|The Great One, Alaska
What follows is a piece I wrote for myself after my first two-week shooting trip to Alaska. I wrote it while I was on the road at the end of each day. I've never published it until now.
Summer is coming up and now's a great time to make your plans to visit The Great One. While the camera gear I would take today has changed, the rest of the information explains how I love to tour Alaska. Sit back, turn up the stereo and travel with me to one of my favorite parts of the world!
Editor's Note: Moose has a lifetime of experience working in the field with wild animals and has a thorough understanding of their biology and behavior. In this case he had the opportunity to work with a biologist, expert in moose behavior. Unless you have similar expertise you should never attempt to get as close to wildlife as he describes here.
We arrived in Anchorage filled with excitement on a sunny day. My wife and I had never explored this land to the north, although we had always wanted to. Our friends had come back from their adventures with all sorts of magical stories of things seen, paths taken. Now finally, here we were to see those things and take those paths. But nothing our friends had told us prepared us for what we saw or where we went for those magical two weeks in the great one, Alaska!
Coming from the grandeur of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California where we live, with their majestic granite peaks and alpine meadows, Alaska's country seemed gigantic! Nothing primed us for the vast expanse of wilderness rushing out from our feet stopping hundreds of miles away at the base of a giant range of snow-capped mountains. No friends' stories hinted at the incredible beauty the fall color brings to this wilderness as the yellows of the birch trees carpet the land as like nothing we had ever seen. Within two hours of landing in Alaska we knew it would take us a lifetime to get to know this majestic land of the north.
We immediately headed for the car rental and left with my favorite rental car - a Club Wagon van. I like the space and the height above the ground, which enables me to see more, and the large doors I can shoot through while staying out of the rain. Together these things make it a great photographer's vehicle. We made a quick stop at a bookstore and picked up a current copy of The Milepost and Alaska Atlas & Gazetteer which greatly helped us to understand the lay of the land and take advantage of its many attractions, both man made and natural. After that, we were on our way.
Photographing Alaska is a bigger challenge than the state itself. There are so many incredible images from Alaska already being enjoyed by all, that I felt my challenge even mightier than any normal assignment. That was until I set foot in the state because as we traveled the roads and saw the beauty around us for ourselves, the passion led to communication, which led to photography. The unfolding of our two-week adventure is like a John Muir adventure, having just hints of what's in store but being totally overwhelmed by the reality. Let me take you along for my first travels with a camera through what I hope some day will be my best friend, Alaska.
Our first destination was the Kenai Peninsula where I had heard a white moose cow had been seen. I don't know what it is about moose, but I have a real attraction to them and I found our time in Alaska a great way to satisfy that desire. As a matter of fact, the real purpose of our two-week trip to Alaska was to photograph moose, which as you're about to find out, was more incredible than we could have ever imagined! So with my trusty F5 and Tokina 300f2.8 ATX lens safely resting in my lap, off we went.
Heading south on Hwy 1, in a blink of an eye, we were traveling beside Cook Inlet. Created by a mighty glacier during the ice age, a block of ice as tall as 4,000 feet and perhaps as long as 50 miles, carved out the spectacular view we enjoy today. The inlet was named for the first known white explorer to reach here, Captain James Cook. He charted the waters in 1778 and named the eastern most end of the inlet Turnagain Arm for obvious reasons.
As you meander southward on Hwy 1, you circumnavigate the inlet, exposing you to new wonders at every turn. First you'll notice the incredible sand bars stretching way out into the inlet. And if you park along the shore perhaps at Bird Creek to watch the Beluga Whales passing, you might see the tide either come in or go out. The tides here go out at a world record of 36 feet and with a force that has sadly taken many lives.
During the summer months along this stretch of the inlet, Bald Eagles congregate, taking advantage of smaller salmon runs, making the time fly as you watch their antics. If you turn around and look at the cliffs, you'll more than likely see Dall Sheep right next to the road!
We traveled on down the road, passing Portage Glacier, which is spectacular, and headed into the wilderness known as the Kenai. After downloading our gear into our room at the Best Western in Soldotna, we immediately headed for the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters. Here we gobbled up more materials and information to help us on our search for the white moose. We spent the afternoon traveling the roads around the Soldotna - Kenai area checking for the moose. It was getting late when we stopped at a small lake park on the outskirts of Soldotna. I found fresh moose tracks in the mud so we followed them around the lake a short distance. We hadn't gotten far when we heard a ruckus coming from the water.
