Alaska News

Alaska photographer to shoot Badlands

Alaska photographer Carl Johnson has been chosen for an artist-in-residency by the National Park Service.

Johnson will spend a month taking photos of landscapes at a South Dakota national park.

More at home in the wilderness, Johnson will don his trademark floppy hat while he lugs his camera, tripod and other equipment through mud, rocks and brush.

Picked from among an array of photographers from all over the U.S., Anchorage-based Johnson was chosen to photograph an area near where he grew up.

To make ends meet, Johnson typically photographs scenes in Alaska, as well as weddings and sports photography. But with this gig, he'll get to concentrate on an area he loves -- the Badlands of South Dakota. He'll be taking photographs as part of a special landscape project for the National Park Service.

"It's a bit like going home for me," Johnson said, "since I grew up in the Black Hills area of South Dakota and I have photographed this area throughout my career."

The National Park Service's artist-in-residence program allows photographers to preserve a place in images available to those who may never actually visit there.


Johnson will shoot photographs with both digital and film cameras.

Arriving in South Dakota on April 7, he headed straight for the park's extremes.

"My goal is to start capturing images that can only be seen if you are not on or near the road," he said. "These would be objects or scenic vantage points that would simply not be visible unless you got out and explored. My hope is not necessarily that people will see an image and think, 'Ooh, that's cool. I want to go find that.' Rather, the hope is that people can start to imagine all that they can discover themselves as long as they leave their cars and the comfort of the road."

Johnson carries digital Nikon D300, D200, F100 cameras and a 35mm Nikon FM, as well as medium-format Hassleblad 503CX equipment, with 500mm, 300mm, 120-300mm, 70-20mm, 28-70mm, 12-24 mm Nikkor lenses and a Carl Zeiss 50mm F/4.

The use of a solar panel for power at a remote location will allow Johnson to complete his visualization for time-lapse photography.

"I am going to be trying some long-term exposures in remote areas, using a Brunton solar panel and Powerbase battery to power my camera," he said.

"The goal will be to set up for one scene, then take a photo a minute for a 24-hour period, and combine the images in Quick Time Pro to make a stop action HD movie of that day."

As a requirement of the residency, Johnson will contribute to the park an interpretative photograph taken by him during his work there.

Grants from the Alaska State Council on the Arts and the Alex Johnson Mercantile, an art gallery in Rapid City, S.D. are helping with the expenses of his residency.

In 2007, Johnson was chosen for an artist-in-residence in Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in Alaska. He has been accepted for a third artist-in-residence spot in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado in July.


Alaska Journal of Commerce