Monthly Archives: February 2008

Southeast Alaska Golden King Crab Fishery


I was lucky to meet Charlie – captain of F/V Erika Ann – while photographing Tanner crab processing at the Alaska Glacier Seafoods in Juneau, Alaska. He graciously invited me to accompany him on a two-day golden king crab fishing trip to photograph the fishery in Lynn Canal in Southeast Alaska. As he was leaving in a couple of hours when I met him, I had to rush home across town to get my photo gear ready and pack my Grundens raingear and some layers in a duffel bag. Given that it was February, unpredictable and potentially  cold in Lynn Canal, I had to pack more than usual, not knowing whether the temperature would drop and the wind would pickup overnight.


F/V Erika Ann is a very comfortable 59-foot boat based out of Petersburg, Alaska. Besides Charlie the captain, it had two great crew – Paul and Jon from Petersburg and Wrangell, respectively. Like most pot-fishing boats in Southeast Alaska, F/V Erika Ann uses cone-shaped pots. Fishing vessels crabbing in the Bering Sea are often larger and thus have the space for large square 700-pound pots. Three bait cups, stuffed with chopped herring and pink salmon, are suspended in each cone pot. The pots are light enough that they can be pushed off the landing rail by a single person. The pots are also not “long-lined”, i.e., not tethered together by a line that could stretch for miles. Rather, the whole assemblage consists of a pot attached to a line stretching to the surface, where it is attached to two buoys that float on the surface.



Pots are left to soak for one to several days, long enough to attract king crab and welcome them inside. To retrieve a pot, a three-prong hook is thrown  over the line connecting the two buoys. The buoys are pulled in by hand and the line is put on the hydraulic wheel which pulls the pot up from the bottom. The line is accurately coiled, and often put in a tub. Once the pot is at the surface, it is hooked by a hook from the crane and moved on the landing square rail on deck. The bottom of the cone pot is then opened, and crab fall into a tub. Once on deck, crab are sorted and all females and sub-legal males (smaller than 16.5 inches wide, I believe) are tossed back to live and love. The keepers are put through a chute into a holding tank underneath the deck, which is filled with circulating sea water that keeps them alive and well.


Usually, when crab is delivered live to processing plants, they are cooked and frozen. However, F/V Erika Ann was fishing for a niche market that delivered fresh live crab to markets and restaurants down south, primarily in Seattle. Once back at the dock, crab was quickly offloaded into large square boxes lined with ice packs, and flown to Seattle. Once at their final destination, they were “revitalized” by being submerged in cold sea water, and then sold live.


Wearable Art 2008


The Wearable Art this year in my town of Juneau, Alaska was a splendid showcase of glamour and creativity. With a change to two shows this year, a larger audience had a chance to appreciate the imagination of the modeled wearable art and architectural skill for the backdrop that set the mood for the entire event. The talent to design and the skill to build the set was volunteered by people at two local firms – Clifton Interriors and North Wind Architects. This year, it was a large hall-tall half-wheel with two smaller full wheels near the ceiling, and several da Vinci-style wings over the runway, with a complex lightening setup. And the entertainment provided by a great emcee combination of Collette Costa and Ben Brown was the perfect touch to spice up the event on Saturday. The Sunday emcees, who I believe were the same ones as last year, were just a little better this time. They were advertised as “upscale and family-friendly”; they were bland. It takes certain courage to say things that might not sit well with everyone.


Mechanical Marvels was the theme of this year’s event, although only a couple of artists took up the challenge. Teresa Busch, winner of previous Wearable Art shows, spent countless hours devising a dress that was to be worn by a model on stage but that was going to drive off stage on its own. “Out of Control” had a hidden radio-controlled car under the dress. The idea was for the hidden car to drive the dress off stage after it was taken off by the model in the middle of the runway. “Metal Fusion” created and modeled by Colena McDougal was another great desgin with large flappable wings made out of aluminum, copper, leather and many other materials.


All together, there were 24 designs by artists from a number of towns in Southeast Alaska, with a number of themes, ideas, materials. Coffee was another, though unofficial, but predominant theme this year with two designs – “Brownies and Coffee” and “Bonnie on the Ritz” – showcasing coffee bags, coffee beans, coffee filters, and coffee-related accoutrements. Two of my personal favorite costumes, designed by Rhoda Walker and modeled by Barbara Kuterbach and Lorraine Langston, were “Mechanical Toys, Past and Future”, consisting of “neck ties, cardboard, female baboon costume with lighted banaba”.

