Monthly Archives: September 2011

Pictures From 2011 Moose Hunting Trip

I’ve just returned from 6 very enjoyable days of moose hunting and camping with my daughters family and her husbands family. It was a scenic 7 hour ride from Eureka, on the Glenn highway, back to their camp on the Big O’Shetna River, a place I’d never been before. Randy, Jenny’s husband, and his brother Ben picked me up at the trail head on Tuesday afternoon after they’d phoned me on Sunday saying they’d broken a leaf spring on Randy’s Surburban. I found a replacement in Anchorage and was more than happy to accept the invitation to spend a few days at their camp when I delivered it on Tuesday.

When I arrived Dakota had already bagged a nice bull moose and it was hanging near camp. He was a very happy young man. It was good to see my other grandchildren, too, and I think they were glad to see their Grandpa, even though he always seemed to have a camera in his hands.

During the time I spent with them we bagged two more moose, both much smaller than Dakota’s, and by the time Saturday rolled around we were out of room in the vehicles and had to quit hunting. But that was all right because it gave me some time to take a few hikes looking for interesting pictures to take.

We headed out of camp at 10:00 a.m. Sunday, fully expecting to be back to the trailhead by 4 or 5 o’clock, but because of some difficulties and mechanical problems along the trail it was after 8:00 in the evening when we reached our destination. Needless to say we were all pretty tired by that time. It felt good to slide behind the steering wheel of my pickup and feel that soft, comfortable seat cushion beneath me as I made the two hour long trip back to my home in Wasilla. I was ready for a hot shower, a warm comfortable bed, and other modern conveniences, if you catch my drift.

Following are a few photos from this wonderful adventure.

We passed through many mud holes on the way in and occacionally had to stop to clean the windshield on the buggy, which belongs to Randy's father, Roy. Here Ben, Randy's brother, gets the job done for us.

Randy and his dad Roy, enjoy the warmth of the campfire early the next morning before the rest of the crew got up.

A bit later Destiny rushed out of the tent to visit with her Grandpa. She's relatively clean here, but only because it's still early in the day.

Firewood was running low so we took a short drive with the buggies and found plenty more. Brittany is on the left in the red sweatshirt. Ben is using the chainsaw while Randy and Roy load the wood.

Brittany, looking cute as always, at the firewood stop.

Later we traveled up the Big O'Shetna River to a favorite hunting spot. That's Ben riding up on the top.

Randy glasses a hillside for bull moose. Both of the young bull we bagged while I was there were taken near the sunny area on the mountain.

My grandson Dalton.

This was our camp on the Big O'Shetna River. We spied several nice moose from here on the mountainside across the river.

Brylan, another of my grandson's, and Ayden, Ben's son, anxiously await a buggy driver so they can go hunting.

This was Aydens first experience at the moose hunting camp and he thouroughly enjoyed himself, even though the temperature was a bit nippy at times.

Roy looks over a bull moose he's spotted in the distance.

A cow moose crosses the river on a frosty autum morning.

Destiny looking pretty normal after a few hours into the day.

I took some of the kids on a short hike one evening. Finding a big boulder overlooking the river I let them clown around on it for pictures. Brittany, Dalton, Ayden and Brylan.

A nice campfire scene late one evening. I told them I was going to take their picture and that they needed to hold perfectly still for about ten seconds. In reality the exposure was nearly 40 seconds. Some of them couldn't quite hold still that long and I'm not quite sure who they are because they became blurred. Left to right: Julane, (Randy's mother), Jenny, Destiny, Brittany, Randy, Brylan, Don't Know, Roy, Ben, Dalton.

A night shot of the tent we slept in, complete with smoke coming out of the wood stove's chimney. They called this the Big O Lodge.

Randy, Destiny, and Dalton enjoy good times around the campfire.

Jenny and Randy's family gathered at the fire. Left to right: Dalton, Randy,Destiny,Brittany, Jenny, Brylan, Dakota.

The younger boys watch intently as Randy finishes field dressing a moose.

Destiny smiles sweetly from the cab of the buggy while she waits for a moose to be loaded into it. She would smile for me but would never sit on my lap around the campfire.

Brittany has become grandpa's number one model. Here she's sitting across from me at an old table left at a nearby camp.

Near the river we found this big rock which looked somewhat like an easy chair. Brittany is trying to look comfortable in it but I'm pretty sure she wasn't.

Same chair rock but this time a close up of her face. I think her Daddy will be worried when he see's this.

Brylan standing beside the Big O'Shetna River......just being Brylan.

Dakota and I took some short hikes together. Here we're upstream from the camp, just goofing off and talking.

Brylan and Destiny.

Everyone gathers around the campfire to enjoy a much anticipated treat, fresh water mussels dipped in melted butter.

