Alaska Revisited: Part 19

· Reading Time: 7 minutes

Welcome back for the final installment of this lengthy series that I actually put together on May 21st just before closing on the new house.  I wanted to make sure that I had new content to keep the website alive while I was tied up prepping the new house and getting moved in.  I’m hoping that by this point all of that is behind me.  Seems funny to think about something that I haven’t even started with being finished while writing something that I don’t plan to publish for some time now.  Maybe my head is just getting confused after several days of living in 2008 again.  This whole project got started about  week before I was writing this.  While going through my closets I found my box of CD’s and DVD’s where I had stored my RAW images and other original files since my start in photography in 2005.  Out of all of those disks, there were two that I was very interested in.  Those were the ones from my May of 2008 trip to Alaska.  I spent a total of eleven days there, well nine full days with travel days on either side of that.  I shot nearly 400 images if memory serves during that time.  Oddly enough, most of them came on a day cruise that that I took out of Seward Harbor on the 15th.  The remainder of the trip I was plagued with very poor light, but more importantly, I had to deal with a now ex-wife that refused to let me do my thing with the camera which was the only purpose in going to Alaska in my mind.  She had other wants while we were there.  We did all the touristy things and she spent more time in Walmart than she did while we were at home.  I’m still not sure what the deal was there.

Anyway, after flying back to the airport in Georgia, her Mother picked us up and we ended up spending a week with her, or it might have been 10 years, I don’t know.  It was a long time.  At the end of that, we drove back home and I had just two days left before I was supposed to be back at work.  I used my time the best that I could and spent 27 hours straight editing my images from the trip.  I was still new at Photoshop so my skills were far from proficient and even though the edits took a long time, I really didn’t do that much to the images.  Out of those 400, I ended up with around 90 that ended up on my website at the time.  I was excited to have them added mainly because of the location.  The actual images weren’t all that different from what I had been shooting locally when it came to appearance and style.  Over the years, I fell out of love with my Alaska images because they were just not as good as what I was currently shooting.  That is a good thing and a normal thing that shows my progression in the art of photography.  However, in the following 12 years my editing skills have gotten much better and there have been times when I have wondered what I could do with the Alaska images knowing what I do now.

After finding that box of RAW images, I figured that I had my chance once again.  They were never lost, but I never felt like digging them out from the closet before.  Now that I had them and I was just waiting patiently for the closing date to arrive, I had something that I could work on.  I sat down at the computer and imported the images into Lightroom and started with some basic edits to see what I was working with.  I was surprised to see how well the old 40D images had held up compared to the newer technology.  The noise levels were very tolerable and the detail was remarkable from this little cropped frame camera.  I played with one after another image until many hours had passed and I had 18 new edits of images that were pretty much complete.

I shelved it for the evening and came back the next day to finish them up and found that they were all very good and I wanted to add them back to my website to replace some of the existing boring images.  Toni had the great idea that I should do an image each day while we were working on the house.  That was a great idea and I worked on the plan.  I sat down and did a blog entry for each new image and during that time found an additional one that I wanted to process bringing the total to 19 images.  I was hoping that those posts would last me the two months that I expect to be busy with the house.  I also hope that everyone appreciates the new images and enjoys the walk down memory lane.

On the Rocks“,   Canon 40D, 24-70mm f/2.8L Mk1, B+W KMC Polarizer

The last of the series of images is one that is very closely related to this image that already appears in my gallery.  It is Portage Glacier and happens to be the last place that we stopped before going back to Anchorage to get ready for our flight home. This was on the 21st of May and the rental car was packed as we were headed back North along the Seward Highway bound for Anchorage.  I don’t recall exactly how I came upon this, but I’m thinking that there was a sign on the side of the road pointing me in the direction.  Not wanting to miss an opportunity in the closing days of the trip I took whatever clue I saw and found the glacier.  It was right off of the parking lot so it was an easy subject to get in position for.  I grabbed the camera out from the back of the car and walked down to the shore.  I used my 24-70mm lens for its moderate wide angle focal length and added a polarizer since I wanted to keep the color in the water.  The lighting was not good at this point since it was the middle of the day.  It was hot also with the sun out like this so I was sweating getting the camera into position.

This image is actually the second edit of the original file that was done soon after learning Lightroom in 2016.  It is garish in the saturation levels and a little embarrassing to look at now, but it will soon be replaced so I will mention it here one last time.  This second edit was done to the .tif file and just added a few more tweaks to the original edit from 2008.  There were improvements made, but I really went overboard on the vibrance levels.  I really wanted to give this a full on edit from the RAW file, but at the time didn’t want to dig them out.  Now that I had them handy, it was the right time to make it happen.

I had two slightly different compositions to choose from with this scene as I couldn’t decide which one that I wanted to keep at the time.  The more direct one was my favorite for the longest time, but for this revisit I wanted to go with the wider angle shot that included more of the foreground rocks for a bit more depth.  It also had more of the mountains that added almost an alien feel to the whole image.  After looking at both of the RAW files there was really no question as to which one that I wanted to use for this project.

Glacial Recession“, Canon 40D, 24-70mm f/2.8L Mk1, B+W KMC Polarizer

For this edit, I wanted to get away from the garish colors that were present in the other one.  This was hard to do as the sun was directly overhead and the harsh light was making the colors difficult to capture.  The polarizer helped quite a bit but wasn’t a complete fix. I played with the tones for quite a while with this image.  Surprisingly, what had been one of my original favorite scenes was left lacking now.  It was still a beautiful scene, but the light quality was really affecting it and there wasn’t anything that I could do to combat it in Lightroom without really losing the character of the scene.  I’m still happy with the new edit and I prefer the wider composition with the better framing at the bottom.  The aqua colored ice in the water just doesn’t really fit, but the way that the light was hitting it, this was how it looked so I am leaving it there.

This has been quite a fun adventure and I’m glad that I had the time before closing to put these images back through the editing process.  I’m also thankful for Toni for suggesting the way to release them on the website and in social media to keep things active.  That was a big concern of mine since as of closing I only had a week’s worth of new images to be shared on social media before running out of new work.  This way, I will have some new work to share well into the process of getting the house ready.  I just hope that it is close to being done and I can get back to capturing new images once again.

Thanks for joining me on this trip!