The alarm wakes us, and I know we are not sailing at our normal pace . . . we are making our way into Tracy Arm. Our destination? Sawyer Glaciers.
I grab my 25 pounds of camera equipment, a sweater, gloves, hat, and scarf, and I make my way to the front of the boat. The above is one of two pictures I take before deciding this is just not going to work. I am relatively impervious to all but the most bitter cold, but there is one thing I really don’t like. Wind.
Cutting-through-four-layers-of-clothing-bone-chilling-teeth-rattling wind. On my face. Worse yet, it’s strong enough to push the camera and tripod over, and even when I hang the bag on it for stability, the whole thing is visibly being shaken by the gusts. What could I do . . . I had to give up on the idea of pulling a Jack and Rose with my camera, and hightailed it to the back of the boat.
Mind you, it was still cold, it was still windy, but not nearly as much.
Before I go on, something about the photos . . . very bad lighting, having to shoot hand-held, having to shoot at a high ISO, and still sometime not being able to get the shutter speed up there, it all contributed to not being my proudest photographic effort. In part, that is why this post has been so long coming . . . most of these photos required some serious post-processing. Aside the regular adjustments, some are the result of blending multiple layers, and others have gone through mild HDR processing. The SmugMug gallery contains 262 photos mined from around 1,800 originals. For those intrepid enough, the gallery can be found HERE.
This is not a short post . . . enter at your own risk.
OK, you have been warned on all counts, so here goes . . .
The first thing one notices is the ice on the water. Chunks of it are floating everywhere. The second thing one notices is the waterfalls. It seems there is one every few hundred yards. All of them seem fed by the remnants of winter snow . . . and keep in mind this is September.
So, we have water, waterfalls, ice, and rocks. At first glance one might think this could not possibly keep me entertained for three hours or so. Ha! . . . how little you know me!
But, beside the intricacies of the floating ice, there is also the coastline to entertain.
We are sailing in what is a relatively narrow passage.
OK, I did mention there are a lot of waterfalls . . .
For those two or three people who visit the SmugMug gallery, you will notice some shots have multiple renditions. This particular shot happens to be a HDR compilation of three shots. The other shots are different processing to try and bring out more detail and color. So, for instance, here is another version of the above.
Did I mention there is ice?
And rocks; dis I mention rocks?
And sometimes . . .
Some of the rocks, which I presume are granite, have a strange property; their pattern gives them what appears to me an “out-of-focus” look. It took me a while to figure out it was not my lens and camera, but rather, the texture of the rock.
We finally come to where the ship would normally turn to enter an inlet leading to Sawyer Glacier.
OK, so maybe I don’t mind not trying to recreate the Jack and Rose scenario. But the ice is really interesting.
So, we can’t go into the inlet, and we can’t proceed . . . I fear we are to be stuck here, and as the boat slows and stops, I do a mental calculation . . . we have barely enough food on board for 8 months . . . it’s going to be close, but they should find us in the Spring.
I can’t figure out what we are doing, but we are pretty close to the cliffs . . .
So, it turns out we are doing a 180-degree turn in place, as if we were on a spindle. Let me tell you . . . them cliffs looked pretty close.
Don’t let the ultra-wide angle fool you . . . that big hunk of rock is pretty darn close.
By the way, you might have noticed I am no longer at the back of the boat. By now I had relocated to the balcony of my suite, where my lovely wife kept me supplied with cappuccinos and malasadas. The woman is a saint.
Eventually we completed the turn, and headed back out . . .
Obviously, you are thinking, we are done. After all, we are going to pass through the same areas we passed through just a little while ago.
Look, I got coffee, I got fried bread with granulated sugar, and I have my camera and lenses . . . no way I am leaving my post!
Besides, there be ice to immortalize before it’s all gone!
So, it would not hang around long, but long enough to get me a few decent photos.
Literally, a few.
But, back to the ice . . .
This to me looks like some kind of levitating force field, hovering this piece of ice off the water . . . but no . . . just some very clear, very dense ice.
More interesting shapes . . .
By now we were in more open water, and making pretty good headway toward Juneau.
And along the way we say some unfortunate chunks of ice who had lost their mobility.
And interesting mixing of clear and cloudy ice . . .
The passing of the boat created interesting visuals, and gave the ice blocks pretty good smacks.
Don’t know if this was shaped by the waves of passing boats, but . . .
Another interesting chunk of ice interacting with our wake.
. . . as is another . . .
But, and let me stress this, the scenery was also impressive . . . and I dutifully snapped away at stuff.
One does not know when to stop snapping away. As soon as you pass one, there is another one striving for your attention.
And it’s not just waterfalls and floating ice . . .
Did someone mention ice?
And yet, they do seem perfectly at home.
Oh my FSM!!! . . . it’s . . . it’s . . .
I keep my eye on it, nightmares of Titanic fresh in my mind . . . the movie, not the boat. Boy, did that movie suck!!.
I don’t know for sure . . . can’t even look it up, but that looks like the entrance to it, complete with a Blue Guardian ensuring safe passage.
But before I left it, I snapped a panorama of the low-hanging cloud . . .
We are now motoring, and there is one last chunk of ice I want to photograph before heading in to do some serious eating; after all, snacking will only carry you so far.
You might not be able to see them well, but those white specks are birds.
I leave you with the face on ice . . .
And that is it . . . Tracy Arm. The next stop is Juneau, and we would only be there six hours or so, so the next update will be fairly short. Yeah, right!
As I mentioned, all of the above photos, and more, can be found in the SmugMug Gallery. If interested, click HERE.
As usual, thanks for stopping by, and I hope it was worth your while. If it was, tell everyone. If it wasn’t . . . hey, you try making this stuff interesting!!
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. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.