On Saturday evening two rigs drove by our camp on their way to another location. Although everyone gathered around and had a nice chat I never did discover their names. In the center from left to right are Randy, Destiny, Dakota, Brittany, Julane, Jenny, Ben and Roy. The man on the left and the three people on the right are unidentified.

Typical campfire scene every evening. Here Jenny is preparing chicken for our dinner while Brittany, Randy, Destiny, Dalton, Ayden, Roy and Dakota look on.

For entertaiment when things got boring we always had the kids to look forward to. Here Brittany pretends to be something she isn't with food containers from the kithen tent.

I don't think Dakota really liked my idea for a picture of him and his moose antlers, but he was a good sport as usual and let me do it anyway.

Sunday morning, making our first river crossing after we'd packed up everything and headed back to the trailhead on the Glenn Highway. Roy is in the passenger seat while Ben drives.

Taking a break after a couple of hours on the trail. It was a beautiful autumn day and the scenery was spectacular.

Dakota's antlers mounted on the front of the Surburban drew lots of attention from the other hunters we met along the trail.

The quarters were tight but comfortable inside the Surburban. I rode out seated next to Destiny, she even let me rub her feet occasionally.

Julane rode most of the way out seated on one of the chairs atop Roy's buggy. When I saw the beautiful clouds in the sky I was quick to grab a wide angle lens to make some dramatic pictures.

Another rest stop along the way out to let the kids run, stretch, and otherwise use up energy.

We're at the top of a mountain called Monument here. Climbing it with the buggies is the last real challenge, and probably the most frightening part of the long trail home. From here it is an easy hour and a half to Eureka and the trail head.

Thanks for sharing this adventure with me. If you would like to leave a comment for me just click on the word link at the end of this sentence. [Link]

An Autumn Drive Is Pretty

On Saturday, as a kind of spur of the moment thing, Becky and I took a quick drive up the Glenn Highway to look at the fall colors and perhaps make a few photographs as well.

We did all right on both counts.

Along the way I stopped to show Becky where I should have been standing last autumn when a semi hauling a load of propane missed a corner and sent its trailer nearly 200 feet

Becky frames a photo from the exact spot where I should have been standing when a semi went over the guardrail, sending its trailer full of propane 200 feet down the embankment in front of her. You can probably see why I like to stop there in the fall. Beautiful scenery everywhere you look.

down a steep embankment. It was at a spot I’d been stopping to photograph quite regularly last year, and by my calculations would have been there at the exact moment of the accident except for some unexpected events that kept me at home that day. The long scar in the forest where the trailer slid down the mountain is still there.

Becky seemed quite impressed, and a little nervous about standing there.

On our way we also stopped by our son’s cabin for a while, and even talked about buying a piece of property up there ourselves.

Wasilla just doesn’t have that “Alaska Feeling”  anymore. We’ve been missing that feeling quite a bit lately. Maybe we should look into some property along the northern reaches of the Glenn Highway.

Becky took this picture of the Matanuska Glacier. I like the way she's included a lot of pretty blue sky and colorful foliage, and yet still kept the glacier as the focal point of the image.

We were back home in about four hours, early enough to catch the sunset and to watch the full moon rise from behind the far reaches of the Chugach Mountains.

It was a good getaway, especially for Becky. I’m pretty sure she needed a little break from her regular weekly routine.

Have a good day everyone.

Alaska Paragliding

It’s quite normal to see small aircraft in the skies over Alaska. Hundreds of them are aloft each and every day. But it is a rare occurrence when I see a para glider. This craft and it’s pilot just happened to appear last night as I had my camera and tripod set up for another picture I was taking. I quickly changed modes and was able to capture this beautiful sight as he flew over a portion of the Chugach Mountain range dappled with soft evening light from the setting sun.
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Grand Alaska Moonrise

A very beautiful, nearly indescribable, moonrise over the Chugach Mountains in Alaska. I knew the approximate time of the moonrise last night, but was fairly certain I wouldn’t be able to photograph it because of heavy cloud cover over the entire Matanuska Valley. I was amazed when I saw the moon begin appearing, close to sunset, in the only cloudless portion of the sky available, a small, very small, window at the head of the Knik River Valley, behind the north shoulder of Pioneer Peak on the right. I had but a few moments to re-locate my tripod, compose the picture and get the exposure right before I managed to make this shot. The snowy peak emerging from the low clouds to the left of the moon is 10,449 ft. Mt Goode. It is located roughly 50 miles from my camera position in Wasilla, Alaska.
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A quest for autumn photos leads to an interesting encounter.

One of the autumn photos I took yesterday at a favorite location along Alaska's Glenn Highway.

