Above the Arctic Circle

One of the most stunning sights in Gates of the Arctic, the sharply serrated Arrigetch Peaks shown here in the warmth of late evening light. © Jerry Ginsberg

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Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona – URGENT NOTE

Ed. Note:  Shortly after posting Jerry Ginsberg’s wonderful post on Pearl Harbor last week, we learned that the Memorial is going to be closed indefinitely for repairs. I decided that the best way to communicate this is to republish the post, along with a note from Jerry compiled from the NPS news:

The National Park Service announced on May 28 that tours to the USS Arizona Memorial will be suspended until further notice due to structural defects in the boat dock and visitor loading ramp. Engineers are working to devise long-term repairs.  The National Park Service deserves our respect and gratitude for the great work that they do, but as they presently struggle under a maintenance backlog exceeding $10 Billion, any expectation that we will see these repairs completed in the near future may well be overly optimistic.


Forward gun turret on the USS Missouri. As one of four New Jersey class battleships commissioned in 1943, the “Mighty Mo”was one of the very last of her kind ever built. © Jerry Ginsberg

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Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona


Forward gun turret on the USS Missouri. As one of four New Jersey class battleships commissioned in 1943, the “Mighty Mo”was one of the very last of her kind ever built. © Jerry Ginsberg

Story & Photography by Jerry Ginsberg

Hawaii boasts two fabulous National Parks; Haleakala on Maui (Sept. 2015) and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii, “the big island” (April 2014). At this writing, giant Kilauea volcano in Hawaii Volcano National Park is threatening to blow its top.  This may be the long-expected “big one.” Even after about 4.5 billion years, our dynamic little planet continues to evolve.

In addition, Molokai has the singular Kalaupapa National Historical Park commemorating Father Damien and the safe place that he made for those suffering from leprosy. Besides these very precious federal lands, the island of Kauai, “the Garden Isle,” has some absolutely gorgeous natural areas including the NaPali Coast and Waimea Canyon, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”

After all of these wonderful places, there remains yet another extraordinarily special place in our 50th State that is a must-see for everyone; Pearl Harbor.

On December 7, 1941, the Empire of Japan launched a surprise attack, bombing the U.S. Naval Base near Honolulu, killing over 2,200 Americans and plunging the United States headlong into World War II. Among the capital ships sunk and damaged that day was the mighty battleship USS Arizona. Japanese bombs struck its powder magazines and broke its back. It lies today right where it sank, permanently entombing 1177 American boys, their young lives cut tragically short.

USS Arizona Memorial. With her flag proudly waving in the tropical breeze, the USS Arizona Memorial welcomes visitors almost every day of the year. When visiting this emotion-filled memorial, visitors are considered to actually be aboard the fallen warship, sunk below them on December 7, 1941. © Jerry Ginsberg

Two decades later, an elegant and somber memorial, erected directly over the fallen ship was dedicated. No visit to Oahu is complete without a visit to this hallowed place.

While Pearl Harbor itself continues as an active naval base, the USS Arizona Memorial is a unit of the National Park Service and is open to the public daily. There are three aspects to your visit. Upon entering the visitor center, get your free tickets for the short ferry ride to the memorial. Rather than taking the first available boat, give yourself about 90 minutes to tour the visitor center. First, go through the museum, home to many fascinating and important historic artifacts. Then watch the short film, guaranteed to leave you with goosebumps.

After that, stroll onto the rear veranda for an opportunity to take it all in. On my very first visit here many years ago, there were still several Pearl Harbor survivors and WWII veterans out there holding forth with mesmerizing stories of their experiences. There are now so very few left.

Leaving the Memorial.  Their brief time aboard over, visitors return to their waiting motor launch. © Jerry Ginsberg

When your scheduled boarding time arrives, climb aboard the launch for the short ride out to the grave of the fabled USS Arizona. Once there, you will have about 15-20 minutes to explore the memorial and gaze down on the sunken ship right below you. Walk all through the structure past the many poetic openings to the back wall. There you will see the names of all of those lost on that fateful day cut into the marble wall. Alongside is the curving sculpture known as “The Tree of Life.”  By the time you leave the memorial to reboard your boat, you will certainly be imbued with the ethereal spirit of this place. It is a very deeply moving experience.

For some memorable photography at the Arizona memorial, try to be first off the boat when arriving. You will need to shoot handheld, so have your camera set accordingly and use your stabilization technology.

