Elan Vital Media | A Photographer's Adventure Part 1
photography of Alaska
wildlife, photojournalism, photojournalist, urban exploration, travel photography, fur rendezvous 2016, iditarod 2016, lisbet norris, sled dogs, sled dog, mushers, dog racing photography, landscape photos, wildlife photos, Iditarod, alaska, wilderness, travel, road trip pics, pictures, animals, dog races, sled dogs, sports photographer, alaska photographs, the last frontier, beautiful scenery, ladscape scenes, waterfalls, mountains, rainbows, snow capped mountains, frozen rivers, glacier water, glaciers, humpback whales, sea otters, puffins, sealions, hiking, adventure photography, parasailing, top of the mountain, flattop mountain, anchorage, alaska, tok, alaska
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Staff Series Feature: A Photographer’s Adventure, Pt. 1

But I just fucking got here!

First, I’m going to preface this with:  The reason I picked up the camera again after a long break of not doing photography was motivated to me by a mentor of mine.  But ever since I’ve picked it back up, I’ve attempted to run wild with it.

Being in the military is no easy task. In fact, it’s not even a task. Someone once told me a difference between a successful Soldier and an unsuccessful Soldier was how they viewed themselves in the Army – is it their job, just a way to make money and get benefits? Or is it their career, a way to sustain themselves and serve awhile to garner their experience and training to mold Soldiers under them to take the reins down the road? That’s stuck with me since I heard it.

Well, the Winter of 2015, I was informed I would be moving from Virginia to Alaska. While that’s a series for a different day, with different images and experiences, the beginning stages of when I got to Alaska wasn’t quite what I expected. Shortly after arriving there, approximately 2 months, if that, our unit was informed we would all be moving by the end of the following year. Now, my first instinct was “Well, what the fuck was I sent up here for if I’d just be turning around and moving again?” Needless to say, it did happen and I was selected to head down to El Paso, Texas.

While this part of the series isn’t completely dedicated to landscape, this portion of it is definitely dedicated to my days in Alaska and the last day as I drove through a place that was probably more beautiful than I’d ever been to.

Day 1 in Alaska. Mountains everywhere. Lot's of pull-off areas to take photos. Even though it was a nice 65-70 degrees, there was still snow in places.
Day 2 in Alaska and about 2 hours away from Anchorage, I came across this glacier not knowing it was a glacier. I was a newbie.
Every year, at the top of Flat Top Mountain in Anchorage, a resident will journey up at the beginning of the summer season and hoist the American flag. Elevation: a little of 3000 above sea level. Good hiking everywhere in Alaska.
Sometimes at the top of Flat Top Mountain, you'll run into people jumping off of it. It's pretty cool to see, but not sure if I'd do it, lol.
This is the first time my dog Trooper ever got into a large body of water. It was because I got on a rock in the river to take a shot of the mountains and river and he wanted to be close to me, lol!

So, the planning began about two months out from my departure. I decided, you know what, I’m going to take extra time and make this a vacation road trip instead of a ‘hurry up and get there’ road trip.

Alaska isn’t a small state and the first stop took me from Anchorage to a place called Tok. The trip from Anchorage to Tok was breathtakingly gorgeous. There’s really no words or pictures that can solidly do it justice, but I tried. Everytime I saw a gorgeous view or overlook from the road, I’d stop and set up a shot. I practiced panorama shots, long exposures, depth of field, the whole nine yards it seemed with different views of nature and landscape.

This first leg of the trip took normally about 9 hours or so but after I stopped so many times, I was probably on the road for about 11-12. I couldn’t help it, everything was so beautiful.

