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Miscellaneous Alaska Wildlife Gallery

As all of creation begins to come to life and basks in the morning sun, a magnificent beast emerges before you; it simply materializes out of the shadows and evaporating mist. The excitement and privilege of witnessing such an overwhelmingly beautiful, hidden moment, makes the heart beat wildly. It’s just you and your camera that can capture, immortalize, and share such a rare experience. It’s a moment in which much of humanity will never experience anything like it, a moment that is genuinely priceless, a moment that will be cherished for a lifetime, and beyond. This is what I love about wildlife photography!


I’ve watched and photographed thousands of wild animals over the years in some of the wildest places in North America. I’ve spent entire days, from sun up to sun down, for weeks at a time, perched thirty feet up in a tiny tree stand, carefully watching the ways of wildlife. I’ve hiked along thousand year old bear trails…still used by thousand pound bears. I’ve had many unforgettable adventures while capturing my wildlife images. The ones featured here are among my best from Alaska. (May I humbly recommend my wildlife photography book if you’d like to learn more.)   

Joseph Classen heading out on a wildlife photography adventure. Alaska Wall Art

Joseph Classen heading out on yet another Alaskan wildlife photography adventure.

Foxes are fascinating creatures! While they are certainly wild animals, predatory wild animals, in fact, they are at the same time amazingly friendly. I’ve been out in some of the wildest, most remote parts of Alaska, where very few humans go, and I’m always amazed how when a fox or two show up, they tend to take on the character of a long-lost buddy. They warm up to humans very quickly, as long as the humans do not pose any threat. Naturally though, like all wild animals, one should always treat them as such and keep them wild, by making it a point not to feed them or do anything that would make them dependent upon people…no matter how friendly they may get.


Once a fox (or family of foxes) gets acquainted with you though, they tend to act like a pet dog. I’ve had foxes stop by my camp first thing in the morning, then follow me around all day while I’m out and about exploring the wilds. They appear and disappear when you least expect it…sort of checking in periodically to see what you are up to. At a remote fishing camp I stayed at for part of a summer years ago, a pair of foxes even befriended the family’s two pet dogs. The dogs and foxes would playfully chase each other around, roll and wrestle in the tall grass and exchange barks and yips. What’s more, the foxes got so friendly with us humans, that they would almost sit right in your lap and rub up against us asking to be pet. However, when the sun went down, the night air was filled with the shrill, distress screams of dying rabbits who fell prey to those foxes. Even though they were so friendly around us humans and domestic dogs…there was no questioning their wildness. And again, that’s the way it should always be.


These images are of many of those friendly foxes that I have encountered over the years. I’ve always tried to capture a wide variety of photos that show the many facets of their personality…from playful pet to intense hunter.

Title: Sleepy Fox

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 20” or 24” x 30”

Title: Thirst

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 20” or 24” x 30”

Title: Bird Hunting Fox

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 20” or 24” x 30”

Title: Shadow Fox

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 20” or 24” x 30”

Sleepy Fox, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenThirst, fox, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenBird Hunting Fox, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenShadow Fox, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

Title: Beachcombing Fox

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 20” or 24” x 30”

Title: Predator Mode

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 20” or 24” x 30”

Predator Mode, fox, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenBeachcombing Fox, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

Bison were introduced to the mainland of Alaska in 1928 and have mostly inhabited the interior regions of the state. On Kodiak Island, where cattle ranching goes all the way back to the late 1800’s and was once a major industry, buffalo were brought in by ranchers in more recent years as a replacement and/or alternative for cattle. The Kodiak bears were notorious for decimating cattle herds…which led to an all-out war between ranchers and bears…resulting in the Kodiak bear almost being wiped out completely. The buffalo, unlike the more docile domestic cattle, fight back against the bears, resulting in far less of the herd being lost to predation.


No matter where in Alaska one encounters bison…wild or more domesticated…they are always a majestic sight that conjures up thoughts of the great frontier days of the American west and the struggle for survival. The bison is a noble symbol of perseverance and strength. This is the spirit in which these images were captured and created.

Title: Buffalo Pair

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 24” or 24” x 36”

Title: Buffalo Pair - Black & White

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 24” or 24” x 36”

Buffalo Pair, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenBuffalo Pair, Black & White, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

Title: Winter Buffalo

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 24” or 24” x 36”

Winter Buffalo, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

© 2017 Joseph F. Classen  - All Rights Reserved - No photographs may be used without permission.

