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The Last Frontier: Photography in Alaska


Introduction


Alaska leaving me speechless.


Alaska, the Last Frontier, is a land of unparalleled beauty and natural wonders. With its vast wilderness, towering mountains, pristine glaciers, and abundant wildlife, it's a dream destination for photographers seeking to capture the majesty of the natural world. We recently had the opportunity to sail on the Discovery Princess out of Seattle, WA. It was a the last sailing of the season through Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and ending in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


The Magic of the Midnight Sun




One of the most remarkable features of Alaska is its long summer days and the phenomenon known as the midnight sun. During the summer months, particularly in the northern parts of the state, the sun never fully sets, providing endless opportunities for photography. This natural light spectacle allows for extended golden hours, soft lighting, and vivid colors that make your photos truly extraordinary. Be prepared for long days, as the constant daylight can blur the line between night and day.







Reid Falls in Skagway, Alaska


Wildlife Encounters


The majestic Bald Eagle braving the rain.


Alaska is a wildlife photographer's paradise. The state is home to an incredible variety of animals, including grizzly bears, bald eagles, moose, and whales. To capture these majestic creatures in their natural habitat, you'll need patience, a good telephoto lens, and a keen eye for spotting wildlife. Consider taking a wildlife photography tour or hiring a local guide who knows the best spots for wildlife viewing and photography.


For this trip, I chose to rent a telephoto lens. I looked over the options for rental companies and I chose to go with Lens Rentals. I opted to go with the Sony 100-400 G Master. This lens gave me a great reach while still being light enough to carry all day at multiple ports. I think it got the job done!


Glacial Grandeur


Dawes Glacier


Alaska boasts over 100,000 glaciers, each with its unique beauty and character. Whether you're photographing massive glaciers like the Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau or exploring the intricate ice formations of smaller glaciers, you'll be awed by the grandeur of these icy giants. To capture the details and scale of glaciers, a wide-angle lens is essential. Additionally, don't forget to experiment with different angles and perspectives to showcase their immense size and stunning blue hues.


Dramatic Landscapes


An Alaskan Peak


From the rugged coastline of the Inside Passage to the towering peaks of the Alaska Range, the state's landscapes are nothing short of spectacular. To convey the grandeur and drama of Alaska's landscapes, use a wide-angle lens to capture sweeping vistas and emphasize the scale of the scenery. Polarizing filters can help reduce glare and enhance the saturation of colors, making your landscape photos even more striking.


Weather and Preparation



Alaska's weather can be unpredictable and harsh, even during the summer months. Be prepared for sudden changes in temperature, rain, and wind. To protect your gear and yourself, invest in good-quality rain covers, sturdy tripods, and warm clothing. Always carry extra batteries and memory cards since you'll be taking more photos than you can imagine.


Being that we traveled during late season, we had some cold temps, wind, and almost non-stop rain. Jackets were a must. Weather sealed equipment was helpful. There's just something about trusting your equipment.


Local Insights


Ketchikan, Alaska


Alaska's rich culture and history are as captivating as its landscapes. Engage with locals to gain insight into their way of life and capture the essence of the region's unique character. One thing I found was that the locals want to share every bit of their rich history and culture. Whether it's a traditional totem pole, a quaint fishing village, or a local festival, these cultural elements can add depth and storytelling to your photographs.




Conclusion



Photography in Alaska is a remarkable journey into the heart of one of the world's last untamed wildernesses. With its extraordinary landscapes, abundant wildlife, and the enchanting midnight sun, this state offers endless opportunities for photographers to create stunning and memorable images. However, remember to respect the environment and the wildlife, prioritize safety, and be prepared for the challenges that come with photographing in such a remote and unpredictable environment. With the right preparation and a passion for the art of photography, Alaska's beauty can be truly captured and shared with the world.


Special thanks to Growing Legs Travel for letting me tag along on this voyage. If you're interested in traveling the world, I highly recommend you contact Gina. She can set you up on your dream vacation.





Based in New Braunfels, Texas, Johnny Guerrero is a Wedding, Portrait, and Boudoir Photographer. He is the owner of Magnolia Gruene Photography and is also the host of The Business End of the Lens, a Facebook Group created to foster an environment of Community Over Competition among fellow photographers.


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