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Cali.1: LA Beach

California Trip
My brother and I embarked on a 9 day trip in California during the end of May 2017. We started in LA.

Day 1
My brother and I landed in LAX and drove to our hotel in Santa Monica. Then we took an uber to Venice downtown. We walked through the Venice canals, and then walked a few miles along the beach from “Muscle Beach” in Venice all the way to Santa Monica Pier. The sun set during the end of the walk by the pier, but my favorite part of this was how active and lively the people were along the. Along the 3 miles we walked, people were working out at muscle beach, playing beach volleyball, rugby, basketball, biking, skateboarding with their dog, rollerblading, etc. I loved the energy. Below is a map of our walk, and a group of photos taken during the day, of course.

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Venice Canal Historical District

Walk from Venice to Santa Monica

On the Santa Monica Pier

Smartphones Need Smart Pictures #1: Adding a Layer of Meaning to Pictures 

***BE A PART OF THIS BLOG!***

For each challenge, comment with an Instagram link or email me a photo (mattlau95@gmail.com). I want to add your pictures to each post!

With our smartphones today we live in a snapshot era. Having a camera at our fingertips results in the sharing of moments. When something exciting, beautiful, or bizarre meets the eye, we can immediately “snap and share.” These moments are intrinsically beautiful; however, the images used to share these moments lack image quality and often fail to provide capture any aesthetic appeal. However, I believe that with the combination of basic photography skills and an ounce of extra effort, the fleeting aesthetic can be captured. With that, I dare say that smartphones need smart pictures. For this blog sub-series I’m focusing on the how powerful a smartphone really is. All pictures will be taken from my iPhone SE and blog post composed on my WordPress app.

Post No. 1: Adding a Layer of Meaning to Pictures (Smartphones Need Smart Pictures No. 1)

What I’m talking about in this post is one of my favorite things to incorporate into a photograph. When capturing a moment, I always try and ask myself: “can I add anything to enhance this photograph?” For example, about a month ago, I bought a burger from a food truck (moment). I took a photo of that burger (primary layer). I positioned myself in a way to take the picture with the food truck blurred in the background (secondary layer).

Result:

Here’s another example that I just put together today in my room.

Moment: I saw that one my guitar picks looks like it’s melting due to wear and tear.

Primary Layer: holding my guitar pick with my left hand (taking the picture with my right).


How I add a quick secondary layer to this?

Secondary Layer: Guitar blurred in background.

Immediately there’s an extra layer in the picture- something more for one to look at. The focus is still on the guitar pick, with the guitar blurred in the background.

This aesthetic appeal is something we always do with human subjects. When we go on vacation and see a beautiful landmark (moment), we take a picture of ourselves (primary layer) with the landmark in the background (secondary layer).

Tip: To ensure the a blur in the background, it’s best when the primary layer is somewhat close to your camera. Also make sure that  the camera is focused on that subject in the primary layer.

So I challenge you to incorporate this into your pictures!

Now the question is, can there be a third layer? I think so.

(Moment: Sunset at a beach in Fort Myers during Spring Break // Layer 1:  shells on sand // Layer 2: beach and sky // Layer 3 (time): sunset)

And to conclude, heres the challenge for this post:

Challenge: With the examples shown above, try to do the same: add an extra layer (or more!) to a basic photo.

Comment with or send me your challenge results! Along with the image, if you have courage to try, tell me the moment and layers of your photograph. I can embed your Instagram post here right onto this blog!

Examples:

(Moment: Playing football with my buddy Josh // Layer 1 (focus): football // Layer 2 (blur): Josh smiling // Layer 3 (background): football field)

Photography Guide LR1: Chromatic Aberration – What It Is & How To Fix It (a Lightroom Tutorial)

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I’m in Fort Myers, Florida for spring break vacation right now, and the great weather has given me a great chance to see and photograph animals outdoors.

I took a picture of this squirrel this past week.
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Do you see the ugly neon purple/pink color that surrounds the branches? Do you see the un-natural neon green as well? This is an example of chromatic aberration.

Chromatic aberration is an optics issue that occurs because different colors of light travel at different speeds when passing through a lens. The result can be manifested in color fringingcolored edges within the image. (Source: Photography Life).

This is something you can fix quite easily in Lightroom, using its Defringing tool.