Iditarod 2016. This is from the ceremonial start in Anchorage. Bib #7, Lisbet Norris, from Willow, AK.
This is the return leg of one of the racers during the Fur Rendezvous 2016, held in Anchorage. Each team that year did a out and back lap due to there not being enough snow for the full race.
My FIRST whale's tail! This was on my first trip on Kenai Fjords Tours during the summer of 2015. Whale sightings that summer were pretty low so I count myself lucky!
This is an abandoned gun emplacement from World War 2. Being so close to Japan during that period, our coastal defense was on point. When I go back to Alaska, I'm going to get on the island and go explore it.
This is an abandoned missile silo about an hour away from Anchorage. Talk about some urban exploration, there's lots of places like this in Alaska. I'll save the rest of the images for another feature!

It was a bittersweet day for me to be honest. I really wanted to have more time in Alaska. Everything was so fresh, beautiful, and everytime I went on a short trip to go hike or just drive, it seemed like I was really going on an adventure in the last frontier.

Alaska gave me a lot of opportunities to work on my under par photography skills too! I say under par, as we are our own worst critics. But, I really was able to do some fascinating things, like get shots from airplanes overflying different mountain ranges, I was able to get press credentials to cover the 2016 Iditarod and 2016 Fur Rendezvous events, and I saw a lot of wildlife I’d never thought I’d see in person.

So regardless of my short stay there, I fell in love with the place and I’ll eventually be back as a short term resident during the summers when I have enough money for some property up there to get a nice home away from home so to speak.

Part of my spirit species, this is a Grey Wolf pup, about a year and a half old. He was being recuperated in the Alaska Wildlife Conservatory before his eventual re-release to the wild.
Eagles. America's Official National Emblem and Freedom's Mascot, Alaska has a plethora of Eagles being badasses. Every trip I went on and even just hanging out at the house, Eagles were everywhere. 'Merica!
A whale's tale version 2! I wasn't lucky enough to see a whale do a huge breach, but getting a whale's tail is pretty badass to me anyway.
Just chillin in the summer sun and enjoying the good life!
Sunset while driving back from Kenai to Anchorage. I was in my car and didn't pull over to really set up a good shot, but the colors are legit. This was at about 1130PM that night.

If you’ve never been to Alaska, I highly recommend going during the summer if you’re planning on just doing a “quick visit” and I recommend at least a two week time period up there. There’s so much stuff to do, you would be hard-pressed to do it in under a week!

If you’re a photographer, I’d recommend splitting your time up between the summer and the winter and doing a couple trips. The summers are always bright and beautiful for about 20hrs a day, while the winters are the opposite, being dark for about 20hrs a day. That’s on average and I’m sure there are websites you can look up exact lighting details on, but each offers a much different perspective on the landscape. And in the winter, it’s much easier to see the Aurora Borealis. Sadly, I never got out to really go and get quality images of the northern lights, and it’s probably one of my biggest regrets with what I wasn’t able to do in my time up there.

This little guy was just chillin' by the pier eating some shelled goodies.
My last sightseeing on Kenai Fjords Tours. It's like the whale knew I wouldn't be back for awhile and was waving goodbye.
My last daytime shot of Alaska, about an hour or so from Tok, Alaska and 2 hours the Canadian border before . A good parting image, Alaska! Thank you!
My jeep loaded down for the trip to Texas. Had to take a good shot with the mountains in the background!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my point of view of the state of Alaska and the first portion of my trip! Part two of this series will be out next week for sure and it’ll be my epic entry into Canada and the beginning of that part of the trip. Travelling the Alaska-Canadian Highway is not only gorgeous, but historical.

If you liked this part of the feature, be sure to comment on the post for it on our facebook page! I’d love to hear your feedback about my photos, whether it’s constructive criticism or even a similar circumstance you may have found yourself in! Don’t be shy! 🙂

Phoenix is a legend. He is dedicated to creating scenes that are devised from his imagination, which depending on the day may or may not be NSFW. His passions are Star Wars, paintball, journalism, photography (right?!), jeeps, being from the South, and his dog Trooper Duke. He is fluent in American sarcasm, bacon, and donuts. He's probably eating bacon or donuts as you read this.

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