Tag Archives: Glacier Bay

My favorite photos of 2009

First, I want to wish all readers of this humble photo blog a very


Second, this year your devoted author has decided to join the growing tradition where photo blogs post a collection of their favorite photos from the year.

To accomplish this, I’ve gone through the photos I made in 2009 and used Lightroom to rate them from 0 through 5 stars. The rating system I’ve adopted is as follows:

  • 1 star – The photo is interesting
  • 2 stars – The photo is worth showing to others
  • 3 stars – The photo is the best of (or one of the best of ) a given shoot
  • 4 stars – My favorite photo of a year
  • 5 stars – My favorite photo (ever)

Photos without stars are seconds or not so good versions of other photos. I’ll keep them, but they probably won’t get any more attention.  Since adopting this rating system, I’ve tried to use it consistently.  Before this I would rate images, but the meaning of the ratings would vary.  As far as what they mean now, it’s all subjective and my opinion only.  Feel free to disagree, but I hope you’ll enjoy looking at the ones I’ve chosen.

I was really blessed in 2009 with a huge number of photo opportunities.  On my hard drive in my 2009 folder, I have about 16,000 images, taking up 164GB of space (I shoot mostly in RAW).  Of these:

  • 3804 of the images have been cataloged in Lightroom.  Many of the remainder are source images for multi-shot panoramas or HDRs, or high rate bursts that I selected from.
  • 1084 are rated 1 star or higher
  • 692 are 2 star or higher
  • 75 are 3 star or higher
  • 1 is 4 star, and
  • None are 5 star (I’m not done taking photos yet!)

Of the 692 that are 2 star or higher, I’ve selected 44 (mostly 3 star) images to include in a gallery of my favorite 2009 photos.  You’ve seen many of these photos in this blog, already.  But where it made sense, I re-processed them to try and improve them.  Here are the top ten. You can click on each of these to go to Flickr, where you can see a larger version.

My #10 favorite photo is:  Great Blue Heron in flight.  This heron didn’t like me aiming my camera at it.  It’s making a lot of noise as it leaves the area.  I was able to pan with its motion to get a sharp shot.
Great Blue Heron in flight

My #9 favorite photo is: Ketchikan harbor.  The trawler Isis, a house in the background, and the parked float plane are very representative of Alaska.

My #8 favorite photo is: Black Point Sunrise. This reminds me of a boundary of a set of points in a complex plane (i.e. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandelbrot_set)
Black Point Sunrise

My #7 favorite photo is: Glacier Bay Sunrise, A dawn panorama heading in to Glacier Bay National Park.
Glacier bay sunrise panorama

My #6 favorite photo is: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck in flight.  We saw this unusual and photogenic duck at Orlando Wetlands Park.
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck in flight

My #5 favorite photo is: Lake Lily Park tree and bird at dawn.  Sometimes you go out specifically to photograph.  Other times you go out just  carrying your camera.  It’s exciting to me when I find a photo like this one while I’m just out carrying my camera.  The light on this Cyprus tree caught my eye as we walked around the Lily Lake  one Saturday morning looking at their flea market.  The bird in the middle distance was a bonus.
Lake Lily Park tree and bird at dawn

My #4 favorite photo is: Blackpoint Wildlife Drive: Wide angle, winter dawn. On this particular morning, it was hard coming up with any good photo inspiration for the sunrise.  There were no clouds, not much color in the sky, not a lot of interesting landscape detail, no cooperating wildlife, the wind was blowing pretty hard, etc.  This palm tree had an interesting vine growing in it that was pointing back toward the road, so I  made it the subject of the picture and violated all the composition rules by putting it way off too one side.  To me, the road leading past the tree could represent the last part of the long journey of exploration and learning that led to being able to make this photo in this place at this time. The road is empty because each person’s journey is unique. Oh, and BPWD just happens to be a one way road – toward the photographer. The somewhat surreal colors come from a program called “Photomatix” that will “tone map” multiple, bracketed exposures.  Anyway, I liked it too.
Blackpoint Wildlife Drive: Wide angle, winter dawn

