1. Reminder: Please use our affiliate links for holiday shopping!

Alaska Trip with Oly EM1/EM10 - Picture Heavy

Discussion in 'Scenic, Architecture, and Travel' started by 6DogProductions, Sep 5, 2015.

  1. 6DogProductions

    6DogProductions Mu-43 Regular

    33
    Sep 14, 2014
    South Carolina
    Every two years my wife and I take a super vacation, two years ago we spent a week in Ireland...this time 7 full days in Alaska. We flew from Charlotte to Anchorage first class...thankfully my day job allows me to rack up the flier miles and it didn't cost me much more to fly first class than coach...so it was a no brainer. Especially for the super long flight.

    We landed close to 1130pm and after a super long flight and the sun just dipping below the horizon we hit the hotel for a full day of driving down to Seward, AK.

    The drive down to Seward is absolutely gorgeous...even when the weather isn't sunny and clear. The Turnagain Arm and its surrounding mountains on all sides make every overlook a postcard moment. And the easy 2.5hr drive can quickly turn into a full day event with all the stops you will make.

    [​IMG]
    Salmon grafetti along the Seward Highway

    [​IMG]
    Bird Creek

    [​IMG]
    Live your dreams...overlooking Turnagain Arm

    We passed the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center...we would be back another day and as we slowly made our way down to Seward the sky cleared a few times before cloud cover would move back in...but thankfully no rain showers. We drove down to Lowell Point where we say some sea kayakers and a bald eagle on the beach.

    [​IMG]
    Lowell Point Sea Kayaks on beach

    [​IMG]
    Sea kayakers coming in

    [​IMG]
    Bald Eagle taking off

    [​IMG]
    Dry docked boat overlooking Resurrection Bay

    We stopped by SeaLife in Seward where you can get up close and personal with some wildlife that are being rehabilitated for future release into the wild.

    [​IMG]
    Puffin

    [​IMG]
    Tuffed Puffin

    [​IMG]
    Sea Lion

    We checked into our hotel overlooking the harbor and had dinner...on our way we saw an otter eating in one of the boat slips and another bald eagle atop a restaurant.

    [​IMG]
    Otter having dinner

    [​IMG]
    Bald Eagle on watch
     
    • Like Like x 29
    • Winner Winner x 2
  2. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    Nice series. What lenses did you take/use?
     
  3. maritan

    maritan Mu-43 Veteran

    388
    Oct 30, 2014
    Nice pictures of a really interesting location. I particularly like the Puffin pictures.
     
  4. 6DogProductions

    6DogProductions Mu-43 Regular

    33
    Sep 14, 2014
    South Carolina
    Oly OMD E-M1 (HLD7 Battery Grip)
    Oly OMD E-M10
    Oly 12-40mm f2.8 PRO
    Oly 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD (MMF3 Adapter)
    Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5
     
  5. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    Thanks for the reply and a perfect 3 lens setup. You have/use any TC's?
     
  6. 6DogProductions

    6DogProductions Mu-43 Regular

    33
    Sep 14, 2014
    South Carolina
    No tele-converters...thought about them, but there haven't been too many spots where the 50-200mm (100-400mm) hasn't given me what I needed.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. 50orsohours

    50orsohours Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 13, 2013
    Portland Oregon
    Great set!
     
  8. 6DogProductions

    6DogProductions Mu-43 Regular

    33
    Sep 14, 2014
    South Carolina
    One thing that is hard to get used to in Alaska (or anywhere in the far north of the planet in summer)...is the LONG days, my wife and I went to dinner around 830pm and finished around 10pm and it was STILL light out. She was pooped so I went to the room, grabbed a cigar and hit the pier with my camera and tripod...hoping to catch some blue hour shots of the pier. It took a while...roughly 1140pm before the sun was low enough for it to be called the "blue hour"...I stayed up for another hour shooting different angles along the pier harbor area before heading to bed.

    [​IMG]
    Icicle Seafood Trawler getting ready

    [​IMG]
    View from our hotel room

    The next morning we walked around the town for breakfast and some coffee, before getting on a glacier tour boat around Resurrection Bay/Aialik Bay. The tour was about 5 hours in total. This was early May...so tourism wasn't at its peak and the summer wildlife season wasn't in full swing, but we were luck enough to catch a mated pair of bald eagles when leaving the harbor and some views of some humpback whales diving in the bay.

