"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Friday, July 5, 2019

Notes from the Denali Highway: A Fledgling among Giants

Take a look at this photo and tell me the first thing you see.

Left to right:  Michael, the Fledgling, Doug, Jamin, Leilani, Rob

Never mind, I'll tell you the first thing I saw.   That the gray-haired old woman on the left is  wearing jeans that are way too big for her, and you’re wondering “What on earth was she thinking!”

The answer is:  she wasn’t.
A more complete answer is that the jeans she intended to pack came out of the laundry with the same grass stains as when they went in, so she grabbed another pair, glanced at the size, and stuffed them in her pack.

Look at ‘em!   I could fit another me in the seat of those jeans.   No wonder I was so comfortable sitting and kneeling.    Sheesh.

Okay, second thing you note:   there’s a mighty small person in that lineup.   Leilani, the lady on the right, is only a quarter inch taller than, but even in my hiking boots and wind-fluffed hair, I look much shorter.

Three of the guys claim they are 6’2”.   They might as well be 7’2”.   Doug, the guy in the center with the light vest, says he’s 5’11”.   He’s still a giant to me.

They're even taller when they're lying down.

In fact, all these people are giants to me.   Giants in their talents:  photography, post processing, ornithology.   All giants;  all far, far ahead of me.   The guys, especially.   They've won photo contests!    One of Jamin's images was selected to be Alaska's duck stamp photo.

Rob just won photo contests in two categories.   Doug has published books of bird photos.

People rave over their work and wish they could be like Jamin, Rob, Michael, Doug, or Leilani.    An Atta-Boy from any of them makes me swoon.

 Leilani started birding photography only three and a half years ago, shortly after she arrived in Alaska.   She’s so far ahead of me, (as my husband used to say) I think I’m in the lead.

Canon 80D with a 100-400 lens

She’s the only one who uses a Canon camera.   The rest, including me,  shoot Nikon.   There were several times on this trip that I thought about pushing Leilani out of the truck and running off with her camera because her shots were soooooo much better than mine.   Well, not really, but I was more than a bit envious.

It would have been a useless effort, though, not only because she would depart the truck carefully cradling her camera against harm, but because it’s the person holding the camera that makes the photo.

Jamin on point, Nikon D500 with 200-500 lens.

Jamin, left, and Michael (D850 and 600 f4) lying in he mud shooting cliff swallows gathering mud for nests.  

Rob at work.   Even the monopod he uses to stabilize his camera is taller than me.   Nikon D500, 200-500 lens  or Nikon D850 and the 200-500

Safe to say I was among giants on this trip.   And I learned a lot.

I had camera troubles on the trip, to be sure.   Auto-focus was erratic on my best camera.   Even when it worked, I couldn’t seem to get consistently  crisp shots.   I was using a Nikon D810 with a 200-500 lens, and a Nikon 7200  with a Tamron 18-400 lens.

My little pocket camera, a Nikon Coolpix S7000, crapped out altogether.

That doesn’t excuse the numerous very poor images I came home with.   I think I need Exposure for Boneheads, Digital Photography for Dummies, something, anything.

The few images I got that I’m willing to share?   No explanation.
I do, however, like this photo I took a short time before this trip.   I took it with my iPhone....

Postscript:    My camera is off to Nikon for repairs.


  1. I give you credit for hanging out with these folks. You get better by rubbing elbows with the best.
    So sorry your cameras we're cooperating. That's the pits.

  2. And I, Cap, think that I am obsessive-compulsive. So far I have never laid in the mud to snap so many as one single photo. From Hong Kong .. Cap and Patti over my shoulder. A day late but better late than never Gullible.