Unexpected Selfies

The Rover Dash: I must be going downhill

When I sent in the film from the Billy-Clack, I had one roll of 120 black & white film that I could not remember when I had shot it. Somehow, a roll of film had been forgotten in a pack pocket during one of my travels. It sat around for a bit more, as I waited to get some more 120 used up.

The roll does have some history to it, and it has been a while. It’s from the last time The Rover was down in the Lower 48. Probably right after I swapped out the motor, because there are a few shots of San Antonio.

There was also a shot of some young punk, riding alongside me in the Land Rover, taking a picture of himself as he stuck out his tongue at the camera. He also took this shot of the Rover dash, probably scared at how fast we were moving.

I must have been concentrating on traffic, because I do not remember him sticking his tongue out at me or the camera.

Camera: Agfa Clack (not the Billy-Clack); Film: Kodak 120 TMax 100; Photographer: Minnesota “Moose” Matthew


Curatores Gignentia

The beaver at midnight

When I first set up the Beaver Cam, I was expecting some photos right away, but the Beav had other ideas. It didn’t come by the cam until I was out of town fishing. It does have an extensive area from which to fell his lumber, so I didn’t get too concerned.

That Pesky Rabbit; or Curatores Gignentia in Latin

The first week the Beaver Cam was up, I had 442 pictures of this rabbit. I’ve been asked, “How can you be sure it’s the same rabbit?” Because I waded through 442 pictures of the goofy thing hoping for a picture of the beaver.

The Bunny Hop

The funny thing about rabbits, is that they tend to twitch this way, and then twitch that way for endless hours of viewing entertainment. They may hop a foot or two, but then they go back to twitching. There were a lot of pictures where the only noticeable difference between shots was the placement of one ear or the other.

The rabbit returns to twitching

The second week the cam was up, when I was out of town chasing cohos, the beaver did stop by for a couple of dozen shots. I was grateful, although they were interspersed between 502 pictures of my favorite rabbit. When I finally took the cam down due to concern it may be carried off with a tree, I had close to 1000 pictures of Bugs, and 40 of the beaver.

Oh, and four pictures of Moose Legs:

Moose Legs, just to spice things up


Miller’s Landing

Seward, Alaska; Camera: Agfa Billy-Clack, Film: Kodak 120 T-Max 100

I’ve had this Agfa Billy-Clack #74 camera sitting on the shelf for a while now, but had never sent a roll of film through it.

The Billy-Clack was produced prior to The Second World War, so it’s an 80+ year old piece of equipment. I believe the exact years of production ran from 1934 to 1940.

I had no idea what I was going to get out of it, but I kind of like the results. I shot a roll of black & white film while in Seward, and followed that up with a roll of color in Fairbanks.

The Agfa Billy-Clack #74

The Billy-Clack has a definite “Art-Deco” look to it. The camera itself is as basic as one can get. It has the option of two shutter speeds (1/50, Bulb), three apertures (11,16,22), two view finders (a portrait, and a landscape), and it does have a built in yellow filter that you can slide in place if you so desire. It also has one of the most awkward shutters I have ever used. Still, it was fun to get out and shoot.

Fisherman at Miller’s Landing; Camera: Agfa Billy-Clack, Film: Kodak 120 T-Max 100


Robert Frank

Ordinary people, doing ordinary things…

Robert Frank, in his New York home; Photograph by Allen Ginsberg

In 1954, Robert Frank set off across the United States in a used Ford with his Leica camera. He had the idea of photographing America as it unfolded before his eyes. He spent two years on the journey, shooting 767 rolls of film, for over 28,000 shots.

83 of those shots would end up in the book “The Americans”.

Image: “Trolley – New Orleans” 1955, photo by Robert Frank

The Americans was first published in 1959, and it took the photography world by storm. The images were honest and gritty, and most of all raw. It was a masterwork of street photography.

US 285 – New Mexico 1956; photo by Robert Frank

Initially, it did not go over well. America was high on the post war 1950’s. Images showing that not everyone in the country had achieved the “American Dream” were not what the public was shouting for. The book went out of publication after only 1100 being printed.

Rodeo – New York City 1955; photo by Robert Frank

History has been kinder. The Americans has seen several reprints, and few photo books have had as large an influence on contemporary photography.

