The mere thought of the autumn colors decorating the Alaska landscape makes my heart beat faster. To simply envision the golden leaves of the cottonwood trees and the shades of green slowly taking on a more antiquated patina beckons a silenced ovation for the joyful season of the harvest. Dreaming about what those euphoric aromas of the forest floor will smell like again stirs up a delicious taste from deep down within my soul. Imagining a dusky fall sunset reawakens a primal instinct that has been slumbering for months. The slightest thought of hearing the wind-
I’ve always loved autumn, for many different reasons. The fall colors in the state of my birth, Missouri, were always absolutely spectacular, due to the wide variety of trees. Being immersed in the vast array of colors was something I always looked forward to and treasured immensely. And, I still do.
When I moved to Kodiak Island, I was not sure what to expect in the way of fall color. While Alaska certainly gets its fair share of autumn vibrancy, the Great Land does not have near the biodiversity in the way of tree species as the Midwest. To my pleasant surprise though, I’ve found the autumn months to be very colorful indeed. While the season does not last as long as it does in many parts of the lower 48, it is still a magical time of year which I enjoy photographing immensely.
Joseph Classen out exploring and photographing the beautiful autumn landscapes of Alaska.
This is one of my favorite Kodiak autumn images. It’s a good mix and example of the color pallet of the area during the fall. The primary species of trees on the island are Sitka spruce, cottonwood, and alder. When mixed together, along with a beautiful blue sky and a reflective body of water, the results have the makings of a classic landscape composition.
These two images are of one of my favorite year-
Bird Creek is a very picturesque area on the Kenia Peninsula. I spend a fair amount of time on the mainland of Alaska each year, either for business or pleasure. No matter the reason, I always make it a point to take a drive down the Seward Highway to take in the sights. This image is one of my favorites from my many hours on that long, beautiful stretch of road.
In the fall of 2015, a buddy and I did a float trip on a thirty-
The next leg of the adventure proved to be quite an exhausting one, as we had to disassemble, unpack, and portage the raft and all of our gear up and over several hills and valleys in order to get around a genuinely deadly set of waterfalls. It took many trips and a lot of sweat and elbow grease, but we eventually completed the portage, re-
There was not much wildlife activity along the way, other than a sow grizzly bear with three cubs, a few moose here and there, and one magnificent bull caribou! It’s truly amazing how few wild animals there actually are out there in the incomprehensible expanses of Alaskan wilderness. All in all, it was an unforgettable adventure for many reasons. Spending a week on a remote river in the heart of the Great Land is simply an experience like no other.
While the elements of nature are the primary subject matter of my photography work, now and again I also like to seek out manmade subjects immersed in the midst of a stunning environment to focus on. The juxtaposition of the two always make for a thought provoking contrast. Such is the case with these two images. The float plane photo was taken on a calm morning in Bethel, which is on the West Coast of Alaska. I captured this image on the morning I headed out for an adventure in a section of the Yukon Delta…an unbelievably vast, 26-
The photo of the John Deere tractor was taken on Kodiak. I was out and about looking for something interesting to photograph when this lone piece of equipment really caught my eye. It was a perfect autumn evening, with near perfect lighting. That popular piece of machinery almost seemed as if it was alive and breathing in such a vibrant setting.
Not all photographs from the autumn months are of vibrant trees full of explosive, bright colors. One of my favorite places to be in the fall is also the deep, dark, moss-
These images are from some of my favorite such locations on Kodiak Island. They are places that I have spent hours not just photographing, but more so, gently hiking along, exploring, prayerfully meditating, and simply being immersed in the indescribable tranquility that those magical green forests exude. These are places that I always bring my photography tour clients to, and it is almost always the highlight of the trip for them.
As I’ve mentioned in some of the stories from other galleries, the strangest things show up in the strangest places in Alaska. These images are more examples of that phenomena. While out scouting locations for doing some autumn nighttime photo-
The other two images here are of a neat little sailboat that again simply showed up one day, stayed around for a few weeks, and then just disappeared. I never saw anybody in it. It just rested peacefully there in the protective, calm waters of the bay, like the subject of all those classic sailboat watercolor paintings one sees. And, that was exactly the kind of composition I strived to create with my camera.
I rarely include people in my compositions. As a nature and wildlife photographer, I generally stay focused on those two subjects. However, photographs of people in unforgettable natural settings do make for unforgettable images. This is one such example. I was working as a guide on Karluk Lake during the fall a few years back when out of the blue, a slight storm front blew through the area, resulting in a spectacular rainbow. As fate would have it, a fly fisherman (fishing for rainbow trout, among other things) was almost right in line with where the rainbow touched down. And, at the exact moment the bow lit up the sky, the fisherman caught a fish! I grabbed my camera and snapped a few shots as fast as I could, knowing that this magical moment would be very fleeting. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! The old Boy Scout motto held true once again, “Always be prepared!”
The second rainbow image here was taken on the Auyakulik River, on the super-
The autumn months go by very fast in Alaska. Blink your eyes, and all those beautiful colored leaves are long gone, blown off the trees and swept away by one of many windstorms that pass through the land on any given day. The tail end of autumn is essentially winter, as far as how the land looks and feels. However, there is still great beauty to behold. These four images are my favorite, and most popular late-
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Alaska Wall Art
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