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Winter in Alaska Gallery

As much as I dread the short, dark days of winter, especially in Alaska, there is also much that I love and

look forward to about it. This gallery is a journey through my favorite memories of the cold, frozen months.

Come along with me and experience it for yourself.


There is a quickening in the cold, fresh air. Breathe deeply of its purity. Watch the steam of your exhale

rise heavenward, like incense blessing the sacred stillness. There is a hushed silence within the winter

cathedral of nature. Yet, a subtle reverberation emits from even the slightest sounds. Dead grasses,

empty seed pods, and the frozen vegetation that abound are gently rustled together like peaceful wind

chimes. A chorus of tiny birds singing so sweetly emerges from the hidden, snow covered dwellings of

well insulated nests. Indiscernible, sharp-clawed rodents scurry about underneath a blanket of decaying

autumn mast and long-since harvested crops. Take a step…and all activity ceases. Your presence is

well known to the many eyes and ears that elude your powers of perception. Indeed, there is life all

around. The land is not completely dead. This is not the drab Winterreise of composer Franz Schubert. Rather, this is a pilgrimage of renewal; pregnant with the possibilities to come. As the old-timers say,

“The winter covers a multitude of sins.”  


Slow down, relax your pace. Notice your tracks. They are the only ones painted onto the vast canvas of

white that lay before you. Winter has erased all the memories of the past. A bold adventure awaits.

There is a new world to be explored. In the midst of the stabbing cold, there is a warmth in the heart, like

that of spending time with an old friend. While the skin on your face tightens from the numbing chill, your

eyes widen with delight as you survey the beauty all around. It is a moment that seems euphorically frozen

in time. There is no chaos or competition, only an entrancing stillness for you to enjoy.

Joseph Classen in the Alaskan Arctic, Alaska Wall Art

Joseph Classen heading out for a photo-shoot in the subzero temperatures of Alaska’s North Slope.

Blizzard Creek, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

Title: Blizzard Creek

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

This has become my most popular winter image over the past years. It was also one of my most

memorable to capture. We had not had any substantial snowfall the year that I took this photo, and

I was chomping at the bit to get out and capture some snow covered landscape photographs. I

finally got my wish, as one particular afternoon a savage blizzard engulfed Kodiak Island. Somewhat

foolishly, I suited up fast, grabbed my photography gear, as well as some winter survival gear, and

headed out into the heart of the storm!


Just getting to the destination where I shot this scene was a nerve-rattling ride, as the roads were a

mess and visibility was at a minimum. An hour or so later, I finally got to the remote, wilderness

stream I had in mind, put on the rest of my heavy-duty winter gear, and slowly began hiking and wading

along the slippery banks while the wind howled and the snow pummeled the land. While I was taking a

serious beating from Mother Nature, yet again, it was at the same time entrancing and euphoric being

literally immersed in such a place at such a time.


Shortly after I finished the photo-shoot tough, I slipped and fell in the stream. Being soaking wet, with

freezing water, in blizzard-force high winds, in the middle of winter, is not a good recipe! Hypothermia

is the fastest and biggest killer of all in Alaska, and the outdoors in general, and I knew good and well

I had to get out of there fast! And, so I did! I hightailed it back to my vehicle, changed into some dry,

warm clothes, cranked up the heat, and headed for home.

Black, White, and Blue, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

Title: Black, White, and Blue

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

I took this photo on the same day, and in the same conditions as the previous one. Upon viewing the

raw image when I got back home, it was so whited-out from the incapacitating blizzard snow, that I

almost simply deleted it. However, upon further reflection and review, I decided to first transform it into

a black and white image, as those were essentially the only perceivable colors in the composition

anyway due to the weather.  Next, I decided to go one step further and highlight the only vivid color that

was in the photo by means of the photographic processing technique of color isolation. The result was

an interesting image which has become a favorite of many, including myself.

