Adventuring Through Alaska
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Location: Fairbanks, AK
I had the opportunity to explore Alaska a bit while filming lifestyle content for Lisa Ann's Youtube Channel. Our journey started in Fairbanks, Alaska after a late night/early morning Red Eye flight. I always love seeing the Alaska Air planes with the eskimo on the tail at the airport. Their planes make me want to visit Alaska. Great marketing. We were on a mission to see the Aurora Borealis, much like every other light show chaser in the world. We quickly learned that there would be very little opportunity to see the Northern Lights and so we settled for playing in the snow and filming a bit around the cabin we were in. I flew my Mavic Pro drone as much as possible and got some absolutely awesome shots.
If you're looking for things to do while in Alaska, read on.
A quick self portrait...
My goal was to shoot as much stock photography as I could, while maintaining focus on my main priority, which was filming content for Lisa.. Not having a vehicle limited me a bit on what I could shoot, but I found that there were plenty of different scenic angles that I could photograph, without any obstructions.
I love this shot of one of the cabins in the cold. It may come as a surprise, but I barely edited this photo. It was truly that blue outside when I snapped this.
Getting to Anchorage
In order to get to Anchorage Lisa put us on the Alaska Railroad, which took us twelve hours through the most wild parts of Alaska. It's hard to believe that years ago men built this railroad by hand, crossing rivers, canyons, and wild territory so that we could still transport materials and people to those most distant places in Alaska. I created a POV train riding video to accompany the shots I took from the train, which you can see below. If you care to purchase any of these photos, you can do so on my PRINT SHOP.
The Alaska Railroad with a rare sighting of Denali behind it.
A trapper cabin in remote Alaska, just off of the train tracks.
This is Conductor Warren. If you're ever on the Alaska Railroad you will surely see him with his big, friendly smile, eagerly waiting for your questions.
This photo was taken out of the back of the train's baggage car. I've always watched train hopping videos and this made me feel like I was in one!
Getting to work while in Alaska made it feel almost like a vacation. I love capturing beautiful content so to be completely surrounded and embraced by it was enchanting. If the train stayed as empty as it was for us, I might just ride the train every day and create stock footage for an entire week. Just so you could capture every possible sight on the rails.
Right before sunset we journeyed through a mountain pass that was exquisite. This was my last photo of the evening and I couldn't be more thrilled with how it came out.
Our next stop on the Alaska journey was to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, where I had the opportunity to photograph and film bears, elk, wolves, and a bald eagle, close up. I grew up collecting Nat Geo magazines, and still do to this day, so getting to photograph some of these animals up close was quite the treat. Unfortunately at this time the photos of the animals here are not available for sale, because I am in the middle of trying to acquire a release form to sell images of them, as the Conservation Center technically owns the animals, but you can still enjoy their magnificence.
Dog Sledding in Talkeetna
Okay so probably the coolest thing we did was go to Dallas Seavey's dog ranch to race with some of his retired sled dogs. Dallas and his dogs have won the Iditarod four times now and, after seeing countless videos and documentaries made about him, it was an absolute honor to get to mush his dogs. Dallas was in Norway racing when we were in Alaska, otherwise I might not have ever left. This journey took us two hours back from whence we came, to Talkeetna, a small town with a population of about 900. While it may not be the smallest town I've visited, I once explored an abandoned elementary school in small town in West Virginia where the population was 101, but it was definitely quaint. I can definitely understand why people live there.
This is Moses, one of Dallas' race dogs. He was quite a friendly fella and let me snap a few photos of him.
Oh the puppies!! We spent about half an hour playing with puppies before we headed out on the trail and my goodness these photos are so stinkin cute!
Dog sledding...the rules:
- HANG ON
- DO NOT LET GO
Not only were these dogs racing dogs, but they are famous racing dogs. These guys should have more followers on Instagram than Kim K! I dream of returning to Dallas' ranch to film a proper documentary about these dogs and share a bit more of their stories with the world. If you head to Alaska I highly recommend you hit up AK Sled Dog Tours and line up a sledding excursion of your own.
Mushing these dogs through the back trails that Dallas' team has carved out of the snow was like riding a theme park ride. I felt like a kid going through the forest being towed by a gang of six marathon runners. The only thing that stops these pups is a steel bar with spikes.
This is Diesel. Diesel was the recipient of 2014 Golden Harness Award, which is given to the top mushing dog of the Iditarod.
This is Elliot, one of the team members at the ranch and he introduced me to several of the dogs and even threw my gopro on his head while he unhooked and rechained the dogs. It was a pleasure meeting you, Elliot. Thank you for your guidance and kindness.
Get to the Chopper - Anchorage, AK
The last excursion we went on was with Alpine Air, a helicopter touring company, who took us fifteen minutes outside of Anchorage where we landed on Spencer Glacier. I took plenty of aerial shots on our journey and I have to say, if you've ever wondered what it's like to fly a drone just get in a helicopter.
Our pilot brought us up close and personal with the Alaskan mountains and I got that nervous feeling in my stomach that I get when my drone's obstacle avoidance starts indicating.
Here's a crazy shot that shows the mudflats that consume vast sections of Alaska. This stuff is like quicksand; anything that lands comes in contact with the surface is sure to be swallowed whole by the mud.
Here is a section of the roadway that wraps around Turnagain Arm in Anchorage. The wind coming off of the water that crashes into the side of the mountains is insane! I can't believe they can fly the helicopters over here to be honest with you. Oh, by the way, if you do book a flight with Alpine Air, or any other aerial tour company, be prepared for your tour to be delayed or canceled, because of the wind.
Now, of the two shots above, do you prefer it WITH or WITHOUT the blade from the helicopter in the shot? Let me know your opinion down in the comment section below this post.
This was the first glacier we flew over. I don't recall its name, but I knew that for this shot I wanted to have the interior of the helo in the frame. This is one of the coolest Alaska tours you could take while visiting the state. Alpine Air is highly recommended.
And now! Spencer Glacier! Look at the blue hue of this wall of ice! How incredible is that? I often forget how beautiful nature can be but then I am reminded when I see something absolutely wild, like this glacier. It has grown, cracked, crumbled, sunk, and rebuilt itself for years and the fact that we were able to land near the glacier blew my mind. I hopped out, filmed some content for Lisa and then spent ten minutes flying the drone to capture as much of the glacier as I could. Unfortunately we were only allotted about fifteen minutes on the glacier, due to other flight commitments of our pilot.
Supposedly, during the summer months, when the ice has melted a bit, you can land on the glacier and then go mushing with sled dogs! How cool would that be!
And finally, I broke out the Spiderman suit and asked Lisa to snap a few shots of me in it, in the cold, on a rock, next to a glacier. Now, how many spider people have done this? Not a lot, I'd guess.
While we didn't make it to Jenau, the capitol of Alaska, I think we covered a lot of the country in a short amount of time. I very much look forward to going back and I think I might have to mush dogs on a glacier in the summer next time.
This has been my journey to Alaska! I hope you feel inspired to get out and explore your area or maybe this can help you plan a trip to AK yourself! Let me know if you are liking this content by sharing this blog post, and subscribing to my adventures on Youtube!
- If you'd like to see the content I made for Lisa Ann, head to her Youtube Channel!
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