The year was “film days” — sometime in the mid-1990’s. In my mind, I had the idea for many years to make a compelling image for potential commercial stock sales of someone fishing off of a float plane that was sitting on a lake with Mt. McKinley in the background. With the help of my friend, Danny Davidson of Davidson Aviation, I finally had the chance. With a high-pressure forecast suggesting an opportunity for clear weather, I asked Danny if he was willing to fly me to scout a location the day previous and then get up at 3:00 am for the best light the next day. He was willing. We flew Northwest of the town of Talkeetna looking for an appropriate lake with good vantage point. Ideally one without cabins on it, to avoid waking folks at such an early hour. We found a secluded lake with a great view of the mountain that had an abandoned beaver lodge along the shore that I could get up on top of to get a slightly higher angle. We landed and scouted the view and it looked like it would be perfect… provided the forecast was right. We could just barely see the bottom of the mountain that afternoon. Danny set the longitude/latitude coordinates into the GPS so we could find it again the next day.
We spent the night at his cabin just 20 or so miles south of the lake location, but low enough where we did not have a view of McKinley. Danny asked me to wake him 30 minutes before I wanted to go. I woke up early and the sky was clear—- I had high hopes. As soon as we got into the air, we could see the mountain was partly obscured. It was out, but not crystal clear like I hoped. The sun was out, so we went ahead with landing in hopes it would clear soon. Danny left me off on the beaver lodge and I gave him a yellow t-shirt to wear to help him stand out. The clouds did not move off the Mountain…so I asked Danny via a hand-held radio to reposition the plane slightly to the west which would put these Takosha mountains (seen here in these photos) in the background. As a good stock photographer would, I shot it vertical, horizontal, wide angle and telephoto… everything way I could imagine making a usable photo. I imagine I shot 6 or more rolls of 35mm Fuji film. I was bummed we did not get McKinley. But, as it turns out, this photo is one of my most publsihed stock photos. It’s been published over 100 times and on the cover of several magazines through the years.