We rounded a small point to find an immature Bald Eagle attempting to grab a goldeneye duck for a meal. Now Bald Eagles can effectively hunt such prey, but typically the duck is either tired from migration or not in the peak of health. The two ducks this eagle was trying to grab were neither and easily avoided each swoop the immature eagle made on them by diving under the surface of the lake. Now if I was an eagle, I think I would have figured out after the second attempt that these were healthy and smart ducks. But not this eagle who was really showing his inexperience at hunting!
We watched the eagle make attempt after attempt at picking off these ducks from the water. When we saw the eagle's first attempt, I figured that would be the only attempt but then it made the second attempt and for a moment I thought of running back to get the F5 and 600mm lens, but the light level was so low, the eagle and ducks dark, that I would have too slow a shutter speed to capture the action. So I opted just to watch the show and what a show it was. Time after time, the eagle swooped on the ducks, they in turn diving for safety. After many, many attempts the eagle perched on the top of a pine, collecting its thoughts it seemed. Then it would start all over again, repeatedly diving on the ducks. When we left forty-five minutes later, the eagle was still trying to grab those ducks!
As we walked back to the van, my wife saw something in the water, maybe ten feet out from shore. The water being so clear and the lake so shallow, the object could be seen, but it took a moment to figure out what the strange shape happened to be. It was the head of a young bull moose, just a couple of points still wrapped in velvet. It was hunting season and it seemed the maker of the fresh tracks we had followed had come to an untimely end. Heading back into town a little bummed, we hoped a nice, hot, delicious meal would shake the scene from our memory.
We arrived back in Soldotna to Sal's for dinner. We parked and walked towards the entrance of the restaurant to find another moose head, this time a big bull in the back of a person's pickup truck. It's important to understand that for many in Alaska, subsistence hunting and fishing is a very important way of life. The owner of this truck also had a number of giant ice chests filled most likely with moose meat which I can personally attest to as being excellent eating.
We found Alaskans to be incredibly friendly folks so we asked our waitress questions in regards to moose and the white moose in particular. Our waitress was so helpful, telling us about moose down on Cohoe Road and that a white cow had been seen at Nikiski. We talked about the moose head in the truck, the one in the water and moose in general on the Kenai. She provided us with some very interesting food for thought. She said that with the increase in human activities in the area, she felt that the moose were being driven back further into the wilderness and perhaps not doing as well. She said other than those that hide on her property during the hunting season, she doesn't see them as often as she use to. Her insights did help us decide our travels the next day as we started to venture back towards Anchorage.
With our only moose sighting being a cow beside the road, we were hungry to see one up close and personal. So we headed out in the morning full of hopes for our day's adventure. Just a little ways outside of town, we turned off on a dirt road, Skilak Lake Loop. We didn't know it, but we had just entered a magical realm of sights, sounds and colors uniquely Alaskan. As we traveled down the dirt road, we were surrounded by the blazing Alaskan fall color, so spectacular that even a photograph scarcely does justice to its brilliance! We traveled just a short distance when we came to an Alaska State Park on Skilak Lake.
We got out and with my 17mm attached to my F5 and we headed over to explore the edge of the lake. We were overwhelmed by the size and grandeur of the lake that lay stretching before us. The opposite shore seemed to be miles away, the fall color lining it in a ring of yellow. With my Tiffen warm circular polarizer attached to the 17mm, I started shooting up a storm. The first thing I did was to dial in +1/3 compensation to the camera. I do this not because the camera's meter is being fooled, but to lighten up the scene so it doesn't have that stereo typical polarized look.
I should back up and tell you why I was using a polarizer in the first place. I use the polarizer to remove reflections and in this case, remove the reflection of Alaska's brilliant blue sky from the bright yellow leaves of the birch. Seeing this "removal" of blue is not easy for someone who has not correctly applied a polarizer to a scene. Most folks turn the polarizer until the sky turns blue, but this is not always going to remove the reflections from everything else in the scene. The best way I know of describing this in writing is to recommend that you watch something brown, like the ground and turn the polarizer until the brown ground turns a warm chocolate color from an otherwise cold dirt color. Now depending on your orientation to the sun, properly polarizing to remove reflections might or might not turn the sky blue. In either case, your colors come alive and etch themselves into the film when polarizing correctly.
