Monday, August 22, 2016

Elfin Cove: The Cutest Alaskan Town

View into the secluded back bay of Elfin Cove

  Located on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, just on the outside of Alaska's famous Inside Passage is the tiny fishing village of Elfin Cove. The inhabitants of this village, which can number in the single digits in the heart of winter, are cheerful and welcoming for visitors during the summer. Some small adventure cruise ships stop in to admire the boardwalks connecting the buildings around the secluded back bay of Elfin Cove, and to let their passengers try and find all of the small elfin and gnome statues that dot the trails through town. This is actually where the town got its name many years ago.

A boat dog awaits the return of its family
  There is a small post office and the town does hold local elections but the theme throughout is fishing. Boats go in and out of the harbor bringing in their daily catch and even a few fly-in fishing lodges have popped up supplying adventure fishing for tourists float planing in from Juneau.

  This past week I took 20 of our passengers in to explore this boardwalk village and it did not disappoint. A slight rain was falling leaving the rain forest surrounding the town riddled with droplets. The wooden boardwalks took on a wet sheen and clouds rolled away overhead as the sun tried to peek through.

Boardwalks of Elfin Cove
  With a little free time I took the far left boardwalk which wraps around the back bay. The houses sit perched on the hillside over looking the small protected boat harbor. Little waterfalls cascade under the wooden planks and tiny statues of gnomes are propped up all along the trail.

  It is quintessential Alaska at its best.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Breaching Humpback in the Wind, Alaska

Breaching Whale in the Wind.  

  We had no trouble finding whales this week but finding active whales was another story. We found swimming orca right off the bat. I got pretty excited when they swam by a pack of scared looking stellar sea lions but they just swam right on by. Then we had breathing humpback whales in Frederick Sound for as far as the eye could see but none that wanted to jazz it up for the cameras. We decided to jet off to the middle of Frederick Sound to a couple of islands called the Brothers where sea lions have a pretty consistent haulout area on the rocks. Just before getting to the island the whale show began in earnest.

  We came across another vessel following an active humpback whale. When I heard they had been following him for awhile I had do big confidence that we would get to see much more than the tail end of the show. However as we slid in behind the whale he proceeded to chin slap, breach, and peduncle throw while constantly moving forward for the next 30 minutes! When we left him to go check out the sea lions he was still splashing all over the place. 

  I took a few pictures and checked them to see if there was anything aggravating the whale. There was a whale in the vicinity a few months ago that repetitively breached and when I checked the pictures it had a three strand line coming out of its mouth somehow. However with this one I could find anything wrong other than a few fresh looking wounds on the underside of its pectoral fin. I havn’t gotten to the bottom of what the wounds may be but I will keep looking into the mystery wounds until I find out. 

  The whale season is definitely in full swing up here in Alaska and I hope the numbers we are seeing mean good things for this next Hawaii humpback season.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Nighttime View at Stave Island, VT

in the failing light
Shooting star and the Milky Way over the Main House
I am a firm believer that with all of the technology out there that many people never get outside after dark to experience a different side of the world around them. With electricity, tv, and internet all around it is easy to stay indoors and miss out on things like shooting stars, constellations, and feeling comfortable in darkness. But luckily this same advanced technology that keeps many indoors, also gives us the power to capture the night in photos like never before. Far away from the big cities, on moonless nights, photographers armed with long exposure capable cameras and a bit of patience see what the night really has to offer. Sometimes it will surprise you with its beauty.

Looking up the Lookout Tower
Kid's Cottage at Night
   I spent the last two nights on a quiet island in the middle of Lake Champlain named Stave Island. I noticed the stars coming into focus and even the milky way making an appearance. So after everyone said their goodnights I grabbed my camera and slipped out to quietly see what I could capture. Using a 30second shutter speed and a 3200 iso I was able to capture different scenes from around the island. Looking up the lookout tower, the milky way cascading into the main house, vestiges of yellow and gold lights over the lake, and even a shooting star announcing the coming of the famous Persied Meteor Shower were some of the scenes that I could have just as easily slept through. It makes you wonder what you might be missing out there right now... 
View off the dock at 11:30pm
Milky Way and wispy streaks

Monday, August 1, 2016

Lava Entering the Ocean, Hawaii

Lava flowing from Kilauea Volcano
Pele Battles the Sea
  It has been three years since lava has flowed into the ocean on the south shore of the Big Island. Kilauea Volcano has been active this entire time, and even came close to destroying the town of Puna. I always keep a close eye on the flow at the US Geological Survey website here: This gives you daily updates on the crater lakes at the summit and the outbreaks of lava like the one entering the ocean right now. There are several families who run hiking tours out to see the lava, as well as some boat companies that will go in for great photo opportunities. Be prepared to use some long exposure to get good nighttime pictures. This natural phenomena is one of the coolest spectacles on earth.

Stars over the lava lake at Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii