Archive for November, 2013

Igloolik? Nunavut Canada

Posted in Arctic, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 22, 2013 by polarguide

I found some of my Canadian Arctic images today.  I guess I just didn’t take many photos on that voyage because I only came across one folder with about 100 images.  Most of them were taken in one village and I am struggling to remember it’s name. Looking at the map, I would have to guess it was Igloolik.

I was supposed to meet the ship in a little village called Kugluktuk formerly known as coppermine in the Kitikmeot Region of Nunavut Canada. But, I arrived in Edmonton with out a proper work permit and I was flown back to seattle. I waited there a few days for the paperwork to be arranged and then flew in to Cambridge bay, a village on the southern end of Victoria Island, in the Canadian arctic.

This was one of the most fearful flights I have ever taken. Flying VFR in a 707  in dense fog and landing on a dirt runway made me question my choice of profession. we barely made the landing, I was told that two days before a plane crashed trying to make a landing in the fog.

I made it into Cambridge Bay with out incident where the ship was waiting for me.  We set sail later that afternoon and over the next ten days we wove our way west through the northwest passage until we ended our journey in the village of Iqaluit, the capital and largest community of Nunavut, located at the head of Frobisher Bay, on Baffin Island.

After looking through the only folder of images, these are the only ones worth sharing. We landed on the beach at Igloolik and the entire village met us there.  the children had fun playing on the zodiacs and some of the village elders drummed and danced for us.

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The Arctic

Posted in Arctic, bears, guiding, polarbears with tags , , , on November 19, 2013 by polarguide

I have been browsing through my images and today I came upon several files of my Arctic voyages in the summer of 2011.

I spent the month of July 2011 cruising around Svalbard.  Svalbard  is an archipelago above 70 degrees north latitude. It is a territory or Norway and it is quite remote. It was a spectacular month of photographing polar bears, walrus, and  several varieties of arctic birds. All in a dramatic and beautiful landscape.

I flew back to Alaska and in early August 2011 I was back on board the ship, this time in northern canada cruising through the northwest passage.

Here are a few images of those voyages.  I am missing some of my files of the northwest passage voyage. I have some decent shots of a few of the inuit villages we visited. I will post those when I come across them.

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My favorite

My favorite

one more

Posted in Uncategorized on November 9, 2013 by polarguide

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I reworked this photo in black and white as well and I think I like it best. The vignette effect might be a little heavy but I think its heading in the direction of what I like.

Black and White

Posted in photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , on November 8, 2013 by polarguide

I posted a Black and white photograph yesterday and I really like the way it looked.   I haven’t shot anything in black and white since the last time I used film.  Digital black and white is still strange to me.

I decided today to go through a few photographs and use lightroom to create a black and white effect.

I chose another photo of the sub-way in Washington D.C.  I like this one a lot, I think it works well in black and white.

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I chose these two Juneau, Alaska landscapes.  The first, I think needs more contras, maybe. I like the moodieness of the second, although I think I could improve on the composition.

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I chose these shots of Gentoo penguins and whale Vertebrae because in color they were too dull and lacked contrast.  I thought black and white might improve them.  Im not sure how I feel about these.

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This next shot I chose for the dark lines contrasted with the snow and the black and white penguins. I think it still lacks contrast.

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I chose this shot of Antarctic ice bergs because I like the dramatic way the dark sky contrasts the ice. Black and white brings out the texture in the ice. I’m not crazy about the composition of this shot but I think black and white really works well with it.

bw6I need to play with black and white more and come up with a good technique that suites me. Comments and suggestions are welcome.

My job

Posted in alaska, antarctica, icebergs, photography, sea kayaking, travel, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on November 7, 2013 by polarguide

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I have a unique set of skills that don’t lend themselves to consistent employment.  As a result my life is diverse and adventurous. I can’t always predict what will come next and I like it that way. I flow from one season, one country, one job, to the next. Like the tide rushing in to meet land again, then retreating slowly, floating away every stick or stump that has been ditched on the beach by the tide before, for the sake of memory, then abandoning them again on some other distant shore.

Sometimes it feels very insecure.  I don’t make much money and I travel often. This strains my relationships and sometimes makes finding work more difficult. People are less willing to commit to me personally and professionally because they know within a few months I will be leaving. That lack of commitment goes both ways.

I have been a massage therapist for fifteen years.  Massage makes up at least fifty percent of my annual income.  I have worked at sports clubs, fitness centers and chiropractic offices from philadelphia to Alaska. I’ve done massage while sailing through Beaufort 9 storms on ships in the Norwegian Arctic, through the legendary northwest passage of the Canadian Arctic and Antarctica.  Surprisingly, massage has carried me across the sea to some of the most remote parts of the world.

I have been a wilderness expedition guide for almost as long as I have been a massage therapist. In the summer I guide mainly sea kayak expeditions into remote parts of south east Alaska.  Guiding has allowed me to experience and learn things about the natural world that I always dreamed of as a child and gives me the opportunity to share and teach. It allows me  to follow another one of my passions, wildlife photography.