I’ll never forget this fox or the morning I took these photographs. I was exploring the Karluk Lake area, home of the biggest of the big Kodiak bears, as well as many other creatures. I got up early that particular morning to watch a spectacular sunrise and have some breakfast before heading out on the day’s adventure. After breakfast, while getting my gear in order down by the lake, something caught my eye. I glanced up to see a beautiful red fox trotting along, looking for his own breakfast. As he neared the lake’s edge, I knew a magical moment was about to happen. He gently tip-toed out on some rocks to have a sip of water, and when he did, it was like he was walking out on a mirror. He was reflected perfectly in the morning light and still water. It was one of the most stunningly beautiful things I have ever witnessed! I was so thankful to have been able to capture it with my camera.

Title: Mirror Fox #1

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 20” or 24” x 30”

Title: Mirror Fox #2

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 20” or 24” x 30”

 Mirror Fox #1, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen, foxMirror Fox #2, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen, fox

This is another of my most popular fox images. Several years ago, while heading out to do some evening salmon fishing, I encountered this foxy lady. When she saw me coming, she slowly came out from under the thick brush, and very curiously looked me over, probably trying to figure out my intentions, or maybe looking for a handout of some kind…as foxes tend to do when they realize that people often have food with them. Whatever the case, after intently studying me…while I captured some photos of her…she casually headed back into the brush with her pups and disappeared. When I got home later and looked at the results of our encounter, I realized I had some real gems! The expressiveness in her face was fantastic! It was almost as if she read my mind and purposely posed for me.

Title: Curious Red Fox

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 20” or 24” x 30”

Curious Red Fox, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

Most of the moose that I have encountered in Alaska have been from fairly long distances…and that’s good…as moose can be unpredictable and very temperamental creatures. A rutting bull moose, or protective cow with calves, can bulldoze you over and stomp you into the dirt in a heartbeat! In fact, an Alaska wildlife biologist friend of mine reports that he has had far more deadly encounters with moose than he ever has with bears. For the most part, the only place that I have encountered moose regularly at close range is in urban areas such as the city of Anchorage…where one can see moose strolling right down the sidewalk and around neighborhoods!.


The moose in these three photos though, are of a couple of bulls that I was able to photograph at relatively close range. As is always the case when photographing potentially dangerous animals, I made it point to have a natural or man-made barrier between myself and the moose. The first two images, Curious Bull and Angry Bull, are of a moose I encountered on a cold, late-autumn day. While it looks like I was right in his face, in reality I was a good, safe distance away, using a telephoto lens. However, the bull no doubt knew I was there. After picking up my scent with that enormous nose, he homed right in on me. At first, he gave me a very whimsical, curious look…almost looking like something out of a cartoon…but then, his attitude changed very quickly and he did not look so happy. Thus, I got the heck out of there!


The third image here is of another fine-looking bull moose I came across on a pleasant, warm day on the mainland of Alaska. He was bedded down, just taking it easy and enjoying life, it seemed. I was happy to capture some nice images of him in an unobtrusive manner and move along, so as not to disturb his rest.

Title: Curious Bull

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 20” or 24” x 30”

Title: Angry Bull

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 20” or 24” x 30”

Title: Summer Bull

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 24” or 24” x 36”

Curious Bull, moose, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenAngry Bull, moose, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenSummer Bull, moose, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

Horses, especially wild horses, are among the most popular subjects for wildlife and nature photography enthusiasts. Human beings and horses have shared a special bond for centuries, and that bond has been celebrated and immortalized in many forms of art over the years. There is just something about the sight of a long, lean horse peacefully meandering about in the open countryside or galloping along in the cool mountain air.


While I do not know of any truly, 100% wild horses in Alaska, there are many what I refer to as “semi-wild” horses. That is, horses that technically belong to somebody, but still roam about freely in the wilderness. These images are of such horses. I’m always amazed how and where these majestic creatures show up. I’ve been in places in which the only way into the rugged wilderness is a float plane, boat, or ATV, and out of nowhere a horse, or group of horses show up. I have no idea how they got there or who they belong to, but nonetheless they are out there, in the wild, living among all the other wild critters. Capturing images of these rugged, Alaskan horses is always a pleasure, and images of them have become very popular with my audience.

