Archive for the wildlife Category

To fly or not to fly

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


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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Large, small scale building projects 2

Posted in alaska, deer hunting, fishing, hunting, photography, sitka deer, travel, wildlife with tags , , , , , , , on October 25, 2013 by polarguide

The summer has ended and heavy sheets of rain have begun falling from the sky.  The strong winds of fall have blown me back to Juneau and I am finally getting to do a little writing.  I was hoping to write more about my building project but during the summer I don’t have electricity or access to the internet and so I wasn’t able to make regular posts.  Also, I was so busy working and trying to build that by the end of the day I was too exhausted to write.

I’m pleased with my progress.  Considering that we still have no road access and I carried nearly every board in on my back,  I am happy with the amount of work I was able to accomplish this past summer.

I completed the foundation, framed the walls, got most of them sheathed with plywood and the roof is on. I was able to get tar paper on the roof and battened down a couple of tarps.  Unless I get a windfall of money sometime soon, the tin roofing material will have to wait until next spring.

Before I button up the the project for the winter, I will have to finish sheathing all the walls with plywood and wrap the entire structure with Tyvek.  I hope to have this done by the first week in november.

Three framed walls

Three framed walls

The foundations took a long time and was alot of work.  Once I carried in all of the wood, the framing was much faster.


Building the loft took one afternoon and the front and back walls went up super fast.




Jeff and Katie enjoying the view from the loft.

My friend Katie helped get the roof on.  When it came time to start the roof construction I was under some pressure to get it done quickly.  The fall rain had arrived and I had to leave town.  I could have constructed the roof alone, but with Katies help it was done in half the time.


In between bouts of building I guided five, ten day sea kayak expeditions into remote parts of south east Alaska, then captained a small water taxi transporting people across the ocean from Gustavus to the remote destinations of their choice.  Now that summer is over and fall has arrived I have moved back to Juneau and will be making weekend visits to Gustavus to weatherize the cabin before the first snow. In the mean time its hunting and fishing to fill the freezer with fresh food from the sea and forest. here are a few photos from our most recent fishing outings for salmon halibut and black cod.

Hunting day turned into a rescue mission when we found this faun swimming the ocean.

Hunting day turned into a rescue mission when we found this faun swimming the ocean.

Cold and near drowning we pulled the little guy out of the frigid ocean and dropped him on the shore of Admiralty Island.

Cold and near drowning we pulled the little guy out of the frigid ocean and dropped him on the shore of Admiralty Island.


Jeffie and a big Halibut


Brocklie and a bucket of salmon


Amanda loves her some Coho salmon


Brock reels in a big black cod!


the big one!

Apathy or ardor

Posted in alaska, photography, travel, wildlife with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2013 by polarguide

Its that time of the year again, when after returning home from months of travel, work and adventure I have trouble motivating to do anything.  This in between time generally involves lounging on the couch drinking too much coffee, talking to my self or speaking out loud to people who aren’t present. I pace. I suffer with intermittent episodes of insomnia.  It seems the more free time I have the less organized my mind becomes and finding one thing to focus on is hopeless.

Its hard to feel inspired to photograph when I have hundreds of files full of thousands of pictures from Antarctica that I still have not organized. I have snapped only 150 images this past month. I feel photographically congested.

So this year I decided to take a new approach.  I quit the coffee.  Coffee scatters my pattern of thinking. It causes my thoughts to reel down uncharted paths that lead my mind no-where.

Also, I started a strict vegetarian diet. No eggs, cheese or dairy of any kind. Ninety five percent of my diet is fruit and  hearty colorful (mostly organic) vegetables and lots of beans. Once a week I have a meal of fresh salmon or halibut caught by local Alaskan fisherman  or deer meat that I shot and butchered myself. I also joined the local gym and I try to work out everyday.

During this phase of my year I usually hole up in my apartment for weeks at a time, rarely answering the phone and experiencing mild anxiety about spending time with friends while simultaneously feeling sorry for my self, wondering why no one ever calls me.  Lately I have been trying to socialize more. My new strategy has been to actually answer the phone and when someone invites me on a hike or to a dinner party instead of mumbling an incoherent  excuse, I bite my lip and say yes.  So far the results have been quite successful and I am remembering that I actually do have friends.

This past week I said yes twice. The first was to an invitation to go on an overnight sailing trip to Saint James Bay with three other friends.  We had a great trip with some real life adventure when we nearly flipped the thirty five foot steel hulled sail boat completely upside down. Luckily, no one was injured.  The second yes was an invitation to a simple walk on the beach on a sunny day with three lovely ladies. Here are few snap shots from both events.


Kayaking in St. james Bay

Kayaking in St. james Bay

St. james Bay

St. james Bay

Dall's porpoise exhaling

Dall’s porpoise exhaling

Immature Bald Eagle

Immature Bald Eagle

Rowdy Stellar sea lions

Rowdy Stellar sea lions

It seems silly to lament these things, these journeys into the heart of apathy are a necessary rest period.   Soon it will all change. Three more weeks and my sea kayak guiding season begins, then I will be on the move for another three months and life will be a parade of new people, wilderness adventure and wildlife photography.

