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 🙂

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 1: Denali National Park

Day 1 after 30 hours of travel and a good early night’s rest (also adjusting to the 24 daylight called “Midnight’s Sun” here in Alaska), we were up early and were off by 7:15 AM to Denali National Park, home to Denali (formerly known as Mount McKinley), the highest peak in the US.

The only way to get into the park past a certain point is to use the park’s bus tours (the main road extends to 84-89 miles long, but private cars are only allowed to drive past mile 15 now). The bus we signed up for went from the parking lot to the 84th mile – Wonder Lake. The bus made about 8 stops give or take, and the bus also often stopped if there was any wildlife near the roads. The buses would be rotating very often, so if we wanted to stay at any certain spot and enjoy the view longer, hike a trail or two, or even camp, we could, and other buses could take us a long later. However we stuck with the same bus all day, and the trip went on from 7:30 AM till around 6:30 PM (almost 11 hours!). 168 miles on not the best terrain, with stops along the way.

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Bus tours are the best way for us to see Denali National Park. (Sony !7)

Everywhere we went, there was just so much distance to see for miles and miles, and beautiful mountains surrounding us.

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Denali (Mount McKinley) and the reflection pool.

We saw a good amount of wildlife.

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A moose about 100-200 yards from our bus.
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Bear and Cubs
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Bear and Cubs
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Male Moose
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Elk
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Sheep
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Sheep

Our bus ride might have been great, and the car ride could be boring, but our driver might have been the highlight of the trip. A school bus driver during the year, she gets to work in Denali National Park, interacting with people, telling stories,  or make lots of jokes. Thanks, Wendy, for being a compassionate and loving driver and tour gjide.

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Our cheerful and incredibly bus driver and tour guide, Wendy.
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Family Photo with Denali. #30percentclub
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My favorite picture of the day for sure!

On our bus, we met an older couple who owned an RV and have been driving for a long time. The lady told us we must get food at the “Salmon Bake” and that it’s worth it. It was! Salmon and Halibut are Alaska’s favorites. Also, Happy BIrthday Mom!

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Dinner (delicious salmon and halibut).

Long day. Stay tuned for Day 2 🙂

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Day 0: 30 Hour Trip.

The Jasmine Series: Part II

Part II: June 26, 2015, Rutgers University – Livingston Campus, Piscataway NJ.

Livingston Campus is the favorite campus of both Jasmine and myself. In fact, even though we attended the same church and youth group growing up, we actually really became friends during freshman year, living on the same dorm floor… on Livi!

I don’t remember how planned out this was. Regarding the pictures, I learned my lesson regarding sunlight and the face shadows it creates at most angles. The first photo I took was taken in an area where it was completely shadowed from direct sunlight (by the student center  building) so the light is even across the photo. I angled the rest of the photos with the sunlight directly behind Jasmine for an interesting effect. The face shadows didn’t appear with this angle either!

However, re-editing the photos, however, I realized that with a lot of harsh, bright sunlight behind a subject, there is a lot of chromatic aberration and purple fringing, where there is unwanted purple colors between the subject and the background. My original edits 8 months ago didn’t account for the fringing. I used to say “the sun is my best friend,” but still gotta be careful!

The most difficult part is that the purple fringing is similar to the pinkish/purple color of what Jasmine was wearing. There is a fringing removal tool in Adobe Lightroom, but when I used it to get rid of the fringing on the borders, it would remove colors from her shirt as well. I had to use more effort to remove as much fringing as I could without ruining the color of the rest of the photo.

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Yesterday, I started the Jasmine Series. Check out Part I (click on the image below)!

The Jasmine Series

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Part I
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Part 3

The Jasmine Series: Part I

It’s been almost a year since I’ve pursued learning the art of photography and all the knowledge, skills and techniques behind it.

I really enjoy astrophotography (pictures of the night sky) the most, but I also love learning about other photography styles, like macro photography and sports photography.

One very important style is portraiture (photos of people) and fashion photography. This is different than candids or photos of events where the subjects of the photo don’t really know they’re being photographed. Instead, the photos have been planned, and subject knows they’re being photographed.

This style is important. But it’s been hard for me to learn. When taking photos of a model, I don’t really know how to direct them. And to have confidence in that takes experience, and to gain experience takes practice and the awkwardness that comes with it.

That’s where Jasmine comes in. She’s been a very close friend of mine since my freshman year, and she loves fashion. So I asked her to help me gain more experience taking portraits.

Let’s be straight here. It’s totally awkward taking a friend out and taking pictures of them. We’re friends, so it’s not like a professional photographer and a model, it’s a friend who likes taking pictures and a friend who dresses well. Big difference. But she was cool enough with the learning curve, and didn’t mind the awkward posing (or not posing) and me standing around with a camera trying to figure out what the heck to do.

Jasmine and I have worked together on four different occasions (that I can remember). Jasmine’s 21st birthday is this week, so I decided to make five posts in five weekdays as a project for myself to get me blogging again and also a thank you to her. The first four days will feature one occasion each. The last one is TBD 🙂

The first occasion was last Spring on April 16th, 2015, at Johnson Park.

Re-editing these photos ten months later, it’s nice seeing what I did/didn’t do well back then. Some photos (like the first one below) came out almost perfectly, and I’m very proud of it. However, there are some obvious flaws even among my favorite shots of that day. The biggest flaw is lighting (like in the second photo below). With the sun as the only source of light outside, the sharpness and quality of the picture will be pretty easy to obtain (fast shutter speeds, higher f-stop numbers and lower ISOs), but where the sunlight comes from is a big deal. With one source of light, there are shadows, even in a person’s face due to the human facial structure or random objects. This can create a portrait where the face has very obvious shadows and dark spots, which is not good even though the photo is nicely composed otherwise (like the second photo below). It’s nice to look back at photos and learn from my mistakes.

Anyway, here you go:

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Look for The Jasmine Series Part II Series tomorrow, Tuesday 3/1/16.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mattlau95

Prom? (Post 2 of 5 in 5 days)

School’s about to start, and the there’s a whole new of freshmen getting ready for the college life. One of them is my best friends and also my godbrother (godbrother = son of my godfather/godmother)  Josh. He’s getting ready to move in to Rutgers this weekend.

In May, Josh went to prom with his friend Verity. I had an opportunity to take pictures for their “pre-prom” at Spring Lake Park, South Plainfield, NJ. It was super cute 🙂 They cleaned up nice, no?

I ran around with my Sony a57 with a Sony 35mm f/1.8 prime lens that day. Here are four of my favorite shots from that afternoon, all the way back on May 8, 2015:

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I really like this shot! It was like capturing the act of a selfie. Also, the lighting was perfect in the top left corner. Featuring Josh and Verity’s friends Caroline and Brittany (their prom crew).

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So cute 🙂

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I really enjoyed shooting for these two. The sunlight was perfect that day for shooting and the park was a pretty nice location. Barely making the cut for Day 2 at 11:58 PM… stay tuned, three more to go!