Echo Bend Solitude, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

Title: Echo Bend Solitude

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

This image is of an area around Echo Bend, located in Eagle River, Alaska. It’s another of my all-time

favorites. I was out doing some serious winter hiking the day I took this photo and was following a trail

which was only being used by long-legged moose…and for good reason. The snow was thigh-high, to

at times, waist deep! Even with snowshoes, it was a leg-burning ordeal, in which I ended up doing more

sweating and swearing than photographing. When I finally made it to the area where I captured this

image, the snow was much shallower and navigable. As you can see, it was a spectacularly beautiful

location! I made a little fire along the bank of the river, warmed up, had a bite to eat, and spent some

quality time in the tranquil winter wonderland that was all around me. It’s an indescribable joy to

experience such peaceful solitude.

Moose Swamp Winter Reflection, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen Moose Swamp Serenity #1, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen Moose Swamp Serenity #2, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

These three images were also taken in Eagle River, on the mainland of Alaska. I was out hiking part of

what is now known as the Old Iditarod Trail. Along my route, I came across many beautiful, frozen

moose swamps that were fantastically photogenic and just plain fun to explore. These images are my

favorites from that unforgettable adventure.

Title: Moose Swamp Winter Reflection

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

Title: Moose Swamp Serenity #1

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

Title: Moose Swamp Serenity #2

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

Red House, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenFrozen Flow #1, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenFrozen Flow #2, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenBlue Buskin, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenWhite Monashka, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

Kodiak Island is often referred to as Alaska’s Emerald Isle. It’s a fitting name, as a deep, lush green

possesses the landscape during the late spring and summer months. It’s simply breathtaking to behold!

Kodiak is also known as Alaska’s Tropical Island, due to its rather warm winter climate…as compared to

the rest of the state. While I like the fact that Kodiak gets a fair amount of daylight and no subzero

temperatures in the winter, the weather has gotten a little troubling these past few years. When I moved

to Kodiak in 2011, we got around seven feet of snow that winter. I have to admit, I enjoyed it immensely!

That is how I imaged an Alaskan winter to be. In the years that followed though, the winters were so mild

that we literally had days that it was warmer in Kodiak than in Florida! The lack of snow not only took the

excitement and fun out of winter (at least for me) but it also had damaging effects on the environment.


Thankfully, in more recent years, we are finally getting more Alaska-like winter weather, with colder

temperatures and a fair amount of snow. The following photographs are images I shot in the winter of

2017, when after a long hiatus, the snow came back with a vengeance…at least for a few weeks. It was

an incredible joy to once again venture out into the skin-biting air, trod upon the fresh powder, breath the

invigorating winter air, and capture some memorable images of the Kodiak landscape… heavily laden with

inches of virgin snow.

Title: Red House

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

Title: Frozen Flow #1

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

Title: Frozen Flow #2

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

Title: Blue Buskin

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

Title: White Monashka

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

Winter River Splendor, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

Title: Winter River Splendor

Available Print Sizes: 12” x 24” or 16” x 32”

During a rather pleasant winter day on Kodiak Island a few years back, I set out for an evening in hopes of capturing a beautiful winter sunset. It was a gamble I lost, as the colors and cloud contrasts were a dud that evening. But, in the processing of waiting for the sun go down, I was able to capture this wonderful image, which has become another of my most popular winter shots.

Heading North, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen Dietrich River, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen Miles of Pipeline, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen Pipeline Desert, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen Ptarmigan Snow Angel, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

In the dead of winter in 2013, I embarked upon an Alaskan arctic exploration adventure. I met up with a

good friend who at the time lived in Fairbanks, and we headed north…waaaaay north! We journeyed up

the 415 mile Dalton Highway, or, Haul Road, if you prefer, which is the only navigable path through that vast,

frozen wilderness. The road leads far beyond the arctic circle, and ends (for the general public) at

Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay, a few miles shy of the Arctic Ocean. It was one of those adventures that I had

always wanted to do, but I can’t say I’m in a rush to do it again.  Camping out in a tent in -25 or so was a bit

interesting! The subzero temperatures made everything hurt and breakdown: camera and camping gear,

and most especially, one’s body!


