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Thread: Photographing in Alaska

  1. #1
    RosesHawk's Avatar
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    Photographing in Alaska

    Hi,

    I, and my partner, are taking a trip to Alaska. Well, actually a cruise. We will be cruising the Interior up to Glacier Bay. With 3 port stops (Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan)where we have set up some excursions. 1. a helicopter ride over to a glacier. 2. a train ride on the White Pass Scenic Railway.
    3. Neets Bay Bear Cruise.

    I was hoping to get some advice on shooting in Alaska.

    DK

  2. #2
    IShootPeople's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing in Alaska

    I loved cruising to Alaska! It has been my favorite trip so far. Are you also going to be going to Hubbard Glacier? That was probably the best photo op of the whole trip, in my mind. We floated in front of it for hours, just going back and forth and I got tons of great photos.

    The White Pass Railway in Skagway (and the Liarsville camp) were quite fun as well. You might not get the best photos on the train, due to the movement and possible reflections from the windows, but the view is really nice.

    I would love to go back to Alaska now that I have a better camera and more experience under my belt!

    Hubbard Glacier:
    Photographing in Alaska

  3. #3
    RosesHawk's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing in Alaska

    Kim, thank you for responding to my post. Awesome photo!

    The railroad trip is for my wife mostly.I am not fond of tunnels. I had to compromise so I could go on the Neets Bay Bear cruise. I am really hoping to get some bear photos. And I hope to get some photos from the helicopter and once we land on the glacier. I will have my Canon EOS T3i w/ Tamron 18-270mm lens and my Canon EOS 7D w/ Tamron 200-500mm lens. Between the two camera and lenses, I hope to capture a variety of photos. I just uploaded a few photos today, if you want to check them out.

    DK

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    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing in Alaska

    An Alaskan cruise is a great way to get interesting pictures. Bring a long lens. The gals in Skayway are VERY friendly!

    Photographing in Alaska

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    Re: Photographing in Alaska

    I believe that you posted that you have a sturdy tripod. Bringing the tripod on the cruise itself is no problem but, getting the tripod to your post of embarkation might be. If your tripod fits into your suitcase, all well and good. If not, you may have problems carrying it on your plane ride. I am assuming that you will be leaving from either Seattle, Washington or Vancouver, Canada.

    If you have a decent monopod, I would definitely bring that. If you have some type of swivel head on your monopod (I use a Kirk MPA-1); using a Manfrotto 080 Monopod Belt Pouch can help you stabilize your monopod mounted camera. I find it especially good when working from a boat.

    Rain is always a factor on that cruise. Be sure that you bring some protection for your camera. I used a Kata Rain Cover E-702 very effectively during a ten day trip to Alaska's Kenai Peninsula when it rained every day. I have since purchased a Chinese knockoff of the Kata cover for my second camera. It seems to be made reasonably well and it was certainly less expensive.

    It rains a lot in Juneau. Cruise ship literature often shows the weather as being gloriously clear and sunny. Here is a chart for the weather in Juneau http://www.rssweather.com/climate/Alaska/Juneau/. We were considering an August cruise and learned that there is an average of close to five and a half inches of rain in Juneau during the month of August. That would mean that the chances of experiencing rain would be very good indeed!

    You will need some lightweight raingear for both your equipment and yourselves. I was in the Hoh Rainforest on Washington State's Olympic Peninsula one year and saw folks needing to cut holes in garbage bags to convert them to raincoats. Visiting a rain forest without bringing rain gear is not really planning ahead.

    Finally, I would bring a white target and include it in the first shot of every series of shots. That way you could more accurately balance your color in post processing.

    Over the years, I have done a lot of shooting out of helicopters. The biggest enemy of decent photographs from a chopper is vibration. Don't rest your camera against any portion of the helicopter and try to keep it isolated so that the vibrations traveling through your body are dampened. It is best to shoot through an open window or door but, that is seldom possible on tourist helicopter trips. Best thing to do is try to find the cleanest and least scratched portion of the window/windshield to shoot though. Be cognizent of reflections also. Don't use a polarizing filter if you are shooting through Plexiglass; that can cause lots of problems. Don't press your camera against the window because of vibrations. Keep a high shutter speed, shooting wide open is fine because you won't have problems with depth of field.