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Paddling below Mt. St. Elias. Wrangell St. Elias national park, Alaska

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Wrangell St. Elias national park, Alaska

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Me and co-guide Ken with our guests in front of the Guyot glacier.

I recently received my captains license. In between sea kayak expeditions  I captain a thirty foot aluminum boat named Taurus, that acts as a water taxi, delivering people to remote parts of south east Alaska.

The Taurus, loaded with kayaks and ready for a water taxi run.

The Taurus, loaded with kayaks and ready for a water taxi run.

My job working on a ship in Antarctica is the only place where all of my random skills, Massage therapist, kayak guide and boat captain, are unified. I suppose you could say I become complete, in a very narrow sense.

It takes two days for our ship to sail from Ushuaia, Argentina to Antarctica. During those days at sea I’m the massage therapist on board the ship.  I offer a variety of massage modalities to the passengers to meet their relaxation or pain therapy needs.   Arriving in Antarctica we offer two excursions off the ship each day to view amazing landscapes and exotic wildlife.  Passengers have the option of  going to shore via inflatable zodiac or going on a sea kayak excursion through the icebergs.  On these days I split my time between kayak guiding and zodiac pilot.

The Akademik Ioffee in Antarctica

The Akademik Ioffee in Antarctica

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Kayaking through a snow storm in Antarctica

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Zodiac cruising among giant ice bergs in Antarctica

Intertwined with all of this work and travel I am slowly building a home.  for years it’s been my dream to buy a piece of land and build a small home, myself.  Paid for out of pocket, no debt.  I have begun to realize that dream, all my spare time and money is dedicated to seeing it become a reality.

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I’m feeling the need to consolidate my skills and contain them geographically. This gives me sense of peace and anxiety.  The thought of being less diverse and less mobile is unappealing.  Continuing on my current course seems unsustainable.  I’m at a cross road.

More than once in my life I’ve steered into what felt like a dead end, then navigated ninety degrees from everything and everyone in my life.  Its hard to do, but it has its rewards.    Im not looking for anything that drastic now.  Its time for a change, but not a sea change.

I have never been fully conscious of  exactly what motivates me, only that I am motivated.  My best  perspective of the past is found by exploring where I am today.  The consequence of my motivation is in league with coincidence.

I need to meditate on the genesis of my motivation. Distill all of this experience and crystalize it into what comes next.

Daily post: Too ambitious?

Posted in alaska, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 3, 2013 by polarguide

I decided to take the camera for a walk today.  I wanted to take some shots around Juneau.  I was looking for an excuse to take some photos and write a little something, nothing too exciting.

The sun was out for the first time in a couple weeks so I went for a short hike on the Perseverance trail. The trail begins just a short distance from my house.  The perseverance trail is an old mining road that once led to the perseverance gold mine, it also passes the the old AJ gold mine.

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The temperatures dropped last night and we had fresh snow in the mountains and a granular frost covered the cold ground.

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I ducked down a small trail off the main trail whereI thought I might get some interesting shots of the river.  I decided to practice some water motion blur photography.  I have always admired good photographs of motion blured water falls but I have never been very good at them. I like this series but I’m not even close to perfecting this technique.

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To fly or not to fly

Posted in alaska, antarctica, bears, guiding, icebergs, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , , , , , , on November 1, 2013 by polarguide

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I could be on a plane right now.   I could be on a plane flying south.  South to South America, to Uruguay and Argentina and then further south to Antarctica.  But I chose to stay in Alaska for the winter.

Alaska for the winter or Antarctica for the summer.  Or both, simultaneously. I feel indecisive about my decision. I feel like a paradox.

Work is slow, money is tickling in and flowing steadily out.  Heavy grey clouds,  good food and the company of friends make me feel at the same time comforted and discontent.  I have too much time.  My mind is too idle. The days are growing shorter. Lying on the couch, lying in bed, from the tin roof  the slow rain applauds my apathy.

Its the money.  And the work.  The work and the money, That’s what I fret about most.  Work keeps my mind busy, I would work for free if I had money.   I don’t give two shits about money, never have.  I just need to pay the rent and for food, and my teeth.  I broke two last week!

Winter is coming.

Summer is sweet in Alaska, with all its sun and whales and endless work.

Winter is slow and dark, its a vacation from summer.

I like fall best.

The fall wind and rain justify laziness.  Hunting and fishing and friends  I haven’t seen since spring because we were working all summer. Then a blanket of quiet dark lays across the top of the world as winter snuggles in for the season.

Still, It would have been nice to hop on that plane heading south to south america. By now, I would be in Montevideo eating octopus in the mercado del puerto.  A few days more I would be in Ushuaia stuffing my face with asado.

By this time next week I would be a sailor again, rolling over waves and fighting through storms on the drake passage heading to the  worlds most remote continent. I spent a few hours today mulling over my photographs of Alaska and Antarctica, trying to find a common feeling. Trying to somehow make sense of these two polar opposite portions of my life. Trying to find an emotional bridge or a rational connection.  It sounds strange but I couldn’t.  It’s as if I am two different people living one life or vice versa.

I Put together a few of the photographs I took this summer at home in Alaska, and a few from last season in Antarctica.  I chose pictures that were characteristic of each place, from my perspective.

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