NOTE: I’d love for you to use this image to follow along this color adjustment tutorial, so here’s the RAW file for this squirrel photograph: https://www.dropbox.com/s/imhw9m87hi98q23/Squirrel_Color_Fringing_Template_Matt_Lau.ARW?dl=0

Here’s the image before after making Lightroom color corrections to remove chromatic aberration/color fringing.

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Step 0: Crop the Image.LR1-2

Step 1: Find the Lens Correction Tab on the right hand side toolbar in Lightroom.
Step 2: Select the Color section.
Step 3: Click on the “Fringe Color Selector” (the dropper icon).

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Step 4: Hover over the image.
With the dropper now “equipped,” you’ll see this palette of colors when you hover your mouse over the image.

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Your selection will be the center square of the palette grid. Once you click on a spot, Lightroom will do its magic and remove purple fringing from your image.

Step 5: Click on a spot in the image where there is purple fringing.

Note: If you click on a color that Lightroom doesn’t recognize as purple/magenta or green/blue, the program will give you a nice error message and you can easily try again).

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Lightroom’s magic will immediately remove some of that harsh neon purplish-pink-ish color. But not always enough, as the case here. There is still very terrible fringing in man parts of the image. One that particularly “sticks” out is the branch right above the squirrel’s right ear (viewer’s left-side).  Pun intended 🙂

Step 6: Make manual adjustments.
Here’s when we want to manually mess around with the settings in the Color section of the Lens Corrections Tab.

Focus only on the first “Amount” horizontal bar and “Purple Hue” bar below it (these have to do with purple fringing. The two bars below are for green fringing).

Here are the settings I had for the squirrel image before after I manually adjusted the fringing:

Lightroom had used the color I had selected with the color picker and chosen to drastically defringe the image (Amount: 20)  over a small Purple Hue range (32/45). After messing around with the settings myself,, I extended the Purple Hue range to 32/100, which removed a good amount of the purplish/pink that was still present in the image.

Here’s a look at our progression so far. No color adjustments -> Lightroom Auto-Adjustment –> Manual Setting Adjustment

Important Note: be EXTREMELY careful when performing color corrections on Lightroom. Always check the entire image and see if the color has affected anything else incorrectly. Sometimes when removing purple fringing too much, it will start to remove pink/red/purple color from the image (for example: purple clothing, dark red lipstick, etc.).

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Image after purple-fringe removal.

Step 7: Remove green fringing, using similar steps as before.

Alright. On to the green fringing. I’ll be less detailed- let you figure more of it out on your own!

Choosing the color selector again, I hovered over patch of cyan color on the twig to the upper left hand side of the squirrel’s tail, then clicked on the most neon grid.

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Lightroom did a great job here. But there’s still a little cyan hiding around somewhere.

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Can you find it?

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There’s a little bit in the fur of the tail, as well as the border of the squirrel’s left ear (your right side).

I would then adjust the Green Hue range to account for more blue (48/69 -> 48/100).

As you can see below, a good amount blue in the tail has disappeared.

Color corrections complete!

Step 8: Make image more sharper and/or more appealing.
Lastly I’m going to use the adjust the sharpness of the image and some basic light settings to make the image more vivid and appealing.

LR1-8Sharpening: (+) Sharpness – 77, (+) Radius – 1.5
Noise Reduction: (+) Luminance – 11, (-) Detail (under Luminance) – 7, (-) Detail (under Color) – 3

Then I just adjusted a few Basic light settings.

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And alas, the final image.

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Challenge #LR1: Try making color corrections on Lightroom to remove chromatic aberration. Feel free to use my image, or perhaps your own (which leads to Challenge #LR2)!

Challenge #LR2:  Find a photograph of your own that you have taken in the past that has chromatic aberration in it, or take a new one! I’ve found that it occurs very often when a subject is in front of an overexposed (or very bright) sunlit background (for example, the squirrel’s background is the sun-lit sky). 

Please comment with any questions you may have, or if there is any part of this tutorial that is unclear or difficult to understand. I would also love to the see any results you may have achieved while trying the challenges listed above. Until next time!

 

 

Photography Guide D1: Can Photography be Unethical?

Guide Entry D1 (D = Discussion)

About a week has passed since the 2017 Academy Awards. A year after #OscarsSoWhte, this year’s Best Picture was awarded to Moonlight, a movie focused on African American.