Exploring the arctic regions of Alaska was genuinely like visiting another planet. Once we were past the

awesome Brooks Range, the vast, wide-open, snow covered dunes of the North Slope were reminiscent

of something out of a science fiction movie. I gained a whole new respect for the wildlife, and of course,

the humans, that endure such brutal, punishing conditions.  With the exception of the one and only road that

leads into that rather forsaken land, the only other sign of humankind is the great Alaskan Pipeline, that goes

on for miles and miles and miles!


The photos below are my favorites from that adventure, at least my favorite daytime images. The nighttime

was an entirely different story, with the most spectacular displays of the aurora borealis that I have ever seen.

Some of those images are included in the Nightscapes gallery.

Title: Heading North

Available Print Sizes: 12” x 24” or 16” x 32”

Title: Dietrich River

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

Title: Miles of Pipeline

Available Print Sizes: 12” x 24” or 16” x 32”

Title: Pipeline Desert

Available Print Sizes: 12” x 24” or 16” x 32”

Title: Ptarmigan Snow Angel

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

Psychedelic River Ice #1, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen Psychedelic River Ice #2, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

Years ago, I had a college art professor who began the first day of class by placing a piece of popcorn on

our desks. He then asked us to spend the next two hours sketching that rather dull subject. The exercise was

meant to enlighten us about what the mind does while engaged in the creative process, but it was also a

means of exercising and developing our powers of awareness. Intensely studying that piece of popcorn

actually became quite interesting, as it was full of delicate structures, fascinating curves, and displayed an

array of wonderful micro-textures.  As I learned from that professor, as well as other artist mentors of mine,

training one’s eyes to look for beauty in small things and in overlooked or ignored places, is an important

discipline to practice.


As I now constantly preach to budding photographers and nature enthusiasts in general, a key factor in

developing both one’s creative eye, as well as a heightened sense of awareness, is to slooooooow

dooooown. When one begins to slow down, waaaaaay down, a whole other hidden world is revealed, which

is a rich source of gaining both new, artistic inspiration, as well as a greater appreciation for many things in

life that we otherwise take for granted.


I captured these two images on a day that I was out and about looking for big, huge, grandiose winter

landscape scenes to photograph. There was not much snow that year, so everything looked rather brown,

gray, and dead.  As I was searching relentlessly for more colorful subject matter, I began to call to mind

those lessons about slowing down and looking for small subjects that possess great beauty. In a more

relaxed manner, I thus started studying things like the tiny ice formations under tree stumps, and along the

edges of frozen riverbanks. In the process of doing so, I came across a few sections of the river that had

these wonderful frozen air bubbles trapped in slabs of blueish ice. It was a great find. The resulting

photographs are reminders of those artistic (and life) lessons, and have become two very popular images.

Title: Psychedelic River Ice #1

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

Title: Psychedelic River Ice #2

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

Peaceful Winter Beach, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenTranquila, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

When I can’t find, or run out of, the traditional “snow covered stuff” that becomes the primary focus of my

winter photography efforts, I often find myself heading to the ocean to capture what I refer to as seascapes.

It is precisely because of the specific contrasts and color schemes that are generated by winter that water

comes vibrantly alive, becoming bluer, bolder, more prolific, and offers tremendous potential for creating

incredible images! Not to mention, there is just something incredibly relaxing about being alone on a

tranquil Alaskan beach, listening to the entrancing sound of the waves, and watching the sands of time ebb

and flow in the swirling waters. These two images are of such occasions.

Title: Peaceful Winter Beach

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

Title: Tranquila

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

Snow Brothers, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenSplit Rock, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenSargent Creek, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

Along with those traditional “snow covered stuff” images, and winter seascapes, another genre that I

heavily embrace, especially during the cold, rather colorless months of the year, is that of black and

white photography. When the primary pallet of the environment is only varying shades of black, white,

and gray, then I make it a point to shoot and create images with that color scheme.


