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Local photographer captures images of Alaska in new exhibit

December 29, 2012
MIKE LYNCH , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Lake Placid photographer Rolf Schulte has spent decades photographing the Adirondack High Peaks. In August, he tried something a little different, traveling to Alaska to capture the natural beauty of that state.

Schulte spent about three weeks in Alaska, photographing grizzly bears, glaciers and wild landscapes.

"It's a good place to go when someone wants to see natural places like (they once were)," said Schulte, a native of Germany who moved to Lake Placid in 1968.

Article Photos

One of Rolf Schulte's Alaska photographs

Image provided

The photographer said his goal wasn't necessarily to photograph wildlife, although he did do that by shooting grizzly bears on several occasions. Instead Shulte wanted to capture "nature," he said. That is evident in the images now on display at Shulte's Lake Placid gallery, A Point of View.

His Alaska photos feature barren landscapes, wildflowers, river scenes, snow-capped mountains and glaciers. The glacial shots that emphasize blue ice were some of Shulte's favorites.

Shulte visited several different regions of Alaska. He spent five days in Denali National Park, but he also visited the more coastal areas of Valdez, Portage, Seward and Homer, the latter three all on the Kenai Peninsula. He had hoped to visit the Fairbanks area but was turned back by forest fires that had blanketed the area in smoke. That's why he wound up in Valdez.

The 75-year-old Shulte traveled with his 30-year-old nephew Phillip Shulte, who lives in Germany.

"Otherwise I couldn't do it by myself," he said.

The two spent 19 of the 21 days on the trip in a tent, with Phillip taking the lead with a lot of the camplife logistics such as cooking. That freed up the photographer to spend more time with his camera.

One of the challenges of camping and exploring in Alaska is sharing space with grizzly bears. Shulte said he took normal precautions that any wilderness camper would by doing such things as keeping food out of his tent. He also carried a pepper spray made to fend off bears. In the end, bears never did present any problems for him - they rarely do - but he did get in close proximity to them numerous times. He saw them feed on spawning salmon in the Russian River and roam in Denali National Park.

"They are very occupied with the fishing. They don't care a lot about people," Shulte said about the Kenai bears. "I was not concerned with grizzlies."

Although they chose to ignore Shulte, he was in Denali shortly before the first-ever grizzly bear mauling reported there. In August, a grizzly killed a 49-year-old man who had been photographing the animal.

In retrospect, Shulte said it bothers him to think about a few times when he went out to take photographs by himself because that left him more vulnerable to bears. But at the time, it didn't seem like an issue.

Shulte used a Canon 5D Mark II camera and just one lens: a 24-105 mm that is part of Canon's professional L series. The lens is versatile enough to take wide-angle photographs of mountain ranges and landscapes while having some zoom to capture wildlife. Most wildlife photographers use a lens that has at least twice the amount of reach.

This didn't bother him. Shulte was more interested in capturing the broader picture, the right light and the majestic beauty of the region.

"When you have the right moment, you can do great things," he said.

The Alaska photos are on exhibit until Jan. 5 at A Point of View gallery, which is located off state Route 73 on the east side of Lake Placid.



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