Crossroads Sitka was a really great workshop experience for leaders and participants combined. We had a very good group of photographers who enthusiastically embraced the essence of a Crossroads workshop and plunged in with wonderful energy on the shooting list scavenger hunt that we all developed and reviewed every day. Plus, as an added bonus, the weather was beyond extra nice to us. We had two really pretty sunsets, no stormy days and soft light, cloudy days just when we needed them.
Highlights? There are so many on this workshop: every stream we visited was chocked full of Pink Salmon. At first we all thought the masses of fish were just shadows in the water but when we took notice the shadows had fins and tails and moved through the water- salmon! Thanks to Brenda’s hard work scouting the workshop the year before it was timed perfectly to the major spawning run so salmon were easy to find. They were even jumping out of the water wherever a river met the sea. I think we all got wonderful shots of the salmon and we learned that to get the best shots we needed directly sunlight on the salmon. Add that to your list of things to photograph on bright sunny days!
Every day of the workshop a small group of four participants went out on a boat trip to photograph the fishing boats, sea birds, seascapes and humpback whales in Sitka Sound. Wow! what pictures they got. Beautiful whale tails and humped backs, flying puffins and puffins with fish in their bills, seiners with nets brimming with salmon as they were hauled on board, wonderful shots of the nets and patterns of the water and absolutely magnificent pictures of sea otters and moon jellies.
We also spent a lot of time at the Alaska Raptor Center photographing their facilities and rehab birds of prey. It was a lovely surprise that they allowed us to bring five birds- snowy owl, kestrel, northern pygmy owl, great horned owl and saw whet owl- out of their cages so we could photograph them in their natural setting. All the images were really nice but the ones of the saw whet owl (no bigger than a soda can) and the kestrel (perched on a little spruce tree) were particularly impressive. David, who has photographed this kind of thing many, many times before, was very jealous that he didn’t get any pictures of the kestrel or the snowy owl. Too much time working with the handler and the scene to grab his camera.
There was much more that we photographed- the impressive totem poles in the Sitka Historic Park, the huge old Sitka Spruce and Cedars in the local old-growth forests, the sunset views from atop Harbor mountain, the old, old boats and the equally old fishermen in the two working harbors and the intriguing details of the forest, harbor, boats and streams.
Below is a very small sampling of some of the images we all shot during the workshop. I think we all felt that there was so much to photograph in Sitka that there will have to be a next time and it will have to be much much longer to satisfy all the photography. Much thanks to Rod Barbee and Ruth Conner for coming along and helping us teach this workshop.