This site is the place where I highlight my favorite photos. It's not intended to be a complete collection of my work, just random photos that I'm proud of. Checkout my Eric Bowen Photography site for a more complete collection of my work, and to buy prints or digital originals of most of the images you see here. Thanks!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Jackson Hole Avalanche: UPDATES

One of my avalanche photos ran on the front page of the Jackson Hole News & Guide today. Read the article here: http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/article.php?art_id=4065

ABC Evening News with Charles Gibson requested permission to use several photos for an avalanche story on tonight's national news. They only showed two photos for about a second... but I'll take it... :-)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Jackson Hole Avalanche: A death in the snow

Ski patrols prepare to start back down the slope after probing up the debris field for skiers buried by an avalanche at the Jackson Hole ski resort. Lines of other rescuers can be seen probing near the bottom of the slide.

JACKSON HOLE, WY - The Jackson Hole ski area opened its expert upper slopes today for the first time since receiving 5 feet of fresh snow over the past week.

At about 11:30am I rode to the top of the mountain in the first tram in 3 days with a load of 100 cheering skiers as the ski patrol openned the upper mountain. The snow conditions at the top were challenging even for expert skiers. A short way down the mountain the soft powder was thigh deep between the trees of "Bivouac Woods", and you could hear loud hoops of excitement from every direction as skier got "first tracks" down the mountain.

At about 1:30pm I stopped on the headwall on the northwest side of "Toilet Bowl". I had never skied this run before, and so I took a minute to look at the run and consider whether I wanted to drop in. The run looked terrible, the snow was thin, and there were rocks sticking up all over. There was a guy climbing over some boulders at the bottom carrying his skis. Nothing about the scene made sense...

I stood for a minute waiting for my ski partner to join me and decide which way we would go when I noticed several red coated ski patrols with avalanche probes scrambling up the bottom of the slope. They were climbing over a large debris field made up of large chunks of broken snow... A serious avalanche had just swept the slope moments before I arrived! This explained the bare upper slopes and exposed rocks.

A growing group of skiers started to gather on the lip of the slope and watch helplessly as ski patrols converged from all directions. Within a few minutes a dozen people were frantically digging with shovels near the center of the debris field.

It was amazing how quickly the number of people working on the debris field multiplied and how quickly their frenzied shovels had excavated an massive 8 foot deep hole.

A rescue sled arrived, and then we heard an urgent radio call for a defibrillator. Not a good sign. This meant they had found a buried skier with no pulse. The mood of the spectators grew decidedly somber.

Many of the onlookers in our group were experienced backcountry skiers but none of us were carrying avalanche probes or shovels for a day of presumably safe "in bounds" skiing, and so there was nothing we could do as we watched helplessly.

As the rescue efforts continued to get more organized another ski patrol arrived with an arm load of heavy duty 12 foot avalanche probes, and asked for volunteers with avalanche beacons to help probe for additional buried skiers.

An avalanche beacon is a small radio transceiver that allows skiers buried by avalanches to quickly be located under the snow. The reason that they needed volunteers with avalanche beacons was so that in the event of a second slide on the unstable slope they would know that everyone on the slope was wearing a beacon and could be more easily rescued.

David Nodine the dead skier at the bottom of the 8 foot hole was wearing an avalanche beacon which explained how the ski patrol was able to locate his position so quickly. Unfortunately, he was dead by the time they reached him, presumable from the trama of the violent avalanche. In a less severe slide he would almost certainly have survived having been located so quickly.

At this point the rescuers had determined that there were no other avalanche beacons buried under the slide, but there was no way of knowing if other skiers without beacons might still be buried (which seemed likely, as most casual skiers at ski resorts don't carry avalanche beacons).

The minutes were slipping away to locate other potential victims in time to save them. And so a group of onlookers with avalanche beacons including myself quickly stepped forward to take the extra avalanche probes and join the professionals on the slopes searching for additional victims.

I joined a group of about 20 mixed citizens and ski patrols. We stood shoulder to shoulder in a straight line at the bottom of the slope and worked our way slowly 300 meters all the way to the top of the slide... one step at a time... "probes up, step forward, probes down". As we moved up the mountain the rescuers at the ends of the line placed small red flags in the snow to mark the area that had been searched.

A trained avalanche search dog searches the debris field among red flags marking the areas that have already been search by rescuers with avalanche probes.

At the bottom of the debris field my 12 foot probe would sink all the way out of sight without touching ground under the snow. We worked our way up the steep slope as quickly as we could in the thin air at 9,000 feet. As we neared top our probes would only sink a few feet before they hit solid rock.

The surface was a jumbled mess of concrete like snow boulders interspersed with invisible pockets of soft powder snow that would suddenly suck me down to my hips as I struggled up the slope.

