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BCA News: Fall 2016

Alaskan Adventure

by Tom Hurtgen

In late August, Nancy and I embarked on a long-awaited, once-in-a-lifetime, two-week vacation in Alaska. Modes of travel included big planes, five-seater planes with bush pilots, glass-domed trains, buses, fancy boats, fishing boats, vans, and jeeps. Opportunities for photography were countless.

We explored and photographed scenes in Anchorage, Denali National Park, Seward, Kenai Fjord National Park, Glacier Bay National Park, Juneau, Tracy Arm Fjord and the Seward Glaciers. Bears and cubs, moose and calves, caribou, Dall sheep, sea lions, otters, bald eagles, puffins, dolphins and whales were all spotted in our travels. The scenery was awe-inspiring. Seeing wildlife "in the wild" was so much more of a visual treat than expected. Yes, one can visit a zoo or aquarium, but no zoo or aquarium can match a pleasant sail on a bay and the sighting of a whale blowing at the surface. Without any measure of prediction, that whale might disappear, blow once or twice more, breach or break through the surface of the water before a deep dive for feeding.

We spent the second part of our adventure with a group of ten other photographers on land and water in search of wildlife and other photo opportunities. The southeastern Alaska wilderness covers 3.3 million acres of rugged mountains, dynamic glaciers, temperate rainforest, wild coastlines and deep sheltered fjords. We spent five days around Glacier Bay National Park, which is a highlight of Alaska's Inside Passage and part of a 25-million acre World Heritage Siteā€”one of the world's largest international protected areas. From sea to summit, Glacier Bay offers limitless opportunities for adventure, inspiration and photography. Words cannot describe this vision of nature - untouched by human hand - nature pure and simple. The stillness and silence of this place was only interrupted by the rapid burst of our camera shutters clicking to capture whales breaching, glaciers calving, bald eagles soaring, puffins landing, sea lions gliding or sunning on rocks in the bay, and otters just floating along on their backs, almost oblivious to our presence. A highlight one evening was the first sighting of the season of the Northern Lights, indescribable in person.

The sharing of photo tips and practical help among the photographers was very reminiscent of BCA post-meeting photo outings. We hope you enjoy the photos and add a trip to Alaska to your bucket list!

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