Archive for June, 2012

Solstice in Gustavus, AK

Posted in photography on June 29, 2012 by polarguide

I Flew into Gustavus two days ago to pack gear and food for my first Kayak expedition of the season.  I arrived a few days early to spend time working on the property and enjoy some quiet time in Gustavus.  I lived in Gustavus from april to october for three years between 2003 to 2005,  before moving to Juneau. I have to and from  town seasonally to outfit guided trips into Glacier bay National Park, but I’ve done little photography around town so I thought I would take some time to photograph town and share them here.

Zach caught a few Dolly Varden and one King Salmon the day before I arrived.  We cooked them on the grill and had a great summer solstice feast.


I spent the last three days working with my co-guide john.  sorting gear, planning meals and packing bear proof containers full of food.


A yurt rises in Gustavus, Alaska

Posted in photography with tags , , , on June 19, 2012 by polarguide

Last spring I bought a 3 acre parcel of land in Gustavus, Alaska with my friend Zach.  Gustavus is a small bush community located about sixty miles west of Juneau.  There are no roads in or out of Gustavus, you can only access town by boat or by airplane.  Gustavus has a population of about three hundred and fifty people and is a gateway community to Glacier Bay National Park.  Also, it is the base of operations for Alaska Discovery, the kayak company that I guide for.

Zach and I purchased a yurt from a friend in Gustavus who  lived in it for a number of years.  one winter while she was away the yurt collapsed under a heavy snow load and sustained some damage to the lattice and roof ring.  The Yurt platform remained intact and the yurt structure was dismantled and stored on her property until she sold it to us at a discounted price.   We bought new lattice and a roof ring and had them shipped from Oregon.

Our property has no road access, everything must be carried through the woods roughly two hundred yards.  The process of dismantling the platform and moving it onto our property and re-assembling the entire structure took a little longer than expected, but with a little hard work and the help of some friends we finally raised the yurt.  Now have a home of our own in a remote little corner of Alaska.


A little about me..

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 15, 2012 by polarguide

You need not leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You need not even listen, simply wait, just learn to become quiet, and still, and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice; it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.   -Frans Kafka

I am a wilderness expedition guide, massage therapist and photographer.  Mine is  a seasonal life marked by months of intense work followed by months of  waiting for the next thing to come along.   Between seasons while most people I know are toiling  tirelessly at their nine to five, I whittle away the hours sitting on the couch drinking coffee and thinking about things I should be doing. I spend days, even weeks in a state of apathy, unable to muster the motivation to do the dishes. Some days I don’t eat. I anxiously pace around the apartment jacked-up on caffeine, talking to myself, worrying about money and wondering what responsibilities I might be ignoring . Hours pass, days go by and I accomplish nothing.

Sitting in quiet solitude allows time for creative thought.  I turn over ideas in my mind like turning over pages in a magazine.  I pore over each idea as if it were a sexy underwear advertisement,  becoming excited every now and again by one idea or another, then I sip my coffee and think about it.  Weeks pass and roll into  months and I grow restless.  By this point my financial situation is becoming a cause for concern and I begin to seriously consider getting a regular job.

This is enough to get the karmic ball rolling.  Just as my money runs short and my tolerance of myself wears thin the season changes and I get an e-mail reminding me of my next job in some  remote corner of the world.  I relax, sit back and take a long satisfied pull from a thick cup of  espresso, calculating  how many more hours there are between now and when I need to begin packing my bags. Then I remember: my apathy has been so thorough I still haven’t unpacked from the last journey.  Laziness, anxiety and hefty doses of caffeine are, evidently, what fuels the fire of manifestation.

crouching over my computer, scrolling through thousands of photographs that I have created, I realize despite my propensity for procrastination I have accomplished some amazing things. This year I have had the good fortune to travel across the Antarctic and the Arctic circles, photographing  polar bears and penguins.  Weirdly weaving my random assortment of skills into one profession  as an expedition guide and massage therapist on a Russian ice breaker.  I didn’t plan it that way, the opportunities just fell into my lap. One day I am sitting quietly on the couch contemplating my toe-nails, the next thing I know I’m in Antarctica, with penguins and fur seals playing at my feet.

Photography is how I document and share my experiences. My family and friends don’t have the opportunity to join me on my adventures, with photographs I can bring the experience to them. The images I capture help tell my story and hopefully give insight into the nature of the wild places I visit and the creatures that live there.

The last few years my photography has been focused on wildlife. Being a wilderness expedition guide I have the opportunity to witness some of natures most spectacular creatures living in their natural environment. I try to create portraits, close ups that reveal details of an individual animal as a representative of its species. The color and texture of fur or feathers, the detail of the eyes. Secondly, I want to put the animal into context with its environment. I want the animal to be obvious in the composition, at the same time I want to give the viewer a broad sense of the landscape in which the animal exists. I always have the viewer in mind. I want the viewer to have a complete and intimate sense of the animals they are seeing in my work. I want them to be there. I want them to have  the experience that I had.

The two photos above are good representations of this idea.  The first shot of an Orca whale shows lots of detail.  You can see that she is just breaking the surface of the water and discern texture in the bubbles she is blowing from her blow hole. As she surfaces ripples of water stream over her rostrum giving the image a sense of movement. We can make out scarring along her body and the detail in the white ring around her eye.  This image gives the viewer a rare opportunity to study the intricate details of an animal that we are lucky to get a glimpse of in the wild.

The second photo shows two killer whales dwarfed by Immense blue glacier and jagged mountain peaks in a landscape seen nowhere else but in Antarctica.  I think Photos like this are inspirational but often overlooked because of their lack of intimacy with what people expect to be the main subject, the whales.  I feel that photos such as this create a realistic  sense of place.  A cold loneliness hints at the tactile existence of the Orca whale.  It reminds us that we are visitors, and gives us a voyeuristic glimpse into the the lives of one of the oceans most efficient marine mammal predators.

King Penguin, South Georgia Island

King penguin colony, South Georgia Island

And lookie here,  I just accomplished something else. I created a blog! I have been meaning to do this for years and just now, today, finally got up the nerve to do it.  Actually, I have created at least three other blogs ranging in content from 1,000 words to one incomplete sentence. I just haven’t had the motivation to complete a blog posting that was coherent and on topic or that I felt confident letting other people read..the season just changed.

I plan to keep this up.  I would like to post stories and photos to send out to the world hoping it brings something back. Something like money.