Friday, August 28, 2009


Hey guys!

Sorry it has been so long since I've posted, I've been crazy busy with my location photography. Ever since the pending SAG strike ended, people are making movies and such like crazy, which means more work for me!

Thanks to a more efficient editing process (thank you Lightroom!) and a fever that has kept me indoors for the past couple days, I had time to finally go through the photos I took on a trip this summer to Alaska. Just a disclaimer, this post is for all of you landscape/nature photography lovers out there. For those of you who are more into wedding/portrait photography, please know that my next post will be exclusively that, as I have shot a few "people" sessions recently (which turned out incredibly!) and have a handful coming up soon.

Now, back to the story. This trip was special for me, because it was kind of a returning to a place in my history. A total of 9 years ago, I went on a cruise to the Caribbean, carrying with me the very first camera of my own. When I saw the first photo (which was an old Cathedral on Margarita island) of the 14 rolls I had developed (yeah, I was using film back then!), I was struck and had a sudden realization that photography was going to be something I was connected to for many years to come. As I boarded the cruise ship this time around to cruise Alaska, I was amazed at how far I had come. I never thought I would have been able to "make it" as a professional photographer, and yet, here I am! (I was also amazed at how much larger my camera bag is in comparison to what it was!)

Anyway, so enough of the trip down memory lane. Now to Alaska!

Alaska can be described in 1 word: BIG! Everything is massive, from the bodies of water, to the tides, to the grandiose mountains. To get a piece of this massive state, we took a 7 day cruise that started in Seward (A day trip south of Denali) and ended in Vancouver.

We started by flying into Anchorage. We got there at 1:30AM and it was sunset! I woke up the next morning with the sounds of float-planes buzzing over our small hotel and landing in a lake-pond right next to us. I knew immediately that this wasn't Southern CA anymore!

We spent the day there and left early the next morning for a 4 hour train ride south to Seward through absolutely beautiful savage/wild territory. I'm confident that if I fell off the train and walked 10 minutes away from the track, I'd probably never find civilization again.

I stood between the cars of the train and bore the chilly air to get those, whatever you gotta do to get the shot!

*Photo thanks to Dan Bathauer*

We arrived in Seward, a charming little fishing village.

At one of the small, local spots, I ordered a caribou burger with a side of reindeer sausage. The crazy thing is that that meat was probably far more fresh and bountiful than had I ordered beef! It was delicious...I also may have hummed the Rudolph song once or twice while eating the sausage. :)

As we boarded and headed out, I realized that this trip was going to get my shutter finger buff. I had a 360-degree view of gorgeous-ness non-stop, and it stays light out till 2AM at times, keeping me up snapping away far later that I normally can. I felt like a photo junkie! A taste of the first sunset I saw (mind you, this is about 1AM):

-I was stoked to put my new wide angle lens to work!-

Our next stop was the Hubbard Glacier, what was one the fastest growing glaciers 20 years ago, and one that is still growing in size. It was insane when I first saw an iceberg floating by, definitely something you don't see everyday! We navigated through the ice and got pretty darn close to the glacier, it was incredible.

-Navigating through the ice patch. It sounded like crushed ice getting stirred up in a glass, but these were very large chunks of ice! This is from 14 stories up.-

*Photo thanks to Dan Bathauer*

When the glacier calved, you could feel it in your chest. It sounded like a thunder storm on a bright, cloudless day!

After a day at sea, we landed in Juneau, the capitol of Alaska. Honestly, even knowing it was Alaska, I was expecting a larger city. Juneau is a quaint, little town at the feet of ginormous mountains. No roads in or out; the only way from the outside world is by plane or boat.

-Note the float plane landing.-

It was originally an old Alaskan Gold Rush town, and the feeling/character stuck around. Just up the road and behind the city, we found a trail that was on top of an old mining shaft. The surrounding area was gorgeous, almost jungle-like. From icebergs to dense forest in one day was quite a change.

-My first spotting of a bald eagle close-up. How rad is that!?-

With all the cool stuff in Juneau, I was also blown away by a glacier nearby. It was in the low 90s that day, which was totally strange by itself. I remember standing on a beach next to this massive waterfall (note the size of the people in comparison):

*Photo thanks to Dan Bathauer*
-I am on the bottom right. Definitely got my lenses soaked!-

I was standing where those people were standing, and around me were some people tanning, a few swimming in their bikinis and board shorts, and yet, right there in front of me was a massive glacier with a bunch of icebergs in the water. Too strange for my mind to fully comprehend, so here are pictures to show it.

Rad, anyway, the next stop was Skagway, another old Gold Rush town (this one kept in its original state) far north of Juneau...the graduating class was made up of 8 students! It served as the railroad hub and start for many of the miners that had the guts to head into the Yukon over the dreaded White Pass. Here's a brief view of the tiny town:

The next port was definitely my favorite. Icy Strait Point is an island inhabited by a native tribe, kept in its full Alaskan goodness! Well, almost. They allow one cruise ship in at a time (brought to shore on smaller boats because of the small size of the docks). Eventually, I know this beautiful land and people will be commercialized because of this practice, but I was stoked to get there when I did (they opened this port less than 2 years ago). Bald eagles like crazy, humpbacks spouting right off the shore, large unadulterated forests, bears that outnumber people 5 to 1, etc. Here is a taste of Icy Strait:

Besides all of this, they also had the longest zipline in the world that I got to ride on! Such a rad ride! Here is a video I took on a little point and shoot:

So stoke-worthy. Anyway, moving on, we reached our last Alaskan port, the town of Ketchican. Again, Ketchican is another old town that is accessible only by plane or boat...or jetpack, i guess, if you had one.

-The old Red-Light District...Looks different than you'd expect, huh? A bit too quaint perhaps? The river was used for fleeing bootleggers and rum-runners during prohibition, and it was called "Married Man's Route"-

We wandered out of town to get some more views of the coastline and found some very lush areas. We also came across a small Native American town that specializes in carving Totem poles.

Then came our last day at sea, a slow cruising through the inside passage (the area between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia). There were some beautiful sights, but it was the last sunset that did me in!

The sun reflecting off of the glassy water made me point my lens downward to capture the wake of the boat. Gorgeous thing water is, isn't it?

And that was the last night. We hung out in Vancouver for a bit to see some Canadian beauty...
...and then took the flight home. When I looked out the window on the approach, I knew that we were far, far away from the rugged, unprocessed, and beautifully wild world of Alaska.

Thanks for reading/viewing, I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know if you did by commenting or e-mailing me!
And like I said, be watching for a portrait post, it'll be going up very soon.

Thanks again for your support,
Brandon Bathauer