Friday, March 06, 2009

Perfection Under The Vast Yukon Sky

Yes, We Did A U-Turn On The Alaska Highway

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


Sometimes you need a bit of luck. In early September, I was on the Alaska Highway, travelling from Haines Junction to Whitehorse, after being lucky enough to get a shot of a charging grizzly a couple of hours earlier.

We had covered close to 2000 kilometres in six days and, as always, my head was swivelling in every direction as I sat in the passenger seat. I used two cameras during the trip, a Pentax K100D with my 18-125mm lens and a Pentax K200D with my 70-300mm lens. I had shot several hundred pictures through the window of the 4WD as we travelled at 100 kilometres an hour.

But this time, I only had time to squeeze off a couple of shots as a lake flashed past on my side of the vehicle. Margaret Goodwin of Yukon Tourism was at the wheel and I asked her a few seconds later if she would actually mind turning back. Willingly, she found a spot to do a U-turn and we retraced our path as I looked for the lake.

It was the only time on the entire trip that we had doubled back – and it was well worth it.

So why did I make the unusual request? Because all through my week in the territory, I had been looking for the quintessential Yukon shot. I wanted one frame that would capture a vast horizon, under a big sky, encapsulating snowy mountains and some of the beautiful fall colours.


Yes, I had shot several scenes that fulfilled those self-imposed requirements – but for some reason I knew this vista would be one of the best. I guess I would rank it with another shot taken on the same trip, the fourth and final frame on my post Big Blue of mountain peaks reflected in the surface of an amazing blue lake near Dawson City.

The Blue Lake shots were taken under a flawless blue sky, but here on the Alaska Highway, the sky was a showcase of beautiful hues that looked like a watercolour painting. As you can see from these shots, it was dusk and there were ribbons of blue-grey cloud above the mountains. The lake was perhaps 250 metres from one end to the other. As you can see from the shots, it was fringed by trees that spanned several colours from autumn’s palette.

And there was very little breeze. While this might not seem like an important factor, it comes into play in a big way when you are photographing a reflection on the surface of water, as I was attempting here.

Not one of these images has been enhanced in any way. I never use Photoshop – as most readers know by now. The true beauty of communicating through photography is to allow someone to see exactly what you saw through your lens.

That evening in the Yukon, everything suddenly seemed to come together for this series of shots.


For other participants in
Dot’s concept, go to Sky Watch HQ.

51 comments:

Hilary said...

Those shots are indeed perfect. I love that crystal clear reflection

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Och so you are at it again! Thanks so much for the post of the day runner up thingy!

I wish I had an ounce of talent for photography - I'm a thumb over the lens merchant.

You must see so many nuances in life having the eye that you have. So much of it we miss just scanning a vista without paying enough attention to the sum of its parts. Beautiful pictures.

Louise said...

These could not be more beautiful. Definitely worth a turn-around. I AM surprised it was the only time on the trip, however!

jinksy said...

The reflection seems more real than the actual scenery - uncanny.

skywind said...

Oh, the beauty of the lake. Is simply too beautiful. Nature is full of charm. Thank you for allowing so we appreciate the beauty of the scenery.

Health is the Greatest Happiness & The World at The Present

spacedlaw said...

Wonderful shots.

Maggie May said...

The shots seem to be perfect in every way!
Colours are so soft and lovely.
Reflections crystal clear.

Pat - Arkansas said...

Exquisite!

What popped into my mind:
"For every thing (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose under heaven." -- Ecclesiastes/The Byrds

katherine. said...

love reflections...this one IS perfection

Sylvia K said...

Absolutely exquisite! The sky, the mountain, the refections in the water, the colors. Incredible! Thanks as always, David!

Maalie said...

Lovely the way you have caught the reflection of the stratocumulus in the tarn.

richies said...

Great shots. Definately worth going back for. I haven't been in the Yukon since a trip I took with my family in 1970. I hope to go back someday.

An Arkies Musings

Mojo said...

Definitely well worth the effort! U-turn and all. I can't imagine it's all that easy to get a steady shot on the AH at 100kph. As I've heard it, that's not the smoothest road known to the transportation world. So good that you stopped to get this one. That reflection wouldn't have been the same otherwise.

Tranquility said...

Wow - beautiful!!

