Gulkana River, Central Alaska Range
January 26, 2003
The aurora borealis was putting on a fine show dancing across the northern sky above the Alaska Range seen in the distance. A cow and calf moose had left their tracks in the fresh snow earlier before crossing the stream on their way to graze the other side. The mist rising from the river was decieving as it was a cold ice fog and not because the water was warm.
The temperatures in this area had fallen to minus 25 degrees (F) and it caused the water vapor to freeze to the willow along the bank and anything or else including cameras and photographers as well.
Capturing the northern lights on film had become especially challenging as I struggled to keep warm and to keep my lenses ice free.
The going was pretty rough as I had to break my way throughthe willow and waist deep snow. Then I had to pack the snow so that my tripods could find a firm footing. I was to learn a couple lessons the hard way tonight. Don't sweat in these temperatures. It causes clothing to loose its insulative properties and I had to change socks more than once in order to avoid frost bite on the toes.
I was struggling to get a large-format camera onto its tripod in my bulky mittens and then stupidly threw them off and grabbed the heavy metal rail. I might just as well have been grabbing a red-hot rod out of a fire as the cold burned into my fingers and palms. But it wasn't over yet. The next stupid thing that I did was to adjust a camera by loosening its tripid head. The camera viewfinder fell back against my eyeball and being of metal instantly froze to it like a kid with his toungue frozen to the monkey bars during a winter recess. I pulled away in stinging pain as it tore my cornea.
My vision was blurred in this eye for a couple days but luckily the cornea heals fast and I survived vision in tact.
Was it all worth it? Well yea, its a little painful when I look at this photo but it was. After all, I wouldn't have this nice shot or the stories to tell if I hadn't stuck it out!
I used a 6x9 home-built medium format camera with a 50mm wide angle lens and Fuji Provia 400F film to extract this image from the scene before me.
It is also avilible in: 6x12, 8x16 and 13x26 panoramic sizes.