We roamed the lake's shore to the haunting calls of a Yellow-throated Loon far out from shore. Eventually we came to a sign informing us that Skilak Lake is an important layover for the salmon heading up the Kenai River, which feeds and drains the lake. The sign also informed us that the temperature of the lake is such that those who fall overboard could be in serious trouble in a matter of minutes. It's hard to remember that the glaciers we see far off in the distance are the source of the water, water so cold that death can occur in a matter of minutes under the wrong circumstances. This momentary shock back to reality quickly passed as we wandered the lake's edge, taking in the splendor before us. After a long time and many rolls of film, we reluctantly got back in the van and headed down the road.
There were many stops as we traveled further along the road. Referring to The Milepost we had picked up, we learned much about the region we were so enjoying. We came around a bend to a pullout in the road where the dense forest that lined the road was glowing so brightly as to tint everything with yellow had opened up. We had to pull over, not because of some obstruction, but because of the immense beauty of the scene stretching out before us. Here was a beautiful landscape; probably extending further than our imaginations, that we felt was truly the Kenai.
A mile or so out was Hidden Lake, which all by itself is a reflection pool of life, but surrounding it is the Kenai wilderness with all its colors, shapes, and beauty bombarding all the senses. From where we stood, we could see two lone white forms on the lake's surface. Pulling out our Kenko Profield 70 Spotting Scope, we realized the two white forms were actually two graceful Tundra Swans, paddling about on the lake probably captured by the beauty as we were since they should have left on migration long ago. Moments like this, I sometimes have to kick myself to remember that I'm a photographer and I should be capturing what I see and feel on film. Snapping back to reality, I grabbed my F5 loaded with Agfa RSX 100, a Nikkor 70-180 macro zoom and polarizer, feasting my film on the banquet set before us. And then we just stopped, mesmerized by a unique beauty we had never experienced before. It was with regret that we pushed on down the road, but don't think for a moment that scene wasn't exposed on the thin emulsion of our minds, forever.
We left the dirt road that we had so fallen in love with and headed back on Hwy 1 towards Anchorage. We passed Cooper Landing where in June, I had spent literally my first three days in Alaska, and where my dear friend had taken me fishing for salmon in the Russian River. He had instilled in me the immense desire to know Alaska better. We traveled past the calm beauty of Tern Lake, reflecting not only the expanse of Kenai's beauty and fall color, but also the calm that comes over one traveling through this incredible wilderness. We were heading back to Anchorage to present our national Walk Softly but Carry a Big Lens seminar where I'm supposed to be teaching others but as so often happens, I was taught something.
You have to keep in mind that I was bent set on photographing moose on this trip and up to this point, while overwhelmed with the beauty we'd seen, I hadn't yet photographed a moose! At the seminar I was talking with one of the participants who was a local. Talking with him about his ideas for the next day's photo shoot, he mentioned Kincaid Park saying he had seen at least ten moose at the park the past week on one of his bike rides. Well, that was good enough for me to have the group of participants meet the next morning at 06:00am to walk the park. Just driving to the park, which runs beside the Anchorage International Airport and is as downtown Anchorage as you can get, we saw more moose than on our trip to the Kenai! I was pumped!
In the parking lot of the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail in the predawn light, I set up my F5, Tokina 300f2.8 ATX lens (killer lens by the way) slipping it into my Arca Swiss B2 head supported by my faithful Gitzo 1548 Carbon Fiber tripod (this lightweight but rock solid tripod makes walking ten miles as we did this day, a whole lot easier). This very lightweight but incredibly light photo system is an essential part of my success when shooting. As the group was setting up, a cow and calf moose wandered over the knoll and down to the pond right in front of us. Wow!
Even though the sun hadn't even come over the horizon, let alone lit up this little pond, my shutter was flying! Here's where the f2.8 of the Tokina 300mm lens really comes in handy, making every ounce of light count (keep in mind depth-of-field is really limited at this f/stop). Even though I was shooting at a shutter speed of about 1/15, the scene quickly unfolding before us had to be captured. When the two moose got to the edge of the pond and began to drink, I ripped the film. I learned long ago that film was the least expensive part of photography, so I never hesitate to rip it. The cow and calf were only at the edge for a moment before continuing on with their travels. All I could think was, "moose, moose, moose, they must be everywhere, I'm in heaven." The trail was heaven, but we walked a long ways and didn't see a moose again.