The organization of the rescue efforts was adhoc but exceedingly professional. My probe line worked a 60 foot wide swath for the slope from bottom to top with military precision and no rest breaks. There were potentially lives at stake and darkness was coming...

I live at 500 feet above sea level, and at times I struggled to hold my place in the line climbing the steep slope with seasoned Jackson natives accustomed to the 9,000 foot elevation. But I knew that others were counting on me, and also that it could easily have been me buried under the snow if I had arrived just a minute earlier.

At the top of the slope we reached the fracture line where the "slab" avalanche had started. The fracture line was a smooth 6-8 foot tall flat vertical wall of snow where the snow pack had literally broken in half all the way to ground as the entire snow field down to the bare rocks below the fracture line slid 300 yards down the mountain.

Our line of searchers wheeled at the top of the slope below the fracture line and started back down a new swath of the debris field next to section we had just probed on the way up. We met another probe line coming up the slope in the same section and it was determined that the entire slope had been covered once.

Rescue leaders confer on next steps in the search effort high on the slope.

It was decided to get all of us off the debris field to the safer north side without giving up any altitude (there was some real fear that the rest of the slope to the south could still slide). Moving us all off the slope let the avalanche dogs sweep the entire slope "clean" (without any rescuers on the debris field to confuse the scent).

At this point it appeared that the main probing effort might be done, unless the dogs "hit" on anything new on the slope, and the decision was made to turn the citizen volunteers loose. As we slid down the slope next to the debris field to leave the scene we wished the ski patrols who were staying behind good luck, and many of them gave us heart felt thank you's for our efforts in joining the rescue.

In all I spent about 2 1/2 hours on the scene of the avalanche and came away with nothing but the highest regard and praise for the professionals of the Jackson Hole ski patrol, mountain guides, and mountain rescue team that joined in the rescue. I never heard a voice raised in frustration, and numerous leaders worked together with smaller teams in a highly organized manner in a chaotic situation without dissension or any sign of uncertainty.

The death of David Nodine is a terrible tragedy, be we were exceeding lucky that no other skiers were buried. Many other skiers had skied the same slope earlier in the day, and it's amazing that no one else was on the slope.

The "Toilet Bowl" avalanche as seen from the bottom as I prepared to leave. Searchers have moved off to the right of the slope, and a lone skier and 2 avalanche dogs are working the debris field. Red flags marking search areas can be scene in the debris field.

(Note: All pictures for this story were taken with my iPhone.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The longest night of the year

I took some pictures at the wedding of two dear friends this weekend... the bride wore black and the wedding took place on the winter solstice (the longest night of the year)... the best man wore white... not sure what it all means... but it's great to see two friends very happy!

The center of attention: The bride gets a kiss and a flower at the same time.

The happy couple after the ceremony.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

No peeking

Tying on the blind fold for a party game at Matilda's three year old birthday party.

First Snow

A winter walk in the forest during the first snow storm of the year.

When do we get to eat?

Waiting not so patiently for Thanksgiving dinner to be served at "The Farm" in Grand Marais...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sandbagged on Superior Crack

Katie attempts to climb "Superior Crack" at Palisade Head on the Minnesota's north shore of Lake Superior.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

On three!

More BWCAW rock jumping fun. The family that jumps together... swims together...

Last days of summer

Brayden and Kyle enjoy the last weekend of summer in Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Quote of the day

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

- Mark Twain

Monday, August 4, 2008

Welcome baby Odin Anderson Bowen

My brother Philip and his wife Paige welcomed their first son Odin Anderson Bowen into the world this past Saturday, and he came home from the hospital this afternoon.

Treats at the zoo

I took Anna and Benjamin to the Toledo Zoo this weekend, and of course the adventure was as much about the ice cream and cotton candy (respectively) as it was about seeing the animals...


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Not fair!

Usually I post pictures taken by me, but today I'm going to post a picture of me...

This is a picture of my girlfriend Ann and I eating a perfect dinner on a balcony overlooking Puerto Vallarta Mexico in April 2008.

Now to the unfairness: We haven't seen each other in 2 weeks and tomorrow, we get to spend 30 minutes together at a gate in the Detroit airport, and then go our separate ways again... :-(

Northwest rules won't let us change an itinerary to actually spend the evening together with out buying a whole new ticket, so here's hoping for the right combination of delays and or cancelations to "strand" us in Detroit for the night.

Wish us luck!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Happy Girl

I did a fun portrait shoot this weekend. I keep coming back to this one as my favorite of the shoot (sometimes emotion trumps picky details like focus and composition!)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Charity ride with Greg LeMond

Three time Tour de France winner Greg Lemond working on his bike as his son Scott waits. "My dad has 20 bikes at home, and they are are ALL broken!"

Riders on the Orono Alliance for Education's charity ride gather around Greg LeMond at the start of the ride.

Greg LeMond leads the riders out.

