Tag Archives: spruce trees

Photography Goals

Spruce trees in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Spruce trees in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

2013. It’s a new year already. The days are getting longer, so I’m told. I’m another year older, slower, fatter and balder. But a new year can also mean a great time to focus on our work. Draw it into focus by outlining and giving voice to where we might like for it to go. Without that articulation, it’s easy to wander in circles, and not really move forward with our art.

I’m reminded of a great line by my friend Craig Tanner, when he was asked what is the most important concern to him, as an artist; his answer, so simple, was “the only thing that matters is, is my work moving forward”.

What can we do to move our work forward? Well, make some goals to move toward, for one thing. And really, goals is the wrong word, I think, for art. We don’t score goals. We don’t target anything; we make art, we create stuff. That’s all.  Continue reading

Fall Colors in the Taiga

Fall colors glow in the boreal forest, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

While I’m out trudging around in the cold and wet mountains, you get to sit home and read about it, and still see the pictures!

This photo was from my recent trip to the north side of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, off the Nabesna Road. The weather wasn’t super co-operative for grander landscape images, which was a bummer, as there are certainly some grand landscapes to be had in the area. But the weather was good for more intimate scenes, like this one.

The boreal forest is a real treasure, and hiking through it is always a treat. It’s amazing what one can find sometimes – I’v e found everything from moose racks  and caribou racks  to trekking poles, tent stakes and other trash. But this last trip was a first for me. I found a fully-loaded, good condition large caliber centerfire rifle, with a scope, sitting by a tussock in the forest. I packed it out, and handed it in to the Park Service office, and still haven’t found out exactly what happened as to how the rifle came to be there. Pretty crazy stuff.

Other than my trip was,  as always, too brief. Marred by dismal skies, I was really hoping to get some big shots of Mt Sanford, but the mountain was only rarely visible. The final morning of my trip it was out, but distant clouds to the east blocked the sun’s rays from adorning the peak – total bummer. There is a view of the mountain that I think lends itself to as fine a landscape image of grand mountains as any, but I need to put in more time, apparently, to make it happen.

As for the image above,  I spend so much of the summer hiking and trekking in the alpine areas of the park that I don’t get to spend the hours in the forest that I would like. The forest is a special place, and I always enjoy my time there. In the fall, it comes alive with color, and this year was grand, for sure. The color seemed to peak around the end of August, and only a few days later had  noticeably dropped off. I was lucky to catch it before that happened.

I’ll be back (hopefully) from my next trip with some more landscapes, and then we’ll see what the last 2 weeks of September bring for my trips. At the moment, I’m toying with a few ideas, but haven’t set anything in stone so far. We shall see.

Oh, a side note; this kind of more open boreal forest is often referred to as ‘taiga’, which is a so-called Russian word for ‘little sticks’,  expressing the smallish stature of the spruce trees. However, my Russian friend Sergei tells me that in Russia, the word taiga simply means ‘forest’. We’ll have to explore this controversy further and see wherein the truth lies. In the meantime, here’s a quiz; how many various vegetation species can you see here, and what are they (Mark Vail you go last)?