    [​IMG]
    Mated bald eagles

    [​IMG]
    Humpback whale diving

    The cruise around Resurrection Bay is smooth and not to bad, but the crossing in the Gulf of Alaska to Aialik Bay was rough this day. I thankfully do not get seasick...I spend 1.5 years on a submarine...and when they are on the surface...talk about ROLL. But there were many of green faced people until we got into the calmer waters of the Aialik Bay. Once in you began to see calved pieces of glacier ice floating in the water leading up to the Aialik tidewater glacier. Which was nothing short of amazing to see up close.

    [​IMG]
    Aialik Glacier

    [​IMG]
    Up close of the glacier

    [​IMG]
    Sea lion rookery

    This about ended our day, as the cruise back was just as rocky in the gulf. A nice dinner at another seafood restaurant then off to sleep, we are leaving the Seward area tomorrow and back up to Anchorage...but not without a couple of must see stops.
     
    • Like Like x 17
    • Winner Winner x 3
  9. 6DogProductions

    6DogProductions Mu-43 Regular

    33
    Sep 14, 2014
    South Carolina
    We got up on Day 3, excited for our first stop. We were visiting the Seavey's family Iditarod training facility. But first we had a little time to kill before leaving Seward. Seward was the original starting location of the Iditarod race back in 1973, it now starts from Anchorage...but Seward's history is pretty interesting, and is a quaint town to spend a couple of days in.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The Seavey family is a huge name when it comes to the Iditarod - Dan Seavey competed in the first two Iditarod races and was one of the founders , Mitch Seavey, (Dan's son) won the Iditarod in 2004/2013, his son Dallas has won the race in 2012, 2014, 2015 - he is the youngest winner in history. And in 2015, Dallas and Mitch became the first father/son combo to finish 1st and 2nd. Pretty impressive.

    We are dog people...and we couldn't think of a place better than a dog sled tour. This was very early in the season...so early in fact that we were the first tour of the season. And much to our welcome surprise there were five 11 day old puppies on the property. The dogs went nuts when they first saw some visitors, when you hear stories about how these dogs love to work and run...they aren't kidding. It was pure chaos and bedlam as the handlers were hooking up today's crew to the land sled. They spend alot of time in the summer training the younger pups, but today we were lead by two star mushers - Golden Harness winner Tanner and veteran winner Diesel.

    [​IMG]
    Handler hooking up the crew

    [​IMG]
    Diesel (Center) is a Champion of the Iditarod race and Tanner (Left of Diesel) won the Golden Harness Award in 2013. Gator (right) was the goofball of the group...only 7 months old...still learning

    [​IMG]
    Oh how they love to run!

    [​IMG]
    Hanging with the champs

    [​IMG]
    Who doesn't love puppy kisses?

    After leaving the Seavey taining camp, we headed a little further up the road to Exit Glacier. As you drive down the road there are markers that show you the year and where the glacier was at that point. It is crazy to see how far this glacier has receded, because you can drive and physically see markers of dates. From the point where I took this photo the glacier used to extend to where I was standing.

    [​IMG]

    You can hike out to the bottom of the glacier, and it isn't that far from the parking area. So I was shocked we were the only ones at the bottom. You can also hike up to the icefields high about the glacier...its supposed to be about a 6 mile hike...and I'd love to try that one day. It would be amazing to see the glacier origins.

    [​IMG]
    Exit Glacier

    After this we worked our way back to Anchorage. The weather was much better this day and the views on a sunny day are just amazing.

    [​IMG]
    Kenai Lake

    [​IMG]
    Mad Sally Lake

    [​IMG]
    Anchorage is home to Lake Hood...the largest concentration of sea planes in the world.
     
    • Like Like x 20
    • Winner Winner x 2
  10. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 25, 2012
    Australia
    Nice holiday! Keep sharing.
     
  11. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 Top Veteran

    758
    Jun 4, 2014
    Maryland
    Loren
    Great photos, and sounds like a great trip! Any more shots of a dog sled team in action? Also, I was curious if you recall when the glacier extended as far as that one photo. Just wondering how quickly they receded that much.
     
  12. 6DogProductions

    6DogProductions Mu-43 Regular

    33
    Sep 14, 2014
    South Carolina
    I believe it was around 1898, its taken a 100+ years to recede as far at it has. But there have been recent years of its growth due to increase snowfall.

    More dog sled action
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    • Like Like x 6
  13. 6DogProductions

    6DogProductions Mu-43 Regular

    33
    Sep 14, 2014
    South Carolina
    Day 4 was an open itinerary, nothing really planned but we decided to take the long drive up to the Mantanuska Glacier. It is quite a haul from Anchorage, but the drive it gorgeous (as most drives are around Alaska).

