WW II and Beyond

I recently attended the Terre Haute Airshow in Terre Haute Indiana.  There were the usual acrobatic participants and many of the aircraft were on display.  I had a photo pass which allowed me access to the aircraft early in the day.

There were many WW II era aircraft from the Commemorative Air Force.  These aircraft are all privately owned and are flown to commemorate the pilots and crews who manned these in securing the victories in WW II. 

The forth image in the top row is a B17. The first image in the bottom row is the B-25 bomber like the ones used in the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo and other cities in Japan.  The third image on the bottom, the P-51 is painted in the colors of the Tuskegee Airman.  

Tora, Tora, Tora!

One of the reasons I wanted to attend this airshow was a performance of the group Tora, Tora, Tora.  This group reenacts the attack on Pearl harbor complete with air raid sirens, machine gun firing, and pyro bombs.  The narrator tells the story of December 7, 1941 with replays of actual radio broadcasts.

The planes are retrofitted Navy Trainers and were created for the original version of the movie Tora, Tora, Tora.  One interesting fact is that the cost of retrofitting these aircraft was approximately $20,000 each and the budget for the movie actually cost more that the actual raid by the Japanese forces.

 Dive Bomber

Dive Bomber

 Zero

Zero

 One of the sequence of events on that day was that a flight of B17 bombers were arriving at Pearl from the mainland.  The radar operators saw the invading aircraft on the screen but mistakenly thought it was the arrival of the B17's.  During the raid, the unarmed B17's attempted to land and were attacked by both the invading planes and the friendly ground fire.

One of the sequence of events on that day was that a flight of B17 bombers were arriving at Pearl from the mainland.  The radar operators saw the invading aircraft on the screen but mistakenly thought it was the arrival of the B17's.  During the raid, the unarmed B17's attempted to land and were attacked by both the invading planes and the friendly ground fire.

 Having access to the planes from early in the morning allowed me to get to the airfield before sunrise.  One morning the sun was just rising, burning off the fog, and I was able to get this image of the rising sun over the rising sun emblem on the Japanese planes.

Having access to the planes from early in the morning allowed me to get to the airfield before sunrise.  One morning the sun was just rising, burning off the fog, and I was able to get this image of the rising sun over the rising sun emblem on the Japanese planes.

The Jet Age Arrives

 At the end of WW II, the jet engine was just being introduced.  At the show were some early jets that ushered in the jet age.  Some of these planes were used in the Korean and Vietnam wars.

At the end of WW II, the jet engine was just being introduced.  At the show were some early jets that ushered in the jet age.  Some of these planes were used in the Korean and Vietnam wars.

 Another highlight of the show was a demonstration of the flying capabilities of the F22 Raptor.  This aircraft is capable of flying at supersonic speed while at the same time maneuver with fantastic speed and grace.  The image on the left shows the vapor cone that forms on the plane at high speed.  this aircraft made several high speed passes and yet did 90 degree turns to vertical.  It was even able to fly backwards while under power.

Another highlight of the show was a demonstration of the flying capabilities of the F22 Raptor.  This aircraft is capable of flying at supersonic speed while at the same time maneuver with fantastic speed and grace.  The image on the left shows the vapor cone that forms on the plane at high speed.  this aircraft made several high speed passes and yet did 90 degree turns to vertical.  It was even able to fly backwards while under power.

Precision Flying Blue Angels

The other major performance that I was interested in seeing and photographing was the only midwest appearance of the Navy Blue Angels. 

 The Blue Angels demonstration consists of 6 Boeing F/A-18 Hornet aircraft.  The narrator said that the maneuvers are not just for show but are actually combat maneuvers.  The show consists of 4 of the aircraft performing close formation-and they are tight and precise.

The Blue Angels demonstration consists of 6 Boeing F/A-18 Hornet aircraft.  The narrator said that the maneuvers are not just for show but are actually combat maneuvers.  The show consists of 4 of the aircraft performing close formation-and they are tight and precise.