USS Missouri, the “Mighty Mo.”  World War II ended on the decks of this big battlewagon when Japan surrendered aboard her on September 2, 1945. © Jerry Ginsberg

After your visit to the Arizona, make sure to take the tour of the historic battleship USS Missouri, the “Mighty Mo,” just five minutes away. You will marvel at the massive 15-inch guns that were used to hurl one-ton artillery shells at targets many miles away. Make sure to take in the Missouri’s Surrender Deck where World War II finally ended in Tokyo Bay.

Leave your hotel for Pearl Harbor very early in the morning for the best ferry selection and in order to get a parking space.


Jerry Ginsberg is a freelance photographer whose landscape and travel images have graced the pages and covers of hundreds of books, magazines and travel catalogs. He is the only person to have photographed each and every one of America’s National Parks with medium format cameras.
His works have been exhibited from coast to coast and have received numerous awards in competition.
Jerry’s photographic archive spans virtually all of both North and South America as well as many other fascinating sites around the world.

More of Ginsberg’s images are on display at www.JerryGinsberg.com
Or e-mail him at jerry@jerryginsberg.com


Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Famed White House Ruin in Canyon de Chelly National Monument on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. © Jerry Ginsberg

Story and Photography by Jerry Ginsberg


Among the many anomalies found in the units of the National Park Service are a few National Monuments located within the sprawling Navajo Nation of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. While the boundaries of some monuments encompass thousands of acres, visitor access within these sites may be restricted to specific rights of way granted by the Navajo tribal government allowing visitors to traverse their lands using designated routes and trails.

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Igwazu Falls

This wall of water greets the visitor when emerging from the elevator on the lower level. © Jerry Ginsberg

Story and Photography by Jerry Ginsberg

Water is much on our minds these days. From discussions about climate change to concerns over adequate supplies of drinking water in some areas of the planet, water is a hot topic. Without question, life would not be possible without it. Whole civilizations have risen and prospered on its reliability and several have fallen without it.

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Backing Up

View from atop Hunt’s Mesa in Monument Valley Tribal Park of the Navajo Nation, AZ. © Jerry Ginsberg

Story and photographs by Jerry Ginsberg


To apply some advice that I received several years ago, one hard drive will annoy ya….two are a paranoia. The hard truth is that only three things in life are certain: death, taxes and hard drive failures. They all have finite life spans. No matter how sophisticated your drives may be, given enough use over enough time, they will fail.  Not if, but when.

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Glacier Bay National Park

Story and photography by Jerry Ginsberg


Mammoth Johns Hopkins Glacier, calling card of Glacier Bay National Park,
meets the bay’s waters in tranquil Hopkins Inlet. © Jerry Ginsberg


For a place that is not reachable by any road, Glacier Bay National Park, tucked away in the southeastern corner of Alaska, can boast a great deal of popularity. This 5,000 square mile park, as large as any in the contiguous 48 states, gets its name from the long and narrow bay and the rivers of snow and ice that creep along its edges at a glacially slow pace. (Was that a pun? Ouch!)

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A Generational Loss

Story and Photography by Jerry Ginsberg


Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile.  There is absolutely no substitute for being in the right place at the right time. Capturing the very forst, best rays of dawn mean that we must be all set up and ready to go well in advance. © Jerry Ginsberg


Back in the Dark Ages of wet darkrooms, that phrase [generational loss] was used to describe the loss of quality commonly encountered when making a copy of a copy, as opposed to making additional prints from the original negative. Today, however, it seems reasonable to apply that term to a certain loss, or gap in the continuity of institutional memory from an earlier generation of photographers who grew up shooting film to many of our current brethren whose devotion to photography was born in the digital age.

In my experience, many digital photographers can easily fall into the attractive trap of machine-gun shooting while overlooking the fundamentals. It’s easy to get caught up in this. The seductive mood fostered by not having to pay for all of that film and expensive processing never fails to encourage us to shoot more and more.

Just as our civilization migrated from radio to television years ago, we have universally (well, almost) likewise transitioned from analog to digital photography.  But just as both radio and TV require many of the same broadcasting skills, such as the abilities to verbalize and emote effectively, so are film and digital photography comparably similar. It’s axiomatic that both are photography; i.e., – literally “painting with light,” just in a different medium.