    [​IMG]
    Scenic Overlook outside Palmer, AK

    [​IMG]
    Just another stop along the way

    [​IMG]

    Once we arrived at the parking area for the overlook of the Mantanuska Glacier, we took a little hike around the area. There is a way to drive closer to the glacier and actually hike on it, but we didn't opt for this today, since we still had a long drive back. We had done alot of hiking and walking the last 3 days, that this was more of a recovery day.

    [​IMG]
    Aspens along the hiking trail

    [​IMG]
    View of Mantanuska Glacier from the hiking overlook

    One thing you expect to see lots of in Alaska is wildlife, and we felt a bit robbed, we had seen lots of eagles...and as cool as that is, we really wanted a moose sighting. During my research for this trip, in the town of Willow, AK there was a reported Seuss House...a house that extends 15 stories into the sky. A quick google search lead us to the roads to where it was reported to be...but nothing...you expect a 15 story house would be easy to spot...but alas our search came up empty. As we were retreating and licking our wounds I stopped by a stream to take some photos...I needed SOMETHING out of this adventure. After a couple of minutes...our luck turned around, as a moose walked into the clearing and stopped just long enough for me to grab a shot before disappearing into the woods.

    Dr-Seuss-House-Alaska-2-537x442.
    Google Search of the Seuss House Alaska

    [​IMG]
    First official moose sighting

    After over 6+ hours in the car we headed back to Anchorage for the night. I found a special point near the airport that gave a good view of downtown Anchorage and Fire Island. I left my wife to go to bed, and I braved to condor sized mosquitoes to get a few shots of the sunset. When people tell you the bugs are big and vicious in Alaska...believe them, they only get a short time to feed and they make the best of it.

    [​IMG]
    Downtown Anchorage

    [​IMG]
    Fire Island Sunset
     
    • Like Like x 16
    • Winner Winner x 1
  14. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 Top Veteran

    758
    Jun 4, 2014
    Maryland
    Loren
    That's wildlife photography for you. Nature decides if and when it will show itself. Thanks for sharing!
     
  15. 6DogProductions

    6DogProductions Mu-43 Regular

    33
    Sep 14, 2014
    South Carolina
    Day 5 was going to knock off a lot of wildlife check marks, sure we were visiting a wildlife preserve...but I'm calling it a win. The cloudy and foggy conditions we had when we arrived have long gone and we have had sunny days since our glacier cruise...and we didn't complain. Before we left Anchorage, across the street from our hotel was a park, where the night before I watched a local rugby team practice, but it also contained the Alaskan War Memorial, its pretty impressive and worth a stop if you find yourself in downtown Anchorage.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Alaska War Memorial

    We made the remarkable drive again down the picturesque Seward Highway, this time we stopped at the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC). The AWCC is an amazing facility, that rehabilitates, cares, and releases many of its animals back into the wild. They have large enclosures that allow for the animals to feel more natural. Many animals have come here that have been hurt or abandoned and are rehabilitated. They have many releases of elk, moose, and bison into many parts of Alaska. Its a great facility that allows you to get pretty close to many of all the Alaskan animals you have on your checklist. It's $12.50 per adult, $9 per 13-18yo, free for under 12...and you can come and go throughout the day and I highly recommend it.

    [​IMG]
    Your welcome to the AWCC.

    [​IMG]
    Elk with a beautiful backdrop

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Adonis the Bald Eagle - Adonis arrived at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in 1995. He was found near a remote village in Alaska and had been shot. His left wing required a full amputation as a result. Even though it is illegal to harm an eagle under the Bald Eagle Protection Act, an estimated 2,000 – 3,000 eagles are shot or injured in the United States each year. Since Adonis cannot fly, he has found a permanent home here at AWCC.

    [​IMG]
    Bison playing a quick game of head butt

    [​IMG]
    Black bear mom and cub playing

    [​IMG]
    During the summer of 2004, a working firefighter spotted month-old kittens in a recently burned area in Interior Alaska. Three kittens were found alone and suffered from burns on their paws, legs, faces and ears. The whereabouts of the mother was unknown. Had she died in the fire? Had she left some kittens behind, but carried as many as she could as she fled to safety? In need of treatment and knowing the kittens could not survive on their own, the firefighter put them into his backpack and carried them back to camp where he could make arrangements for their transport. Unfortunately, one male kitten died soon after the rescue, but the two females were flown to the Anchorage airport and transported to AWCC for treatment and care on July 20th. In the wild, lynx stay with their mothers for almost a year in order to learn hunting and survival skills. Since these lynx were orphaned at such a young age, a permanent home has been provided for them at AWCC.