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

those are sublime David....majestic!!
Have you been published my National Geographic?

Nessa said...

Wow!

Sandi McBride said...

Aren't these places where it's not overrun with mankind the most beautiful places on earth? Breathtaking work, David
Sandi

RuneE said...

We don't agree about Photoshop, but you sure get you point across!

Merisi said...

Definitely worth turning back! :-)

San said...

Mesmerizing, David.

Teri C said...

Just gorgeous photos!

Rob Ripma said...

Great shots. I hope to someday have the opportunity to drive the Alaska Highway and photograph in that region.

Guy D said...

Brilliant photos david, you never disappoint.

Have a great weekend!
Guy
Regina In Pictures

cheshire wife said...

Masterly! The outline is the same in all three photos but the colours are so different.

Rottlady of the Ozarks said...

They are perfect! Everyone of them. Thanks so much for making that U-turn. Lovely!

imac said...

You've done it again David, ??lol.
Super shots and info, love the reflections, Wonder how many pics you have in your libary?.

Pagan Sphinx said...

Your photographs are just amazing. I had to pause for a dramatic breath!

Lene said...

Your pictures today is just soo peaceful and beautiful. And you are right - natural is the best. But anyway - I have just discovered Photoshop and other editing programs - and it is really fun!!! I love it - but maby it`s just for a period - back to natural later, maby??? Don`t know - but I am having lots of fun in the meantime :)

Have a great weekend :)

Carver said...

These are so beautiful. I'd love to visit there sometime.

rosiescribble said...

Beautiful photos David, very atmospheric!

Janie said...

I agree, those are the quintessential mountain shots. Just lovely.

joan said...

Beautiful capture David and I love the reflection!

Arija said...

What a wonderful week you had, standing up to a grizzly and getting those great yukon shots!

ReluctantFarmChik said...

Man - your pond beats the pants off my mud-puddle! Amazing shots, as usual. LOVE the reflections. Thanks for making a U-turn! Keep it up.

Sandy said...

Beautiful shots, David, and looks like you've been to some of the same spots that I have on my journeys to & from Alaska. I lived up there for 15 years; never got it out of my system...now go up there about once a year to visit my son & his family on the Kenai. The scenic photo on my blog spot was taken on one of my trips; it was a beautiful spot that had to be captured. One day I'll have to tell you & my readers MY "Griz" story...stay tuned. You sure know how to get the best out of a camera. Thanks for your wonderful blogs; I am inspired:-}

Mrs. Organic said...

Absolutely breathtaking!

Rob Inukshuk said...

Well' that just proves, you have an eye for a perfect shot as those are simply stunning. It's exactly what I would expect of the Yukon - I have yet to get there, but then Canada is sooo big with so much beauty.

Bradley Myers said...

Great photos, we vacationed in Alaska two years ago, what a wonderful trip.

The Things We Carried said...

Every picture is a postcard.

Muthering Heights said...

Beautiful!

Jewels said...

Stunning David.

Luiz Santilli Jr said...

Hi David

I'm Mechanical Engineer and for me symmetry is harmony!
Wonderful landscape with natural symmetry!

Luiz

Cherie said...

That first shot is simply stunning!

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

David these are all wonderful pictures, love the light, vista and reflections.

introspection said...

These pictures are mind blowing, and could have come only from your camera, David. My favourite shot is the last frame. You have captured nature's perfection under the sky with your natural eye for beauty. Thanks for transferring your perfect vision to us via lens' eyes. Picture Perfect & immortalised images..!!
With your back ground writings, I am learning to appreciate a special art of unedited photography. Photoshop is a prop for us amateurs and not for a maestro like you.
Kudos to photographic excellence...!!!

Corey~living and loving said...

That first shot...is none other than amazing. :)

Cath said...

Luck? LUCK??!!

That's talent and they are impressive shots. Perfect, as Hilary says.

Debbie @Like a Rose said...

Postcard perfect shots! Nice capture of the beautiful scenery.

E said...

This helped me to escape for a brief moment.

If only i had a tiny granual of talent to take photographs.

Sarah Laurence said...

Beautiful photos and well worth the detour. You make me want to go back to Alaska to see the fall colors.

Pouty Lips said...

Only one turn around but it looks like it was the only one you needed!