Photographing the Incomparable Tatshenshini-Alsek River; An In-Depth Immersion into the Art of Landscape and Close-up Image Making with James Katz
The 160 mile Tatshenshini-Alsek River flows from the interior of the Yukon to the Gulf of Alaska and provides river travelers an opportunity to pass through mountains that encompass the largest non-polar glacial system. This spellbinding river trip offers photographers a microcosmic world view of velvety-green mosses, arctic dryas,
fireweed, indian paint brush, and wild sweet peas to the macrocosmic universe of glistening waterfalls,
bounding tributaries, and towering three-mile-high peaks. These
rivers travel through a landscape of sheer drama and opportunities abound for "capturing through the lense" this remarkable environment.
The photographic possibilities are endless and Jimmy Katz will assist imagemakers in their pursuit of the timeless image. In the upper stretches of the Tatshenshini, we travel through riverine forests of cottonwood, alder, willow, and black spruce. In the uplands, are white spruce and stands of aspen. We camp at night along the shoreline. On layover days Jimmy will give photographic pointers. Trip participants will have the opportunity to hike to sub-alpine meadows strewn with wildflowers, up glacial side streams with tumbling boulders, along textured mud flats replete with animal tracks, onto glaciers with turquoise seracs, and at trip's end, drift among fantastically shaped icebergs calved into Alsek Lake with Mt. Fairweather's dramatic presence looming overhead. Although wildllife photography on a river trip of this sort is mainly serendipitous, the observation of eagles soaring overhead, of Alaskan brown bears fishing for salmon and swimming the river, wolves roaming the gravel bars, and mountain goats clinging to the airy heights will further enhance the group's appreciation of the bio-diversity for this river system.
The light on an 11-day river journey is as varied as the imagination and can encompass fog, storm light, deep blue skies and clouds that vary from striated, to mare's tales to cumulus. The soft modeling of overcast days can benefit close-up photography while low-angled end of the day dramatic side-lighting and alpine glow can perfectly model one's landscape photographs.
This Alaskan Photography workshop (3 departures) is based on the Tatshenshini-Alsek River in the Yukon Territory (1.5 days), the Tatshenshini Provincial Park of British Columbia (5.5 days), and Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve (4 days). The climate varies from the partial aridity of the Yukon to the maritime climatic disposition of the Gulf of Alaska. In mid-July to early September, we can expect mild temperatures during the day and the cooler temperatures in the evenings.
On the late August to early September departure, one might expect cooler temperatures. Our pace down the river is leisurely. Most participants will be doing most of their photography in the early morning hours before breakfast, while rafting down the river, at lunch stops, and in camp in the early evening. Layover days and short river excursions provide the best opportunity for serious close-up and landscape photography.
On this eleven-day trip, four layover days have been planned which provide the best opportunities for slowing down and finding the most inspiring images. On non-layover days, trip participants will have ample time to photograph subject matter that is close to camp. Subject matter ranges from delicate close-ups of flowers, seedpods, lichens, and animal tracks to the greater landscape. Due to the braided nature of glacial rivers and the speed at which the river flows, there is really no opportunity to stop and photograph rafts going through the rapids like you can on a classic Western "drop and pool" river such as the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, the Rogue, or the Middle Fork of the Salmon. The river journey, in itself, provides a terrific opportunity to document a wilderness adventure and all the activities that encompass a journey of this sort: tents and campers in the environment, the gathering of firewood, hauling water, building fires, kitchen shelters, and the preparation of meals by crew members. Animal and birdlife along the river are also terrific subject matter and round out one's coverage of the trip.
There will be hands-on group and individual work in the field and the instructor will help students
find inspired subject matter and give insights and tools for composing more expressively.
Field sessions will explore the following topics: how the color and quality of light dictate what subject one can effectively photograph, the process of “going for the shot”, previsualization vs. spontaneity, choice of film and lenses, exposure, creative usage of filters (polarizing, warming, and graduated neutral density filters) and flash-fill and reflector techniques.
This river itself is challenging throughout with Class III-IV rapids. Most of the heaviest whitewater is found on the first day. We travel in 18' Grand Canyon size oar-powered rafts with paddle assist. Sometimes the paddling can be strenuous. On one departure only, we
can take a paddleboat if there are enough amply qualified participants and sufficent numbers on the trip. Paddling in a paddleboat is mildly strenuous and very challenging throughout the trip. On a layover day, one would carry light photo equipment and snacks. Hikes can range from 1-4 miles and vary from flat-land walks to strenuous up-hill climbs. We are able to accommodate a wide-range of athletic abilities and only request that you be in good health.
Photographers at all levels of experience, working in all formats, digital, black and white
and color, are welcome. Students should have a solid working knowledge of their camera (especially on all-manual) so that way group and individual energy will be focused on the joys of discovery and the refinement of one’s personal expression through composition. Sharing our work and getting feedback is an essential part of the learning process. If there are enough people from the San Francisco Bay Area, we will be able to have an informal
get-to-gether at the end of the trip to share our images. For those further afield, the
internet works wonders for sharing imagery.
Haines, Alaska: We meet at the Halsingland Hotel at 6:00 pm on July 10, July 27, and August 12 for our group orientation. Trip dates are July 10-22, July 27-August 8, and August 14-26.
$3795 plus park fees. Enrollment
limited. Includes all rafting equipment, transportation from Haines, Alaska to Yakutat, Alaska, hotel accommodations in Haines, professional guides, and all meals from lunch on the first day to lunch on the last day of the trip. See the detailed Trip Profile and the Detailed Trip Itinerary for the Tatshenshini on this website. This field study includes a fall follow-up sharing of our work to be arranged in the Bay Area.
FIELD SESSION SCHEDULE
July 10, 27, and August 14 —We will meet at 6:00 pm in the lobby of the Halsingland Hotel in Haines, Alaska.
A color catalog, detailed trip profile, insurance packet, and supplementary information will be mailed to inquiries.
Pre-departure literature including travel logistics and accommodations in the area, equipment lists, bibliography and other pertinent forms will be sent to all enrollees.
Itinerary: Each morning, before breakfast individuals will be on their own to make their own discoveries. After the morning shoot and breakfast, campers will pack up their gear and the boats will be loaded for going downriver. Photography discussions will occur whenever there is an appropriate time to fit them in: impromptu moments and most importantly, on layover days.
All river trips have a natural rhythm and this workshop combined with the raft trip is no exception. Field workshops have an organic process — a unique blend of intensive field work, lively discussions, personal insights and breakthroughs, physical activity, and camaraderie. Our river rafting itinerary will be flexible, dependent primarily on the logistics of such an extensive wilderness river expedition, weather, and the inclinations of students.
If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at 415/868-0585 or email at email@example.com
For enrollment in this class: call (800) 786-1830; Mon-Fri, 10:00 am-5 pm or print out the Reservation Form on this website and mail or FAX it in to
(415) 868-0585 with your deposit of $1000.
access the photo gallery of James Katz's work relating to
images of the Tatshenshini-Alsek Rivers go to: Tatshenshini River Gallery
reservations and other information, contact:
P.O. Box 807
Bolinas, CA 94924
10:00 A.M. to 5 P.M., Pacific Time
S.F. Bay Area
within this web site is copyrighted by James Katz of
James Henry River Journeys and may not be reproduced
without permission of the photographer.
©2008. Revised, Jan., 2013. All Rights Reserved.
James H. Katz/James Henry River Journeys/Wilderness Journeys.