    [​IMG]
    Brown Bear mom and cub playing

    [​IMG]
    Momma Brown Bear

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The Turnagain Arm ends right at the doorstep of the AWCC...and if you are lucky enough to catch a good bore tide (the one where you you see surfers ride the tide change), it would be cool to see if finish while sitting under the gazebo for a picnic lunch.
    [​IMG]

    After we were finished we headed up the road to Alyeska Resort in the town of Girdwood, for lunch and a little hike to the hand tram. There are lots of hiking trails around the ski resort during the summer and you can take the gondola all the way to the top as well (we didn't because it was under maintenance). During one of our breakfast stops in Anchorage, a waitress was telling us about the Alyeska hand tram...an hand operated people cart you pull across a 40-50' high gorge. It's a pretty mild 2.5 mile hike from the trailhead to the tram...so be prepared with some water. Before you get to the tram you are greeted with a wonderful view of the gorge and river flowing down it.

    [​IMG]
    Lunch and tasty IPA

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Hand tram over gorge

    After our very long hike we headed down to Whittier, AK through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, the longest (2.5mi) highway tunnel through a mountain. It is a one lane road and rail line...and traffic is allowed to Whittier on the bottom of the hour an traffic from Whittier is at the top of the hour. Whittier is a quiet little town with not alot of things to do at night...but a peaceful night with a great view is guaranteed.
     
    • Like Like x 10
    • Winner Winner x 3
  16. DolbyDan

    DolbyDan Mu-43 Regular

    30
    Nov 16, 2011
    My favirote thread yet, a place now on my bucket list!! Which shots did you use with the Samyang?
     
  17. 6DogProductions

    6DogProductions Mu-43 Regular

    33
    Sep 14, 2014
    South Carolina
    Honestly...I carried it with me, but I don't remember ever using it.

    I can't recommend Alaska enough for a vacation. I would say to book the week before the tourism really kicks in (typically around May 15th), because the tour companies are gearing up and running to get their new crews/teams trained without all the big crowds, the hotels tend to be cheaper in shoulder season, and the weather is pretty nice without high humidity or large amounts of mosquitoes.
     
  18. 6DogProductions

    6DogProductions Mu-43 Regular

    33
    Sep 14, 2014
    South Carolina
    Before I finish up Days 6 & 7 - I just wanted to thank the Admins of www.mu-43.com for featuring this post on the front page of the website. I've really been working on my photography craft this year and it seems its been paying off...but not paying off in the way that I can quit my day job :). A photo of mine was used on the cover of a car show magazine back in February, and then that car show company hired me to work a few events for them this year. So again thank you for the honor of being featured. I'll make sure to finish this trip up properly.
     
  19. 6DogProductions

    6DogProductions Mu-43 Regular

    33
    Sep 14, 2014
    South Carolina
    Day 6: Whittier, AK

    As I mentioned in the previous post...there isn't much in Whittier; a few restaurants, not much in the way of nightlife, and few lodging options (but where we stayed - Inn at Whittier - is fantastic and has amazing views). But all that aside its an amazing little town (year round population is less than 250 people). There is an abandoned US Army building sitting high on the hill above the town...I wanted to explore this for photos, but they have really cracked down on trespassers climbing into the building. And I didn't hear back on an email request to shoot there with permission before our arrival...so maybe another time. But it is all well and good because we had a full schedule anyway.

    Remember when I mentioned how long the nights are here...yeah well the opposite is equally annoying (at least for my wife)...the sun rises around 5am. I'm an early riser, so for me its no problem...plus being a photography nut, I'm know to sleep little on trips just to keep shooting. The view from our harbor facing room allowed for a great sun rise shot over the Prince William Sound. I can not recommend the Inn at Whittier enough for a night facing the water. It maybe a little expensive, but you save yourself an early riser and long drive to get here for the 26 Glacier Cruise (that we are going on today), so you can get up at your leisure, enjoy a nice breakfast and hot cup of coffee (or tea in my case) before hoping braving the cool Alaskan morning.

    11222105_835480926529230_7094701359029310448_o.
    Sunrise over Prince William Sound and Whittier Harbor, AK - View from our room at the Inn at Whittier

    [​IMG]
    Great views for breakfast too

    As mentioned we were heading on a 4-5hr cruise through the Prince William Sound called the 26 Glacier Tour, it wasn't leaving until around lunch time...so my wife and I decided to walk the waterfront and shops. This doesn't take long as we found out...and we ended up doing a few laps of the area then finishing off our walk with a pre-cruise drink of an Alaskan Weissbeir for me and a Mimosa for my wife...we are vacation - drinking is allowed before noon.