Frank would go on to make fifty documentary films, but he never abandoned still photography.

Map of Robert Frank’s photo trek

Robert Frank died on Monday; he was 94.


Campus Dipper

UAF’s Patty Center

Camera: Leica M3; Film: Kodak 35 TMax 400


The Beaver Cam

Castor Canadensis

This spring I heard the unmistakable sound of a beaver tail slap in The Pond. I looked around, but could not trace the slap to an actual tail. I had never seen a beaver out here, but after years of water travel, I know that sound.

A few weeks later, I noticed two canoe paddles had vanished from under the canoe, which was alongside The Pond. I put two missing canoe paddles together with a tail slap, and went exploring.

The beaver dragging a sapling

It didn’t take me long to find the lodge. Sure enough, the two canoe paddles were stuck in the mud. It took some effort, but I managed to retrieve the paddles from the muck, but I could have just left them alone. They were heavily weathered now, and split at the laminate of the blades. Still, I didn’t want to encourage bad behavior, so I carried the paddles back with me.

With a wave of the tail

The electric company had just been through in the early spring, clearcutting their right of way. This was a bonanza for the beaver, who hauled the easy pickings down to the water all summer.

Eventually, I knew it would turn to more upright trees, so I set up a trail cam along one beaver route. To say the beaver has been busy would be an understatement. It is active at all times of the day and night. Every day, the furry engineer has taken down 3-4 trees that I can trace. It really is amazing how the beaver can transform the land in such a short period of time. I imagine only man, and maybe the elephant does more to alter its habitat.

I have assumed there is more than a solo beaver, but had never seen more than one out on the water at any given time.

Until Labor Day.

Some friends were over for a BBQ, and we took a hike over the beaver’s domain. For the first time, I saw two beavers swimming in The Pond. By spring, I expect there will be a few more.


Engine No. 1

Engine No. 1 traveling the rails

Engine No. 1, the 120 year old steam engine, was making the rounds this Labor Day.

It was the final weekend of the season for the old locomotive. It now retires to the Tanana Valley Railroad Museum until next Memorial Weekend.

FTVRR in action

A special shoutout to FTVRR for all their hard work this summer.


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Catch of Day Two

We caught some fish

Normally, we head down to Seward with the idea that we may get one day of fishing in with decent seas. This year, we went down knowing we had perfect weather for the entire time on the coast.

The second day out, we hit the silvers early and often outside of Resurrection Bay. Once we hit our limit there, we came into the Bay for the possibility of three more silvers each. The fishing within Resurrection Bay was considerably slower, but we did catch some cohos.

Since we were planning on being out on the water all day, we wrapped things up by going after rock fish. It took us a couple of stops to find them, but when we did, it was nonstop action. Rock fish are a blast to fish, and they are incredible eating too.

It was a great day out on the water, and I have a nicely stocked freezer as winter approaches.

It’s not full, but the freezer holds some fish


Youth & Salmon

Mouth of Lowell Creek

We spent the morning in the Gulf of Alaska, just outside Resurrection Bay. The fishing was good, but not great. The jelly fish were thick, due to the warmer than normal water temperatures. When I say thick, I mean thick. Every time the lure was brought up, the line, bait & lure were coated in jelly fish snot. It was a mess. By noon, we were covered in the gooey stuff, and the side of the boat would need a thorough cleaning from the endless flicking.

In the afternoon, my companions tried to fish from shore, while I hiked about, camera in hand. There was no sign of cohos in the bay and I had no interest in catching any pink salmon. As a resident, I fully admit to being a salmon snob.

Two local pre-teen boys rode up to the creek mouth on their bicycles, and promptly snagged a pink a piece. There was a fair amount of grumbling from the people who had been at it for a while. The boys came bounding up from the creek with their haul, the youngest commenting that he couldn’t ride home with more than one salmon, when I asked why they had already stopped fishing. He rode off carrying his catch. The older boy had a better system: He hooked the pink salmon over the handlebar through the gills and peddled off with the fish nearly touching the ground.

All I could think of as I watched them peddle away was, “What an incredible place to grow up in.” They had life by the tail.

Silver salmon fillets from Day 1