February 6


Aerial Glacier Photography

By Dan

February 6, 2013

Writing deadlines and photo projects begone!! The sun came out yesterday, so ditching the office to go exploring in my little yellow Cessna just seemed like the right thing to do. Besides, with all the rain, wind and cloudy weather that we’ve had lately, I hadn’t flown in nearly two months, and after all, you don’t pay for tie down space just to keep the thing tied down.

My pilot friend Chet went with me, which allowed me to spend some time shooting photos out of the window. I don’t mind flying solo if I’m photographing from up high, but if I want to fly low and shoot close to the ground, or get in close to the terrain, it’s much safer to just give the controls over to someone else and let him worry about not running into anything.

Leaving Anchorage, we flew east towards the Knik Glacier. I handed Chet the plane, opened my window and grabbed a number shots with my Fujifilm X10 as he flew two low passes over the lower section of the glacier and up the narrow gorge. I love shooting aerials of the glaciers, I could spend hours circling above them and photographing the incredible variety of cracks, wedges, flows, and intricate shapes that the ice makes as it flows down from the valleys and breaks up into enormous blue blocks.

After two runs up the gorge, I took the controls back and we headed over to Inner Lake George, which was completely free of snow. Taking advantage of the dry conditions, I landed on the smoothest runway ever- thousands of feet of solid, thick, flat ice. Of course, once you touch down, the brakes are pretty much useless, you just pull the power and wait until you slide/roll to a stop. Then you can get out, walk around and explore in ways that you’d  never be able to do in summer. Would make for incredible ice skating!

I’ve been out to the Knik quite a bit, and have even ridden my bike out there, but the plane obviously gets you there much more quickly. Also, this was my first time ever landing on a frozen lake. Let’s just say that I have a brand new playground. Can’t wait to go back with more time and more gear.

I love the Fuji X10 and small cameras like the Nikon P7700 and the Sony RX100 for last minute excursions like this, because sometimes it’s just nice to get away and go have an adventure without actually making it a big production photo trip. Also, when shooting so low to the ground, it would be a pain to try and change lenses while trying to grab these images. With the 28-112mm zoom on the X10, I’m able to quickly adjust my focal length and compositions on the fly. Did I really just say that? 😉

Enjoy the photos, and if you want to keep updated with my adventures and see my latest imagery in the future, consider signing up for my newsletter.

About the author

Hi, I'm Dan Bailey, a 25+ year pro outdoor and adventure photographer, and official FUJIFILM X-Photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.

As a top rated blogger and author my goal is to help you become a better, more confident and competent photographer, so that you can have as much fun and creative enjoyment as I do.

  • I just love the patterns in the ice. So I have to ask you … you got that yellow plane just for the photographs didn’t you? I mean, it stands out so much better than a white plane would 🙂

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