Windy Mountains to Windmills

Driving all the way down from Alaska to Florida in nine days is a form of time travel. In the beginning we found ourselves in the middle of the winter’s first snow storm. And at the end we had successfully navigated through all the stages of fall and into the perpetual summer of Florida.

One thing I have heard said a lot and never agreed with is that wind generators are ugly. Hopefully this image helps to change people’s minds and shares the beauty that I think wind farms create. Taken around sunset somewhere in Kansas.

wind generators at sunset

A beautiful promisealaska mountainsWinter is comingsnow on the spruceSnow between spruce

Nissan Xterra rear sleep platform

“I’m too long, can’t we just chop the lower few inches off my legs?” I said exacerbated as I lay cramped and contorted in the back of a fully packed Xterra. “Quit being a baby!” is Meagan’s quick response. This conversation is visited and re-visited during our long adventures into the backcountry, trying to stealth camp in illustrious locations such as: the Wrangell Mountains, the Dalton Highway, and dimly lit corners of Wal-Mart parking lots. I find myself too tired to keep driving and Meagan uses the wonderful excuse that driving at night “makes my eyes hurt”. In the end we are forced to push all our stuff to the front seats and side of the car, lay out our sleeping bags and pads, jump in and try and get situated before calling the dogs up to come lay on top of us. All this in the space that is usually reserved for ones yoga mat.

In an effort to avoid these uncomfortable situations on our future journey, we came up with a solution. Albeit stolen heavily from others’ internet posts and forum discussions. The idea is to provide an elevated sleeping platform which can be folded out once  parked to provide a full 6 ft 3 in bed. On top we would have our refrigerator, dog bed, and people bed. Underneath would be adequate storage for most of our belongings. Simple, cheap, and effective. Just our style. Below are some images of the sleep platform right after construction. And one on the trip down south from Fairbanks all the way to Florida! Notice the outboard on the roof. You never can be too prepared…


rear vehicle sleep platform

rear view with fridge and water jugs

homemade sliders

close up of homemade fridge slides


fridge slid out


tie down points


fully loaded with gear


all dirty with outboard on roof

Kennecott Mine, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska

The historic Kennecott mine, near the confluence of the Root and Kennecott Glaciers, is a marvel of engineering. Not only did the mine require the laying of 196 miles of railway, some 15% of that on trestles, but it looks like a carpenter’s version of Jenga. In operation from 1911 to 1938, the company mined copper, occasionally mining Chalcocite, a mineral comprising of nearly 70% copper and weighing significantly more than an average stone of equal size. Meagan and I took advantage of the park’s policy of allowing rock collection Winking smile.


kennecott mine alaska

Photo by Meagan DeRaps

A weekend in Talkeetna, Alaska

Small-town Alaska can be a strange place. Despite Talkeetna’s high rate of tourist turnover, they have still kept, if not increased, their strangeness. One thing they have in spades, though, is hospitality. Where else would more than one person offer an unclaimed mattress laying out in a back alley to a weary traveler? I wandered the (street)s of Talkeetna for a day after my field season ended and crew had left town. I was waiting for my sister and her husband with their band, St. Animal in tow, to come down and play at the local Mountain High Pizza Pie restaurant; a great way for me to unwind after a busy summer. I split most my time between staring at the wonderful view of Denali from the junction between the Susitna and Talkeetna rivers, and making a name for myself with the locals as the guy who sits on all the business porches for hours waiting for something(?) while watching all the tourists walk down the middle of the streets lost in either Disneyland flashbacks or doing an excellent job of recreating a Hollywood zombie movie. When not doing either of these things, I found myself trying to fill a void in my stomach at many of the excellent local eateries, (OK, mostly pubs) after too much hiking . I must say, not a bad weekend…


Denali peak with beaver swimming in the Susitna River

Talkeetna river bridge

AKRR Talkeetna river bridge


Conscious coffee house in Talkeetna

Spinach Bread

Best food in town- Spinach bread (get the daily special!)


Saint Animal in concert at Mountain High Pizza Pie

Lone guitarist

Late night guitarist serenading Denali

I crossed the River Styx, and lived…

For me, summer is a time of chaos, long hours, travel, and moments of serenity found in nature. These are a sampling of images that tell a story of the first half of my summer field season. As a geologist for the State of Alaska I was fortunate to explore the Western Alaska Range’s Styx River and Kuskokwim  River regions by foot and by helicopter. There really is no better way to see the state. We were based out of the historic Rainy Pass Lodge, one of the oldest lodges in the state and also one of the first checkpoints on the iconic Iditarod dog sled race.