 Two other aircraft perform high speed crossing passes.  To get an idea of how fast these planes fly, my camera shoots 10 frames per second,  I have several images where the nose of one jet is in the far left of the frame and the next frame (1/10 of a second later} only the tail of the jet is visible.

Two other aircraft perform high speed crossing passes.  To get an idea of how fast these planes fly, my camera shoots 10 frames per second,  I have several images where the nose of one jet is in the far left of the frame and the next frame (1/10 of a second later} only the tail of the jet is visible.

 The precision formations of the blue Angels.

The precision formations of the blue Angels.

The Terre Haute Airshow was a great 3 days.  I took over 5000 images, got sunburned even though I dutifully used sun screen, met some nice photographers, and talked to several pilots.  I would highly recommend attending an airshow especially if you can catch some of the performers that are mentioned in this post.

Source: https://www.google.com/_/chrome/newtab?ie=...

She Said Yes!

Several months ago I was contacted by a former student.  He was planning on a surprise proposal to his girlfriend and thought it would be great to have some photos of the event.  I've don't this before but used a long lens and did the private eye type thing of being out of the way, but this one was to be different.

Amanda is an avid reader so Dave had worked it out with the people at Nichols Library in Naperville, Il to help him pull off his surprise.  The library contacted Amanda and said she had been selected to receive an autographed copy of a book from one of her favorite authors.  Since this was to be a Library promotion, they would have a photographer on scene for them to use in their social media and newsletter-thus I would not have to be in stealth mode.

 The book "Award" with inscription:

The book "Award" with inscription:

On the chosen day, I arrived early to scout out locations and get Dave and other "witnesses" hidden in the book stacks.  After Amanda arrived the library people gave her a book and had her read an inscription (Dave had really composed this and Amanda's sister had written it out.) 

 The perpetrator of the ruse peeks around the book stack as Amanda reads the inscription:

The perpetrator of the ruse peeks around the book stack as Amanda reads the inscription:

As Amanda finishes up reading the inscription she comes to the last line ..."There is but one question that remains..." With this being his cue, Dave comes out, gets down on his knee with ring in hand and asks the question!

She Said Yes 1.jpg

It was great to be part of this surprise and be able to capture the feelings and excitement of this happy event.

I can't wait to be part of the wedding!

Total Lunar Eclipse

In the summer of 2017 we witnessed a total solar eclipse.  At my home, only a partial eclipse was visible and then even that was spoiled by some heavy clouds.

On January 31, 2018 there was Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse.  This eclipse is sometimes called blood moons due to the reddish-orange glow the moon takes on during the eclipse.  This particular eclipse was also on a Blue Moon-the second full moon in a month.  And it was almost a Super moon where the moon is closest to earth.

I was fortunate to be visiting family in Hawaii where the eclipse would be visible in totality.  Unfortunately Mother Nature did not cooperate as there was a cold front moving in which produced heavy cloud cover.  The full mon was supposed to happen at 12:51 am, however the clouds were too thick to see it (What are the odds of having two total eclipses spoiled by clouds?).  The eclipse itself was to begin at 1:48 and there were still plenty of clouds but I had hope that there would be some breaks so I set up the camera and crossed my fingers.

Every so often you could see the moon through the clouds.  There were still light clouds over the moon which made photos appear out of focus and although the human eye could distinguish a beautiful eclipsing moon, the camera could not.  But not to give up I kept taking images when there would be a break in the clouds.

I had hoped for a progression of images from full moon, through the various stages of the eclipse and then back to full moon.  In the end, I was able to get several images before the clouds again blotted out any hope of seeing the moon.

I hear there will be another total solar eclipse in April 2019...hopefully I will be able to beat the odds and photograph it without clouds!

Amanda and Ryan

For almost two months our weather has been dry to the point of people almost starting to do rain dances or seeding clouds to get some much needed moisture.  Of course on Saturday 10-7-2017 when Amanda Cavanaugh and Ryan Sorg were getting married the forecast was for some rain to move in.

