nature and wildlife photography by Joseph Classen

Winter in Alaska Gallery

The welcome sign at the arctic circle, Alaska.
Joe Classen in the Alaskan Arctic

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.

The photos in this gallery are from all over the state of Alaska, from the North Slope all the way down to Kodiak Island. I think I’m still thawing out from some of these adventures! If you’d like to learn more about winter photography, check out my book Shoot Cold.