Photography and Photographic Art by Michele Cornelius


Don’t Pave Paradise

I have sadly neglected this blog, being swept up in the flow of life.  I feel more alive out wandering in nature than sitting at a computer, and give a choice there is no question.  Plus my introverted nature doesn’t help make my online efforts ‘popular’, which doesn’t particularly bother me but there is no encouragement to continue.  I know I should try harder to put my work out in the world.  It isn’t just trying to sell prints, which will happen if it does, but to share the beauty of wild places I visit in hopes to help protect them.

Haines Alaska is an amazing place to live, and I hesitate saying that for fear the crowds will come and ruin this sleepy place.  So few people read this blog that there is no danger I will spill the secret! I like it best in winter, when there is no wait to turn left at stop signs and strangers wave.  No traffic lights, fast food or malls here, and if those show up it will be time to move on.  Haines is surrounded by magical forests, fjords filled with salmon, and vast rugged mountain ranges.  The air and water is pure, and you can easily find blissful silence except for the lapping of waves, wind in the trees or birdsong.  Having traveled around a bit searching for my idea of paradise, I am painfully aware of how hard this is to find.  The lower 48 was so disappointing and supposedly wild places were not longer wild.  It seems obvious that we should protect the precious bits of wilderness left, but even here in my paradise there are threats.  Mines threatening the pure water and eagles of the Chilkat River and they are determined to widen the Haines Highway to accommodate trucks hauling ore. A road is planned that would be blasted across steep slopes along the Lynn Canal supported by Juneau residents who want a new day trip route in summer.  It makes me sick to think that this might happen before my eyes and ruin this place I want to call home.  After moving 27 times, I am ready to put down roots and will fight to keep greedy development from ruining this place.   If you are interested in helping, support Lynn Canal Conservation or Southeast Alaska Conservation Council.

Haines in Winter

The Mountains are Calling

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir



Alaskan Spring

An Alaskan spring is slow to unfold but each sign is welcome.  At the end of March it is light enough at 8 pm to wander through the woods without a headlamp, which is appreciated since we are still walking in to our little house through the snow since we don’t plow the road.  In places the snow melts during the long day and freezes again at night, making fascinating random abstract art creations.  There is something more fantastic about those patterns than from someone’s imagination, somehow.  The Chilkat river is starting to flow again, and we walk out on the river flat to examine  ice patterns and hear booms as large chunks break free to flow down the channel.  The sun is bright, the wind is brisk and fierce.  Each day is glorious.

DSC04161v DSC04172

A Place Without a Postcard

I was excited to learn that one of my stock UFO images has been used as a book cover, and I just finished reading the book and it is fantastic!  Just the sort of story I love to read with quirky characters and a surprising plot.  I highly recommend reading A Place Without a Postcard by James Brush.  James is in Austin Texas, and I am glad to learn he is working on another novel since I would love to read more from this clever and talented author. His blog is Coyote Mercury.

Book Cover

Ice and Sun

Every walk on a winter beach is different with changing tides and temperatures,  with thaws and ice, with clouds and sun.  A winter wonderland!

Ice with Sunburst

How to Change the World

I am taking an interesting free online class through Coursera given by a professor at Wesleyan University, Michael S. Roth.  How to Change the World is the class, and you can participate to any degree you desire (I watch the video lectures and do the reading but skip the online forums, quizzes and writing assignments, for example).  In a lecture I watched yesterday, it was mentioned that art can be valuable in getting people to care, and can work where scientific facts alone fail.  I am thinking more about what I can do to help with environmental issues besides ecological lifestyle choices and writing a lot of letters… maybe art can play a part.

Lessons in Rewilding

Weirdly Warm

While parts of the lower 48 are suffering from a second polar vortex, Alaska is weirdly warm.  The Southeast is not as warm as the interior and Kenai Peninsula where ski resorts are closed and dog sled races have been canceled, but it feels like spring with melting snow and more bright sunshine than I expected.  As this is our first winter here, I don’t know what is normal but it seems that extreme weather is the new normal.   I wonder how weird things have to get before climate change will be fully acknowledged as fact by the conservative factor in the US.  Since it seems likely that we are not going to take swift action to turn things around, and it is probably too late anyway, this is a good place to prepare for an uncertain future.  At times I feel overwhelming sadness for what is being lost due to human stupidity, but need to focus on enjoying the beauty that remains and doing what I can to hold onto it.


Good News for Alaska

With all the environmental doom and gloom, it is encouraging to see a turn in the tide.   In December Interior Secretary Sally Jewell rejected a proposal to build a gravel road through the wilderness in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.  While supporters claim the road is needed for medical access to a remote village, it sure  looks like a ploy to open another ‘road to resources’ and thankfully Jewell  did the right thing.

This week the EPA released a long-awaited report concluding that a large gold and copper mine in the Bristol Bay area would pose significant risks to the region’s abundant salmon runs and the people who live there (duh!).  This seems obvious, but making it official should help stop the devastatingly destructive  Pebble Mine .  The game isn’t over, but there is hope.  With the current Alaskan government’s push to exploit any available resources for profit,  it is encouraging to see progress for environmental protection.  Most Alaskans value wild places, wildlife, and salmon as do the many people who vacation here to experience it.

I have never been to either of these areas yet so have no photos, but hopefully they will still be wild and beautiful when I finally make it.





Songs that never cease

On winter days we snowshoe down to the water’s edge and sit in silence listening to the sound of the waves, the rustle of the tree branches in the wind, the birds.    This time feels like meditation (which I never have been able to properly do).   My chattering mind is quiet, caught up in the music of nature.  Therapy of the best kind.

Songs that never cease

Time for Change

I was going to post mainly ‘straight’ photography here, like beautiful photos of Alaska, but since few people even look at this little blog, I might as well post images I enjoy most, the unusual ones comprised of layered photos mixed in strange ways.  I can feel that these are really mine, and that they are unique.  I am not even sure I could recreate them if I tried.

Here is my latest image.  Something different… Happy holiday wishes to all!  The new year is a good time for change.


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