That is until we had hit the three mile mark and were venturing back. We'd stopped many times to photograph the fall color, mushrooms and other floral novelties when we came across the same cow and calf, a long ways from where we first photographed them. They were resting amongst a grove of beautiful birch, all ablaze in yellow. The sun had come up but was hiding behind the lofty clouds covering the Alaskan Range. With care and caution, watching the reactions of the subjects, we eased our way fifteen feet into the grove where the two rested. We were just twenty feet away from them, resting and watching us as we shot away. The yellow of the leaves reflecting their warmth into the fur of the moose really helped warm up the otherwise cool overcast light. As the calf stood up and walked towards us, apparently as curious about us as we were in photographing him, he stopped to pose, setting off a burst of shutters.
The first trivia I passed on to the group photographing these moose was to watch the subject. The moose would tell us by their behavior if we were doing something wrong. Watching the ears of the cow for example lets us know when she is not pleased; if they go back against her head, we need to stop. Next, I informed the folks that in overcast light I dial in +1/3 compensation. I do this to lighten up the scene, talking advantage of the even, mellow light source but brightening up everything so it doesn't look like an overcast day. I personally like photographing big game in overcast light, mellowing out the shadows, making the guard hairs in the fur glisten. The film flew for a solid ten minutes when I motioned for us to back off and let the moose enjoy their serenity. After this encounter, how could it get any better?
That afternoon we drove to the other end of the coastal trail and to Kincaid Park proper. The light was that rich, warm fall sun I love to shoot in. Our new friend Pete from Anchorage knew I wanted moose, so he asked all his friends coming off the trail if they had seen moose. Even though he had gotten a negative response to his question, I decided to travel down one path if for no other reason than to photograph the fall color. My gut feeling, which I follow so often when looking for wildlife told me something was out there; we just needed to find it. Well, someone was looking out for us because we had traveled only a short distance down the trail when a cow and calf moose emerged from the brush beside the trail.
My wife being so good at finding subjects while I'm concentrating on other subjects, had heard the moans of the cow before ever seeing them. She alerted me just in time as the cow, emerging first, followed by the calf came towards us. Oh, we were in pig heaven as we blasted through film! The cow and calf were backlit, which for many camera meters can be a nightmare. The overcast light greatly helped minimize the contrast backlighting can cause in these situations. The dark fur of the moose, when backlit, can fool a meter so that exposure compensation must be dialed in. But shooting with the F5, I had the luxury of just shooting, and that's just what I did until…until the bull emerged!
We didn't understand until the next week why the cow was moaning, but it was because the bull was nearby. A good lesson why knowing the basic biology of your subject is so important! Here came the bull, walking right towards us, backlit in the low light of the afternoon surrounded by the dying foliage of fall. To say the group and I were entranced is an understatement. With the Tokina 300f2.8 and a Hoya A2 warming filter inserted, I blasted away as the bull kept wandering closer and closer. Then, the bull stopped in an ideal locale and started to feed. Oh my! The film ripped as all of us were so excited to photograph this majestic creature. It couldn't get any better…or could it?
The threesome wandered off and we tried to follow, but to no avail as the moose headed into shrubs where man does not belong. I found out quickly that the folks of Anchorage have a real healthy respect for the moose and deservedly so as a number of folks are seriously hurt each year and some are killed by moose. So we ambled down the trail to photograph the fall color. We came back while there was just a hint of light to find the cow and calf, resting beside the trail. And as the sun set on another incredible day, the calf and cow posed for us for one last time, leaving all of us with great images and memories!
The next day we're on the road again, my wife and I up early, heading for the mecca for wildlife photographers, Denali National Park and Preserve. Our drive north on Hwy 3 was spectacular! We got out of Anchorage and hit Eklutna when what seemed the entire Alaskan Range unfolded before us. I looked up the range to see if Mt McKinley was visible, but no luck today. Surrounded by the beauty of fall, we proceeded on, stopping at a gas station at Trapper Creek. After paying for the gas and filling up on coffee, we were walking out the door when I saw this marvelous photograph of a white moose! To say I stopped in my tracks is an understatement, that poor clerk didn't know what had happened as I started to ask questions. Unfortunately, I couldn't find out where this photo was taken, but with renewed hope from this photo and the past weekend, off we ventured.
