Arizona to Alaska

I made it to Anchorage but the journey there was quite interesting. Our flight out of Phoenix was delayed an hour due to our pilots arriving late but while we were waiting on the tarmac, I saw this interesting sight. After a quick text of this image to a pilot friend of mine, I found out that when a captain retires, he receives this welcoming reception of the water tunnel from local firefighters as he finishes his last flight. What a special and emotional honor. I was glad our flight was delayed so I could witness this touching event. We then got underway and as we left Phoenix in the darkness, I spotted an orange glow off to the east. For those of us who live in the valley, we are very away of the huge wildfire burning up the Superstition Mountains. As of June 20, it was over 50,000 acres and the valley was filled with a haze. From the sky, it was heartbreaking to see the actual fire from so far away. You can see it in my iPhone image as a orange dot on the left side of the image.

The 5.5 hour flight after that was uneventful and as we approached Anchorage, I took some quick phone shots at midnight of the spectacular sunrise/sunset. I’m not sure which one to call it but it was beautiful in between the clouds and over the snow-covered mountains below.

Once we descended through the clouds, I got a better view of Anchorage and a rain storm off to the left of the image. It was beautiful and the island in the foreground had windmills dotting the land.

The next day was a day to explore Anchorage, meet the group and prepare for the next 5 days in Lake Clark. Lake Spenage behind the hotel was beautiful and served as a runway for all the sea planes!

Since I haven’t been around sea planes, I was fascinated and walked around part of the lake to get some shots of the planes docked along the edges of the lake.

There were even little shacks and houses next to the lake where the planes were docked. They looked really cozy and all of them had beautiful flowering plants!

I watched several of the sea planes taking off and landing. Please click on the video below to see one of them take off.

We are heading to Lake Clark soon to go find some grizzlies! Stay tuned!

From Antarctica to Alaska

Image: Emperor penguin chick, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm at 500 mm, f/8.0, 1/1000, ISO 400, hand-held.

As I prepare to leave for Alaska today, I wanted to share one more post on the Emperor penguin chicks before I turn my attention to the Alaskan wildlife–grizzlies, eagles and more! The Emperor penguin chicks spend a lot of time on their tummies while on the sea ice and were a pleasure to watch.

Continue reading “From Antarctica to Alaska”

Great Gallery Reception and Exciting News!

The past three days have been some of the best this year! Two amazing events happened that I wanted to share with you all. Art Intersection, a very nice fine art gallery in downtown Gilbert, Arizona, hosted an artist’s reception for their All Art Arizona display. My last blog detailed this event and my work that was chosen for it, and it turned out to be a huge success. Hundreds of people showed up to look at all the art. I was so touched to see many friends and followers of this blog show up and surprise me. It was hard to hold back tears at times so I just jumped up and down instead. 🙂 .

Continue reading “Great Gallery Reception and Exciting News!”

Art Intersection Gallery Reception June 15, 2019–Come Visit!

I’m very excited and honored to share that one of my Antarctica Emperor penguin photos was chosen to be part of a juried exhibit at the art gallery, Art Intersection, in Gilbert, Arizona!!! The exhibition features Arizona artists on a variety of mediums including painting, drawing, printmaking, mixed media, photography, ceramics and more. I was one of the lucky ones chosen and will have a 24″ x 30″ metal print of this baby penguin sleeping on display. The exhibition will go from June 12-August 3, 2019, but this Saturday, June 15, 2019, there will be an artist reception from 5-8pm! I will be there with my work to share and discuss it as well as my other photography. This piece will be for sale and I have some other penguin and puffin metal prints available upon request. To see some of my current inventory for sale, visit https://www.amysimpressions.com/Photos-to-display/ .

Here is the link to the gallery and exhibition: https://artintersection.com/all-art-arizona-2019/

Please come visit and ask questions!

Arizona’s Salt River Wild Horses

Salt River Wild Horses, Arizona. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 500 mm, f/8.0, 1/500 sec, ISO 640, hand-held.

For those of us who live in the Phoenix, Arizona area, we have a gem right in our backyard. The Salt River wild horses roam the lower half of the Salt River in the Tonto National Forest in Mesa, Arizona and have been subject to much controversy in the recent years. In 2015, a notice was given to the public that federal officials would begin rounding up the horses to remove them from the area. The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group rallied up support for the horses and was able to get a statue passed in AZ State Congress to protect the horses and to allow them to roam the Salt River.

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Memorial Day Remembrance

I hope you all have a special Memorial Day in the US, remembering those whose lives were sacrificed for our freedom. Last June, I was in arctic Norway on the Veines Peninsula out for a run in the middle of a fog. Miles from anyone, I stumbled across the remnants of a German WWII fort and gun battery that had been constructed in 1942. It was one of the most humbling experiences. At the time, I did not know what I had stumbled across and only had my iPhone with me to take photos. Later, I came across this information back at the guesthouse where I was staying. It detailed the war weapons housed at this German fort.

After exploring the outside of the bunker shown in the top photo, I entered it and saw several old photos on the walls of the bunker. Most had broken glass frames but this one was still intact. The images were quite damaged from weather over the years.

I saw that the bunker had stairs leading down into the ground. It was scary, but I decided to explore them and went down these stairs.

When I got down to the bottom, I looked back up and took a photo. You can see the top of the picture frame from the photo above that was hanging on the wall in the bunker.

When I turned back around to continue through the passageway, I came to a room.