The wedding was scheduled to be outside at the Dwight Country Mansion.  Since the ceremony and the reception were being held at the same location, the bride and groom decided to have a "first look" followed by doing all of the posed photography.  The rain held off until we were finished with the pictures so I was able to get them some nice outdoor photos.

The rains did come in waves, but it did not dampen the festivities.  Here are a few of the images from Amanda and Ryan's wedding:

Sunsets

I've been playing around with some time lapse photography and what better subject than a sunset!

We Both Come Back To Hawaii!

We are fortunate to have family who live in Hawaii and friends who periodically visit so we are able to spend time in the Islands.  Just like the Humpback Whales who travel from the cold of Alaskan waters to the warmth of the Hawaiian waters, we travel from the cold of the midwest to the warmth of Hawaii.

I'm fascinated by the biology of these mammals.  During the months of December-March, you can see whales from your hotel or just when driving on beachside roads.  The best way to see the whales is to take a boat and there are many outfits offering whale watching tours.  This year was my third whale watch.  The weather conditions were very overcast this year which made for less than ideal whale watching.  Last year was a better whale watch (scroll down to see last year's blog entry.)

The first whales we came across were "fin slapping"  This is believed to be communication to other whales.  The "slap" is very loud and causes quite the splash.  I would imagine the sound underwater would be quite impressive to hear.

 Fin Slapping Humpback Whale off Maui, Hawaii.

Fin Slapping Humpback Whale off Maui, Hawaii.

 Fin Slap Whale-Notice the hotels on the beach in the background.

Fin Slap Whale-Notice the hotels on the beach in the background.

I did see a behavior this year that I had not seen previously.  It is called the Head Rise or Spy Hop.  This behavior is believed to be so they can check out what is happening on the surface.  Two whales did this very close to the boat and it was as if they were checking us out.  It's amazing how such a large animal can just rise up out of the ocean and stay suspended with it's massive head out of the water.

 Head Rise or Spy Hop

Head Rise or Spy Hop

Even though the day was grey, misty and overcast, this whale watch offered the closest view of a whale.  Since 2001 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association has issued a Humpback Whale Approach Regulation which states you should not approach closer than 100 yards and when you get close to a whale you must slow or stop your boat.  All of the boats I have been on follow this regulation.  But the whales do not necessarily know and/or follow this regulation!  At one point the captain had stopped the boat as we had spotted a whale a short distance away.  Suddenly a huge whale surfaced and did a blow right beside the boat.  Not only was the sound loud, but it was so close that my 400 mm lens would not focus as the whale was so close.  It may actually have rubbed up alongside the boat!  At one point we looked down and saw a whale suspended right below the boat.  The lighting was so flat that even using the polarizer, I was not able to get a decent photo, but just seeing it that close was worth the trip.

 Surfacing whale close to the boat.

Surfacing whale close to the boat.

I mentioned that is was possible to observe whales while on shore.  This was reinforced the day after taking the whale watch tour.  Early in the morning we observed whales while relaxing on our hotel balcony.  Of course I had the 16-140 mm lens on the camera to take some scenic photos when some whales began to "play" in the ocean below.  Not wanting to miss the action I did take some images hoping the severe cropping I would have to do would hold up.

 Breeching whale as seen from the hotel balcony-this is mom teaching the breeching technique.

Breeching whale as seen from the hotel balcony-this is mom teaching the breeching technique.

I think the breeching whale is what I enjoy the most of watching whales.  Even when you see them in the distance, it still is an amazing display to me.  What made this breech even more special, was that this was a mother whale teaching her baby to breech.  The first breech was just the mom doing the instruction.  Then mom had the baby follow along.  And finally the baby was able to do it on its own.

 breeching whales-mom and baby-as seen from hotel balcony.

breeching whales-mom and baby-as seen from hotel balcony.

 Baby Whale breech-mom is flowing close behind.

Baby Whale breech-mom is flowing close behind.

