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Our Eight Day Photography Excursion Aboard the MV David B — Part Four

DAY 4 — Dawes Glacier

This morning I am invited down to the engine room by the Captain, to see what it takes to get the engine started for the day. First, there are about a dozen spots requiring a gentle squirt of oil from a long necked can I remember seeing in my grandfather’s garage. Several times a day a crew member will come down the ladder — the entrance being a hatch in the galley — and make sure it gets further oil treatments. A quick press of the start button and the engine rumbles to life, its memorable voice beginning its song for the day. 

Getting the engine started for the day

And a big day it is too! Today we are visiting Dawes Glacier. We are underway an hour early this morning, and by 0800 we get our first glimpse of a tidal glacier, seemingly pinched into a point by the mountains pressing on its sides. Jeffrey has planned it perfectly so we are there with the sun behind the glacier and making the ice seem to glow, and equally wonderful there are no other boats in the area. We can shoot without worrying about other vessels in the image for a lovely long time. 

a glacier is hiding out there
frozen messengers of what is to come …

Dave’s photo of Jeffrey carefully navigating around the floating ice
Dawes Glacier finally comes into view!
Dave’s photo

I am bowled over by the color variations. I am all over the map when it comes to taking photos. Some environmental, to try and show where the glacier exists. Some closer in to show its structure. Or show shape patterns. Maybe color patterns. Zoom out again to try and freeze the birds in mid air wheeling as they hunt fish at the foot of the glacier, or rest in the broken ice chips floating away from their mother glacier like children leaving the nest.

Dave’s photo of a happy girl!
Dave’s photo
Dave’s photo
Dave’s photo
Dave’s photo

Dave’s photo

Christine joins us on deck to capture her own photos — there is a reason lunch will be a big pot of chili!! She has a excellent sight or instinct regarding the behavior of the glacier and calls out “Right Side!” when she detects the glacier is calving off a chunk of itself into the sea. I never do manage to swing the camera in time to catch a photo of the action, but it was worth every bit of the trip to stand on that deck and watch the subtle wave-crest surf toward us and gently rock the boat for a moment as it passed.

We were only there for an hour, but it seemed much longer because the photo opportunities were so rich. I took 1300 photos this morning. As we came about to leave, trains of zodiac boats full of balloon people (tourists in big life jackets) were bouncing their way past us to the glacier. A large cruise ship waited further out in the channel to retrieve its own fleet of excursion boats. It felt very crowded after the last three plus days blissfully on our own. 

On our trip back out to the main channel, Christine fished a floating iceberg chip from the water and put it on the stern of the boat for us to see. I tried very hard to capture the fascinating texture to the ice and the imperfections of air bubbles and grit suspended within, without much success. The surface reminded me of a golf ball with a net of dimples wrapped around the giant sphere. Later, deckhand Matt would have chipping duty, to render a portion of the ice into chucks that would fit in a highball glass. 

farewell Dawes Glacier
how old might the air trapped in the ice be??

We spend a good part of the day in transit, through waters sprinkled with the remnants of icebergs making their slow way to the sea. Most of us take the opportunity to sit in the lounge and review the amazing photos we captured this morning and picking out some favorites for tonight’s show and tell. Occasionally we pop outside to take more photos of the stunning scenery floating past the open windows of the David B

Dave’s photo

Jeffrey brings us to Sanford Cove, one of my top three places on this trip. We are here to explore alongside a creek where Pink Salmon are spawning. Another first for me, I am excited to try and capture something of the fight I see as the fish erupt from the water with a mighty splash to propel themselves against the current and then find an eddy behind a boulder where they can rest and prepare themselves for the next surge forward. I’ve never tried to photograph fish before. I probably took close to 800 photos, most of them unable to see below the light reflected on the water’s surface to the fish below. Sometimes it is hard to remember our brains can compensate for things like that and cameras cannot. But, if you make enough tries, you might get a couple that work out.

Dave’s photo
Dave’s photo
pink salmon battle the current and each other

This fish was for my show and tell.

Once again alone for the night, the sunset is as bright as a welder’s torch behind the arms of the cove we are anchored in. By morning, it will look like a completely different place.

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