Friday, October 21, 2011

Driving to California!

Winter has arrived in Fairbanks! There's some snow on the ground, and the temperatures are now below freezing most of the time. Things just look better covered in clean, white snow. Plugging in the vehicles at night is back as the lows recently have been in the single digits at my cabin. In other news, a friend of mine recently moved his family to Modesto, CA. Now, he is back in town and will be driving his van back. Since it is dangerous to go it alone, he asked me to tag along. I naturally had to say yes. The Alaska Highway is a very adventurous and scenic drive. Who doesn't love a good road trip? There will be a winter blog complete with photos upon my return to Alaska. I have taken next week off to give us plenty of time to get down there. By the sound of it, I will be wearing my shorts again! Until then have a great week everyone!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fall Follies in Fairbanks, Winter Coming Soon

The timing of this blog post is a little off for Fairbanks, but it is probably closer to those of you in the Lower 48. Fall is pretty much over up here. The leaves have all disappeared completely, the air is still, and everyone is looking anxiously to the horizon to see if snow is coming. Well, enough talk about winter. Let’s talk about fall.

Now, Alaska has plenty of trees that change color in the fall. What sets Alaska apart are the fall colors of the tundra. Now that is cool! All of the stunted foliage turns bright yellow and red, making the landscape look like a Photoshop image gone wrong, but it is very real. A trip to Denali National Park is not only a great way to take in all of the colors but also to see some of the wildlife preparing for winter (there’s that word again, sorry).

As for myself, I am glad that winter has been put off for a bit. My cabin needs a few adjustments to make it winter-ready. I have put on the shrink wrap on my big windows. It is nothing more than a big sheet of plastic wrap and double-sided tape that has been shrunk using a hair dryer. However, having that extra layer of air between you and sub-zero temperatures makes a huge difference.

Another task that has yet to be completed is new weather-stripping around my door. Last winter I had stuffed blankets under the door to keep the cold out (and keep the expensive heat in). No more! I want some good stripping to put around my door. Oddly, this stuff is hard to find so far.

Over the weekend I helped a friend load and unload a truck-load of 8-9 foot firewood logs. Man, that is a lot of work, and they aren’t even split yet! I would love to have a wood stove in my cabin because they give off a lot of heat and are more charming than, say, an oil stove that clicks and smells like oil. However, they are a lot of work and not necessarily cheaper. Perhaps someday I will have both in my awesome cabin that I built with my two hands.

Masculine hypotheticals aside, I am almost ready for winter to arrive. I am sorry to not have any cool time-lapse videos up for my time-lapse challenge. The weather wasn’t very attractive all week. I will reschedule it for when the snow starts falling. That, I think, will be more entertaining than the cloudy, hazy weather we have been having.

To all of you down south, enjoy your prospective fall seasons in proper fashion. The next post will likely feature the white stuff! 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Star Trails Timelapse Video

Hey everyone,

Well, I had a busy night getting this timelapse all set up. I was a bit worried about leaving my camera outside for a long period of time, but there was no way I was staying up all night to watch it either. So, I left it out to do its thing and capture hundreds of images of stars.

Then I processed the images in photoshop to create the star trail effect. I did manage to get one shooting star early on if you can see it. The video is a bit dark, and I don't feel like messing with it too much. It was a test after all. I hope that you all enjoy it. The timelapse challenge will probably start the first of October, and extend for at least a week.

We shall see how it all turns out. If you have any timelapse subject ideas please post a comment so I can try it out.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Timelapse Challenge

Hey everyone,

A thought entered my head the other day concerning timelapse photography. I think I may try to produce a timelapse video every day for a week or maybe a month (gosh!). They are fun and don't require a whole lot of attention so they won't interfere with my work too much. It sounds like a fun experiment, and I was wondering if any of you had any thoughts on the subject. Ideas are welcome, too.

Here is a video I just made while working in the hallway. I used a high f-stop and took 1 second exposures for around half an hour. When winter comes I would like to do a full timelapse showing the sun rising and setting since it barely does either one. It is a fun process that I would like to explore some more.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Summer Vacation is Over, Recent Auroral Activity

Well, my blogging hiatus is over like the 24 hours of daylight we've had. I must say I have missed writing about Alaska happenings, and believe me there has been a lot going on up here. My goal is to be able to share my summer adventures very soon. Most of the photographs have been edited and posted in the Alaska Photography section. I am in the process of re-tooling that page as well.

Recently, with the coming darkness, it has been possible to view the very active aurora. Massive solar flares have been colliding with the earth's atmosphere, causing impressive auroral displays. I thought I would share a few photos along with my first timelapse video of the aurora. It was more of a test run, but I think it is still a neat clip.

While I was taking the shots, a charming couple from the UK stopped by and chatted with me. I hope that the weather hasn't completely ruined their time in Denali, but that is definitely the norm. Look for more cooler timelapse videos on this blog in the near future.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Writer's Ice Block

                       Photo from

Well, it certainly has been a long time since my last post. In the past couple months of quiescence, my life has been anything but. From super solar flares, the Yukon Quest, local tumult, and the World Ice Art Championships, Fairbanks is constantly on the move. I will have to write/explain most of these things in greater detail (and with photos!) than I will be doing now, but this post is more of a teaser, I suppose.

Break-up (goodbye to ice) is coming soon, and people in town speak of it constantly and with great anticipation. I, for one, am excited for the change and can feel the excitement building within myself. Today we have surpassed the 12 hour daylight point by a few minutes. With Daylight Savings it is even more apparent that spring has almost arrived in Fairbanks, Alaska. Happy equinox!

The tripod is on the ice of the Nenana River which means it is time to buy a ticket and guess what time the tripod will crash into the water, officially announcing the start of break-up. This tradition has been going on for 94 years and is a popular lottery throughout all of Alaska. It began back when the Alaska Railroad was being constructed.

The workers, bored to ice tears, would place bets on when the ice would break up, allowing boats and supplies to reach them. Word of the lottery spread throughout Alaska, and now it has paid out nearly $10 million since its inception (good movie). Last year’s pot was around $280,000! Price to play is only $2.50 a guess, but it has to be to the minute!

Speaking of melting ice, my garden area should be thawing out soon enough. Another goal (there are many) for this summer is to establish a healthy vegetable/herb garden. For reasons maybe not too obvious, Alaskans have amazing gardens! The chief reason is the incredible amount of sunlight during the summer (almost 24 hours!) we receive.

If this goal is achieved, I will report its success with much aplomb and selflessness (if failure, then quiet reflection). Well, this is all that I care to write since this post is getting too long for the attention span of most readers. There will be more to come once I sort and edit my digital pile of photos and HD videos.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Antler: Extreme Home Edition

I sat in row 34 E, the middle seat in the back of a Continental jet. The plane was late, very full, and leaving at 1 am. This was not going to be a good flight.

This post is coming not from Alaska, but from my new home in Texas. In the short time since I left my home and made the drive to Alaska, my parents made some life changes of their own. My father picked me up from the airport, but drove me to a new home, a different home.

The last time my parents moved, I was four years old. So, I am a little emotional about this "uprooting". In other news, I have accomplished what I had set out to do in the last blog post, namely make a few time-lapse videos of the short winter days in Fairbanks. They are located at the end of this blog post.

Temperatures in Texas are 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit greater than what I am used to. Also, there is abundant sunshine which has been wonderful. However, it has not been a vacation because my parents are still moving things to the new house. In addition, the old house needs some work before it is placed on the market.

I do miss Fairbanks and all of it's many quirks. Leaving was strange because it felt like I had just arrived. School has a way of distracting you from the passing of time. I am thankful for the change and look forward to returning soon.