Will I take another whale watch the next time I'm in Hawaii?  Yes, and I've found the boat that I will take next time.  My first whale watch was on a big boat operated by the Pacific Whale Foundation.  This was a great introduction as they had a biologist on board who explained the whale behavior and described everything that we were seeing.  Last year was on a 41 foot boat that I describe as a "fishing boat" like you would see anywhere they do offshore fishing.  The boat this year was another larger vessel.  The last day on Maui, again while on the hotel balcony, I head screaming coming from the water.  Coming out from a resort hotel two buildings from where we were staying were two outrigger canoes with 6 people doing the rowing.  Why screaming?  Because a whale had breeched close to the canoes.  As I watched the whale breeched a second time.  The is my next whale watch adventure, but I'm trying to figure out how to row and run the camera at the same time!

 Outrigger canoe whale watch-Yes that dark area right in front of the boat is a whale that had breeched a few moments earlier.

Outrigger canoe whale watch-Yes that dark area right in front of the boat is a whale that had breeched a few moments earlier.

I also observed another method of getting to see the whales.  On the same day as the outrigger canoes, there were a couple of individuals who paddled out on a paddle board.  I don't think I'm ready to do that one as it would entail having to get a waterproof housing for the camera!

 PaddleBoard Whale Watcher-Yes the dark area in the water is a massive Humpback Whale!

PaddleBoard Whale Watcher-Yes the dark area in the water is a massive Humpback Whale!

If you find yourself in Hawaii between December and March, I totally recommend doing a whale watch.  The price is $25 and higher for a two hour cruise.  I like the early morning cruise as the water tends to be calmer and the light better.  For those who like camera information--The camera for all of these images was my Nikon D500.  The ones with the grey cast to the water, the lens was my 80-400 mm zoom.  The blue water images of the whales was with the 16-140 mm lens.

A Visit to the Volcano

The Hawaiian Islands were formed from the eruption of underwater volcanoes.  The hot lava pushed up from the center of the earth and the islands eventually reached the surface.  Over the centuries, dust, seeds, birds and other animals made their way to the barren lava until the Hawaiian Islands became what we know today.

A trip to the islands should include a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii to view the still active Kilauea volcano.  The volcano can be seen at the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.  The park is open 24 hours a day and offers a visitor center, museum and viewing areas.

We arrived in the afternoon and after watching the video in the visitor center we headed to the Jaggar Museum to view the volcano.

 Kilauea Caldera as seen from the jaguar Museum.

Kilauea Caldera as seen from the jaguar Museum.

From the viewing area, you can see the Kilauea Caldera.  The caldera, a large crater formed by a collapse of the lava lake within the volcano, is about 2 miles wide and more than 3 miles long. Halema’uma’u, the main pit crater within Kilauea caldera, is visible from the viewing area.

 Halema'uma'u crater from the Jaggar Museum viewing area.

Halema'uma'u crater from the Jaggar Museum viewing area.

We were there right at sunset and as the sun went down the glow from the crater became more visible.  The sky went from being hazy from the steam and smoke from the crater to socked in with mist and clouds.  So we left and I decided to try later after darkness fell hoping that the skies would clear and the lava would be glowing

 Halema'uma'u crater just after sunset.

Halema'uma'u crater just after sunset.

I waited until about 9:30 to head back to the park.  As I left the main road and headed to the Jaggar Museum, the skies were clear, dark and full of stars.  The crowds were much smaller and I was able to set up the tripod and take my time getting the images I wanted.

One of Murphey’s Laws for photography or fishing is “You should have been here yesterday!”  As I was getting my images, another guy with tripod and pro-level gear said that the view the night before had been magnificent.  One of the NPS Rangers had told me earlier that the lava lake had fallen about 100 feet from the previous day, so the guy must have gotten those images the night before.  But I put on the zoom lens and got right into the crater.

 Nikon D500, 1/25 sec @ f/6.3, 400 mm iso 3200

Nikon D500, 1/25 sec @ f/6.3, 400 mm iso 3200

Since the skies were clear and filled with stars, I decided to experiment with some long exposures to see what I could get.