    11206778_835480263195963_5307089821497857361_o.
    Whittier Harbor

    11230869_835481063195883_1631978082164310652_o.
    Eclectic shop in Whittier, AK

    11334189_835480449862611_5659711564604785038_o.
    Inn at Whittier (from cruise boat)

    The Prince William Sound is a large and mostly inland body of water, so for those who suffer from seasickness are better to choice this cruise.
    1) Waters are calm 95% of the time
    2) You get to see a ton of glaciers; tidewater, valley glaciers, piedmont, and some hanging. - 26 in total...thus the name of the cruise :)
    3) Wildlife is EVERYWHERE. Since you are surrounded by land, you stand chances to see eagles, moose, elk...and not to mention to sealife: otters, whales, dolphins, seals

    11289586_835480336529289_2131330292097271039_o.
    Boat passing us in front of Blackstone Glacier

    11251055_835480503195939_8280945392639421347_o.
    Harvard Glacier

    11114741_835480593195930_5570279644789017341_o.
    Humpback whale diving - These are difficult to catch with autofocus, even with the fast speeds of the OMD-EM1. Of course I'm slightly handicapped with the adapted FT Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD, so when whales were spotted I spent my time in manual focus. Even then it was tough with a moving boat...thankfully I got a few good shots, other boat passengers were quite jealous.

    11011926_835480486529274_6728514525348158566_o.
    Bald Eagle looking for a snack

    11062279_835480583195931_7108876553754188924_o.
    Calved piece of glacier

    11334265_835480819862574_4183403086744839802_o.
    Sea lions relaxing near Surprise Glacier

    11312709_835481423195847_6673428389720769087_o.
    Cascade Glacier - the large section to the left had recently broken off a couple of days before our arrival...a shame, that would have made some amazing shots.

    11157414_835480653195924_4088557271604713323_o.
    Baker Glacier

    11262445_835481339862522_5043778906530010348_o.
    Cascade / Barry / Coxe Glaciers

    11165143_835480833195906_2340478694841106998_o.
    Part of Surprise Glacier

    11357268_835480816529241_467632837895986249_o.
    Surprise Glacier

    Surprise Glacier is the highlight of the cruise, which is kinda tough to say considering some amazing shots throughout the day. But this is the largest tidewater glacier you get to cruise right up too. Not alot of calving on this trip, of course results vary and later in the season where its warmer might prove better for those shots, but I was no disappointed.

    11141756_835481233195866_273921584537008345_o.
    Surprise Glacier

    [​IMG]
    Oh yeah, plenty of waterfalls around during the warm months as snow melts...but good luck with long exposures on a moving boat :) Thankfully the IBIS of the EM1 is a dream for 1/25sec shots.

    Once we arrived back to port, we hopped in the car to make the tunnel opening back to Anchorage. There was one more stop we had to make on our way back up the Seward Highway that I was eyeballing for a couple of days...it wasn't a photo op, but food...being from the south I'm a big fan of BBQ...and while I tend to be pretty judgmental of places in my various travels this place got some decent reviews...and I just had to check it out for myself. Turnagain Arm Pit BBQ...let me assure you passing this place and not stopping, you are really doing yourself a disservice. It is quite delicious...and they had FRIED OKRA.

    [​IMG]
    Turnagain Arm Pit BBQ - May I be so bold to offer a bit of BBQ advice...when you go into a place...make sure you always get the sausage. Its often overlooked when you see brisket, pork, or ribs...but I've found that I can almost rank the best BBQ joint I've been too by their sausages...because if they are awesome the rest of the BBQ tends to be spot on. Pork can be a bit dry in many places, and as much as I love pulled pork, unless a place is known for it, I tend to pass on it and go for ribs, brisket, or sausage. Just my opinion...

    [​IMG]
    Inuit Carving

    Tomorrow is our last day, and the biggest highlight of our adventure. But my wife and I are pretty sad about leaving. I've traveled alot with my job, and seen alot of wonderful places, and my wife and I spend a week in Ireland just 2 years ago. Up until landing in Alaska, Ireland was by far the coolest place I had been too (and we didn't even get to all the highlights of Ireland). But by far this week in Alaska was the best trip ever. If it on your bucket list...do it. Save up and go. You won't regret it. And if these shots haven't convinced you...wait until Day 7!
     
    • Like Like x 6
  20. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    You did the kit proud. Did you have both bodies with lenses attached, e.g., EM1 with 50-200 and EM10 with 12-40?