Title: Wild Horse Herd

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 20” or 24” x 30”

Title: Wilderness Horse

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 20” or 24” x 30”

Title: Horse Creek

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 24” or 24” x 36”

Title: Little Guy

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Title: Sharing a Meal

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Title: Mama and Baby

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Wild Horse Herd, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenWilderness Horse, wild horse, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenHorse Creek, wild horse, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenLittle Guy, baby wild horse, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenMama and Baby, wild horse, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenSharing a Meal, wild horse, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

Sea lions have become one of my favorite “off season” subjects. When the rest of the Alaskan landscape becomes not-so-photogenic during the winter months and the majority of the wildlife are not so active, the huge sea lions that inhabit coastal waters are always great fun to watch and photograph. While they look like big, friendly, unassuming creatures, they can be quite aggressive. It’s stunning how fast they spring into action when going after a potential meal, or putting a beat-down on a less-dominate, challenging sea lion. They also get themselves into quite a bit of trouble with commercial fisherman, as the sea lions sometimes invade boats to grab a fish or two, mess up fishing gear, and generally cause all kinds of problems.


I’ve found sea lions to be very expressive creatures. They smile, grimace, show excitement or fear, and a wide array of other emotions. I’ve photographed these titans of the sea in all sorts of situations: while warming themselves on a cold winter day, while violently attacking other lions or something that would ultimately become their food, while peacefully torpedoing though the clear ocean waters, while resting contently after a sumptuous meal, and while frantically fleeing for their lives while a pod of killer whales (orcas) chase them down. These images capture many of those scenarios.

Title: Waiting to Exhale

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 24” or 24” x 36”

Title: Sea Lion in the Sunshine

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Title: The Sea Lion Thinker

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Title: Sea Lion Attack Triptych

Available Print Sizes: 9” x 31”

Title: You Lookin’ at Me

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 20” or 24” x 30”

Waiting to Exhale, sea lion, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenSea Lion in the Sunshine, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenThe Sea Lion Thinker, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenYou Lookin’ at Me, sea lion, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenSea Lion Attack Triptych, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

Like the sea lion, the much smaller seal, is also a fun fellow to photograph. They each have their own personality and their behavior ranges from silly clown to deadly hunter. I’ve found seals to be very curious creatures. Quite often, when I’m out strolling along a beach somewhere, I look over my shoulder to see a seal or two peeking out of the water, swimming along as if following me like a shy, lost puppy dog. And, when I purposely make eye contact with them and acknowledge their presence, they quickly dive back down and disappear…only to pop up again later and continue following me around. I always enjoy those peek-a-boo games with the seals.


Seal Hunter Close-up is an image I captured of a seal in a much more serious setting. I was out salmon fishing on summer day at the mouth of a small creek. Thousands of pink salmon were trying to enter the creek as the tide came in from the ocean while the seals were aggressively hunting and feeding on them. It’s an experience I’ll never forget. There were so many fish trying to get into that tiny creek that I could have literally walked across their backs. It was an unbelievable sight! I’ve seen a lot of similar things over the years with spawning salmon, but never anything to that degree. The water was literally boiling with activity! Tails, heads, and pectoral fins were thrashing about wildly while fish jumped and rolled everywhere.


In the midst of all that frenzied activity, I noticed that large groups of the fish would at times literally explode out of the water! In the shallower areas of the creek mouth and out in the ocean in front of me, I could see the seals launching themselves like torpedoes into the massive schools of fish, and when they did, again, the salmon would come flying out of the water like a bomb went off, desperately trying to get out of the line of attack. It was wild!!! While the seals were in such a focused, intense hunting/fishing mode, they paid no attention to me and didn’t even know I was standing by watching it all. So, I got my camera and hung out right at the water’s edge...totally still and curled in a ball to make my profile as small as possible…which is hard to do when you are 6’3 and 245 lbs! At one point, a seal popped up right in from of me while pursuing the salmon…just feet away. I was able to capture this wonderful shot that remains one of my favorites and most popular.

Title: Seal Hunter Close-up

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 20” or 24” x 30”

Seal Hunter Close-up, seal, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

The Dall sheep is an iconic Alaskan animal. When one thinks of vast, rugged landscapes, huge, jagged mountains, and all the imagery associated with the Great Land, the Dall sheep always comes to mind. Such is the reason that these incredible creatures are often the subject of a wide variety of artwork or marketing materials that have to do with Alaska.