Even then, the moment was somewhat overshadowed by the mixup that occurred as La La Land was mistakenly announced as the Oscar winner first.

Fortunately, both the creators of Moonlight and La La Land took this lightly. And the consensus is that Moonlight is truly a phenomenal movie that deserved the award, and so was La La Land. This year, one could say the Oscar winner for Best Picture wasn’t decided because of race. This is refreshing, especially during a time when tension race relations are still fuming.

However- to this day, the movie industry remains filled with cultural appropriation. Last year, I remember watching Tina Fey’s movie Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, which cast two whites to play significant Afghan roles. Pretty messed up… and I love Tina Fey.

This year, Matt Damon starred in The Great Wall as a European mercenary that saves China. Why is the protagonist role given to a white man? China is powerful country… it’s done just fine on it’s own. Many people of Chinese heritage, including myself, found this very ridiculous. Asian American comedian Jenny Yang started a hashtag trend to make fun of this: #ThankYouMattDamon. (Source: NJ.com)

It’s easy to be disappointed when seeing this. It makes no sense to have a character of a certain race be played by another. In other words, why should a white actor play the role of a Chinese warrior? White dominance has been something that affects the movie industry greatly; Aziz Ansari also addresses this issue within the TV industry in his Netflix show Master of None. I believe it’s present in photography as well- a topic I’m more versed in.

Then I thought: I have look at myself and my love for photography. Can I be found guilty of exercising unethical dominance over others in my own life? 

I have. During a windy and torrential winter day last December, I was in New York City for a career networking event on 44th and 7th. I took a subway one stop uptown from Penn Station to Times Square. Exiting the Times Square subway station, I saw a couple seated on the floor. They were protected from pouring rain by the subway station entrance roof, but exposed to the harsh winter wind coming from outside.

I decided to photograph this scene. In fact, I even posted it on Instagram later on.

#homeless. What the heck was that for? Although the photo captured a beautiful moment as the female gently takes care of the man. I was eager to take a photo of this scene; at the same time, I was ashamed. I tried to be as nonchalant as possible, hoping no one would see me taking the photo.

Why? I took their photo and I captured a emotion-filled image, but I didn’t know their names. I didn’t donate any money or food to them. I’m privileged enough to enjoy photography as a hobby, while the subjects I had photographed don’t even have a place to call home. I was “borrowing” their homelessness for the sake of my photography.

Unethical photography has been an a topic of debate dating back to the 19th century, the century when photography was invented. Colonization and Imperialism in the 1800s played important roles in the origins of photography. Photographers would travel to other countries and photograph people from other civilizations.

Take a look here at a photograph of a Turkish woman by a French photographer Earnest Benecke:

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Earnest Benecke, Mahbrook, Turkish Woman Smoking Nargile, 1852.

Photographs back then required exposure times that could take up to 30 seconds- this was not a candid. In my Art History class, we discussed the interaction that may have taken place between the German photographer and the Turkish woman. Did he pay her? Regardless, Benecke “borrowed” the Turkish woman’s “subordinate” culture for his own gain.

Here’s another photo taken in the 1990s:

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Andrea Robbins & Max Becher, Chief, from the series Karl May Festival, 1997-98.

The man in the photograph is a white German, dressed up as a Native American Apache chief for his own leisure. This man “borrowed” the Native American headdress for his own pleasure.

This photograph would be an example of cultural appropriation, which when definite is “something that typically involves members of a dominant group exploiting the culture of less privileged groups — often with little understanding of the latter’s history, experience and traditions. … In the United States, cultural appropriation almost always involves members of the dominant culture (or those who identify with it) “borrowing” from the cultures of minority groups.”
(Source: http://racerelations.about.com)

In 2014, Pharrell Williams, music star and judge for NBC’s The Voice, wore a Native American feather headdress on the cover of Elle magazine.