Yesterday I drove up the Glenn Highway aways, to one of my favorite locations for shooting fall scenery. It was pretty as usual, but the lighting wasn’t quite right, too intense and steady. What I needed was just a few more clouds interacting with the sun to create some interesting shadows, and some hot spots of sunlight in the beautiful foliage all around me. But that didn’t happen though, so after a couple of hours I drove back down the highway to the Hicks Creek rest area, hoping I might find something of interest there.

And that’s where I met David Scheidt of Valdez, Alaska.

David Scheidt and the Harlan's Redtail hawk he is currently rehabilitating.

I was walking back to my pickup after a short and unproductive hike, thinking of going back home since conditions weren’t really very good for the kind of photography I wanted to do, when I noticed another vehicle besides mine in the otherwise empty parking area. Nearby a man and his dog were walking towards a brushy hillside, studying the ground as they walked along. That was all pretty normal, something you see nearly every day in Alaska. What wasn’t at all normal was what was tethered to the man’s arm with a short cord.

A hawk. Not just any hawk but a beautiful one to boot.

As they got a little closer to me the man smiled and asked me if I’d seen any rabbits while I was out walking around.

I hadn’t, but I wasn’t really looking for them either.

He said he was looking for rabbits to give the hawk a chance to capture his own meal. Usually, he said, if there were rabbits in the vicinity his dog, a black lab I believe, would become very active, working the underbrush until he flushed one. When that happened the hawk would be released from his tether to take to the sky and perhaps bag his own meal.

David told me he has rehabilitated many wild raptors such as this bird, a Harlan’s Redtail Hawk, and that capturing their own food was one of the things they must re-learn  before being released into the wild once again.

David encouraged the Harlan's Redtail Hawk to spread it's wings for the pictures I wanted to take, and it obliged beautifully. This was taken at the Hicks Creek rest area along Alaska's Glenn Highway. In the background is Anthracite Ridge in the Talkeetna Mountains.

We chatted for quite a spell, David and I, and I must say that I learned many new things about raptors in that time. It was quite educational for me.

Before we parted I asked if I could take a few pictures of the beautiful bird to put in my blog. David was more than agreeable and even encouraged the it to spread its wings for a more dramatic photo.

It was, as I said, a beautiful autumn day and the pictures I took of David and the hawk more than made up for the somewhat ho-hum landscape photos I’d taken earlier.

Thank you, David. I truly enjoyed the short time we spent together yesterday, and the conversation we shared.

About these pictures

When I asked David if I could take his picture the only lens I had available was the one I happened to have on my camera at the time, an old Nikon 50mm 1.8 Series E manual focus lens from the 1970′s. I’ve really become attached to this old lens for landscape pictures in recent weeks because of the beautiful colors it renders,  and for it’s incredibly sharp optics.

But normally, for landscape photography, I’m shooting distant object and don’t have to worry about it being manual focus. I just twist the focus ring until it stops at the infinity mark and that’s what I get, perfect infinity focus. There is no focusing involved at all, and that’s a good thing for these old eyes of mine.

Yesterday was different though. David and his bird were much closer than infinity, they were only 10 or 12 feet away from me. Although I did my best to quickly bring them into sharp focus I just wasn’t sure how accurate I’d been. From looking at the camera’s LCD screen I knew I had some good shots but I still worried all the way home that they would be soft and fuzzy when they appeared on my computer monitor.

I needn’t have worried. They are amazingly sharp and beautiful. So good in fact that I called Becky out to my studio to look at them. I am so thankful that I was able to my part with the old lens, and in return it did it’s part, giving me some beautiful portraits of David Scheidt and his Harlan’s Redtail Hawk.

All of the above pictures were taken with the old lens, including the landscape photo at the top of the page. The picture of David holding the hawk in the air is basically how it looked right out of the camera. The only post processing was to apply auto contrast with Photoshop Elements and a little re-sizing to open more rapidly in this blog. I did no sharpening at all.

To view it at a larger size you can click here.

Camera specs for all of them are basically the same:

Camera: Nikon D300S, Lens: Nikon 50mm 1.8 Series E manual focus. The lens was set to f8 which is where, I have discovered, it takes the best pictures for me. ISO was 200 and the shutter speed, approximately, was 1/200th. second. My camera doesn’t record the shutter speed with this old lens, that’s why I’m only guessing. Lighting on these photographs was natural. No fill lighting nor auxiliary lighting was used.

I really love this lens.

Ken Rockwell has a review of this old school manual focus lens. You can find it here if you’re interested:

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E

My lens is similar to the one in the top photo on his page.

Thanks for visiting Alaska At Sunrise today. I hope you found this article interesting. If you would like to leave a comment please feel free to do so by clicking on the word Link at the end of this sentence. [Link]