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The Winter City

It all started with a little show about some seriously crooked politics in Washington, D.C. Perhaps you have heard of "House of Cards." It is hard to not be impressed by how cool of a main title introduction that was created for that show. But as a photographer, I thought about the work that must have been involved in creating it, considered the diversity of angles, positions, times of day. I thought about the narrative it said about Washington, D.C. 

Then I thought about the city I have called home for 20 years. I wished for something like that for Anchorage. By sheer numbers, the vast majority of people who visit Anchorage never see the city in the winter. Yet, over the years, I have taken far more photos of Anchorage in the winter than I have in the summer. it is a stunningly beautiful city in the winter, with many features of its personality that you simply cannot experience in the summer.I started to think of the types of landmarks, buildings, traffic corridors that Anchorage has that could be similar to what is displayed in the "House of Cards" intro.

My first approach was to write down each subject of the "House of Cards" intro in sequence, and  mark the time of day for the shot. I then worked on a list of Anchorage locations that could serve as a shot-by-shot replacement for the original "House of Cards" sequence. As can happen with projects, the realities of what was available early on in the project compelled me to discard that approach. One shot I could not replicate, even by analogy, was the commuter train shot at 1:05. I though I could replace it with a busy day of activity at the Alaska Railroad main yards down by Ship Creek, but the Alaska Railroad was not forthcoming with regard to its cargo train schedules. 

I instead decided to take what I could, and modify it to meet the unique features of our beautiful city, and to let my inspiration guide me. I started over on my list, and started simply identifying features that I wanted to include, and at what time of day. I also kept my eyes open for possibilities as I was out and about with my gear working on capturing the original sequences. I also deviated from the original inspiration by starting the shots well before sunrise. In winter, after all, the city is bustling for several hours before sunrise. 

I kept this project pretty quiet, working on it when I could over two winters, shooting between January and early April in 2019 and 2020. All images were captured using a Nikon D800E and Nikon D850, with the Kessler Crane Stealth Slider and Second Shooter system. All told, I shot 55 sequences involving 21 days in the field totaling about 40 hours. The time lapse sequences were created using LR Timelapse software.