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Aerials of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

My last post about the Brooks range reflected the common frustration of photographing in Alaska’s interior with summer forest fires. In early June, I had the chance to fly across the Brooks range through the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge doing some aerial photography. This was before the smoke and fire season build up in the interior, and, I thought it a timely to post a few of those images in light of my last failed attempt.

Aerial of the Brooks range mountains, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

Aerial of the Brooks range mountains, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

Flying over the Brooks range will forever readjust ones mind in respect to wilderness, vastness and sheer rugged beauty. It’s really hard to process such giant spaces; mountains ridges, then rivers, then more mountains, then more rivers, and on it goes, all without habitation. My flight was about 2 hours from the Arctic ocean to Coldfoot, with the back door off the Dehaviland Beaver. The pilot, Dirk Nickisch and his wife Danielle (www.flycoyote.com), run a flight service out of Coldfoot. Dirk knows what he is doing and I always feel safe flying with him.

On a more techy note, upon reviewing the digital files, I was reminded that a high shutter speed is so essential. I’ve done aerials from many different planes, and in many different conditions and have eeked by in some circumstances with a shutter speed of 1/250 or so, but given all the factors that come into play, about 1/800 sec is a good minimum. Even at 1/400 sec, I had some motion blur (not vibration blur) of foreground mountains when flying by.

Below are a few scenes from this fantastic region.

Aerial of the wild and scenic Wind River, Brooks range, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

Aerial of the wild and scenic Wind River, Brooks range, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

Aerial of the Davidson mountains of the Brooks range, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

Aerial of the Davidson mountains of the Brooks range, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

Aerial of the Davidson mountains of the Brooks range, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

Aerial of the Davidson mountains of the Brooks range, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

Aerial of the Phillip Smith mountains of the Brooks range, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

Aerial of the Phillip Smith mountains of the Brooks range, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

  • Stefan - Hi

    I found you’re amazing pictures wile searching for photos of the Wind River. I am so captivated by the power and colours of your photographs!!! 3 weeks only, and I will paddle the Wind River, so I hope to get also a chance to get similar photos from the plane.

    best regards,

    Stefan, SwitzerlandReplyCancel

    • Patrick - Stefan,
      I’m very curious about the Wind River. Would you mind letting me know how your trip goes? I’m considering floating that river in the next few years.ReplyCancel

  • Patrick - Ruth,
    Thanks for your appreciation for the photos. I’m currently working on a book, but not inclusive of all of these photos however. There is plenty of photo material in that great land for a book subject indeed. Thanks for visiting my blog.
    PatrickReplyCancel

  • Ruth Backup - What absolutely beautiful photo’s. Is this in book form? Would love to purchase, and to be able to give as gifts. RuthReplyCancel

  • Patrick - Eli,
    It is really tough to shoot through an airplane window. And, it all depends on the clarity of the window. Sometimes it works, but 90% of the time, there is either distortion at the edges, or just plain old marks and reflections in the Plexiglas. Whenever possible, I try to have the door removed, or at least shoot through a window that can be opened. All planes are configured a little differently. I like supercubs the most since there is usually an opening window on both sides, which is extremely versatile.
    PatrickReplyCancel

  • Eli Mitchell - What an amazing trip! I always love your aerials, especially of the Brooks Range. Great lighting. Is aerial photography done through the airplane window?ReplyCancel

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