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Source: Elle Magazine

Williams faced immediate criticism. Although he claims to have some Native American heritage, he apologized with a statement on Buzzfeed: “I am genuinely sorry. I respect and honour every kind of race, background and culture.” (Source: Independent UK)

The Indian Country Media Network made a statement: “Many of the people who are appalled by this image are deeply connected to their Native culture and live it every day. If they say the picture is hurtful, it’s hurtful, and a Cherokee grandmother doesn’t change that.” (Source: Independent UK)

Similarly, the professional football team Washington Redskins have faced countless backlash for using the mascot name “Redskins”– a term for Native Americans that is considered offensive. I’ll let one of my favorite comedians, John Oliver, speak for me here:

(Source: HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver)

One last example:

Afghan Girl by Steve McCurry (Source: National Geographic)

This was an award winning still by National Geographic’s photographer Steve McCurry. The woman in the photograph was a refugee living in Pakistan during a time of Soviet invasion in her home Afghanistan. Her parents were killed by a Soviet bomb. McCurry captured this photograph during a visit to a refugee camp and went on to achieve success and fame, while the woman in the photograph continued to live life of survival as a refugee. (Source: National Geographic)

The photograph was titled Afghan Girl. She didn’t even have a name. McCurry would eventually return to meet the woman (named Sharbat Gula) and take another photo to headline a “then and now” article for National Geographic. But even then, you could say McCurry “borrowed” this Sharbat’s suffering for his photographic success.

 

It’s easy for me to complain about the atrocity of these images. It’s not fair that Earnest Benecke in the 1800s to photograph this woman for his own fame. It’s messed up for someone to dress up as a Native American chief just for funsies-Pharrell Williams even apologized for it. It’s unethical for The Washington Redskins make millions while it’s name is derogatory and offensive. Steve McCurry added to his photographic legacy in America while the subject in his photo went on to live a difficult life as a Afghan refugee.

There are countless examples of this in our society today, but let’s return to my experience photographing a homeless couple in New York City. I would like to say that I wanted to capture the woman’s care for her ill partner as well as the homelessness that they are living through. But there’s still something inside me that bothers me- I didn’t help them, and I posted the photograph online on social media. My intent was for others to see my photograph- a photograph of people suffering nonetheless.

My final conclusion is somewhat open-ended. I believe that art can be a powerful tool to demonstrate people who are suffering and bring about empathy among viewers. When done successfully, an artist can gain success in the process. But in order to preserve their humility, artists must do their best to empathize for and take part in assisting the suffering people they are portraying in their own lives. I am financially privileged, yet I am “borrowing” this couple’s homelessness for the sake of my photography. I used the hashtag #prayforthehomeless, but am I actually praying for them and doing my best to care for the homeless in my own life?

Challenge D1: Take a look at the photographs around you on social media and see if you can find examples of cultural appropriation.

Challenge D2: Next time you post a picture on Instagram, Facebook, or even your Snapchat story, ask yourself what your reasoning is behind posting it. How does this picture help elevate a certain aspect about yourself that you want others to see? (Speaking honestly for myself, my Instagram is full of photographs where I want to elevate my reputation as an artist and as a photographer).

What do you think? Do you think photography can be unethical? Have you seen any examples of cultural appropriation? Please comment below!

Terms:

cultural appropriation – “cultural appropriation typically involves members of a dominant group exploiting the culture of less privileged groups — often with little understanding of the latter’s history, experience and traditions.”
-“In the United States, cultural appropriation almost always involves members of the dominant culture (or those who identify with it) “borrowing” from the cultures of minority groups.”
(Source: http://racerelations.about.com)

 

 

Photography Guide A1: Introduction

When I was in 11th grade, I was determined to buy a fancy-schmancy camera, but my parents weren’t going to pay the big bucks for it.

I tried convincing my parents: I want to become a photographer. Unless I buy this type of camera, I can’t.

I accumulated enough money through my $10/hr camp summer job and bought that fancy camera. A $750 Sony A57-SLT. It was Sony’s starter version of the DSLR. I was already spending more money for a specific brand. I could have afforded a cheaper but equivalent starter “fancy camera” for half that price.

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My first fancy camera: a Sony A57-SLT.

For three years I used that camera occasionally. I didn’t bother to learn any technical skills that came from using a DSLR digital camera. I just used the Auto-Intelligence” mode.

What a waste! It was like buying an $1000 snowboard having no prior experience and using it to embarrass yourself by tumbling down the bunny slope.

Tip #A1.1: Buying an expensive camera does NOT produce better photographs.

A former Sunday School student of mine sums it up beautifully:

The camera is only a good as the person behind it. That can’t be more true. Looking back, I can shamefully admit that deep down, I did get a kick out of being a kid with a fancy camera. I felt cool.