The Dall sheep (along with the mountain goat) is also one the most dangerous animals to pursue. Not so much because of any deadly aggressiveness toward humans, but because of the fact that they dwell in some of the most deadly, inaccessible terrain on earth. Every year people die while pursuing sheep and goats in Alaska. I almost did as well. I’m very lucky to be alive. But, that is another story.


This particular Dall sheep was thankfully at a much lower elevation and in an easy location to photograph. He was a great model and worked perfectly with the light that day for me.

Title: Dall Sheep

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 20” or 24” x 30”

Dall Sheep, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

Salmon are one of the most incredible creatures on earth…in my humble option. They are born in beautiful rivers and creeks, eventually head out to the ocean for a number of years, depending on the species, and when the time comes to continue the cycle of life, they travel thousands of miles through Mother Nature’s gauntlet, through all sorts of obstacles, and eventually make it all the way back the place of their birth to spawn and then die.


During the actual spawning process, salmon go through an incredible metamorphosis. Their dime-bright silver appearance transforms to a darker, more reptilian-looking design, the males get a humped back and elongated jaws, which more readily display their sharp teeth. The process reminds me of Dr. Jekyll turning into Mr. Hyde. These two images showcase the vivid colors and features of a sockeye (“red”) and chum (“dog”) salmon.

Title: Becoming

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 20” or 24” x 30”

Title: Spawning Sockeye

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 24” or 24” x 36”

Becoming, salmon close up, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenSpawning Sockeye, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

Another of Alaska’s famous creatures is the mighty musk ox, which can be found mostly in the northern regions of the state. These hairy beasts have always reminded me of some kind of mythical animal out of a Star Wars movie. Seeing one of these shaggy, long-haired, big-horned critters out in the frozen, arctic tundra is an unforgettable sight! They have proved to be very difficult for me to find and photograph, for a variety of reasons…but mostly because they live in some of the harshest, most inaccessible areas of the state. I’m lucky to have the few musk ox images that I do. This one is my best to date.

Title: Musk Ox

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 20” or 24” x 30”

Musk Ox, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

The adorable, fuzzy, long-whiskered sea otter is yet another of those iconic Alaska animals. It’s also the reason Russian fur traders set up camp on Kodiak Island in 1748. While the sea otter does indeed have a luxurious, soft fur, I can’t personally imagine killing one simply for his or her hide. Who could hurt such a cute critter! But, keep in mind, the people of the frontier days of old did not have Gore-Tex! Fur bearing animals were truly needed for clothing and were essential for survival.


I encounter sea otters all the time, and like anyone else, I always thoroughly enjoy watching them floating around doing the backstroke, cracking open shells, eating all sorts of interesting things, playing with their pups, and all the other fun things that sea otters do. While one can get fairly close to them at times…especially when in a boat…they only tolerate people so much. Like any other animal, or human, they do not like their personal space being violated.


I’ve personally found sea otters to be rather difficult to photograph…mostly due to that thick, luxurious fur…as it seems to suck up the light. I just can never seem to get the perfect combination of the right angle with the right lighting. However, there have been a few occasions when things worked out nicely. Here are three such images.

Title: Hungry Sea Otter #1

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 24” or 24” x 36”

Title: Hungry Sea Otter #2

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 24” or 24” x 36”

Title: Afternoon Appetizers

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 24” or 24” x 36”

Hungry Sea Otter #1, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenHungry Sea Otter #2, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenAfternoon Appetizers, sea otter, eating, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

There are dozens and dozens of different species of water fowl in Alaska. This image is of a beautiful Trumpeter Swan on a beautiful day. Simple as that! There is something very peaceful, and even mesmerizing, about watching such a graceful creature gently paddle around in colorfully reflective, tranquil waters. This image captures such a moment.

Title: Trumpeter Swan

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 24” or 24” x 36”

Trumpeter Swan, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

The king crab is a wild looking, fantastically delicious creature that dwells on the bottom of the sea! It’s not often that one gets the chance to study one up-close and personal, before it ends up on someone’s dinner plate a thousand miles away in a big-city restaurant. I captured this image while doing some subsistence crab fishing with some friends of mine on Kodiak. Again, it’s not often that one has a good, hard look at the features of a king crab. They are amazing, complex, almost alien-like creatures in the way they move, behave, and are constructed. But yes, they are also delectable!

Title: King Crab Close-up

Available Print Sizes: 16” x 24” or 24” x 36”

King Crab Close-up, Alaska, wildlife, animals, nature, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen
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