Entered: Monday September 5, 2016 at 02:10 AM:

Usually this blog gets an entry about every six months, but somehow this time a whole year went by!

I'm getting older and outdoor photography is becoming more difficult. So things are slowing down... Last winter and this spring I started developing some ideas for ways to use studio strobe lights for shooting macro pictures of tundra flowers. After figuring out what would be needed, and realizing a few other things that can be done with the same equipment, I acquired some pretty serious lighting gear. Fortunately it seems to work, unfortunately just about all that I did was test it out. I just never spent much actually using it.

One offshoot from that is a renewed interest in pure macro photography, and more work on the macro bench that I have for extreme macro (1x up to 20x or even greater magnification). I've been slowly developing a pretty sophisticated macro bench for over a decade now, but it is approaching its final phase. The last thing I can imagine adding is a new "device" to hold specimens for imaging. This device will have a pair of matched goniometers to allow easy precision positioning, specifically to rotate on each axis and still keep the object exactly centered.

In that light I am considering two changes to the website at some point in time. One is a section on Street Photography and the other is a section on Macro Photography. Both are genres I've seriously dabbled at for decades, but in the past 10-15 years have developed to a higher level. But showing off photography is a drastic difference for the direction of this website...

Hence, as snow and cold weather are about to return, Barrow starts another year, for my way of looking at things. It's an interesting turning point too, as this was my 70th year, and I'll be 71 in a short time.

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Entered: Sunday September 13, 2015 at 0:43 AM:

Another six months have slipped into history! Interesting months too. We had a fairly warm early summer, and a fairly wet late summer. I've started making it a regular habit to eat lunch most weekdays at the Barrow Senior Center, and that has provided some wonderful photo opportunities.

The Barrow Senior Center provides services to anyone over age 60. Among those services are an effort at tracking each senior's nutritional needs. Everyone with a "Senior Card" is asked on a regular schedule to fill out a survey. Recalcitrant seniors, like myself, who don't return the written survey are called on the phone by a wonderful lady named Yvonne Toovak. Yvonne spends a really pleasant half an hour or so getting the information. (As long as Yvonne does this, I'll never mail them a completed survey!) But Yvonne has been trying for years to talk me into eating lunch at the Center. Last spring she even read me the menu for a whole week... and it was a deal maker. (They were having spinach, which I really like and virtually never get to eat.) So she hooked me. She recently became eligible for lunch too, and on many days we sit together. If they have spinach, she gives hers to me. If they have broccoli, she gets mine.

And of course over the summer there have been a number of really nice pictures produced because I just happen to have a camera at lunch time.

The warm spring meant that I made several trips north of town on the beach, out to Point Barrow and on down the spit past it. The beach erosion has been very significant in the last couple years. Also the Nuvuk graves have been "vandalized" by waves, and much of what used to be there does not exist anymore. In late August there was a huge wind storm, which probably did even more damage. I haven't been out there to see it yet.

In August, when it should be easy to travel southwest on the beach, it was wetter and windier than usual. I only made it once as far as Walakpa, where the Wiley Post / Will Rogers monuments are located. And since the big wind storm in the last week of August the beach erosion has made it very difficult to go even that far. Again, like Pt. Barrow, I really would like to get down there that far if for no other reason than to see if the monuments have washed into the ocean.

So here it is the middle of September, and we already have snow that doesn't seem like it will all melt until next spring! Every day some melts, but every day some more comes down too. The temperatures have been right at freezing for awhile now, and as certain as anything even if it does get warmer for a short period, by the first week in October it is below freezing for the rest of the winter.

Hence in the blink of an eye, it is going to be winter again!

Of course winter here starts with fall whaling, as soon as the air temperature is cool enough to let whale meat freeze before putting it into an ice cellar. The excitement of fall whaling will permeate Barrow within just a few days.

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Entered: Thursday April 9, 2015, at 10:03 PM:

Wow... the server that has hosted this site for several years crashed last weekend. First no mail, and then no web site at all. And no contact with the server admin. So it had to be moved to new server. And the old server finally was restored only after most of the move was finished.

There have been outages before, but none that lasted for nearly as long. It was clearly time to move.

Otherwise, it's April! We've heard a couple days ago that there are Bowhead whales at Point Hope, so in about the first week of May they'll be here. That has everyone excited.

The temperatures are running just above 0F these days, so pretty soon I'll be digging a 4-wheeler out of a snowdrift and looking at what it needs to run. But 10F is a bit cold for me now, and the real fun doesn't start until it gets above freezing.

I'm expecting two new "things" with the photography on the web page this summer. One is some photomacrography. And I mean really small stuff. Not just 1:1 size, but 10x or more.

I'm also somewhat determined to take more pictures of Senior Citizens this year. That is easier in one way, because I'm getting up there myself. But moving around is harder too. We'll see...

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Entered: Thursday November 20, 2014 at 12:40 PM:

Summer has gone, and winter is here; the sun set on November 18th for the last time this year!

It was the weirdest summer ever too. It rained. The wind blew. And there were very few days when travel down the beach was reasonable. Hence, it was a total bust or wildlife photography. But the transition from summer to winter, in late September early October was rather smooth and pleasant. In particular the fall whaling season was very successful for Barrow crews.