I made an effort to look like this:

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Picture taken by my buddy Yoyo

…while my photos came out like this:

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Mike on that hike! (-) overexposed, (-) out of focus, (+) surprisingly, following the rule of thirds

I was using this expensive piece of hardware no different than I would use my iPhone before. Snap Snap Snap. I don’t want to miss anything.  I took lots of photos, but I had little to no understanding of the role of balancing light and exposure in a photograph.

It wasn’t until sophomore year of college (fall of 2014) that I really delved into learning more about photography and the technical skills. During a hiking trip, I was unable to capture certain scenes where the sun was very bright and affected my camera’s automatic sensors Stupid “Auto-Intelligence” mode. My friend Ariel then gave me a quick tip and showed me how to change my shutter speed. I was able to capture the scene more in a more desirable way and there was a sense of victory that came with it.

After that, I became fascinated with how a camera could capture certain images. I would see a beautiful photograph-like a starry sky or a silky waterfall-and wonder: how in the world do they do that?

Tip #A1.2: Knowing what you want to photograph before whipping out your camera goes a long way.

I would see something beautiful and embrace the challenge of capturing it. The process of completing the challenge required learning the technical skill behind using a digital camera and practicing it with lots of trials and errors.

A few months later in the summer of 2015, I was able to capture the starry sky, as well as the silky waterfall. It just took time.

Duke Brook.

A post shared by Matt Lau (@mattlau95) on

…my Instagram game was weak back then.

Even after these two small victories, I still had much to learn to reach the point I am now. My interest in photography has led me to some great photographic experiences while at home and on vacation. I’ve been able to take pictures for a family-friend’s sweet 16 and be an assistant for a friend’s wedding. Now at school, I’ve had a chance to be a photographer for the career services department at my school. Without challenging myself to learn more, I would certainly not have had these opportunities. And I’m definitely still learning! With that in mind, I’ve decided to write a few blog posts with my photography journey filled with the tips and lessons that I learned along the way.

Challenge: Next time you see a beautiful image, challenge yourself to capture a photograph in a similar way.

Thanks for reading! Please comment with any questions and suggestions.

Always remember your Right to Bear Arts!

 

***

Terms:
1#: DSLR
– stands for digital single-lens reflex camera. It means one of those fancy larger cameras toted by photographers.
-The term DSLR is sometimes used to mean a camera that has specific manual settings (for aperture, shutter speed, and ISO). A camera with manual settings doesn’t have any official nomenclature- it’s simply “a camera with manual settings. There are smartphones and point and shoot cameras that have the capability of having manual settings.
-The term DSLR is also sometimes used to mean a camera that can use different lenses. That is also incorrect- the correct term for that would be “interchangeable lens camera.” 

#2: Exposure – the amount of light that reaches the camera’s sensor.

#3. Shutter Speed – the amount of time a camera opens it’s shutter to expose the camera’s sensor to light.
-The longer the shutter speed, the brighter the exposure.
-Shutter speed is usually measured by seconds and second-fractions (e.g. 1/100 s, 1/30 s, 10 s).
-A fast shutter speed would be required to freeze a moving object.

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A couple of good friends and I have road tripped from NJ down to NC for a end-of-summer vacation.

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We first spent some time at Cape Hatteras, before going to our Air BNB vacation home. We didn’t spend too much time at the beach, we’ll be coming back in day two- kits were flown and candid portraits were shot!

Let’s Go Fly a Kite

Beach Portraits

Milky Way and Meteor Puddlegram
When we got to our vacation lake home, I was excited for the sun to set, and for the sky to darken. When time finally came to look at the stars, I was in awe. The photo below is a lot brighter than what the eye sees, but I was able to see the accents of the Milky Way through the naked eye here in the Outer Banks. Captured a meter/shooting star as well! 🙂

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Alaska Day 6: Puffins are too cute + Back to Anchorage.

Day 6 begins in Seward for the morning, and ends at Anchorage, our last stop, for the evening.

My brother and I visited the Alaska Sealife Center, which is an the aquarium and aviary. Much like the Wildlife Conservation Center we visited on Day 3,

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“The Alaska SeaLife Center is the only facility in Alaska that combines a public aquarium with marine research, education, and wildlife response. 

While primarily dedicated to marine research and education, the Center is the only permanent marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation facility in the state.”


