We are f-stop: 

ENVIRONMENT, YOUTh and alaskan photo JOURNEY with Mark Kelly and Jason wolsky

f-stop customers Mark Kelly and Jason Wolsky wanted to start conversations with their children about the evironment, so they put camera's in their kids' hands and set out on a journey combining travel and photography. In this We Are f-stop they tell us why they chose this route down the Arctic coast for their road trip, and how they are continuing to support youth in photography locally in Yukon, Canada. 

 

Words by Mark Kelly and Jason Wolsky. Feature image by Eli Wolsky, 9.

Team Wakkaw members Eli and @markkellyphotography stop to capture images of Caribou as they travel along side the Dalton Highway and the Alyeska pipeline on the way to Dead horse, Alaska Photo: Piper Wolsky, Age 11

Caribou can be found roaming the arctic plans of the Daton highway. Feeding on the small flowering tundra plants and lichens they can migrate over 600 kms/400 miles in search of food and calving grounds.   (Photo: Eli Wolsky, Age 9) 

 

Jason:

"Mark and myself were able to make a road from Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada to Prudhoe, Alaska on the Arctic Coast.  This was a trip was geared toward our kids; Mark's son, Seth (aged 6), my daughter, Piper (aged 11) and my son, Eli (aged 9). The purpose of the trip was follow the Alyeska Pipeline that parallels the Dalton Highway to Deadhorse, Alaska and expose the kids to the interplay between oil development, the landscape and the wildlife that depend on that landscape.

Our goal was to start conversations with the kids on oil development, our dependence on oil and what oil development could mean to the landscape and wildlife should oil companies be allowed to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

We created a Instagram account to showcase some of the photos that the kids took.
With the kids images and stories we are looking to bring awareness to our dependency on oil and what oil development could mean to the landscape, the animals and the future generation that will inherit the earth from us.  
 

A view from ANWR of the Alyeska pipeline as it travels along the Dalton Highway. Galbraith Lake and the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve are in the distance. Photo: Seth Kelly, Age 6

The Alyeska pipeline heads under the Koyakuk river near Wiseman, Alaska. Approximately 600,000 barrels per day currently travel through this pipeline, much of which is under ground or under rivers and streams. Photo: Seth Kelly, Age 6

Young Caribou of the Central Arctic caribou herd graze along the side of the Dalton Highway. Petroleum pipes can be seen in the background. (Photo: Seth Kelly, Age 6) 

 

Mark:

The expedition was a part of a larger project organized by International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) Fellow, Peter Mather, called Arctic Refuge Stories. There were 8 expeditions with over 40 photographers, writers, artists and concerned citizens that went to ANWR and the areas affected by drilling in ANWR, to help raise awareness about protecting this fragile ecosystem.

The Porcupine Caribou herd’s calving grounds are in ANWR and will be irreversibly damaged by oil exploration and drilling. Jason and I decided it would be great for our kids to get involved with conservation issues, especially ones that directly affect them and their peers.  We were Mission 5: The Haul Road - Young People’s Perception of Development in ANWR. 

Our goal for this mission was to work with youth interested in documenting existing development impacts on the caribou in the areas closest to the Trans-Alaska (Alyeska) pipeline corridor which is State Highway 11 – The Dalton Highway (AKA “The Haul Road”), and the oil community of Deadhorse, Alaska. All these locations are along the north slope of Alaska and the arctic plain where the Central Arctic caribou herd reside in the summer months. 

We drove 1744 km (1083 miles) each way from Whitehorse to Prudhoe Bay/Deadhorse stopping to camp and document the wild lands and animals along the way, including musk oxen, caribou, fox, various birds, and flora. A major goal was to have the young people be able to show and articulate why the caribou and the land are essential to future generations. 

At this stage, the expeditions are complete, leaving us all with the tasks of telling the stories and raising awareness. You can see all of these stories from from the expeditions through the Artic National Wildlife Reserve here

 

The Alyeska pipeline that carries oil from Deadhorse, Alaska to Valdez, Alaska comes out of the ground by the old mining town of Wiseman, Alaska. Miles of the pipeline is buried under the ground and rivers as it makes its way. Photo: Piper Wolsky, Age 11

The fragile ecosystem of the arctic, with its short growing season, supports a large variety of plants and wild flowers that in turn support the animals that live there.  (Photo: Eli Wolsky, Age 9)

The fragile ecosystem of the arctic, with its short growing season, supports a large variety of plants and wild flowers that in turn support the animals that live there.  (Photo: Eli Wolsky, Age 9) 

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Mark and Jason have been engaged in a friendly banter over our Nasturtium orange color for a long time. Jason loves it... Mark does not. As you can see from this We Are f-stop story, there's a whole lot more to their involvement in photography  than that.

Mark and Jason are continuing to support youth involvement in photography at the First Light Image Festival in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada ( www.firstlightimagefestival.ca ) where they are hosting a Youth Photo Contest, supported by f-stop. The theme of the contest is to tell a story using a single frame. The last day for submitting your photos is 22 of April, and it is completely free to join. You can find more details about the contest here

You can see more of Mark Kelly's work at www.depthoffield.ca and follow on Instagram @markkellyphotography
You can see more of Jason Wolsky's work at jasonwolsky.com and follow on Instagram @jasonwolskyphotography

Here is an image from Mark Kelly photography of me taken during our hike into ANWR.  Amazing enough I got cell service.  I am not sure the orange color has grown on Mark yet!

 

WHAT'S YOUR STORY?

"We Are f-stop" is a for all f-stop users to share their stories from the field, whether small daily adventure or epic travels. Get in touch with your story on Facebook or drop us an email to [email protected] and let us know on where your photography takes you and your pack!