The heart of this photoset was to create and capture Alaska’s winter. To do that I’ve gone into sub-zero temps, crossed frozen lakes, and avoided avalanches. The physical effort I put into many of these photos makes them really special to me. There have been disappointments and seriously exciting moments throughout this project. Weather in Alaska is rarely predictable and often is unfavorable for photography. Despite the challenges this project has resulted in some of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken. I look forward to what comes next for me here in The Last Frontier. Our summers receive almost 24-hour sunlight which makes for a different world for photography.

It still blows my mind that I’ve gotten to photograph the Aurora Borealis and a frozen ocean in a place so far North. I never expected my photography journey to go this far. It’s an honor to document this, and I’m thrilled to share this final project with you all. I hope it inspires you.

First Snow
This was the first location I photographed when creating my photoset. It was a couple of days after the first snow that stuck in the Chugach mountains. The sunset light and fresh snow made for a really fun scene to work with.

OM-D E-M1 Mark III | M.Zuiko 17mm F1.2 PRO
1/100s | F8 | ISO 250
Rising Tides
Long exposures have never been my strength. But seeing the crazy waves come in at sunset, I knew this would have some serious potential. It was only 20 degrees outside and extremely windy…I also managed to forget my gloves in the car. My hands were numb before I even set my tripod up. Despite the challenging temperatures, the result was so worth it!

OM-D E-M1 Mark III | M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO
12mm | 1/8s | F16 | ISO 64
Frozen Jellyfish
This is definitely the most bizarre photo from my project. Walking around the beach in Seward I started to see jellyfish everywhere. Accidentally stepping on one I heard a crunch and realized they had all frozen solid. I knew I had to include something crazy like this in my final photoset.

OM-D E-M1 Mark III | M.Zuiko 17mm F1.2 PRO
1/250s | F1.8 | ISO 64
Frozen Perspective
– While walking on a frozen river, Alpenglow started to hit that mountain—Mt. Pioneer, creating stunning light. I decided to use my friend, Josh, to help give scale to the incredible size of the peak.

OM-D E-M1 Mark III | M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO
30mm | 1/100s | F5.6 | ISO 200
Frozen Ocean
Close to the beginning of winter I went to a coastal bluff to scout for shooting locations. To my surprise the ocean had already frozen over with thick ice. I used some of those strange ice formations as a leading line for the Chugach mountains in the background.

OM-D E-M1 Mark III | M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO
12mm | 1/160s | F8 | ISO 64
Giant in the Distance
Sometimes compositions create themselves. This is one of those photos. Standing almost half a mile away I noticed a couple hugging under a red blanket. It was framed by these two spruce trees and behind them was Mt. Denali—the tallest mountain in North America. I zoomed in as much as I could to get the compression I wanted between the two subjects.

OM-D E-M1 Mark III | M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO
40mm | 1/320s | F2.8 | ISO 64
Full Moon Aurora
Full moons usually make conditions tough for night photography. The brightness of the moon usually overpowers all the stars and Aurora. It was a clear night, so I decided to try anyways. To my surprise at about 3:00am I started to see flashes of green that overpowered the moonlight. Having bright mountains made it a really unique scene. The moon was so strong I could see my own shadow!

OM-D E-M1 Mark III | M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8 PRO
1/100s | F8 | ISO 250
Icy Branches
Driving to Seward one weekend we stopped at a place called Tern Lake. There is one tree on the whole lake. That morning at sunrise it was covered in stunning Hoarfrost. I think this closer, more detailed shot helps balance out the massive vistas that I usually capture.

OM-D E-M1 Mark III | M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO
40mm | 1/100s | F8 | ISO 250
Starry Valley
This shot was taken from the Matanuska Valley looking towards Anchorage and Palmer. It was 12 degrees below zero. Our hope was to see the Aurora, but we were greeted by the Milky Way instead. The small streak of light is a car driving down the only road in the valley.

OM-D E-M1 Mark III | M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO
12mm | 20s | F2.8 | ISO 2000
Intersecting Milky Way
This astro shot was also taken on an attempted Aurora trip. Sadly, we didn’t see any Northern Lights that night. Eventually I noticed how the Milky Way cut straight through the old bridge we were standing on. It was incredible!

OM-D E-M1 Mark III | M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO
12mm | 25s | F2.8 | ISO 3200
Quiet Docks
I found this composition walking around the frozen docks in Seward, Alaska. Fishing season only lasts 3 months here. The rest of the year these boats sit quietly almost completely unused.

OM-D E-M1 Mark III | M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO
34mm | 1/160s | F8 | ISO 64
Green Aurora
Taking this shot was probably the most challenging and most rewarding of the project. This winter, I spent over two dozen nights looking for Aurora with minimal results. Finally, capturing this scene I was getting blasted by 35mph winds and hail, and my knees froze to the ice I was kneeling on.

OM-D E-M1 Mark III | M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO
12mm | 10s | F2.8 | ISO 2500

Learn More About Martin's Project

You can follow Martin as he planned and executed his project through his three monthly blogs.