-From the Alaska SeaLife Center Website (http://www.alaskasealife.org)

I really appreciate centers like this, because they provide normal people to see animals and wildlife up close, study them scientifically to further our research knowledge about animals. However, the reason why I these centers the most is because many of the animals we see inside the SeaLife center are rescued injured or orphaned wildlife that receive rehabilitation at the center.

Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, AK

The following photos were taken by me at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, AK.

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Sleeping little bird! Aww 🙂

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Horned Puffin

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Tufted Puffin

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I really like horned puffins.

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They’re too cute!

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I mean look at them!!!!!!

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Napping seal.

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Seal swimming upside down.

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Large Sea Lion.

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Flounder flapping around.

 

After some gift-shopping and lunch with the family, it was time to say goodbye to the pretty little town of Seward.

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And on to our last stop (where we began): Anchorage.

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Google maps: Seward to Anchorage.

Anchorage is a very pretty city to photography because even though there are a lot of buildings that make for good “cityscapes,” There is often a view of a mountain in the distance.

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Sleeping little bird! Aww 🙂

My brother’s freshman college roommate happens to live in Alaska, and was in Anchorage, so we had dinner with him and my brother was able to catch up with an old friend. It was also a plus because he knew the city well.

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My brother and his old college roommate.

By this time, I was pretty burnt out from all the traveling. However, I did for sure enjoy seeing the puffins, and Anchorage is a very pretty city. Decently quiet as well! Just one more day left!

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Day 0: 30 Hour Trip

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Day 1: Denali National Park

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Day 2: Rain in Talkeetna

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Day 3: Talkeetna to Seward, and Views Along the Way

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Day 4: Cruise Through the Gulf of Alaska

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Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, AK

Alaska Day 5: Exit[ing] Glacier.

Day 5, our second day in Seward, we went to see glaciers again, the day before on water, but this time on land! We visited Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park. It’s a shorter and accessible trail, so pretty much anyone could walk the path and see it 🙂

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Puddlegram! Exit Glacier reflected in a puddle.

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My family enjoying the view of the glacier!

The sad thing is, Exit Glacier is, well, exiting! The picture below is the one of the closest vantage points the park’s trail takes us to view the glacier. In 2010, the glacier was much larger. I would have been able to touch the glacier from where I took this photo only 6 years ago. 100 years ago, the glacier, the mile trail we walked was essentially all glacier.I essence, the glaciers in Alaska have all been slowly shrinking since the end of the earth’s ice age, but in just the last decade, it’s been shrinking faster and faster, and Exit Glacier here is an up close and personal example of one of them.

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This picture shows how far the glacier had been just back in 2010.

If that picture doesn’t scare you, how about this one? I took it from farther back where the glacier reached back in 2005, just eleven years ago (I was only ten years old, and I just turned 21 recently). I also added an indicator below to show where I was standing for the photo I took above of the 2010 sign.

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The glacier’s size back in 205. In 11 years, the glacier has shrunk from 2005 sign to the one you see in the photo now. The “2010” arrow points to were I took the photo above this one- how large the glacier was in 2010.

What were you doing in 2005? 2010? Comment below 🙂

In the infographic below, Kenai Fjords National Park scientists also say that the glacier used to be much larger, and has been shrinking and melting more and more every year.

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Information and graphic in this photo belong to Kenai Fjords National Park.

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A mini-water fall within a crevice of the glacier.

My brother made an extra climb up closer to the glacier, and he got to touch it! Check out his Instagram post below, and follow him @timclau 🙂

There are no unsacred places. – Wendell Berry 💎 #EXITGLACIER

A post shared by Tim Lau (@timclau) on

A few non-glacier pictures taken along the trail. Cool to think that all the trees, rivers, flowers, and earth used to be frozen less than a century ago!

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(Long Exposure) – river we had to cross to see the glacier.

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(Macro) small flower that was along the trail to see Exit Glacier

We ended the day by going back to Seward and taking a stroll around Seward. Turns our there is large RV park by the bay, and lots of families either camping out or living in their RVs. It’s a beautiful place to be in the summer.

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RVs and/or Campers around a fire.

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The Seward Beach.