After what seemed like hours of driving in solid yellow, the highway took a turn and the world opened up before us. We were in the Chulitna River Valley where we could see forever! We could see incredible forests where the fall color was much less intense, river systems, mountains, and unfortunately, clouds! Our beautiful sun was now hidden behind clouds and in front of us it was snowing. Onward we drove until arriving at the Denali Princess Lodge, our home for the next week and what a homey place it is! We had no sooner unloaded our luggage and restocked my backpack when we were on the road in Denali National Park.
I don't know about you folks, but I've been waiting to explore Denali with my camera for a long time. We weren't disappointed either as we found it to be everything we imagined, only grander! On our very first ride we came around a corner to find a group of Spruce Grouse awaiting us. We pulled over to the side of the road to watch. It was dark, snow starting to fall and on the edge of a forest but I pulled out my F5 with Tokina 400f5.6 ATX just to see if maybe I could get a shot or two of these magnificent birds. But it was too dark, so we enjoyed them for a little while before venturing further.
We got to the ten-mile marker when we spotted a cow moose beside the road. She was munching away on the willow as we slowly approached, then parked beside the road. With the F5 and Tokina 300f2.8 attached, I started to shoot. She was wearing a telemetry collar, which I found very interesting. With the snow falling, I shot from inside the van. From previous experience, I knew that to capture the snow falling I would need a dark background so the white snow would pop and a slow shutter speed so the falling snow would look like it was falling in a still image. With an 81a warming filter in use (A2 filter) to compensate for the color of the gray light and by dialing in +1/3 compensation, I got to work; now, I started to really enjoy the experience before us! This cow was joined by a second, non-collared cow and they grazed until slowly moving off into thick willows where we could no longer see them. A local had told us that to find a moose, climb a tree, and he was right. These monster animals seem to instantly disappear in the willows before your very eyes! With the increase in snowfall, we decided to head back to the warmth and comfort of the restaurant at the Denali Princess Lodge and start out early the next day.
On the road the next day, we saw more and more moose cows but as you can imagine, it was the bulls that I really wanted to photograph. I was just saying that very thing when a bull emerged from some spruce trees on the taiga. At this very same time, a good friend and outstanding photographer Kennan Ward came driving down the road. And in what seemed like a matter of minutes (more like a couple of hours of talking and catching up) we were surrounded by moose! The beginning of the rut for the moose had begun and the makings of a harem was about us. The one bull turned into three, none huge monsters, but still beautiful creatures to me. A local told me that moose are cute when first born and then get uglier every day there after.
At this same time, my friend introduced me to the lead researcher working with the moose, Vic Van Ballenberghe. I like to work with biologists whenever I can and here was a great resource as the biologist so kindly answered my questions and helped me better understand the moose and what we were seeing. The dark skies and dark moose in the dark forest didn't make for any photographic possibilities, but what I learned while listening to the biologist and by watching would serve me well in a couple of days.
We ran into our good friend Kennan the next day while traveling the road. Kennan has spent a few decades in the park and was an invaluable resource to us sourdoughs. There were little small brown signs that said something like, "Wildlife viewing ahead, park on the right shoulder and view from the road." There was no obvious wildlife to us, so I asked Kennan "what's up?"
He explained that a week prior, two big bull moose had been hanging out there. These very photographable subjects had deservedly gained the attention of some photographers. There seemed to have been one photographer who, not heeding the warning of the other photographers, harassed the bulls to the point where he was issued a citation. Right after that, the area was closed to everyone because the bulls' welfare was more important than a photograph. That's how it should be, no photograph is worth risking the welfare of the subject! It's just sad when one person has to ruin it for all!
We traveled on each day, looking for moose, learning more and more about Denali. Each experience seemed so like a gift, like when we were out looking at Dall Sheep high on a ridge when we heard wolves, howling in the distance. Or the time we came around the corner and found ourselves amongst one hundred Willow Ptarmigan. The state bird of Alaska, they are brown in summer and white in winter and this group was in between, changing out their summer plumage for their winter dress. Shooting from the van with the F5, Tokina 400f5.6 on Agfa RSX 100 film with +1/3 compensation was like shooting fish in a barrel. These spectacular birds just went on about their daily lives as I blasted roll after roll after roll of film. But nothing had prepared me for the experience coming the next day, the last day before going home.