From the caption I wrote for the cover photo for a local newspaper:

The two-day Wearable Art – Mechanical Marvels was a smashing success, with 24 models showcasing a variety of artistic creations this past weekend. Provocative, imaginative, innovative and colorful, everything was to be seen at the event… On both days, first place went to “The Queen of the Sea”, created and modeled by Joanie Waller, with second place going to the “Puzzling Affect”, created and modeled by Temple Schneeberger. Third place was shared by the “Urban Alternative” on Saturday, created by Ricky Tagaban and modeled by Diandrea Mack and Lindsey Forrest and “All Bust Up” on Sunday, created and modeled by Hanna Davis.


Impromptu Photoshoot

Happy, ecstatic new mother with her newborn child

Last summer I visited my folks back in New York City. My sister just had a baby, so I setup a quick “studio” in her then-spare bedroom for a photo shoot of her, my brother-in-law and their new boy.

Happy, ecstatic new mother with her newborn child

The room walls were painted in light blue color, which was also the color of the window drapes. This gave me a nice background to work with. I put together a couple of light stands with tungsten bulbs to contrast nicely with the cooler background, and set everything up by the window. The sunshine streaming through the blue curtain of the window provided a well-illuminated background, which thus didn’t require a separate illumination.

Father, Vladimir Khavulya, holding his son, Ari Khavulya. Brooklyn, NY. Model releases available.


The Holy Theophany

The Holy Theophany

Several months ago I met the priest of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church. The Church and Rectory in Juneau, Alaska are “among the oldest historic properties in Alaska. The rectory is one of  five that survive today from the 19th century. Built in 1893, St. Nicholas has seen continuous use since its consecration in 1894. In 1892, a delegation of Tlingit chiefs in Juneau met with the Russian Orthodox Bishop Nicholas and requested to be baptized. From this meeting grew the parish of St. Nicholas and the Church that was built in 1894 on donated Tlingit land with local lumber and labor. Designed by the community, the Church was shaped as an octagon, making it unique among Alaska’s Orthodox houses of worship. The belfry was added in 1905. The rectory was built at the same time on the plot. It is one of the few original rectories that survive. [St. Nicholas] is listed in the National Register of Historic Places” (Rossia, Inc).

The Holy Theophany

The Holy Theophany

Father Michael Spainhoward gratefully invited me to his church to photograph the upcoming Holy Theophany on January 18th and 19th. For those of you – like me – who don’t know what it is, here’s an excerpt from “from the Greek, theo (God), and phainein (to show forth), theophany means an appearance of a God to man, or a divine disclosure. The Feast of Theophany in the Eastern Orthodox Church on 6 January (which is 19 January in the Gregorian Calendar when the particular church uses the Julian Calendar) celebrates the theophany at the Baptism of Jesus. Eastern Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, his manifestation as the Son of God to the world”.

The Holy Theophany

Not being Christian or religious, I was a bit anxious walking to the church that morning. As I entered the church, I was enveloped by the smells of burning incense and the warmth of candle and tungsten lights mixing in with the bright sun shining through the windows. Everyone there was very welcoming, and put me at ease at once. Ceremonies in Russian orthodox churches are traditionally done standing up, and a couple of benches along the walls  of St. Nicholas were reserved only for older people and young kids. The theophany ceremony was held on the eve of the holiday on the 18th and the following day, on the 19th. On the eve, the priest and the deacon wore golden robes, while the following day, they had red robes for the services. Much of the services were sung by the priest, the deacon and the reader, with some participation by attendants, and sung very beautifully. I was often finding myself too absorbed in the ceremony, standing idly and listening, and forgetting the reason I was there in the first place.

The Holy Theophany

Unfortunately, in terms of my main objective, I was having a hard time seeing and capturing interesting photos, and not for the lack of beautiful colors or visually-rich ceremonies.  Because the space was so small and I didn’t want to disturb my gracious hosts too much, and it was too dark to shoot at anything but the widest lens opening (f/2.8 in my case), I was not getting the depth-of-field I wanted or fast-enough shutter speeds to stop the motion blur. In the end, I was not very pleased with the photos I got. I will continue trying, however, and my future attempts should result in more interesting images.

The Holy Theophany