Inside the room was a lot of debris as well as another damaged photo. I couldn’t make out most of what I saw since it was pitch black and I used flash just to capture these photos. Since I didn’t know much about this location, I didn’t want to stay down in these tunnels for long in the dark.

I had goosebumps as made it back out. I explored the area some more and found the open rings where I have since learned that 5 French 155 mm caliber guns were installed.

I came across some more entrances and decided to explore the tunnels.

Again it was dark as night and all I had was my iPhone flashlight. I found another deep tunnel.

I got a closer look and decided not to explore further. I was’t sure of the stability of anything, and since this was such a remote location in arctic Norway, I doubted that much was done to check the safety of these tunnels. Since I stumbled across this area without seeing a person around, I knew that there was no active preservation of this historical site. If I were to get in trouble at any point, I would not have anyone to rescue me. I played it safe.

As we celebrate Memorial Day in the US today, I couldn’t help but remember this experience. It was a special moment in my life and gave me a lot of gratitude for those who lost their life not only in WWII but in all the wars to help us be free. We express our appreciation and thanks to those who serve and have lost their lives, but seeing this in person gave me a greater sense of the freedoms we often take for granted.

The Many Faces of the Emperor Penguin Chicks

Image: Emperor penguin chick, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 410 mm, f/8.0, 1/1600 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

If it was possible to describe an Emperor penguin chick in one word, it would be precious. I have never seen a more innocent and beautiful animal in all my world travels. Photos do not do them justice, but I will try here with these headshots. Future posts will contain more images of their full bodies and the various activities they do on sea ice, but this blog will focus on the innocence in their eyes and faces.

Continue reading “The Many Faces of the Emperor Penguin Chicks”

Happy World Penguin Day!

Image: Emperor penguin adults watch over a very young chick near Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 200 mm, f/8.0, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Happy World Penguin Day!

This holiday celebrates an amazing bird, of which there are 17 species in the Southern Hemisphere. I have friends who are on a life-long mission to visit all 17 species in person. After having visited the Emperor penguin colony, I can understand their passion and this goal. The holiday brings about awareness to the importance of penguins to the world’s ecosystem and encourages that each person take a little time today to learn a little more about a penguin species.

The holiday was originally created by the American research station in Antarctica (McMurdo Station) to signal the beginning of the northern migration of the Adelie penguin to get better access to food during the winter months (that are soon coming in the Southern Hemisphere). Please enjoy this day!

You can view these images individually and more not posted here in my portfolio located here.

Emperor Penguins -The Beauty in the Reality

Image: Emperor penguins after unseasonably warm weather, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 200 mm, f/8.0, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

When photographers venture out to capture images of the beauty of nature, we typically look for pristine views that grab our attention, and we edit out the pieces that detract from the overall art. This happens with both landscapes and wildlife, although it can be harder to get a nice pleasing background in wildlife photography because the animals move. :-). That’s when knowledge of animal behavior becomes important for predicting movement and being able to set up with a clean nice background.

Image: Emperor penguins after unseasonably warm weather, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 200 mm, f/8.0, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

All of the penguin images I’ve posted so far on this blog and on my website have been with the above concept in mind–clean, non-distracting backgrounds so the viewer could focus on the beauty of the penguins. I set up those shots on purpose so that I would have images that could be considered fine art. This was not the case for all of my photos at the colony. At times, I changed my mindset and focus so that my images documented the full scene before me.

Image: Emperor penguins after unseasonably warm weather, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 200 mm, f/8.0, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

I wanted to show what it looked like on the sea ice when temperatures climbed to abnormally hot 50+ degrees Fahrenheit. The ice started melting too fast, leaving areas with standing water on top of the sea ice.

Image: Emperor penguins after unseasonably warm weather, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 270 mm, f/8.0, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

The heat in combination with the lack of blizzards and fresh snow left the colony looking raw with penguin and gull feces.

Image: Emperor penguins after unseasonably warm weather, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 390 mm, f/8.0, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

This area of sea ice was their home and their colony. The colony didn’t move much from this area so the result was some very dirty sections of the colony. The heat led to many penguins lying on the sea ice not just to move from one location to another but to cool down in the unseasonably warm spring temperatures. At one point, even I had to join them lying down on the sea ice after I shed my parka and another down jacket!

Image: Emperor penguins after unseasonably warm weather, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 480 mm, f/8.0, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

The benefit of taking images for documentary purposes is that we can learn about all aspects of the colony and animal behavior. Sliding on the sea ice gave the penguins the stains on their bellies. We could tell which penguins spent time with others based on the extent of their stains.

Image: Emperor penguins after unseasonably warm weather, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 200 mm, f/8.0, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

At first glance, these images might repel you, especially when you understand the reason for the stains, but there is beauty even in the dirty, ugly scenes. The image below is one of my favorites as it represents to me the difficulty of life and the tough days that we have to trudge through and just keep going.

Image: Emperor penguins after unseasonably warm weather, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 260 mm, f/8.0, 1/1000 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Togetherness and reliance on each other were other features of the colony that became apparent after studying and photographing these animals for 28 hours over 3 days.

Image: Emperor penguins after unseasonably warm weather, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 330 mm, f/8.0, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

I learned a lot in those hours, not just about wildlife photography. These animals don’t know what is happening in the world or how the climate is changing but they continue to push on, adapting to what nature gives them.

Image: Emperor penguins after unseasonably warm weather, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 200 mm, f/8.0, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

You can view these images individually and more not posted here in my portfolio located here.