Denali National Park

Having returned from a trip to photograph the majesty of Denali National Park, I sat down to write a piece to go along with the posting of a photograph.

Yes, I have photographed Denali, but how can I possibly write about it?

I could take the angle of humor.

About how my wife imagined that our ride into and out of the park for 12 hours and 185 miles round trip was going to be on a luxury tour bus with huge windows and a glass rooftop and on-board restroom and a gourmet lunch and hors d’oeuvres, when it was actually only a repainted school bus.

About how the bus driver, who was also the tour commentator, kept repeating himself and constantly telling us to buckle our seat belts.

About the 15 or so stops where someone on the bus would shout “STOP!” when they thought they saw a bear, actually showed up as a slightly moving brown dot some ¾ mile from the road.

About how when we got to Reflection Lake, the water was rippled and the top half of the mountain was hidden by clouds, and the bus driver said, ”This is called Reflection Lake, but today it is just ‘Lake’”.

Vast and High

“Vast and High” – Denali National Park

But instead of humor, I want to write about the beauty, and yet how can mere words do it justice?

My puny photographs try to do it some justice in this pitifully limited thing we do with our cameras and software.

I try by taking several images and merging them together into a wide panorama, with the only way of indicating the scale of the scene is by including a small bit of road in the corner of the frame.

Nearing Denali

“Nearing Denali” – Denali National Park

I am perplexed knowing that my making a photograph takes what I love and have seen in person, and shrinks it.  I have made the beauty smaller.

But also, I have made it possible for me to see it again, here on my phone or my computer or in a print on my wall.

By creating a photograph, I have made it possible to be reminded of that day and that sight by my image of it.  And, I have made it possible, in some small way, to let the viewers of my art in on something they may never see in person.

Come on Up and See Me Sometime

“Come on Up and See Me Sometime” – Denali National Park

And not seeing it in person is a fact of life.

We cannot go and see everything because of the limits of time, money, health, access.

Someday, there will be fully developed VE (virtual experience) technology that enables one to visit almost anywhere in the world, by simply driving over to a VE Realitorium and buying a ticket.  VE will allow us to “feel” like we are climbing around the hills beneath the mountains of Denali, “feel” the gentle breezes of walking through low-lying clouds, “smell” the scent of pine trees.

All without having to ride a school bus on a one lane road 92 miles in, 6 hours in and 6 hours out, driving 2 hours from Fairbanks to the Denali Park entrance, flying 12 hours from Chicago to Seattle to Fairbanks, fiddling and searching the internet to make airline reservations and bus reservations and hotel reservations, and spending  the money to pay for all this.

So yes, God bless technology and the artists and creators of it.  If they can create a VE Denali Trip — the views and smells and sounds of this beautiful place – and I can have it by simply hopping over to our local VE Realitorium, I would definitely do it!

Until then, I will enjoy my humble photographs, and those of other photographers, bringing me the beauty of these wondrous places.

Enjoy more images of Denali in the North America Portfolio.

Denali Fall Color

“Denali Fall Color” – Denali National Park

Majesty Doubled

Majesty Doubled

Majesty Doubled, Sierra Nevada mountains near Bishop, california

This photograph could have been called “Persistence”.

Not the persistence of mountains, not the persistence of trees, not the persistence of water and clouds.

This location is not in any Guide Book or Google Map.  It’s not on anyone’s GPS tracking device.  This location — the place where I was standing to make this photograph — was discovered through Persistence.

And it was not discovered by MY persistence but by my friend Steve Ornberg‘s persistence!

After a long day of mostly cloudy skies, the sun came out and we wanted to drive around and see what we could find.  I hiked into a field for an hour and had a really mediocre composition of a cotton wood tree from a really bad angle.  I was fed up and wanted to quit for the day.

Then good old Steve, as we were driving back to our hotel, said “Hey, I wonder what’s up this way.”

We followed a nondescript dirt road for about a hundred yards and came upon an irrigation pond that served as a perfectly positioned reflecting pond.  It doubled the majesty of the Eastern Sierra mountains in the west.

Majesty Doubled!

North Lake Sunrise

North Lake Sunrise

Sunrise on North Lake, Eastern Sierra, Near Bishop, California

“My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.”

– Michael J. Fox

I could have become very unhappy on this trip because of a certain expectation — that the aspen leaves would have been present on the trees, creating a bright yellow band on the distant shoreline.

Instead, the leaves were gone, wiped away by a winter storm the day before.

Instead, an even more glorious show of yellow beyond my expectations appeared, reflected in the icy covering on North Lake.

Instead, I experienced and accepted this marvelous morning with great gratitude and happiness.

Isle Au Haut

Isle Au Haut I

Isle Au Haut I, Acadia National Park

Isle Au Haut takes some work and planning to get to. It is an island off the coast of Maine, one of the southernmost parts of Acadia National Park. It is visited by taking a ferry from the town of Stonington, ME. Not everyone will have the time or the resources to visit here in their lifetime, yet it is an unspoiled reminder of what this continent looked like to the first settlers arriving from Europe.

The effort in getting to Isle Au Haut brought to mind a comment my niece Paula Potocki wrote about my published Zion National Park photograph titled “Canyon Spring”:

Breathtaking!!! Thank you for sharing your talent once again, it is an honor. Most people will never get a chance to experience the wonders that are in our world. You are able to capture and share them so that others may explore the possibilities that are all around them. You are opening their eyes with your gift

It is a blessing to me to be able to share this beauty with those who, for whatever reason, cannot or will not get to and experience these places in person. If you know someone whose day would be brighter by viewing these images, or by having something beautiful from nature portrayed on their wall, please pass this along. It is an easy way to help people have hope, take in beauty, and perhaps be inspired to travel to these sights in their imagination, or in their physical future.

Thank you for viewing my work, for helping share this work with others, and for the many kind words of appreciation you have shared back to me.

Stonington Harbor I

Stonington Harbor I, The Coast of Maine

Stonington Harbor I, The Coast of Maine

What am I doing climbing around between lobster traps and seaweed piles on the edges of Stonington Harbor on the coast of Maine?

This whole photography thing started out as a way to make pictures of my children, to capture their various physical forms in two dimensions as a record of where they (and I) had been as they quickly grew up.  Then I began to notice the incredible physical forms on earth — mountains and canyons and waterfalls and vast deserts.  Then it became simply a reason to get out alone and enjoy nature, to forget my self while wondering at all the variety of beauty and physical forms we live with.

But it is more than that.  A puzzle, a game, a challenge to focus my mind and seeing.  To see what can be beautiful in a rectangular frame.  To look at it again later in my development studio and see the image shooting its light back at me.

It is also a way to bring joy to others.  I know I don’t always hear from he hundreds of people who do enjoy my images.  So many are so busy, and so bombarded by the day-to-day digital  deluge of sights and sounds.

There is joy in feeding a hungry duck.  Sometimes the duck is me — shooting and seeing the images shoot back again on a digital screen.  Sometimes the duck is you, my sharing with you, you sharing with me.

As we get older, we need to stay connected to life, or the body will begin to decay and let go of it.  I use photography to stay connected to life.   And hopefully it helps me stay connected to you.  During this season of Gratitude, I am blessed by  your Light, my  friend, and by  the Joy of simply seeing and being a part of Life.