 Nikon D500, 15 sec @ f/2.8, 16 mm iso 1600

Nikon D500, 15 sec @ f/2.8, 16 mm iso 1600

 Nikon D500, 20 sec @ f/2.8, 16 mm iso 1600

Nikon D500, 20 sec @ f/2.8, 16 mm iso 1600

I decided to take a picture looking back at the Jaggar Museum.  The inside of the museum was illuminated by the two exit lights.  The exterior of the building was illuminated by the glow from the crater, although you can see one guy who was looking at his phone.

 Nikon D500, 10 sec @ f/2.8, 16 mm iso 1600

Nikon D500, 10 sec @ f/2.8, 16 mm iso 1600

I spent less than an hour at the viewing area and decided it was time to leave as the mist and clouds began to move back in.  But as usual, I had to take a few more just because.

 Nikon D500, 10 sec @ f/2.8, 16 mm iso 2000

Nikon D500, 10 sec @ f/2.8, 16 mm iso 2000

Later during the night, the rain moved in so I did not return.  On the "To Do" list on the next visit is to drive to the end of the road and then hike into the lava fields.  it is posssible to hike to within a half mile of where the lava is flowing into the ocean.  you travel over the lava fields and at points the molten lava is visible beneath your feet...next time!

If you are planning a visit to Hawaii, I suggest you investigate flying to the Big Island and visiting Volcanoes National Park.

The Circle of Friends Grow Up

As a parent you watch your kids as they grow up.  You hope they are safe, have fun, make something of their lives, and make friendships that will last a lifetime.

When my son was in elementary school he had a small group of friends.  Together these boys went on to Junior High and it seemed like we were always running to one place or another for and with them.  One of his friends was a boy named Danny.  When High School came they went to different schools but the friendship continued.  They always hung together, they even drove the same cars-Honda Prelude!  I remember when Danny got a new set of pipes on his car-I could lay awake after he left our house and hear him until he got almost home many miles away!

College came and even though the boys went their separate ways, the friendship continued.  When my son Will got married, Danny (oh wait it was now Dan) was his Best Man.  So this past weekend it was Dan's wedding and Will was his best man.  And after doing all those growing up photos, I was honored to be the photographer for Dan and Samantha as they said their vows.  I had to work a little harder as my second photographer was busy with the Best Man duties.

Here are some of the images from their wedding.

October Weddings

The month of October is to a wedding photographer as April is to a tax accountant!  I wish I could claim this statement as my own, but I read it on Facebook and thought it was so true so I wanted to pass it on.

I have always enjoyed October weddings.  The temperature is mostly pleasant and we might even be able to grab some nice outdoor images.  So when I went out for the paper on Saturday and was greeted with a chilly drizzle I did not have high hopes for the afternoon wedding I was going to photograph.  The wedding time came and the weather cleared so we did get to take those outdoor portraits.

For the second week in a row, the wedding was of a friend.  I met the groom when he and my son were starting out as auto techs and working at the same shop.  Jason still works on my cars in his own business now, so I was very happy when he and Missy asked me to be their photographer.  The day was even more special as my son was the second photographer.

I hope you enjoy the slideshow of some of the images from Jason and Missy's wedding.

Weddings and Friends.

One of the aspects of being a wedding photographer is being able to share in one of the most enjoyable days of the couple's lives.  Little girls grow up playing and dressing up as a bride.  At a wedding held at Eagle Ridge Inn and Resort several years ago, a bride commented that she and her family had visited Eagle Ridge when she was 8 years old and she told her mother that she was going to get married there.  After spending time with the couples and their families in the months leading up to a wedding I become to see my "clients" as friends. It's even more rewarding when people who are personal friends ask me to photograph the weddings of their families.  Over the 40 plus years that I've been a wedding photographer I've had the pleasure to photograph the weddings of several friends.

This past weekend was one of those weddings for friends as I photographed the wedding of Brad and Morgan who become Mr. and Mrs. Crackel on October 7, 2016.  This was my 3rd Crackel wedding and I have enjoyed being a part of these special days for the Crackel family.

Here is a video slideshow of just a few of the many images from Brad and Morgan's wedding.

