Snowstorm!

Several days without power, but with snowy beauty.

A large snowstorm passed through New Hampshire on Friday and Saturday. At our house, snow fell for about 26 hours. It was warm (33º), so the snow was wet and heavy, accumulating to a depth of 8″ … but I just know that higher elevations would have seen fluffier snow that got much deeper. Can’t wait for a chance to get out and hike some mountains!

Home, during a heavy, wet snowfall.
Snow on the solar tracker.

Unfortunately, the weight of all this snow caused many trees and branches to fall, blocking roads and knocking out power and Internet across the region. We are fortunate to have battery backup – which lasted for about 17 hours, fed in part by our solar tracker soaking up the post-storm sunshine. In turn, the batteries can be refilled by a propane generator. (The relationship between the two is complicated and buggy, but that’s another story.)

I took the opportunity to ramble around the backyard – local authorities asked everyone to stay off the roads unless necessary – and try to improve my ability to find interesting compositions and to expose properly for snow. Check out the gallery; at the end is a bonus: bald eagles spotted high in the trees during my afternoon walk, including a short video of two eagles taking off to fly across the river and greet a third bald eagle in the trees over there. (Apologies for the low-res iPhone photo and video… it’s all I had with me.)

Snow on the backyard fence.

P.S. Grid power is back! After about 39 hours.

Alaska photos

Photo galleries from our trip at the end of August.

Some of you will recall that in early September my father and I visited Katmai National Park on the southern coast of Alaska, as part of a Muench Photography Workshop focused on photographing the Coastal Brown Bears that feast on the annual salmon run along the southern coast. I wrote a summary of the trip – and posted a few teaser photos – shortly thereafter, but then became busy. Since then, I have struggled to find time to complete the work of selecting and editing a few photos out of the 8,000 shots I snapped during the trip. I finally finished. Read on!

Brown bear and cub – Geographic Harbor, Katmai.
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Tarleton Balds

I set out to do landscape photographs, but put it aside when I saw these two beauties.

Autumn is advancing quickly here in New Hampshire. Last weekend, I shared photos from a trail walk on the west side of Mount Moosilauke, where the fall foliage was accenting the beautiful cascades of Slide Brook. This weekend I had another occasion to head toward Moosilauke, so I brought my camera and stopped wherever the roadside foliage seemed photo-worthy. More trees were bare this week, but many colors were just as vibrant.

Fall colors along Route 10, Orford NH

I pulled into the boat ramp at Lake Tarleton, thinking I might catch some nice views across the lake to the colorful hillside on the opposite side. As I stood on shore and surveyed the scene, my eyes popped when I spotted this lovely pair of mature bald eagles perched high on a snag overlooking the entire lake.

I spent nearly an hour here, exploring the shoreline for a better angle. The eagles sat quietly – except for one or two brief calls.

I experimented with some landscape photographs, went back to the eagles… then some more landscape, and back to the eagles. They were content on their perch, and remained there after I left. Beautiful scene!

A pair of bald eagles, high on a snag above Lake Tarleton, NH

Katmai, days 4-5

A week off the grid on the coast of Alaska – photographing bears.

This post is part of a series about our photography trip to Alaska.

Tuesday (August 30) Kuliak Bay, Hidden Harbor, Geographic Harbor: An early breakfast allowed us to reach the beach by 8am, where an immature bald eagle was perched on driftwood as if waiting for a dozen photographers to capture its portrait. My favorite photo from the sequence came moments after it launched from its beachfront perch. What else did we see in the next two days? read on.

Bald eagle (immature) on shore at the head of Kuliak Bay.
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Katmai, day 3

A week off the grid on the coast of Alaska – photographing bears.

This post is part of a series about our photography trip to Alaska.

Monday (August 29) Kuliak Bay: Today we decided to move to another bay, also well known for bears: Kuliak Bay. So we spent a few hours motoring out from Geographic Harbor and Amalik Bay, then northeast through the Shelikof Strait along the Katmai coastline. It was a gorgeous day with calm seas and scattered clouds, with snow-capped peaks in the distance behind the coastal hills. Read on to see what we found in Kuliak Bay…

Panorama from offshore Katmai National Park – click to see fuller size.
Continue reading “Katmai, day 3”

Katmai, day 2

A week off the grid on the coast of Alaska – photographing bears.

