Dennis Glennon's Travel Journal
(page 3 of 8)
It felt good to be back. I love Alaska. I call it 'Disneyland for photographers'. When the weather and light cooperate, there is no bad place to be in Alaska. It's literally the most beautiful place I've ever seen. Everyone should go there at least once in their life, and
for those who can't or don't, I take pictures.
I covered virtually every interior road mile of this immense state, all in my Isuzu Trooper II, driving as far out as Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean. I could write a book on my experiences in Alaska, and someday, I just might. For now, I will share just a few of my adventures with you. My most impressive Alaskan images resulted from photographing grizzly bear on the Brooks River at Katmai, humpback whales in Frederick Sound, and arctic foxes on Prudhoe Bay. I will tell you about these experiences specifically.
The best way to photograph Katmai National Park is to camp there. Camping permits are extremely hard to come by. Knowing this, I never intended to go to Katmai. Yet, Fate seems to step in when you're doing what you're meant to. A chance encounter lead to a connection that provided me with the coveted camping permit. It was a dream come true. I could not believe my good fortune! Two people I owe a great deal of thanks to are my friend and fellow photographer, Jim Ronan, and his friend Linda Swanke who both gave me the prized permit. What is so incredible about their generous gesture is that, at the time, both of these folks didn't know me personally. But that is how it is in Alaska. People will help you out, even if they don't know you at all. I will be forever grateful to these two fantastic people for their wonderful act of kindness. Camping in Katmai was simply one of the best experiences of my life.
My stay at Katmai couldn't have been timed more perfectly. I hit the peak salmon run. There were up to three hundred salmon per minute jumping the falls. More salmon means the more grizzly bears. Some days there were a dozen or more bears feeding in the river.
My favorite image from this adventure is of the Mother Bear and Cub. I followed these two bears for the better part of the two weeks that I camped in Katmai. I hoped to capture a special moment of interaction between mother and cub. I got to watch the mother teach her baby how to swim and how to eat fish. The best moment came when they were heading in for their nap. Being creatures of habit, I knew they were going to cross the river, as they had done every day. I was waiting to photograph them swimming together, but since it was windy, Mama Bear stood up to get a whiff of the wind and to look around the reeds to make sure the coast was clear and it was safe to cross the river. When she stood up, I knew her baby would try to imitate her behavior. I started shooting film immediately. I came away with a 36-exposure roll filled with images of the two of them standing together, one of which was truly exceptional. All the hours and days waiting for that one moment paid off.
A photographer's rule to live by: Never underestimate persistence.