Source: topsites://

A Day With The Bears

One of the things I wanted to do when coming to Alaska was to photograph the Alaskan Brown Bear.  The pictures that most people see of Alaskan bears is of the bear in the waterfall catching the salmon as it jumps up the falls.  This is in Alaska at a place called Brooks Falls.  At this time of the year, there are not as many salmon running up that river, so there are not too many bears around that area.  So I opted to fly out of Homer Alaska on a guided bear viewing trip.

We started by getting fitted with hip boots and getting our gear loaded into the belly of the float plane.  The plane was a DeHavilland Beaver.  

We would be flying over an hour to a glacier river.  The glacier melts an runs toward the ocean and is fresh water.  The tides come in and push the fish up this river.

After we landed we got a briefing on how we were going to walk amongst the bears and how we had to act in certain circumstances.  One of the things the guide said was if we should be challenged by a bear we were not to back up as the bear would see that as us backing down and it then might challenge us because it already had some dominance over us.  We started walking across the sand a mud flats besides the meadow and came across some tracks.  In the image below, the tracks on the left are from a wolf and the ones on the right are from a bear.

 I wish I had something to put besides these tracks to give them scale as they were huge.  The wolf was about the size of my fist with just the ends of the fingers bent over.  The bear was probably the size of my size 10 boot.  The guide said that this wolf had to be big as he was sinking into the sand so deep.

I wish I had something to put besides these tracks to give them scale as they were huge.  The wolf was about the size of my fist with just the ends of the fingers bent over.  The bear was probably the size of my size 10 boot.  The guide said that this wolf had to be big as he was sinking into the sand so deep.

We had hiked a little over a mile when we saw a bear coming down the river our way.  The guide suggested we just take a seat and let her come to us.  This was a big female that the guide had seen quite a lot this season.

 She had been fishing and was finishing up one of the fish she found.

She had been fishing and was finishing up one of the fish she found.

The main goal of the bears at this time of year is to eat as much as they can to store up fat for the winter hibernation.  So they eat and sleep and then eat some more.  After a while she dug a hole and took a nap.

After nap time, she took a little swim.  At first we thought she had caught a fish but it turned out to be a stick.  She "played" with the stick for some time.  It reminded me of what a dog might do when playing fetch.

Then it was time to get to business of fishing.  In this river, the salmon were jumping and making some splashing noise.  The guide said that is like the dinner bell to the bears.

 She would slowly walk close to where a fish was swimming.

She would slowly walk close to where a fish was swimming.

 Then she would start running toward the fish.  These salmon are powerful and fast swimmers.  If you have ever tried to catch a fish with your hands you know how fast a fish can be.  These salmon are strong swimmers.

Then she would start running toward the fish.  These salmon are powerful and fast swimmers.  If you have ever tried to catch a fish with your hands you know how fast a fish can be.  These salmon are strong swimmers.

 After a quick chase, she would pounce like a cat on the fish.  It was amazing to see such a large animal be so agile and quick.  I realized that if one was ever chasing me I was toast as there is no way one could ever outrun a bear.

After a quick chase, she would pounce like a cat on the fish.  It was amazing to see such a large animal be so agile and quick.  I realized that if one was ever chasing me I was toast as there is no way one could ever outrun a bear.

In the distance we saw a sow with two cubs and another bear in a meadow so we headed that way.  The tide was coming in and the ankle deep river that we had traversed when we first landed had swollen to thigh depth...thank goodness for hip boots.  And the speed of the current was fast.    I had one camera strapped around my shoulder and I was carrying the other camera with the telephoto lens and all I could think was that I was going to go down and all my equipment was going to be under water.  Luckily I made it back with no problems.

Back at the plane we had some visitors in the river.  Six harbor seals had come into the river and were also fishing for the salmon.  Above us flew an eagle looking for a quick meal. On the flight back the pilot pointed out whales in the bay and sea lions sunning on an island.  All in all quite a day spending time with the true inhabitants of Alaska.