Black and white photography can produce bold, high-impact, high-drama images that can communicate

thoughts and feelings in a manner that color images often fail to do. Lack of color tends to greatly simplify

a composition as well as giving it a pure, strong, timeless look. As with many things in life, there is great

beauty in simplicity. This is especially the case with black and white photography. The images featured

here were captured on Kodiak Island on different occasions, during different years, but the one thing they

have in common is that these particular locations were not all that “off the beaten path.” They are popular

areas that get many visitors during the summer months. In the winter however, they are, for the most part,

abandoned locations…giving them all the more appeal as black and white subjects.  

Title: Snow Brothers

Available Print Sizes: 12” x 24” or 16” x 32”

Title: Split Rock

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

Title: Sargent Creek

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

Kodiak Ice Tracks, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

Title: Kodiak Ice Tracks

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

Contrary to popular belief, not all bears in Alaska hibernate for the winter. On Kodiak island, while the

majority of them do sleep throughout most of the peak winter months, there are other restless bruins that

stay awake for all, or some of that time. Case in point: during my first few years on the island, I had a huge,

9 ½ foot Kodiak brown bear that essentially lived in my yard. He went as far as building a day bed, which

looks like a giant bird’s nest, in the little patch of woods that were right outside my back door. I would at

times actually hear him snoring during the daylight hours when he was napping. But, when the sun went

down, he would go on the prowl! Not for human victims, or even the deer that also visited my yard (though

he did eat a few cats!) but rather, he would roam the nearby streets, looking for his delectable meal of

choice…used baby diapers and beer!


Yes, he was a helpless street bear, addicted to food waste, poo-filled diapers, and the beer he stole form

the local derelict’s secret alcohol stash. That bear went as far as making a dirty diaper and beer cache!

Just as when bears kill and eat part of a prey animal, then bury the rest of the meat for later, he did the

same thing with the garbage and booze he rounded up from the neighborhood. One day I found a freshly

dug, partially buried pile of both diapers, and dozens of empty beer cans, with gigantic canine teeth tears

in the aluminum.


At night the massive Kodiak would roam around my house…and would even take little bear-naps right on

my front porch. I encountered my big, furry friend quite a few times at night, and I have thousands of

nighttime trail/motion monitoring photos of him, as I kept tabs on his whereabouts for the local Fish and

Game Department, but I only saw him once during daylight hours. He had apparently raided the dumpster

of a nearby restaurant, headed right out into lunch-hour traffic, and made a mad dash for his protective

sanctuary in my backyard. Multiple witnesses called in the event to the local authorities. Within just a few

minutes, my house and yard were completely surrounded by Alaska Fish and Game personnel, State

Troopers, etc. As they were closing in, I was sure my bear buddy was about to meet his demise, but to

everyone’s surprise, he simply vanished into thin air! That 900 lb beast was nowhere to be found! He

eluded his pursuers in broad daylight! Ahh yes! He was a crafty one! He had a network of secret travel

routes that he would follow when pressured too much that would lead him out of town, to the more remote

outskirts, where he belonged, naturally.


All in all, he was a good ol’ bear. He never caused any trouble or bothered people...other than stealing

their beer and eating trash. I miss him. He was an old bear, in his last chapter of life. As many a “trash

bears” do, he most likely took to the streets and ventured into civilization for an easier existence than what

he experienced in the wild. I’ll never know. This photo is my most memorable reminder of my now

departed furry friend. The image is of his tracks, embedded in thick ice, which I found in my driveway

one morning. I think of it as his artistic signature upon a most memorable series of performances. I will

always cherish the memory of my backyard bear. Rest in peace my friend!

Kodiak bear, grizzly bear, night, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen, Kodiak bear, grizzly bear, night, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen,

A couple of nighttime photos of my old buddy the backyard Kodiak bear.