I hope you enjoyed these photos of Exit Glacier and the Seward Bay. However, I want to challenge you to educate yourself on the warming of Alaska. I know there is lots of controversy about the politics of global warming and climate change. However, I’m not asking you to look into politics, but to check out and see if beautiful natural wonders of Alaska-its glaciers for example-may soon cease to exist. Also, with glaciers gone, cute little tourist towns like Seward may lose its large amount of tourism, which is important for the town’s economic well-being (when no tourists come in the coldest months of winter, many Seward residents and workers actually leave for a break because there is no work for them).

The Natural Resources Defense Council, or the NRDC, a non-profit that aims to protect the earth’s natural ecosystem and the animals, plants, and humans within it. They have fought for clean water in Flint, Michigan and have campaigned against the antibiotics found in Kentucky Fried Chicken’s poultry. These are just two of the many projects they’re working on- and they reported the day I arrived back in Jersey that Alaska is having the hottest year ever recorded. Check out their tweet below:

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been tracking the impact climate change has had on Alaska as well. They say that there have been an increase in wildfires in the state, and its lakes and ponds are getting smaller due to warmer weather resulting in increased evaporation.

You can take what I say with a grain of salt. I’m not trying to convince you to believe everything I say, but I do hope that you would at least educate yourselves about the climate change in Alaska if you have not already. The unfortunate conclusion is that in just a couple of years, kids will never be able to see glaciers in Alaska anymore.

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Soon there might not a be a glacier for us to see anymore 😦

But two truths are clear:
1. Alaska is having the hottest year that’s ever been recorded.
2 This glacier, Exit Glacier, has been shrinking faster and faster by the decade, and so are the other glaciers in Alaska.

For me, that’s enough reason to start demanding climate action when I can, and having a different perspective on how I treat my earth’s ecosystem- even back home in the suburbs of New Jersey.

What do you think of this “warming of Alaska”? I’d like to hear your opinion if you would like to share; comment below!

Thanks for reading! Be sure to check my past photo blog posts about Alaska by clicking on the images below 🙂

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Day 0: 30 Hour Trip

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Day 1: Denali National Park

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Day 2: Rain in Talkeetna

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Day 3: Talkeetna to Seward, and Views Along the Way

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Day 4: Cruise Through the Gulf of Alaska

Alaska Day 4: Cruise through the Gulf of Alaska

Our first day in Seward, we embarked on a day cruise ship named the “Orca Voyager” with the wonderful Kenai Fjords Tours and sailed in to the Gulf of Alaska to see glaciers and wildlife. We saw orcas, sea lions, otters, puffins and other birds, and the humpback whale).

 

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Just to give an idea where Seward is in Alaska.

 

 

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Our cruise took this yellow trail. We left at 10 AM, and got back past 6 PM. Picture from http://nomad.hu/~bszabi/niagara_dosszie/alaska/

 

The Seward harbor and our cruise ship, the Orca Voyager.

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Just to give an idea where Seward is in Alaska.

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Our ship, the Orca Voyager

 

Otter – before docking the ship in the morning, we found an otter chewing away on a fish right next to the harbor boardwalk. Pretty adorable 🙂

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Orcas (Killer Whales) – I wasn’t able to get many good photos of the orcas, but they’re one of my favorite animals! This photo came out alright.

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Humpback Whale – another aspect of our trip (like the weather during our Denali tour and the weather during the cruise), we found a humpback whale (probably a young one according to the ship captain) that jumped almost 30-40 times, and waved to us, sort of showing off. But it was a beautiful sight. My dream is to see more dolphins ❤ in my home state, in Atlantic City.

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Humpback whale posing with a glacier. Probably my favorite photo of the day, perhaps the week!

 

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Stitched a couple of continuous shutter photos together!

 

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The was real close to the ship for this picture. I wish i didn’t cut off a little of the nose though, haha!

 

 

 

Alakik Glacier – this glacier could be gone in a couple years!

 

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Alakik Glacier

 

Birds – there were lots of seagulls, puffins, and other birds, but most of them were very small to see. Puffins especially. Without binoculars or anything, it was hard to see the cute faces of the puffins. But there were so many. The captain liked to point out large puffins to us; she said that there are puffins who have eaten so much that they can’t fly, and when they try they end up failing. That’s sort of adorable :). At the Wildlife Center in Seward that my brother and I visited on Day 6, so look out for some adorable puffin pictures on my post for that day!

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Soooo many birds.