El Capitan Reflection, Yosemite National Park. This is the full, un-cropped frame. The shot was composed slowly and carefully while taking advantage of the complementary curves of the rock and the riverbank. © Jerry Ginsberg

It’s clear to all that both are still photography and so rely on the consistent and thoughtful use of the very same basic skills and techniques. For the most part, these are composition and the use of light.

Too often, I see and hear photographers, many with highly sophisticated photo gear and seeming to be really concentrating on making good images, exhibiting a troubling mindset when, employing markedly less than the best technique, they say, “I’ll fix it in Photoshop.”  If only they would mentally take a step back and think about this for an extra minute, many would perhaps realize that, if starting out with a really good image file, it would be much easier and more likely that the final product can be an outstanding photograph.

Photoshop, as well as the many other software tools of the digital darkroom, even though offering an incredibly great degree of control, are there for us to optimize our images and get the best out of them in exactly the same way as we did with chemicals and enlargers in days of yore. These remarkable software programs are not intended to turn bad pictures into good pictures.
Remember that old chestnut, “Garbage in, garbage out?”  It’s just as true now as it ever was.

Let’s begin with the light. By now, we all know, or should know, about the Golden Hour when the sun is near the horizon. Whether morning or evening, the odds are with us at this time of day to be able to take advantage of many wonderful qualities of the light such as relatively low contrast, soft tones, warmth, long shadows and potentially dramatic skies. Even with the great controls in today’s software, we cannot replicate this kind of wonderful light during the harshness of mid-day.

One relevant episode occurred in my mother’s home a few years ago. Soon after my covering her living room walls with about two dozen large prints, my daughter, who fancies herself a photographer, arrived for a visit. She was really excited to see these new images and quickly grabbed a pen and paper to learn and note where I had made each of them.  After managing to suppress a chuckle, I replied, “Listen, it doesn’t matter where I stood to get these shots. By the time you get yourself up and out of the house at the crack of noon, the light that you see here has been gone for several hours.”  The fact is, the sun rises only once each day. There are no do-overs or instant replays. If you miss it, you simply have to wait for another day.

Now let’s turn our attention to composition. The old axiom, “If it’s not helping, it’s hurting!” referring to compositional elements still holds true in the digital age. While we can certainly crop, clone, eliminate fire hydrants, replace skies, etc., in software, there is still no substitute for getting it right the first time. Optimal camera position and framing on site will ultimately result in a more pleasing final image. Much of this reminds me of how many people think of knee replacement surgery. No matter how sophisticated the technology or how good the repair may seem, it’s never as good as the original creation.

If we compose the frame to the very best of our ability, we’ll be way ahead of the game. Cropping reduces our overall file size, often significantly, and the various pixel replacement tools can be very time-consuming.

Clingman’s Dome.  Sunset over the Great Smoky Mountains. This image was made from a very narrow and difficult to reach spot.  There was room for only a couple of people. Photographers are expected to get their shots quickly and then make room for others. © Jerry Ginsberg

Now we come to what is perhaps the least productive aspect of digital photography, aptly named “chomping.”  One of the primary benefits of digital photography is undeniably the ability to see and review our images immediately. This gives us the opportunity to alter our exposure and framing, correct for apparent errors, tweak the results, and re-shoot on the spot if necessary.
So far, so good. But this is where the process can break down. While the large majority of photographers are really considerate, there are sometimes exceptions.  One of my pet peeves and perhaps yours, is the occasional individual who, once finished making images at a particular spot, remains right there staring and often gawking at his/her screen while standing in the very spot either desired by others or smack in the middle of someone else’s composition.

I know, seems like another great application of the object removal/replacement feature of some software even if the inconsiderate photographer in question doesn’t exactly resemble a fire hydrant.
Not being the most patient person in the Western Hemisphere, these situations can make me wish that I have a cattle prod handy. While I grant that this is an extreme remedy and just wishful thinking, perhaps you can relate.

Much as some of us might yearn for the halcyon days of Kodachrome 25, that iconic film is now ensconced in a museum right next to my favorite buggy whip.

Jerry Ginsberg is a freelance photographer whose landscape and travel images have graced the pages and covers of hundreds of books, magazines and travel catalogs. He is the only person to have photographed each and every one of America’s National Parks with medium format cameras.
His works have been exhibited from coast to coast and have received numerous awards in competition.  Jerry’s photographic archive spans virtually all of both North and South America.
More of Ginsberg’s images are on display at www.JerryGinsberg.com  Or e-mail him at jerry@jerryginsberg.com