One of the amazing things about living in a remote part of Alaska is to be able to intimately witness the entire cycle of life that plays out each year: from the mind-blowing abundance of nature’s bounty in the summer months, to the extreme desolation and harsh struggle for survival of the winter. By the time late October or early November comes around, the streams that were literally choked with spawning salmon, lined with feasting bears, eagles, gulls, foxes, and other creatures, are all but a distant memory…for the most part. The only reminders of the primordial frenzy of activity that occurred just a few short weeks earlier are the hundreds of dried-up salmon skulls, piles of old, bone-filled bear scat, and a slight remaining order of rotten flesh in the air.


As fast as the snow melts from the mountain peaks, and the lush green grass and wildflowers pop up and blanket the hills and valleys, the land, with all its inhabitants, returns quickly to a more relaxed pace…with the exception of the rutting blacktail deer, and a few other critters that enjoy life more when there are less predators around. It’s always a rather depressing feeling to see the last of the vibrant autumn leaves turn into piles of brown sludge in the washouts along riverbanks, as well as seeing the streams more and more vacant, except for a few straggler, zombie salmon and the dolly varden that are gobbling up the hard-labored, freshly fertilized salmon eggs. When the stream-beds and sandbars are covered in a fresh coat of termination dust in the mornings, one knows good and well that Mother Nature is about to perform a rather sullen, forth movement of her symphony.


These two images remind me of that feeling when one fully realizes that the party is over, so to speak. The first photograph is of a salmon skull, covered in a thick layer of morning frost. While I can’t say that this image has been all that popular with my audience, I personally love it, as that ugly skull embodies so many memories for me. The second photograph, however, has become one of my most popular black and white images. It is of a fresh set of bear tracks heading through the virgin snow, and up into the mountains, no doubt en route to his or her hibernation grounds. Another obvious reminder that the sleep, and rather harsh recycling process of nature, is about to begin.   


Title: Frosty Salmon Skull

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

Title: Hibernation Trail

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

Frosty Salmon Skull, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen Hibernation Trail, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

The natural world winds down quite rapidly during the winter and early spring months in Alaska, and, so does much of the activity of the human world…as the two are so closely intertwined. February through April seem to drag on forever in most parts of Alaska, especially in the smaller, more isolated communities, such as Kodiak. While there are still fun things to do and enjoy, one does have to become a little more creative and proactive in finding those things.


These four photos capture the essence of those quiet, inactive, restful months of the year in a small, isolated Alaska town. Yet, at the same time, these images are also pregnant with the excitement and anticipation of the many possibilities to come when the long-awaited midnight sun of summer rises once again!

Title: Home for the Holidays

Available Print Sizes: 12” x 24” or 16” x 32”

Title: Crab Pot Truck

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

Crab Pot Truck, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen Home for the Holidays, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

Title: Great Wall of Crab Pots

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

Great Wall of Crab Pots, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

Title: Gear Yard Oasis

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

Gear Yard Oasis, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

Believe it or not, these two images were captured during the same week. Alaska is, certainly, a land of extremes! One photo was captured up in the snow-covered mountains, where an alpine stream continued to defiantly flow and cut through the surrounding ice. The other image was taken in an ancient, moss covered, Sitka spruce forest…which remains green and lush year-round…the true example of wintergreen!


There is something about the sights and sounds of flowing water in winter that I have always been drawn to. The harmony of a gushing stream hidden beneath a layer of ice is a musical masterpiece! Transforming that magical sound into sight with one’s camera is both challenging and amazingly fulfilling. Water is the essential, main ingredient of life, and being around it in nature genuinely has a revealing quality which can help one regain perspective in many ways, both as a photographer, and more so as a human being.

Title: Home for the Holidays

Available Print Sizes: 12” x 24” or 16” x 32”

Title: Freezing Waterfall

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

Title: Wintergreen Forest Creek

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

Freezing Waterfall, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph ClassenWintergreen Forest Creek, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, frozen, landscape, nature, scenic, cold, Alaska Wall Art, Joseph Classen

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

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