Sunset and sunrise photography in Alaska during the summer is for people who don’t value sleep. With the sunset at 12:30am and the sunrise three hours later, it takes a lot of commitment to photograph the magic hour. Some of us have jobs, you know.
To complicate things, this year interior Alaska had the rainiest summer in 100 years. We had many days of oppressive gray clouds and relentless rain that made us think God forgot his promise to Noah.
In spite of this, or because of it, we had many evenings of towering, billowy clouds that led to sensational sunsets. I was lucky enough to photograph several of them, even though I was probably sleepy the next day.
Below are my top 10 sunsets of the summer in chronological order, with the time and date of the photo, which you might find interesting. After the photos, please vote in the poll to tell me which is your favorite. Comments and polls on my blog are some of the only human interaction I get.
1. June 23, 11:40 PM
Sunset on the Park Boundary
The lodge down below is where I live and work on the boundary of Denali National Park. Not bad, eh?
2. June 24, 12:24 AM
Dramatic Otto Lake Sunset
This photo was actually taken 20 miles north and about 45 minutes after #1. When the sun sets after midnight, the colorful skies can last seemingly forever.
3. July 8, 11:35 PM
Sunset with Pier
Taken from the same spot as #2. I blurred the clouds slightly with a neutral density filter. Otto Lake has the best sunsets in Denali due to the weather patterns and position on the north side of the mountains.
4. July 29, 10:37 PM
Pink Clouds over Otto Lake
As you can see, we have reached a point in the year where a person can see a sunset and get some decent sleep before work. Yet another awesome Otto Lake sunset, but the last one in this set – I promise.
5. August 21, 9:36 PM
I call this place “Secret Lake” because I am seemingly the only one who knows about it, even though it is hiding in plain sight. Based on how pissed off the beavers get when I visit, I assume there aren’t many visitors. I am the only person who knows of Secret Lake, right? If not, meet me there tomorrow at 4pm. Bring snacks.
6. September 1, 7:52 PM
Dramatic Sunset at Glacier Bay
This photo of Bartlett Cove was the most dramatic of the summer. The photo is exposed correctly – the sky was black straight above, an eerie orange all around and clear blue on the horizon. There where also otters and sea gulls frolicking all around. Magic.
7. September 7, 8:59 PM
Autumn Sunset at Broad Pass
The keen reader will notice fall foliage in this and the subsequent photos and realize that my post title was misleading. When summer lasts two days, I count autumn as summer also.
8. September 8, 8:51 PM
Riley Creek Sunset
I made a poor choice on this sunset hunt. It may have been the most colorful of the year, but I went on a hike along Riley Creek and was down in a valley, too low to get great photos. But let me assure you that it was awesome. This is an example of a 1st World Problem.
9. September 11, 8:36 PM
Rainbow at Sunset
Every year I try to hike Meadow View Trail in Denali Park at the same time. As you can see by the photo, it is beautiful in the fall. This year, just as I turned to leave thinking I wouldn’t get a memorable photo, a rainbow appeared right at sunset. This wasn’t any rainbow though – due to the sun low on the horizon, it towered straight up to the place where Heaven ought to be. I was pretty much blown away by it. Then, a few hours later I saw this:
and I forgot about the rainbow altogether.
10. September 13, 8:39 PM
Sunset over the Nenana River
This post, and in a way my life, come full circle with this photo. This was the last day our lodge was open for the season and I took a hike up above after work. I was rewarded with yet another great sunset, and this is why I love Alaska.
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