This post is part of a series about our photography trip to Alaska.

Sunday (August 28) Geographic Harbor: We rose for an early breakfast so we could return to the beach during low tide. Many bears were out today, as was another group of photographers. There are no lodges or cabins or roads with access to the extensive shoreline of Katmai National Park, so visitors all arrive by ship or plane and groups (like us) sleep on-board ships. Throughout the trip we were often the only group in a bay, and thus on shore; sometimes there was one (or maybe two) other boats sharing the same bay (and beach). Rarely, we’d see a small group of day-trippers arrive by floatplane. The guides, like our Captain Rob, all knew each other, and there was a tacit understanding that groups stayed out of the way of each other; still, it was sometimes possible to photograph bears as they passed by another group.

Coastal Brown Bear passing close to another group – Geographic Harbor, Katmai.
Continue reading “Katmai, day 2”

Katmai National Park, Day 1

A week off the grid on the coast of Alaska – photographing bears.

Brown bear, just after catching a salmon – Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park.

My father and I spent a week on a photography workshop in Katmai National Park, on the southern coast of Alaska west of Anchorage. The trip was organized by Muench photography workshops and was an outstanding opportunity to refine my photography skills in a beautiful setting – up close and personal with Alaskan brown bears as they feasted on the annual salmon run. We spent seven nights on the Dreamcatcher, a small ship that allowed us to anchor in several bays along the Katmai coastline, using its skiffs to visit shore two or three times daily. We saw dozens of bears, as they were feasting on the annual salmon run, up close and personal. I snapped over 8,000 photos and it will take me many weeks to find time to sort, process, and share them all. For now, I’ll post retroactively in segments – with a few preliminary/teaser photos. [I finally posted the edited photographs in November.]

Continue reading “Katmai National Park, Day 1”

Bald eagle

Our new neighbor.

As I was rowing on the river this morning, I scanned the tall riverside trees to see whether I might see anything interesting, as is my habit. Unlike other days, today I spotted the telltale white head of a bald eagle, high in the branches of a distant dead snag. I turned around, headed home, grabbed my camera, and drove up the road to that location. This was a great opportunity to test my new 800mm lens!

Canon R5 with 800mm f/11 at 1/400, ISO 500, cropped

It appears to be a somewhat immature bald eagle – not fully developed with the all-white head of an adult. It stuck around as long as I would, and beyond. I hope to see it again sometime soon.

Eagles on ice

Nothing like a deer carcass to bring everyone together.

As I drove home today along the Connecticut River I noticed a dark object out on the ice – clearly, a carcass of some unfortunate deer. It was already attracting visitors that, from a glance, appeared to include a bald eagle. I dashed home to pick up my camera. When I returned, I found three bald eagles – one mature adult, and two juveniles – enjoying the spoils of this opportunity. Several crows were nearby, but were shooed away by the eagles whenever they came too close.

A bald eagle feeds on a carcass on the ice – and scolds a crow that tries to join in.

It was interesting to see that each eagle looked quite different – even the juveniles looked very different, perhaps of different ages. I also noticed the mature eagle flying alongside one juvenile several times. Family members? or rivals? hard to tell.

A pair of Bald eagles (one immature) flying (and fighting) beside the Connecticut River.

I shot well over six hundred photos, most of them out of focus – on my first visit it was snowing heavily and the snow wreaked havoc on the camera’s autofocus mechanism. But I returned later when the snow stopped and the sun came out. I saved a dozen decent photos for you in the gallery, where you can see each of the three eagles, sometimes together.

End of summer

Summer is winding down here in New Hampshire, with a spell of beautiful weather and fantastic river conditions.  The swimming is better than I can ever remember, and the morning mists make my morning row a luscious and mysterious experience.  I haven’t has as much time for hiking this summer as I’d hoped, because we are moving to Switzerland for the coming year.  Pam and Andy moved there two weeks ago, and I depart tomorrow!   I look forward to blogging about our experiences and travels in that beautiful country.

I’ve posted a small gallery of selected photos from the summer, plus a gallery highlighting the many bald eagles I’ve had the joy to see in the area (one highlight below).  And, a gallery of raptors from a brief visit to the nearby Vermont Institute of Natural Science during their “falconry” demonstration.

Bald eagle on the Connecticut River, NH.