Greg LeMond chats with riders at the half way rest on the ride.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Head to head (more soccer)

I've been having fun going to some Orono youth soccer games... and learning a bit about shooting sports... the Nikon D300 autofocus has some amazing vodoo magic for dynamically tracking a moving object that is quite amazing!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Tetons 4th of July

Kyle and Brayden practice their boot glissading on a snow field below Alaska Basin in the Teton mountains of Wyoming. Elevation 8500 feet, air temp 80F, date July 4th 2008.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Keene sailors

Ben and Em's feet hanging over the rail on Chewbacca during the 2008 Around the Islands sailboat race in Bayfield Wisconsin.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Two third graders from Orono and Minnetonka soccer teams fighting for the ball...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Barak Obama rally in St Paul Minnesota

20,000 Minnesotans turned out at the Exel Center in St Paul Minnesota to cheer for Barak Obama on the night of the final Democratic primaries as he secured the Democratic nomination for president.

Photo Caption Contest

I was on the way to the Barak Obama rally in St Paul when I came upon this car accident... needless to say I had to stop and shoot some pictures... Hilarious!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Star light, start bright...

A long exposure of the studio on a starry night at the farm...

This photo is "as shot" untouched by Photoshop... Nikon D300, Tokina 12-24, F4, iso 400, 19 minute "bulb" exposure

Brithday drummers

A little spontaneous drumming broke out at this photographer's birthday party on Saturday night...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Once a soldier always a soldier

A member of the Patriot Guard salutes as the flag is raised at Capt Dan Fun Days in Lucan, Minnesota.

Monday, May 12, 2008

You're not from around here are you...

Chicago jazz singer Typhanie Monique showing some urban fashion sense in Papa Charlie's bar after her set at the Grand Marais Jazz Festival.

I don't do a lot of "photoshopping" on my photos. Most photos on my site are "as shot", but sometimes it's fun to play with a photo like this to highlight something interesting. In this case I destaturated everything except blue and purple to highlight Typhanie's crazy fun gloves.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

An alternate perspective

Another shot from Jay & Linh's wedding in Mexico. I like shots like this that give you an alternate perspective on an event. You could have been there, but this is almost definitely not how you saw or recall the moment.

Blog Crush

I'm a regular reader of John Scalzi's Whatever Blog, and today he has a post about his "Blog Crush" on Megan McArdle.

A blog crush as loosely defined by John is somebody with a blog you admire that you also find attractive/interesting... definitely innocent, and all in good fun.

So here's mine: Jessica Strickland has a couple of great blogs highlighting her wedding and portait photography and another blog talking about the business of photography. I don't know Jessica personally, and so mostly I'm just an admirer of her work, but as a regular reader of her blog she seems like a fun human too!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The First Dance

I shot some fun photos at a destination wedding in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico last week. Here Jay & Linh share their first dance.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Viva Las Vegas!

Old and new: The classic Holiday Motel sits in the shadow of the Stratosphere Casino at the north end of the Las Vegas strip.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The young master

Benjamin hones his watercolor skills in his grandmother Betsy Bowen's studio at "the farm" in Grand Marais, Minnesota.

Where's Hayley's blankie?

The horsie finds Hayley's blankie...

...and Hayley says thanks to the horsie!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Amateurs worry about equipment...

I stumbled across the following quote today: "Amateurs worry about equipment, pros worry about money, masters worry about light."

This struck pretty close to home for me: I rarely worry about my equipment... it just works, and I know how to use it. I definitely worry about money... especially on the Iraq projects. And I'm usually in too much of a hurry to worry about the light...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Mr Intensity

Bill Gates speaking today at the Office Developers Conference in San Jose, California.

I theory Bill should be coasting into his upcoming retirement from day to day involvement at Microsoft, but you would never guess it by watching him speak to a thousand developers for an hour and a half here at ODC 2008.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Single girl with cool helicopter seeks...

CW3 Angela Barros models her night vision goggles for the photographer on a cold night on the flight line in Balad, Iraq.

50mm, f1.8, 1/8 second, 1600 iso, Nikon D300 (love the new camera)

Most of my Iraq photos are candids. Recording events as they happen. But in this case I realized that I really needed a picture of a pilot in night vision goggles (NVG's) for a story, and it wasn't going to happen unless I set it up.

CW3 Barros graciously agreed to model. The temperature was well below freezing and windy, and I new I needed to work fast. I forget to bring my tripod with me, and so I needed to hand hold some low shutter speed shots with shivering fingers before we all got too cold.

Given better conditions and a little more preparation this shot should have been a lot sharper, but I'm still very happy with capturing the feeling I was trying to get on short notice in difficult conditions.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Trained killer

CPT Andrea Ourada, at the controls of her Blackhawk helicopter in Baghdad Iraq.


French film maker Pierre Rehov tries to make the best of a bad situation in Baghdad after his Mexican camera crew was deported by the Kuwati government.