65,000 moose roam the Yukon, an area roughly 2 1/2 times the size of New England. This is about twice the human population of the territory. With the capital of Whitehorse having a population of 23,000, the arithmetic says that the human population of the territory outside of Whitehorse is about 9,000….wow, talk about scarcely populated areas!!

The territory is home to fourteen First Nation peoples each with its own unique traditions and cultural heritage. The Tombstone territorial Park is an important heritage of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in people who have hunted and camped here for centuries and who agreed in 1999, in conjunction with the territorial government, to the formation of the park

Sunrise over Tombstone Mountain
Sunrise over Tombstone Mountain

Memorable for its black granite peaks, idyllic alpine lakes and subarctic tundra
landscapes, Tombstone Territorial Park is an icon among Yukon destinations.

Tombstone Reflections
Tombstone Reflections

These peaks always draw your attention as the light and weather conditions provide constantly changing dramatic views of this view. In the scene above, the lake surface became a mirror as the wind disappeared and allowed the capture of this pristine scene in the reflections of the Lake.

Sunset over Tombstone Mountain
Sunset over Tombstone Mountain

This is the same view with a particularly colorful sunset decorating the valley.

Sunburst in the Valley
Sunburst in the Valley

For years one of the cardinal rules of photography was always shoot with the sun at your back. With the advent of new cameras and the technologies embedded in their sensors, that rule has gone the way of the rotary dial phone. In the above image I shot directly into the sun and recorded the stunning back-lit colors of the low lying shrubs illuminated by the setting sun. The ragged cloud formations add to the scene.

The Aurora in the valley
The Aurora in the valley

By professional landscape photographer standards, this is a rather pedestrian image of the Northern Lights. But this was my first opportunity to see and photograph this amazing phenomenon and I couldn’t have been more excited about the opportunity. It meant rising in the middle of the night each night to see if the Aurora was visible. Most nights it wasn’t because of the cloud cover. This night was the only opportunity we had to capture a view of the Aurora. One of my colleagues had the inspirational idea to light up a tent to use as a foreground for the image.

Yellow and Gold
Yellow and Gold

This image has the rough hewn textures of the boulder on the bottom of the image and the peaks on the top sandwiched around the carpet of yellow and gold spread across the sub-artic tundra.

Drama over Tombstone
Drama over Tombstone

Of course this is the same view as above only with a different cloud formation. You will also notice I converted the upper 2/3 thirds of the scene into a black and white image while retaining the golden hue of the tundra which I think complements the stark drama of the image. In the photographic community writ large, some would view this as a complete violation of photographic integrity. Obviously, I’m not in that camp.

Morning Reflections
Morning Reflections

This would be a rather ordinary image but the lovely pink hue of the clouds and the reflections in the still water in the foreground turn it into something special.

Splendor over Tombstone
Splendor over Tombstone

This image was taken only a few minutes after the image directly above.  In just those few minutes the cloud edges were lit up with these wonderful points of light giving the scene a completely different look.

I’ll close this post and conclude the three posts on my Yukon visit with a photo of yours truly and my three photographer buddies (courtesy of Jim Ruff) from whom I learned something every day.

Frank Binder, Doug Solis, Denis Dessolier, Jim Ruff
Frank Binder, Doug Solis, Denis Dessolier, Jim Ruff

Thank you for reading my latest blog entry. If you thought it was worthy of your time and you hadn’t already done so, please take the opportunity to subscribe by clicking the “Follow” button on the right side of the page. You will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Also, you can share this blog entry on your Facebook page by clicking the share button below or you can email it to folks by clicking on the “Email” button.

Frank

Shrewsbury, MA

My friend Doug emailed me and asked whether I’d be interested in going on a photography trip to the Tombstone Mountains. I thought wow, “the town too tough to die” had mountains? I watched the movie but I didn’t recall seeing Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday chasing Ike and Billy Clanton through the mountains, only shooting them at the OK corral.

Turns out he meant the Tombstone Mountains in the Yukon Territory. I googled “middle of nowhere” and up popped the Tombstone Territorial Park outside of Dawson City, Yukon. I couldn’t pass up a trip to the middle of nowhere, so off I went in September to Toronto, then to Vancouver, then to Whitehorse, Yukon then a seven hour van ride up a semi-dirt road to Dawson City, then a helicopter ride into the middle of nowhere/Tombstone Mountains.

Tombstone Mountain
Tombstone Mountain

This valley is the heart of Tombstone Territorial Park. The helicopter dropped us off at the campground just to the right of Talus Lake. In addition to the craggy mountain peaks, the primary photographic reason for coming here was the reported amazing fall colors. They didn’t disappoint…the valley was ablaze with red and yellow shrubs.

Mountainside Color
Mountainside Color

The magnificent beauty of the park is appreciated by relatively few people due the remoteness of the location, which is unfortunate since being in the park gives one a sense of serenity and a solitary experience that is so totally different than the everyday dense geographies in which most of us reside. Several times I was compelled to put the camera down and just take in the magnificent color and shape of the land amidst an absolute blanket of quiet.

Streaming Away
Streaming Away

The park has numerous streams and waterfalls many of which are tucked into remote canyons and crevices. In this image, the golden glow on the mountain lasted only five minutes so I had to work quickly to get the camera positioned with the right composition in order to capture the movement of the stream and the mountain color.

A view for eternity
A view for eternity

The park was constituted in FY2000 after agreement with the “First Nations” people. This lone hilltop gravesite is unmarked and I speculatate that this is the grave of a Klondike Gold Rush participant who never survived his gold rush experience. Whoever the grave occupant, he/she has an unsurpassed view for eternity.

Cloud over Monument Mountain
Cloud over Monument Mountain

The cloud in this image turns a rather ordinary image into something much more interesting as it overhangs this mountain ridge and almost screams “Look at these peaks”!

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Monument Mountain

The golden hues of the fauna and the afternoon light frame and highlight Monument Mountain.

Dawn over Tombstone Mountain
Dawn over Tombstone Mountain

It’s called Tombstone Mountain because of its resemblance in shape to actual tombstones and is one of those iconic natural structures that draws a photographer’s constant attention as we look to the interplay of light and clouds around the mountain. This linear cloud formation over the peaks was lit up by the rising sun and made this a wonderful image. This is why we photographers rise in the dark and hope for a magical sunrise!

Red Dawn
Red Dawn

I shot this earlier on the same morning as the image above. This is a perfect example of how the quality of the light can dramatically change a scene.

Reflections
Reflections in Talus Lake

This was a great photographic and travel experience out into the sub-artic wilderness and I came away with a treasure trove of images so this is the first of probably three blog posts on the trip. Hope you enjoyed this one!

Thank you for reading my latest blog entry. If you thought it was worthy of your time and you hadn’t already done so, please take the opportunity to subscribe by clicking the “Follow” button on the right side of the page. You will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Also, you can share this blog entry on your Facebook page by clicking the share button below or you can email it to folks by clicking on the “Email” button.

Frank

Shrewsbury, MA

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