My #3 favorite photo is: Gorilla watching people, Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, Disney’s Wild Kingdom.
Gorilla watching people

My #2 favorite photo is: Breaching humpback, off shore from Juneau, Alaska.  In the full res version, the two white dots in tree to the upper left behind the whale are bald eagles.
Breaching humpback whale near Juneau

And … my #1 favorite photo of the year is: Ship, water, glacier, rock.  A multiple shot panorama showing Johns Hopkins Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park from the cruise ship MS Westerdam.  The full res version of this photo is 7747 x 4716 pixels = 36.5 megapixels.
Panorama view of Johns Hopkins Glacier from Cruise ship deck

I’ve posted a gallery of all 44 images on my website at www.edrosack.com/BO09.  I’ve also uploaded them to this Flickr set, and you can click this link to watch a slide show at Flickr.  When you watch the show, you might want to click the “show info” link.

Thanks for looking.

All content ©2009, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Our Alaskan vacation – Ch. 2: Glaciers

This is the second installment of our Alaskan adventure, where I’ll show you the glaciers we visited. Chapter One is here and describes the wildlife we saw on our trip.

Our ship, the MS Westerdam left Seattle on Sunday, September 6th and headed north to Glacier Bay National Park where we arrived on Tuesday.  Glacier Bay was one of the main reasons that we picked this itinerary and we were looking forward to seeing it.  The morning started out beautifully, with a very nice sunrise.


While cruising in Glacier Bay, we visited Lamplugh, Johns Hopkins, and Marjorie glaciers.  Several cruise ships had been unable to reach the Johns Hopkins glacier this season due to ice, so apparently we were lucky.  Here’s a panorama I made from the 4th deck of the Westerdam at Johns Hopkins glacier.


One of the first things we noticed is that the color of the water close to the glaciers is a very distinct greenish blue.  According to this article on wired.com (which also has some stunning photos of glaciers taken from space) the color is due to the very fine silt that is ground away from the valley walls by the glacier and deposited in the water.  This “glacial flour” can be very reflective and turns the water this color.

At Marjorie glacier, I was in the right place at the right time to photograph the ice calving.  Here’s the middle photo of a three photo sequence (you can see the others when you visit the gallery for this post).


When we exited Glacier Bay, we headed for Juneau where we also visited Mendenhal Glacier, among other things.


When we were back on board in Juneau, the captain made an announcement about gale force winds and 40 foot seas that were expected off of Sitka, which was supposed to be our next stop.  To avoid this weather he decided instead to cruise through Tracy Arm fjord, where we spent all of the next day (Thursday, September 10th).  Tracy Arm is a truly spectacular place that isn’t often visited by cruise ships as large as the MS Westerdam.  We were able to get in there since our Alaskan waters pilot was very familiar with the place.  It was amazing to watch the ship maneuver in such tight waters — at times we were within 30 yards or so of cliff walls and we must have seen hundreds of waterfalls.  There was quite a bit of fog and haze, which made photography difficult, but I did manage to get some good shots.  Here’s one example of the scenery:


I also put my Canon G9 on a Gorillapod, mounted it to the balcony rail and made some movies. Here’s a time lapse video (one frame per second) that I made in Tracy Arm. It has a sequence of clouds forming and moving along with the ship.  We saw this same phenomenon several times that day.  Was it perhaps the great spirit of the northwest accompanying us on our tour?

That night after exiting Tracy Arm fjord, our course carried us back into the Pacific Ocean in order to get to Ketchikan.  It was still pretty rough with about 25 foot seas.  We had a great view of the ocean from the second deck during dinner.  It was like eating on a roller coaster!  The next morning, when we arrived in Ketchikan, we had seaweed on our 6th deck balcony!


You can view the rest of my glacier photos in two places.  I added a set of glacier photos here in my photo galleries.   You can also look at all of our Alaska photos together in a single time ordered set here on Flickr.  Clicking on one of the photos above will also take you to Flickr, where if you click on the “all sizes” button, you can see the photo in a higher res version.

Coming next:  “North to Alaska, Ch. 3: Miscellaneous photos.  I’ll also probably wrap up with a Chapter 4: Photo hints.

©2009, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.