A Look Back - "Haul Out" and A New Long-term Project!

I realized something, a while back. I have a bunch of photographs on this website – but most of them (my ‘older’ ones, at least) have never had their story told.

So, from time to time, I’m going to revisit some of my favorite images, and share a little about them.

If you would like to read more posts, in this series, just click the 'A Look Back' text on the right, at the top of the 'Categories' section.


I took this photo at 11:25 am, on July 14th of 2012.

It was a good day. Jena had joined me on one of my shoots aboard the Alaskan Explorer, and we were headed for Northwestern Fjord, which was actively calving.

We had just photographed a large pod of resident orca (killer whale), and I had just captured an image that would become 'Sea Wolf' (one of my favorite images of all time.

Sea Wolf

But this is not the image I want to talk about today. Maybe some other time.

Definitely, some other time.

We had just left the waters around Cheval Island, and were heading towards the Chiswell Islands. In between lies No Name Island.

Seriously, I can't make this stuff up. It's really called 'No Name Island'.

View Kenai Fjords National Park in a larger map

I knew exactly what to expect. Just off the southeastern shore of No Name Island, are a few large rock slabs that are a very popular 'haul out' for Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus).

Nearly every boat trip I've been on in the Kenai Fjords has gone by No Name Island. And every time, we pause in the area to photograph the Steller sea lions relaxing atop the stone slabs. They are not here to mate or to give birth to pups. They are here to warm in the sun (get out of the cold North Pacific Ocean) and to stay out of the mouths of predators (see 'Sea Wolf'...).

I've been by this group of rocks dozens of times, taken hundreds of photographs of the other 'guests' here.

It had just rained though, and the rocks were saturated with color. Lichens and algae had incredible, rich tones, and the sea lions shimmered with their wet skin. Looking back now, I realize that 95% of my previous shots at this location were intimate, telescopic images of single (or sometimes several) sea lions. I had never successfully captured the sea lions and their environment. With the stunning colors and overcast lighting of that day, a new composition came into focus.

I'm sure others have taken similar shots, as it's not a 'hidden' composition (especially when seen from a boat, and most visitors do not carry large lenses), but this is mine.

I hope you enjoy.

Haul Out


New Project!

Did you notice that?

I embedded a Google Map in this post. If you click on the "View A Photography Guide to Kenai Fjords National Park in a larger map" beneath it, you'll be taken to the Google Maps website. You'll notice that there are custom icons with descriptions on No Name Island.

Try zooming out. But come back here!

love Alaska.

I love talking about it, writing about it, photographing it (even on rainy days!).

I love sharing it.

In short, I'm passionate about Alaska.

I frequently get emails from traveling photographers (and some locals) asking for recommendations on photography locations, and logistics support. In the past, I've always made an effort to respond to these email requests with detailed recommendations.

Some have said, "too detailed"...

I get funny emails!

"Dave, I really want to photograph the northern lights, polar bears, humpback whales, and penguins. I'll be in Anchorage July 7-11th, can you tell me where to go?"

Hahahaha! I'm not kidding. Well... you see...

The thing is, my schedule is picking up. Big time. With my personal photo projects, writing, and off course my offering of (special, high end, small group) Alaskan photo tours. So, I can't possibly take everyone (as much as I'd love to:D). They are 'high end'... and 'small group'. And lots of people prefer to adventure on their own. I get it, to each their own.

It only hurts when I breathe...

So unfortunately, I can no longer respond to everyone looking for personal travel itineraries or location recommendations. But over the past year, I've been gathering data - and writing.

Today I am unveiling a new project, one that (if done correctly) will never end while I'm alive and passionate about Alaska. It's called the:

photography guide to alaska2

"Dave. That's ambitious..."

Hey, go big or go home. Right?

Now, I'm not nearing completion on this thing (remember the part about 'never ending...'?), but I want to get what I have finished out there, for people to start using. And offering feedback on.

I've traveled a lot in Alaska. I'm fortunate (very fortunate), my job/passion affords me the time to travel and photograph where I do. I also (because of my Alaskan photo tours) have also had the pleasure of working with many of Alaska's premier logistics partners - from guide services (like my good friends at Planet Earth AdventuresKenai Fjords Tours, MICA Guides, St. Elias Alpine Guides, and others), to flight services (hello Talkeetna Air Taxi, K2 Aviation, Rust's Flying Service, and Alpine Air, Alaska inc.), to awesome lodges (you know I mean Susitna River Lodge, Orca Adventure Lodge, Seward's Holiday Inn Express, Alpine Creek Lodge, and the Lodge at Black Rapids!).

Whew. Been there, done that!

Not all of it, mind you. Not nearly... I'm always trying new places!

This is the basic concept. Today I'm launching a new section of the website, you'll find it riiiiiight up there, yep, under the logo in the menu. Under 'Photography Guide to Alaska', you'll find regional and location specific guides. Not much up there right now (for on-site content), but rest assured I'm working hard at getting more stuff up. Much more. And soon.

I have two maps up, so far ('A Photography Guide to Kenai Fjords National Park', and 'A Photography Guide to the Seward Highway'). I'm nearly finished with the 'A Photography Guide to the Glenn Highway', and 'A Photography Guide to the Denali Highway'. Next up will be the 'A Photography Guide to the Richardson Highway'. These maps will be embedded in their own pages, with information and galleries, photography tips, travel tips, and logistics recommendations. And a whole lot more. Each page (location specific, and regional) also has the ability for you to leave a comment! Have a question? If I can't answer it, maybe one of the other readers can. Have a recommendation from your own travels, or have your experiences not matched the hype? That's what the comments are for. Did you eat a great meal somewhere in these areas? I love food (a little too much, some might say...). I may have started this project, but I'd love for it to turn into a collaborative effort.

We're going to cover everything from day trips to multi-day and multi-week adventures. The goal is to help you make your Alaskan adventure even more successful. We'll feature location-specific guides: Cordova, Denali National Park, Anchorage, Turnagain Arm, Wiseman, Seward, Homer, etc. You get the picture. Each one with its own recommendations. It's going to be the 'Be All, End All, Guide to Alaska (for photographers)'. But not right away, it's going to take some work - and input on your part.

The best part is - it's all free. Now, I have included a donate button, for those that want to chip in: help me pay for gas (we have some of the most expensive gas in the country, despite a lot of it originating right here...), buy me a cup of coffee (to keep me awake on these trips), or just to help out of the kindness of their souls. It's not mandatory - it's just there 'if the spirit of adventure (and giving) moves you':)

I return to these locations frequently, and repeatedly. So I'll be updating the content as we go. Things change, views change (just went back to Exit Glacier for the first time in 3 years... my goodness has that changed!), and services change. Roads change and improve, some get worse. It is Alaska after all. Photography styles change, needs change, perspectives change, logistics partners change and grow. This is to help inform you of those changes. And you can help with that by commenting in the appropriate areas!

Most importantly, it's going to be a blast. I can't think of a better way of continuing to help out traveling photographers. Yes, it's small right now. But just like Alaska, it all wasn't seen in one day.

Start your adventure, here.