Almost amazing

Posted in antarctica, penguins, photography, Uncategorized, whales, wildlife with tags , , , , on March 30, 2013 by polarguide

Still sifting through the thousands of Antarctic photos from this season.  I keep mulling over certain shots that should have been amazing but the forces of nature were not always working in my favor and although the subject matter might be impressive the quality of the images is not great.

Orca whale and Wandering Albatross

Orca whale and Wandering Albatross

Orca whales and Wandering Albatross are incredible animals in their own right.  To capture a great image of either is rare, but to capture an image of both at the same time while far out to sea is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  This was my opportunity and although I got the shot, no matter how hard I try, I have to admit its a not a great shot. You can barely recognize the Orca, the Albatross is out of focus and the colors are muted due to the fog.

Gentoo Penguin and whale Vertibrae

Gentoo Penguin and whale vertebrae

Several Vertebrae and ribs bones of large whales litter the beach’s in some parts of Antarctica.  I layed on the ground for an hour or more hoping a penguin would waddle over to this large whale vertebrae and stick his head through the hole, and one did. I had prepared my self and my camera but the composition is poor and the light is dull and the background is too busy and the penguin in the foreground with his back to camera ruins the whole shot for me.

Then I though: Wouldn’t it be great if a whale swam past and I could get a portrait of a penguin with the whale bone and a whale in the back ground.  Guess what, about ten seconds later two whales swam by.


I fumbled around to find the right angle. I changed lenses in a bit of a hurry and nabbed this shot. But again the light is grey and uninteresting. The color of the water, the whale bones and the rocks are too similar, they all blend together. There’s not enough contrast, nothing pops. If you look in the upper right portion of the picture, just below the horizon there is a black cycle shape on the surface of the water.  That’s a humpback whale, barely noticeable and out of focus. I thought the icebergs would add a nice element, but they don’t. Or maybe they do, but the composition is all wrong.


This was one of the most beautiful pieces of ice that I saw this summer.  It was washed up on the beach and I wanted to show how the still ice was shaped by the motion of the waves.  I do like this shot but its a little boring.  I spent a-lot of time with this piece of ice and I thought the outcome would be better.  I should have changed my position and looked at it from different angles.

Falkland Islands

Posted in antarctica, Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island, tourism, travel, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , on February 3, 2013 by polarguide

We are in Stanley today, the capital city of the Falkland Islands.  We made two landings yesterday at remote homesteads, one on West Point Island where a family runs a small sheep farm and a large number of Black browed Albatross come to nest alongside Rockhopper penguins. Then on carcass island where a large number of striated cars-cara nest.  This will be my last connection to internet for the next two weeks. I only have two photos to post, enjoy!

Striated Cara-cara

Striated Cara-cara

Mating Pair of Black Browed Albatross

Mating Pair of Black Browed Albatross

Passing through

Posted in antarctica, Leopard seal, photography, tourism, travel, wildlife on January 31, 2013 by polarguide

I am in Ushuia today.  I just finished a 12 day voyage to the Antarctic peninsula.  The entire voyage was sub-chartered by a group of British photographers.  We had great weather and amazing wildlife encounters. The most notable was curious humpback whale that swam with our zodiacs and played with us as if we were toys in a bath tub.

I have some outstanding under water video of the evenr, if I can figure out how to down load it to this site I will.

In the mean time here are a few of my favorite images from the last voyage.

I will be leaving in two hours for another voyage to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island and Antarctica.



Leapord seal on ice

Leapord seal on ice


Leapord seal on ice



South Georgia Island Reindeer

Posted in South Georgia Island, travel, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , , , on January 18, 2013 by polarguide
Reindeer and king penguin

Reindeer and king penguin

Between 1911 and 1912  seventeen Norwegian reindeer were introduced to South Georgia Island as a food source for whalers working on the Island.  This introduction is one of only two successfull introductions of reindeer to the southern hemisphere.

By the 1950s the population of reindeer had risen to over 3000 animals.  With most of the island being comprised of high mountains covered by glacial ice the foraging area available to the deer is limited.  Over the decades the reindeer have over grazed most of the available food source causing significant erosion.  The erosion and over grazing caused by the reindeer has had a significant negative impact on the native ground nesting bird populations.

The South Georgia government has planned the eradication of the reindeer.  Using traditional Sami’ herdring methods and sharp shooters to kill the inaccessible animals they plan to cull the entire herd by the end of this austral summer season.

Upon landing on South Georgia Island last week I came upon one of the largest herds on the island in Fortuna bay.  I sat quietly as the entire group surrounded me while grazing not far from the beach.

The eradication of the alien reindeer is necessary to return the island to its natural ecological state. But I  admit I have enjoy seeing them share the beach with fur seals and penguins.   I felt fortunate to have the opportunity to photograph these species that are ecological polar opposites thriving in the wilderness and beauty of south georgia island, for the last time.  The ship carrying the eradication team floated offshore as I shot these photos.  I will be back on South Georgia in late january, by then all of the reindeer will have already been removed.

southern fur seal and reindeer

southern fur seal and reindeer

The herd

The herd

sharing uncommon space

sharing uncommon space