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Entered: Sunday June 8, 2014 at 06:00 AM:

Years come and go... and another summer is upon us!

Last summer didn't have many lemmings, so there were few Snowy Owls, Arctic Foxes, or Jaegers near Barrow. This spring seems to have quite a few lemmings, but not in the huge numbers seen during the peak of their cycle. So hopefully there will be at least a reasonable number of the animals that depend on lemmings.

One way or the other, I'll be trying to keep at least a couple of 4-wheelers working all summer to allow for more photography. I've acquired a really fun looking trailer, with a top that closes and seals against water and enough space to haul a considerable amount of gear. It should allow 2 or 3 day excursions!

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Entered: Tuesday July 02, 2013 at 06:00 AM:

As suggested previously, I decided to pick up a new 4-wheeler. It happens that I also bumped into a really good deal on another used one. Currently I've got 4 working ATV's! So far it's been loads of fun too.

As of the beginning of July the beach is clear of snow drifts only down to about 5 miles from town going southwest. That requires crossing two lagoons, and both have drained out enough water to make it possible to get past the mouth of the lagoon on the beach since the middle of June. In the next couple of weeks it will open up enough to probably make it 25 miles southwest of Barrow to Skull Cliff, which is as far as is possible to go.

But this year there are very few lemmings, which means there are few if any Snowy Owls or Arctic Foxes. There are so few lemmings that there don't even seem to be any Jaegers nesting here this year. Lots of ducks and geese as usual, lots of swans, and a lot of shore birds though it doesn't seem as many as usual.

Still, it looks like this will be a great summer for getting out and doing things.

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Entered: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 8:00 PM:

Summer is long gone, and the coldest month of the year is about to begin! It can be a lot of fun though, and the North Slope Borough this year is again sponsoring a Kivgiq celebration this February.

My summer in 2012 didn't turn out the way I had hoped. I'd purchased and second used 4-wheel ATV, just to have a spare that can be loaned out or used when the other is broken. Nice idea but I ended up, starting just about the time in July when travel on the beach becomes possible, with not just one but two broken 4-wheelers that never did get fixed in time. That's was a real bummer!

Hence I did very little nature photography after the end of June. And my current thinking is that I need a brand new 4-wheeler sometime in May.

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Entered: Monday, June 4, 2012 at 1:00 PM:

A lot of water under the bridge since last October! Charlotte Brower won the runoff election and is now seated as the North Slope Borough Mayor. Fall whaling was good, and the hunt this spring was really good!

In early June we have almost transitioned to summer, though it is still freezing hard every night. Some of the successful crews in this spring's whaling season have already had their Apuyauti (which means "hit the ground") where the umiaq is brought ashore amid celebration and ceremony. Next will be Nalukataq, starting early this year on June 13th (because some people will be leaving to attend the International Whaling Commission meetings later in the month) and continuing on dates from June 21 through June 29th.

This year the Savik Crew, which I've been photographing at every chance for some time now, caught a whale in the spring hunt and will have their Nalukataq on June 21, along with their friends and close neighbors the Johnny Leavitt Crew.

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Entered: Thursday October 6 2011 at 1:20 AM:

Just to add to the last entry... The issue of a liquor store in Barrow was defeated by a significant margin. However the Mayor's race is too close to call, but certainly there will be a runoff election early in November. Between Charlotte Brower, George Ahmoagak, and Fenton Rexford none have the required 40% to win, and until questioned and absentee ballots are counted we won't even know for sure which two will be in the November runoff. At this time it appears that Brower and Ahmoagak will be the two, but that is not guaranteed.

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Entered: Tuesday October 4, 2011 at 05:10 AM:

By the end of the first week of October it is always "winter" in Barrow, and this year is no exception. We've had several days of wet snow (which only happens with the first snow), everything is white and it's almost good enough for snowmachines. It hasn't been above freezing for at least a day or two now, and probably won't be again until next spring.

Two things of significance. One is today is Election Day. We vote for a new North Slope Borough Mayor, and on whether to have a city owned package liquor store in Barrow. I make no bones about it, I'm voting for George Ahmaogak and against a liquor store.

I don't agree with George on many things; but he is the only candidate that has the administrative talent and skills required to effectively run the bureaucracy that is the Borough government. I don't see this election as even a slight question as to which candidate is best. The others are all pretty scary in terms of lacking the right skill set, even if what they want to do is valid.

Another point of interest today is how soon it will cool off just a little more, because when it does the whaling crews will begin the fall hunt. More than half the quota is available, so there will be a significant amount of whaling activity when the weather permits. First it has to be cool enough, because the meat is stored in ice cellars and if it cannot first be cooled sufficiently the cellar would become warm and the walls would melt. Second the wind and the waves have to cooperate to make boating safe. Then they hunt!

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Entered: Sunday July 31, 2011 at 07:43 AM:

This is the first entry in what will likely be a fairly sparse blog. I have no intention of writing much here that is personal, but do hope to provide at least some minimal commentary on life in Barrow.

My webpage, which is often ignored for months at a time, has been moved to a new hosting service, and the homepage has been virtually re-written in it's entirety. Not that it changed much, except for addition of clicky buttons on the right side, but it should be easier to modify and maintain in the future.

This is the last day of July... and it has been a relatively wet July, plus it's raining today, and promises that August and September will be miserable. I don't like rain.

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