his airbed and his wok."I once applied to the Culinary Institute of America in New York," Bly says. "That was back in the 90s, and I was summarily chastised for even wasting their time."Today, Bly flies 747s for one of the world's largest air cargo companies. He also owns a thriving catering company using the cooking skills he has honed while flying across the globe. Around Alaska, Mark Bly is known as the flying chef.
The polar bear meandered along the water's edge. Slanting through skeins of mist, the October sun bathed the scene in shimmering light. Photographer Steve Kazlowski and I sat, camera gear at the ready as Steve's Eskimo buddy idled the big wooden skiff through the sandy shallows of the Beaufort Sea, on the far northeastern edge of Alaska. The bear, an adult female, glanced our way now and then, but showed no sign of concern.
Fourteen thousand dollars. That's the grand total of the camera equipment in my loft. I haven't thought about how I'll pay for it; I only know this—after photographing wildlife for most of my adult life, it was time to step up—to see what I might really do with the proper gear. I decided this, the way most reasonable and sane people do, while sitting at a cocktail lounge on a Princess Cruise ship drinking Alaskan ambers with one of the least risk-averse people I know: Alaskan writer and adventurer, Nick Jans.
In 1904, Sydney Laurence, an artist approaching the age of 40, deserted his family and moved to Alaska. Though some may find his decision objectionable, his paintings would come to define Alaska's image as the final frontier to Americans longing for a bygone era.