Sea Lions – these water had a couple sea lions that are called “Stellar Sea Lions.” They are branded with a letter/number combination, for studies. I found a link online to a spreadsheet that tracks where they’ve been seen.

 

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Sea Lion posing with seagulls.

 

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Sea Lions napping. The darker sea lion climbing up is a “Stellar Sea Lion.” He is branded with letters to track him for studies inside these waters.

 

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First thought this could be mother and child. However, my dad said he read that female sea lions are much smaller than male sea lions. So this could be a romantic photo ❤

We stopped by Fox Island, where they had a cafeteria that served us salmon, prime rib, and if you wanted, king crab for an extra fee, as part of the overall tour package. Then we returned home, finally, after an 8 hour trip.

Extra Tidbit: The Van Gilder Hotel (Alaska’s Oldest Hotel) – for two of our three nights at Seward, we staid at the historical place called The Van Gilder Hotel. It’s very historic and has been placed by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a part of the National Register of Historical Places. Essentially the hotel has kept his architecture very much the same and using their old fashion beds and antique furniture. There are obviously renovations , such as added TVs and bathrooms. There were still bathrooms and even a shower room in the hall of the floor I stayed on.

After we left, my brother said that there is a myth about a ghost inside the Hotel, called “The Ghost of Fanny Guthry-Baehm” (there’s even a book about it). I’m glad he told me after we left, or I may have been freaked out. The synopsis of the book linked above says “Fannie Guthrie-Baehm was murdered in room 201 in 1947, and her ghost has been witnessed by many over the years.” Oh my. Chills. Would I recommend the hotel? I’m not sure. I liked the historical vibe, but it wasn’t as comfortable as a normal hotel. Also, now that I’ve read up on the myth, it’s spooky. But the owner was nice and helpful!

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The TV was put really high up (top left corner, mostly cut off in photo). Antique lamp and phone on the right side of the photo.

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Day 5 coming up soon :). Thanks for reading!

Read about my previous days clicking on the labeled photos below:

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Day 0: 30 Hour Trip

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Day 1: Denali National Park

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Day 2: Rain in Talkeetna

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Day 3: Talkeetna to Seward, and Views

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alaska Day 3: Talkeetna to Seward, and Views Along The Way

Alaska Day 3: our day will finish down south in Seward. It’s 200+ miles south of Talkeetna, with Anchorage (where the airport is) in between. You should know that Alaska has two legs right? Well, there’s a little peninsula between the two legs- that’s where Seward is- on the south coast.

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We stopped by three places before reaching Seward:
1. Potter Marsh Wildlife Viewing Boardwalk – a boardwalk where there is a lot of grassland water. The water apparently was created by man, by accident. We saw a moose, eagle, and lots of other birds at the Marsh.
2. Beluga Point – a lookout point by the water viewing the Ocean between the peninsula and the West Alaska. There are apparenty Beluga whales that come by the coast, but we didn’t see any.
3. Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center – this isn’t exactly a zoo. This conservation center’s animals (beats, bison, deer, elk, etc.) are mostly hurt and/or orphaned, and the center takes very good care of them. Just last year, they released a large group of wood bison back into the wild. There are three bears- two were  orphaned cubs when their mother was shot. Another was found injured by a porcupine by some people snowmobiling in Alaska. I’m really glad that this conservation center is seeking to help animals, not just show them off for attention or money. 🙂

 

1. Potter Marsh Wildlife Viewing Boardwalk

Views of the water and grasslands at the Potter Marsh:Alaska-day-4-1Alaska-day-4-2Alaska-day-4-3

Some wildlife:

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The moose we saw, wth the potter marsh in the background.

 

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The moose we saw, wth the potter marsh in the background.

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2. Beluga Point

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View of southwest Alaska at Beluga Point.

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3. Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

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Deer 🙂

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Aw, bear, I’m tired too.

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This bison on the right is peeing!

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Mom & Dad ❤

After the Conservation Center, we drove another 2 hour or so and made it to small town Seward. It was around 9 PM Alaska time, and most restaurants were closed, but we were able to find dinner 🙂 We would be staying in Seward for 3 nights. Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading! Check out some of my past posts by clicking on the images below, and keep a lookout for Day 4!

Also, you can see more pictures on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/narcol_optic_photography

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Day 0: 30 Hour Trip

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Day 1: Denali National Park

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Day 2: Rain in Talkeetna

 

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