Jake Elko

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Stills With Jake Elko



Mount Drum

It was around the time of the year when you almost forget how nice it is to be able to drive on dry pavement. My brother flew in with his girlfriend, both from Pennsylvania, for some spring adventures around Alaska. After seeing some sights around Anchorage for a few days, we wanted to head towards Valdez, since Thompson Pass had just opened a few days prior. I broke out the summer tires and we were on our way. Up the Glenn and towards Glennallen, we started to see the peak of Mount Drum show its face. We had been driving for a few hours, so we decided to stretch our legs and skate down the long, open road. I noticed my brother couldn’t stop looking at the massive mountain ahead of him, so I decided to pull my camera out and take a picture of him on his skateboard. The image I ended up with may just be my favorite photo I have taken in Alaska so far. It shows how small we really are in this world and gives a feeling of relief and wanting of summertime. I can still feel those first mosquito bites on my legs every time I look at this picture.


Murphy Dome

It’s hard to describe the feeling of watching the Northern Lights, as someone who didn't see them growing up. When I first moved to Alaska, I lived in Fairbanks in 2014 and 2015, which allowed me to watch the Aurora dance, what seemed like, at least three nights a week. I remember this night in great detail because of the anticipation to set out and shoot photos of what could be the last extremely vivid light show of the season. I left my cabin around midnight and drove about 15-miles up Murphy Dome Road. Murphy Dome gives an amazing view of Fairbanks at night, along with a clear view North, without light pollution, which allowed for ideal Northern Lights viewing. A few friends were supposed to meet at the dome, but plans fell through and it was just myself and a couple other locals from Fairbanks. You hear stories of locals seeing purple, red, orange, and even white aurora, but I have never experienced such a storm until this night.


I had a shot in mind that had the observatory in frame with some nice patterns to the side and in the background. Properly exposing the image and timing the lights was challenging for this shot because I had never shot such a bright and fast-moving curtain of aurora before. It was almost 20 below outside but my adrenaline was keeping me focused on capturing this moment. When I felt like I finally got my shot, I shut off my camera and lied down in the snow for what seemed like hours and enjoyed my view of the sky.


Jake Elko is a nomadic adventure photographer originally from Pennsylvania who now calls Alaska home. You might find him outside by a fire, under the stars or on Instagram @lordelko.