Muskeg ~ Ommaney Peak ~ Crow & Wooden Islands by DJ LeMay

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Muskeg ~ Ommaney Peak ~ Crow & Wooden Islands by 

View from Scott’s Ridge above Port Alexander, Alaska, Baranof Island, Tongass NF looking south. Wooden Island is that hump rising out of the water below Ommaney Peak, the southern most point of Baranof Island.

The foreground is muskeg, a type of bog that covers more than 10 percent of southeast Alaska. It provides a surprisingly fragile home for an abundance of plants that thrive in the wet, acid soil. During the summer, the flowers on many of them add a carpet of soft color to the muted greens and browns typical of muskeg.

Muskeg itself consists of dead plants in various stages of decomposition, ranging from fairly intact sphagnum peat moss or sedge peat to highly decomposed muck. Pieces of wood, such as buried tree branches, roots, or whole trees, can make up 5 to 15 percent of the soil.

The water level in muskeg is usually at or near the surface. Stepping on muskeg is like stepping on a sponge, and walking across it involves avoiding the multitude of open ponds that range in size from potholes to small lakes. Despite their innocuous appearance, muskeg holes can be more than just messy – they can be dangerous. Some are quite deep and offer no toeholds to help the unwary climb back out.

Sphagnum moss is the mainstay of muskeg. It soaks up and holds 15 to 30 times its own weight in water. In the process, it keeps water from draining through the soil. So muskegs can form even on relatively steep slopes, especially in Southeast Alaska’s cold wet climate.

Muskeg is so wet, acid, and infertile that about the only trees that grow in it are a few stunted shore pine (Pinus contorta). These may grow only 5 to 15 feet high and less than 10 inches around in 300 to 400 years.

Muskegs need two conditions to develop: abundant rain and cool summers. A dead plant that falls on dry soil is attacked by bacteria and fungi and quickly rots. If that plant lands in water or on saturated soil, though, it faces a diffferent fate. Air can’t get to it, so the bacteria and fungi can’t function well. The cool temperatures slow them down even more. All this slows decomposition, and the plant debris accumulates to form peat and eventually, a muskeg.

Muskeg info from the US Forest Service.

February 8, 2010
__New Manfrotto Monopod – Very light equipment for the hike!_
D90 18-105mm Lens
34mm 1/320 f/11 ISO 200
pp in DXO, LR2, and CS3 – wasn’t easy as the hightlights were so blown!
I’ve got to get up there in the morning when the light is softer and lighting up the area from the left side.


landscape, alaska, muskeg, djlemay, se alaska

Photography has opened my eyes to boundless visions of nature. It gives my little meanderings meaning with opportunities for learning, expression, challenge, and sharing.

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  • John44
    John44over 4 years ago


  • Thank you, John!

    – DJ LeMay

  • PSL1
    PSL1over 4 years ago

    This is beautiful photography DJ. The scene is so well presented it’s captivating.
    Great work as always. – Peter

  • Peter! Thank you very much for that lovely compliment! :)

    – DJ LeMay

  • Karen  Betts
    Karen Bettsover 4 years ago

    This is lovely adore the mixed colours in the vegatation and looking out across the horizon and sea. : )

  • Thank you so much, Karen!

    – DJ LeMay

  • DesImages
    DesImagesover 4 years ago

    The little reflective pools in the foreground are beautiful. I like how the eye is led from them through the rocks to the peak . Excellent shot!

  • What a lovely comment, Denise! Thanks so much! :)

    – DJ LeMay

  • fsmitchellphoto
    fsmitchellphotoover 4 years ago

    What a beautiful place! Nice composition and color in this image!

  • Wonderful to see your smiling face, Frank! Thank you!

    – DJ LeMay

  • tori yule
    tori yuleover 4 years ago

    This is gorgeous! Excellent capture!!

  • Thank you, Tori!

    – DJ LeMay

  • Bryan Peterson
    Bryan Petersonover 4 years ago

    Your composition draws the viewer into the photograph and the contrasts between the warm and cool colors make the image pop out.

  • Thank you, Bryan! Had to drag that water color and those clouds outta the blown highlights but you’re spot on… it provided the warm/cool contrast and was well worth the time it took. Tried several different techniques; highlight recovery and grad filters in LR2, multiply layer in CS3 with mask over foreground… even tried split toning in LR2, applying different blue tones to the highlights. The split toning brought out the most detail in the most blown highlights but didn’t look natural.
    Ended up using grad filter in LR2 and multiply layer with mask in CS3 (lowering the opacity till it looked just right).

    – DJ LeMay

  • JanT
    JanTover 4 years ago

    Beautiful landscape shot, DJ. Love the varied hues on the muskeg. Lovely work. Did you get the lighter-weight tripod with the strap for lugging about?

  • Thank you, Jan. Got the monopod, manfrotto 680B, tilt head, and another R4 connection so I wouldn’t have to take the plates off my cameras. Now the same plate will both tripod and monopod with no fussing around. Suits my spontaneous lifestyle.

    – DJ LeMay

  • JanT
    JanTover 4 years ago

    Dang, you’re good. I have a separate plate for the monopod. Must investigate. But I find I’m doing far fewer face plants in snow this year. And you?

  • Not good… just do tons of research before I’ll part with that hard-earned money!
    knocking on wood… haven’t fallen for awhile now and that’s a good thing since we haven’t any soft snow in which to plant face… dizziness has been plaguing me a lot lately… mostly when I bend over, tilt head back, or turn over in bed – not sure if it makes me tired or comes on more because I’m tired. Buff, my 20-yr-old Lhasa, wakes me up frequently and I haven’t been getting good sleep.
    Glad to hear that you’re doing better this winter… that’s great news!

    – DJ LeMay

  • Béla Török
    Béla Törökover 4 years ago

    Wonderful place, splendid capture!

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