I just returned from a shoot in southeast Alaska. The weather in the panhandle can be quite wet, especially the further southeast one travels. What do I mean by wet? Juneau receives 150 inches of precipitation annually. As a result, it is extremely lush and emerald green during the summer months.
The rain was expected, but not the cold. We hit a decidedly, stubbornly cool stretch. Coupled with the near constant moisture, it didn't feel anything like the summer solstice! On my last visit to The Last Frontier (also in the summer) it was quite warm, so I got the opposite scenario this time around.
The conditions were extremely changeable the day we spent on Tracy Arm. Departing early in the morning from Juneau under sunny skies and relatively mild temperatures, clouds quickly began to fill the sky - but they were interesting and created nice, flat light. By the time we'd made our way the roughly 45 miles to the entrance to the fjord, once again the sun was showing its face intermittently. This actually was somewhat concerning since I knew sunlight would create significant contrast issues when we reached the Sawyer Glacier.
Not to worry!
By the time we reached the "end of the line," clouds were mostly winning the battle.
Tracy Arm is a narrow, deep fjord roughly 30 miles long. Much of it is covered in ice. During the summer months, icebergs are plentiful and can be quite sizable: some are as large as multi-story buildings (as gigantic as some of these were, I kept reminding myself that there is much more underwater than what is visible above).
The glacier was spectacular, and we were able to spend a good deal of time there with the engines cut, drifting, watching, and waiting to see whether it would calve. Indeed, it did. In spades. We witnessed two massive breaks, along with a few smaller ones.
As we slowly began to make our way out of the fjord, we spent time at a number of enormous icebergs. By then it also had started to rain - but the sun was still peeking through every now and then. Our skilled captain maneuvered the vessel superbly, providing magnificent viewing - and shooting - opportunities. As is the case when photographing from a small plane, one must move very quickly to identify compositions and keep up with wildly fluctuating light to ensure proper exposure. Though the peek-a-boo sunlight made the lighting even more challenging, it also enhanced the stormy skies. The conditions while we were exploring these icebergs could not have been better.
We ended up completely soaked and freezing, but it was worth it.