The day started out like all the others. We drove the road, heading down to Savage River and beyond, turning around, constantly looking out for moose to photograph. We'd seen cows here and there, saw Caribou way off in the distance, watched the Dall Sheep on the ridge, but no big bulls. We drove back down the road when my wife saw out in the taiga a flash of canoes (the rack of a bull moose) of a monster bull! You can probably still find where that spot is by the black tire marks on the road.
We parked, I got out my 600mm lens and set up, but the bull was too far away, the light too dark. So we sat, watched the bull and seven cows slowly emerging as they stood up, what was his harem, and waited to see what would unfold. We watched a young bull for a long time, not even a tenth of the size of the big bull, try to snatch a cow for himself. The big bull chased and chased the younger bull at his each attempt until the big bull tiring of the whole thing, chased his butt a long ways away. After that, we sat for a couple of hours as the moose stayed way out in the taiga, just munching away.
It was getting late, the light overcast and the moose hadn't moved. I talked with the biologist who was there watching as well and asked if these guys would get any closer. I discussed an idea I had for getting closer to photograph them which he said would work and not upset the moose, but with the light the way it was, I saw no reason to head out. I had all but given up hope when my wife spotted another monster bull emerge from the forest far to the east. The bull was heading straight for the group of cows and the big bull we'd been watching! We sat there and watched as the bull got closer, were the two bulls going to fight? Would the bull with the harem chase after this other monster bull? We could hardly wait the few minutes to find out the answer. At this same time, the sun was trying to break out from behind the clouds, the light was getting brighter!
Much to our amazement, the monster bull walked right past the harem and other bull without even a glance. But then it dawned on me, the monster bull was heading straight for the large dry riverbed and was going to cross it! I grabbed my F5, Tokina 300f2.8, mounted it on the Gitzo 1548 and went off down the road. I got to the river bed and started to quickly walk down it. I saw tracks of moose and grizzly in the soft mud, making me keenly aware of my surroundings. I walked as fast as I could and just when I thought I was about where the moose might emerge, I heard the moan of a cow just like in Anchorage a few days prior. I bolted across to the other side of the riverbed, hoping the bull would come out of the willows and walk towards me. I no sooner had reached the other side, hadn't even put down the tripod when the bull emerged from the willows.
I was shaking, not because I was scared but because I was so excited! Two weeks had led up to my being in the right place at the right time with a monster bull. Well, that big old bull looked right into my eyes and without a blink of an eye dismissed me and came walking straight at me. I tried to get some shots off, but that big old boy just walked right at me until finally he was so close I couldn't focus on him. He walked towards me with such dignity, I was completely awe struck. The bull passed by me only four feet away, looking down on me as he passed (I'm 6'2"), so close I could smell his musky fur and hear his breath as he faded into the willows. With his total lack of concern, I decided to follow the bull until I was about thirty feet into the dense willow. At which point I heard a "gruff, gruff" sound which sounded to me more like a grizzly than a bull moose, so out I went lickity split! The walk back to the van was one of the happiest I can remember because even though I didn't think I had captured "the" photo, I had "the" experience of a lifetime, one I will never forget!
It was with great sadness we packed that night to head home. The slow process of packing camera gear into the Lowepro Pro Roller 2, making sure all was secure while having room for all the new books we had acquired (17 in all) allowed me the luxury of thinking back on our magical two weeks. Our finds on the Kenai, our time with the city moose in Anchorage, the blaze of color of the Alaska autumn, and the experiences in Denali, all came rushing back as the last piece of gear was cleaned and packed in my backpack for the flight home. This was one killer trip that neither my wife nor I would ever forget!
You might have expected an article on photography to have a lot more "how to's" than you found here. There are many sources for finding out the how's and what's of photography such as previous issues of Audubon or my website www.moose395.net, but the challenge for us all is in actually getting out and applying what we know. The wilds of America and Alaska in particular, scream that we do just that, get out and explore, explore with our camera where our passions take us! I went to Alaska with a very set agenda, to photograph just moose, which quickly changed as Alaska took over our hearts. While I have provided some basics in photography, more importantly, I hopefully have grabbed your heartstrings so you want to explore Alaska for yourself, with camera in hand. As you venture through the vast land and its many hidden treasures, you'll come to find for yourself why I think of Alaska as The Great One!