We See The Light

One of the shops in Talkeetna was a tiny gallery of photographs by Aurora Dora.  Dora specializes in images of the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.  The northern lights are the effect of Sun Flares entering the atmosphere and igniting gases in the atmosphere.  Different gases produce different colors and because they are basically exploding gas, the Northern Lights look like they are pulsing.

Dora has a board that lists the probability of seeing the Northern Lights on any particular night.  On our last night to be in the area, the percentage was less than 20% and since it has been cloudy, I was not holding out much hope of getting to see them.  First off you need clear skies.  Then it’s better in the colder months and even though it was chilly during the night, the conditions were less than perfect.  Oh, and another factor is that they show up at the peak of darkness which on August 28 would be between midnight and 4:00 am!

I had been up early for the sunrise and we had done some hiking and driving around, so sleep came easy.  I am a good sleeper (part of the Gommel heredity!) but Sue finally was able to rouse me at about 1:20 am.  She had awoken to see a beautiful clear night sky filled with an unbelievable number of stars and a band of light that at first looked just like a band of clouds.   Luckily for me, she was able to get me up and I went out on our balcony to take a look.  I thought it possible that it was the Northern Lights, so I got the camera and tripod to take a few exposures.  The more I watched, the more the sky started to dance and I ended staying up until after 3:00 am.

The night sky was pretty amazing without the Northern Lights.  I felt like I could just grab the big dipper!

NL5.jpg

The display was pulsing.  It would just be a glowing band that looked like a strip of clouds and then it would start to shimmer and get bigger.

This is probably my favorite image.  Not that it is the biggest display, but the colors and the night sky and stars being so clear and visible just make me like this one the best.

According to an App that one of the inn's guest had, this night would rate a 2 on a scale that rates the display from 0-9.  Check out Aurora Dora's website to see some incredible images.  

http://www.auroradora.com

North To Alaska

One of the things that Sue and I have talked about for some time is taking a trip to Alaska.  We thought of going on a cruise.  The problem with doing a cruise is that wherever you go, 2000 other people go with you-essentially you bring the crowds with you.  So we figured we would go it on our own.  It seems like other things always came first, so we never go to our Alaska trip.

Then my younger sister’s husband took a consulting job in Soldotna, Alaska for six months, so we figured we might as well take advantage of a built in guide while we could.  So Sue took to Trip Advisor and Google and came up with a plan.  We flew into Anchorage and after spending the night, headed to Talkeetna to the Denali Overlook Inn.

When Sue booked the room, she took one of the middle of the road rooms due to being able to save a little cash.  A couple of days after she booked the room, we got a call back from the inn keeper.  Seems that another guest had requests such that they needed the room we had booked.  So they were going to upgrade us to the Denali View suite.  Well, we would first like to thank the other guest, since our room was the prime room at the inn.  When lying on the bed, we had a view of Denali, the tallest mountain in North America.

Many people who visit Denali National Park never see the whole mountain due to the cloudy, overcast conditions.  The day we arrived, the summit of the mountain was covered with a layer of clouds.  Sunset time was around 9:35 pm, so I figured with all the clouds we might have a nice sunset.  Sunset did indeed put on quite a show.

Sunset1.jpg

And when looking out at the mountains, Denali put on a show even with the clouds.

The next morning I woke up early to see the sun just kissing the top of the peaks.  Of course I had to grab the camera and take a few images as the sun continued to rise.

Later in the day, the clouds cleared and we finally saw the full grandeur of the mountains. Somewhere Sue read that less than 30% of the people who travel to Denali will actually see the total mountain.  After two days we officially joined the 30% club.

Lauren & Nicolas

Saturday 7/23/2016 I had the pleasure of photographing the wedding of Lauren Sheehan and Nicolas Shaw.  The temps were in the mid 90's with the heat index over 100!  What a hot sticky day for a wedding!

Lauren and Nicolas were a joy to work with.  Starting with the "getting ready" portraits, through the ceremony, the church formals, outdoor portraits (yes during the hottest part of the day!) and  the reception they couldn't have been more accommodating and fun to work with.  Needless to say, we tried to do a super job for such a super couple.

Here are a few of the hundreds of images that were created throughout the day and evening.