Category Archives: Trip reports

The Magic of Bosque del Apache: Sandhill Cranes

For my first Blog post of the new year, I want to share some images I made at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. For the last 4 years I have been making the Winter pilgrimage to this special place to photograph the amazing bird life that winters there, particularly the fabulous Sandhill Cranes. I spent 4.5 days there between Christmas and New Years and was lucky to have excellent conditions with lots of birds and wonderful light on several mornings. Photographing birds in flight is never easy, particularly when you are trying to get artistic compositions that do not have distracting elements.On this trip I managed to make a number of pleasing images that I am happy with. So to start out the new year here are the fabulous Sandhill Cranes of Bosque del Apache:

Happy Birthday to ANWR

Today December 6, 2010  marks the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. As I posted in an earlier blog entry my visit there this past  Summer  with  my friend Carl Donohue of Alaskan Alpine Treks had a profound effect on me. Bluntly stated, it needs to be preserved and remain untouched by oil and gas extraction.  It would be wonderful if President Obama would make ANWR a National Monument. It certainly deserves it.  It truly is a special place. I have  include a few more images, and  if you would like to see more  you can go to my ANWR Gallery on Photoshelter.

In Praise of the Wild: the Importance of preserving ANWR

As the month of September draws to a close and the transition to Autumn is in full swing, I find myself thinking back to the last several months of Summer and the extremely satisfying time I spent in wild places photographing the amazing beauty and life of our planet. Personally,  wilderness and wild places have  always been very important to my life and it is in such places that  my senses are most alive and  connected to world. Perhaps it was my childhood growing  up in rural Pennsylvania , where my backyard and playground were  the local woods, fields and streams, that pointed me down this path of life, but as I grow older I seem to cherish more and more the time I can spend in truly wild places. It is with a bit of sadness that I ponder the fact that so many people have never had the opportunity to experience wild places and thus do not really understand the complexities and inter-relationships of  our environment  and life on earth.  Certainly one of the goals of my photography is to try to  capture the essence and sense of place that makes up the environment of natural and wild places so that people who have no personal experience may come to appreciate the  beauty  of such areas and then may at least consider why preservation of the environment and wild places is so important.

This Summer I was able to make a trip and experience a small part of what I consider to be one our most amazing and important wilderness areas in the US, The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in  Alaska. ANWR consist of over 19 million acres  of incredible wilderness  ranging from the stunning peaks and alpine environment of the Brooks Range to the  amazing Arctic “prairie” of the arctic  coastal plain and the shores of the Beufort Sea of the Arctic Ocean. I was lucky to experience a small part of it on two week river trip on the Canning River which we rafted for over  120 miles from the Brooks Range all the way to the Arctic Ocean . I have experienced a lot of wild areas but  this trip was  absolutely incredible, dare I say almost life changing. From fabulous  alpine peaks  and  the absolutely crystal clear Marsh Fork to the vast sky and grasses of the arctic plain the entire trip was a visual delight and as a photographer, being able to work  with the amazing  quality of the  ” midnight”  low angle sun light was divine. In addition, the wildlife was incredible , particularly the large concentrations of nesting bird life on the arctic coastal plain. Having a close encounter with about 1000 caribou of the Central Arctic Herd crossing the river , some within 100 feet of us, was a sight  I will never forget.   Which brings me to the point of all this. There are some places on this earth that need to be preserved as they are and not developed on any scale, and ANWR is one of them. The threat of oil development on the Arctic Coastal plain  in the Refuge is still very real, but we must resist. There is too much to loose for a few years supply of oil. I will leave you now with a few images. They are no substitute for experiencing ANWR in person but I hope at least they can convey some of the spirit of the place.

Caribou Antlers on the Tundra, ANWR, Alaska

Caribou crossing the Canning River, ANWR, Alaska

2AM light on the Arctic Coastal Plain, ANWR, AK

The Arctic Ocean shore, ANWR, AK

Wind River Range Trip

I returned last night from a trip into the Wind River Range in Wyoming where I backpacked into the Deep Lake area from the Big Sandy Opening trail-head.  As much I like to photograph the prairie, there are times I need to return to the mountains and the alpine environment; places that are close to my heart and I came to love when I first ventured west as an undergraduate geology student at Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania. Although I have visited and traveled in many  of the mountain ranges in the West over the last 35 years, I have  not really been back to the “Winds” since I was a serious technical mountain climber back in my 20’s and 30’s. It was an immense pleasure to travel once again into what I consider to be some of  the finest  mountains in  the West and I was blessed with interesting weather and some stunning light.  The two images below were made early  in the morning on August 14 in  Deep Lake  cirque with the rugged and magnificent peaks of East Temple and Temple Peak rising over the lake. I was very fortunate to have  fabulous  early morning golden light, along with  perfectly calm conditions that allowed me to make an almost perfect reflection image of Temple Peak in the lake. It was the start of a  wonderful day in the magical environment of the alpine zone of the Wind Rivers.

Temple Peak Reflects in Deep Lake   ©Stephen Weaver

Temple Peak Reflects in Deep Lake ©Stephen Weaver

Temple and East Temple Peaks, Wind River Range   ©Stephen Weaver

Temple and East Temple Peaks, Wind River Range ©Stephen Weaver

Photo:Lake Superior Pastel Dawn

Continuing on with the sunrise – dawn light theme, I present an image from the UP of Michigan, made in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Of the two sunrises I photographed there, this is my favorite.  I was drawn to the  simple  almost minimalist layered composition and of course the beautiful pastel shades of reds, orange and blues. Of several exposures, this provided the slight wave-ripple on the water that adds strength to the composition. One other composition note: I placed the horizon right in the middle to divide the image into two major layers of water and sky, each of which have subtle layers within them bases on color tones.  Enjoy:

Lake Superior Dawn, Porcupine Mtns State Park, MI

Lake Superior Dawn, Porcupine Mtns State Park, MI ©Stephen Weaver

Photo:Nebraska Sand Hills Sunrise

One last image from Nebraska  before I move on to other images from my mid-west trip.  My absolute favorite time of day to photograph is that magic time  just at and before sunrise. If clouds are present above the horizon and the horizon is itself clear, the clouds can take on amazing colors of pinks, reds and orange as they reflect the light from the rising sun. This sunrise made at Smith Lake was fabulous and although I did not know it when I photographed it, this  would be the first of several amazing sunrises I would see and photograph in the following days.

Smith Lake Sunrise

Smith Lake Sunrise ©Stephen Weaver

Art of the Prairie: A Nebraska Sand Hills Grass Photograph

One of  the main subjects I am drawn to now in my journey to photograph the beauty of the natural world is the prairie, and the amazing textures and colors of grass that make up this often unappreciated environment. True, the prairie  and plains are  relief challenged environments and they may not bring to mind the  incredible vistas of rugged alpine  terrain, but I personally have found that if you  take the time to experience the prairie and really see it you would be astounded at the beauty that is present.  One of the goals of this web journal will be to highlight  my vison of the prairie and hopefully  illustrate  that the beauty  of nature extends well beyond spectacular the red rock country of the southwest or the  unquestionable grandeur of the mountain environment. To that end I present the next image from my recent Midwest trip.

Smooth broomgrass grows thickly around a lake in Crescent Lake NWR, Nebraska

Smooth broomgrass grows thickly around a lake in Crescent Lake NWR, Nebraska ©Stephen Weaver

Photographed in the Sand Hills of Nebraska in Crescent Lake NWR, this image highlights the luxuriant growth of grass surrounding one of the many  lakes in the refuge. I was blessed with great clouds and soft light and the different layers and textures  as well as the near-far composition help to make this a satisfying image.