surreal lake

glassy puntilla lake


long exposure puntilla lake

Long exposure of puntilla lake


4th of July Fireworks

4th of July fireworks at Rainy Pass Lodge


northern volleyball

Volleyball at Rainy Pass Lodge


Puntilla lake float plane

Float plane taking off out of Puntilla lake


radio repeater setup

Radio repeaters and solar setup


Rainy pass lodge

Rainy Pass Lodge looking South


glacial lake swimming

Glacial lake swimming


GoPro selfie

Solo morning traverse



glacial geology


Steep slopes

Any sheep?


never ending mountains

Never ending mountains


rock and ice

Brightly colored slope


scree slope

The beckoning slope


colorful ridge

Ridge worker


helicopter pilot and view


women looking over ledge

The ponderer


summer slowers

Alpine flowers


sunny slope

Sun spot


narrow landing

Tight landing


helicopter fieldwork

Helicopter fieldwork


glacial recession panorama

Glacier recession


Foggy Morning

Foggy morning


Viewing comet PanSTARRS in Polar and Northern Latitudes

For those of us living in the Northern Latitudes, specifically closer to the circumpolar region, spotting PanSTARRS will be difficult. Especially given the lack of usable information regarding when and where to look in the night sky for our region. While out the night of March 12th, I was trying to watch for PanSTARRS below the setting crescent moon during twilight as numerous sites have stated. Unfortunately, PanSTARRS was still too far below the horizon up here in Fairbanks, AK. Although there was no visible comet the setting moon was still a striking image with the clear skies  we have been having.

setting crescent moon at twilight


While doing some more research into where the comet will be at what time, I lucked across this useful diagram.


come PanSTARRS sky map


So now anyone with an iphone or android device can know exactly where to look in the sky to see PanSTARRS using one of the many freely available stargazing apps such as SkyView.

So when will I be out looking again? You can be sure I will be looking around the Andromeda galaxy region of the sky in early April. When will you go out? Have you seen PanSTARRS? Let me know in the comments below!

Solstice Time Lapse over Fairbanks, AK

With the temps hovering around a chilly 45 below, the low sun angle of the shortest day of the year provided little warmth.  A far cry from the fire and brimstone hypothesized for the day.  While neither of us were excited about the end of the world, as the camera clicked away, we couldn’t help but think a little hellfire might be nice after the cold temps we have been seeing in Fairbanks these last few weeks.

The morning of the Solstice we woke around 8:30 knowing we had plenty of time to set up the camera equipment before sunrise at 11 am.  Funny thing though, when you want it to be light during the Alaskan winter it never is, but when you’re trying to capture first light it happens way before you expect it.  As we rolled out of the house just after 9 the sky was already blue with just the perfect touch of pink.  So much for getting first light, but with the lack of clouds in the sky and the Alaska Range in full view dominating the southern skyline, we knew it would be a perfect day for photographing and the stress over our late departure became irrelevant.  An hour later we were set up upstairs in one of the large windows of the University of Alaska Museum of the North, who graciously let us block their hallway with our equipment and visit and revisit their exhibits for the next 7 hours.

The final time lapse that you see here is composed of 2,333 photos.  That is one photo taken every 9 seconds from 10 am until a little after 3:30 pm.  Our hope was to capture the brief daily appearance and the low trajectory of the sun from these northern latitudes. I think we did just that, see for yourselves…

As a side note, after arriving home from the museum we ventured out into the cold for a short walk with our dogs and to our apocalypse weary minds watched the ice fog above town light up accompanied by large explosions that reverberated under our feet, could this be it? Have no fear Fairbanksans, turns out it was just some jovial fireworks, celebrating either the return of the sun or the fact that we were not all incinerated in a giant inferno the likes of which Sam McGee would be proud of.  Fireworks on the apex of the end of the world Fairbanks… maybe not such a good idea?

Summer weddings

These last few weeks have been very busy and exciting. I had my first two weddings of the season in the beginning of July and have been busy processing and editing all of the images for the happy couples. It has been refreshing meeting so many wonderful people at the weddings and I couldn’t have asked for a more fun group of people! Thank you to both of the families as well who were so excited and helped to make the days unforgettable.

Since the bulk of my image work is done I thought I would share with you all some of my favorites. These are by no means all of my favorites but it is a good selection none the less.

If you are interested in a photographer for your wedding, please contact me

wedding glasses

champagne glasses

wedding day shoes

brides shoes hanging

wedding groom

groom talking with guest

fairbanks wedding

wedding couple getting prepared

bride portrait

bride composing herself

bride and bridesmaids

preparing for the ceremony


wedding rings in hand

walking down the aisle

brothers walking bride down the aisle

at the altar

couple getting married at Wedgewood resort


mother fixing dress at altar

wedding couple outside

couple portrait on the grass

fairbanks wedding altar

at the altar

fairbanks wedding couple

man and wife

fairbanks wedding couple


wedding celebration

reception celebrations


bouquet toss

tossing the bouquet


wedding party

the complete wedding party


wedding toast

a toast to the couple


first dance

first dance