    Here's a tip... You can use one of your dslr cameras in the lowest resolution video to identify your still shots and to collect information on tours.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 24th April 2012 at 09:09 PM.

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    RosesHawk's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing in Alaska

    Thanks so much for the info on the weather. I will take it to heart. I have been looking for a good rain cover for my Tamron 200-500mm lens. And I'll need a good cover for my new Canon 7D body, that's my baby. Yes, I have a really good tripod.. and it will fold up nicely and fit into one of my suitcases. I also have a monopod as well.

    Off to do more searching, getting ready for this trip is fun, but my pocketbook is taking a hit.

    DK

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    Re: Photographing in Alaska

    I presume, possibly wrongly, that Alaska is cold and Cruise Ships warm, so my recent experience in Harbin might be pertinent.

    Thanks to this site and some helpful friends, I was at least partially ready to take photographs and hopefully keep my camera safe, in below zero temperatures.

    Most advice, including my camera manual, was that problems occurred when going from cold to warm or hot conditions when condensation could occur on or inside the camera. To avoid condensation, keeping the camera in a sealed plastic bag was advised. My manual also gave the camera operating range as 0 - 40C. Clearly, I was going to be way outside that.

    We arrived in Harbin with the temperature at -18C, my camera and my spare lens were already sealed in zip lock plastic bags.

    Our first stop was at a frozen river, the temperature was around -20 but wind chill made it colder as we set out to walk across the river.

    My camera was doing fine but despite wearing a balaclava my breath was condensing on the screen and freezing. The LED was still operating under the ice but wasn’t much good for monitoring results, so I took advantage of the 60D’s articulated screen and turned it around to close it. However it was still cold enough for the back of the screen to adhere to me or to my clothes and it was constantly being pulled open. I was also sticking to the eyepiece.

    To avoid having my eyebrows plucked off, I was forced to hold the camera away from my eye, which meant that I could not frame a shot accurately. An unexpected result of this was that I occasionally experienced vignetting, not from the lens hood but from the edge of the hood on my anorak.

    I had previously set up the camera to automatically bracket shots and that proved a good investment. I was wearing thick ski gloves over silk gloves and I could operate the zoom without difficulty and the shutter – although I couldn’t feel the shutter so had to position my finger on it visually. For any other adjustment I had to remove the outer glove after which, despite my silk gloves, my fingers would only work for a limited time. I ended up with a chemical hand warmer inside the silk glove on my right hand, which helped a little.

    At the end of our river excursion I re-bagged the camera before getting into the car and all was well.

    That evening, with the temperature around -25C, we went off to visit the Ice Festival proper. After forty minutes or so we ended up at a food hall. After a reconnaissance, my daughter reported that it was quite cold inside, possibly a couple of degrees above freezing. So it was and my camera was happy with the change, until I thoughtlessly walked past a noodle stall. The clouds of steam condensed on my lens and then instantaneously froze on it.

    I thawed out the lens with my hands and a chemical hand warmer and normal service was resumed, except that my fingers were now numb and my chemical hand warmer had apparently given up the fight.

    Our second day had daytime temperatures around - 20C. Not know what was going on inside my camera, I had not changed lenses the previous day; the last thing I wanted was a frozen mirror, or worse a frozen sensor. Consequently I had used only my 17-55 mm lens. The second morning, knowing what was in store, I changed to my 70 -200 mm lens in the hotel.

    After visiting some Siberian Tigers in a very exposed position, we moved on to Polar Hall also known as Polarland! An air outlet producing a plume of vapour hinted that it would be warm inside. It was at least above zero and for some time I had to keep wiping condensation of the lens. Once things had warmed up I was back in business and could change lenses.

    We made a final visit to the snow carving area; very cold and with a wind chill factor, but my camera continued to click away.

    I was very surprised with the battery performance. I had expected batteries to discharge quickly and was carrying a spare. In reality my battery, fully charged when we arrived, showed a shutter count of 794 with 50% remaining capacity.

    The best of luck, you should get some amazing shots.

  8. #8
    RosesHawk's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing in Alaska

    Hi Val, thank you for a look into your journey into Alaska. I don't think the temps will get quiet that cold, since we are going the last of July this year. I should be about what a normal springtime is here in Maryland. But I will be prepared for as much change in temps and weather as i can be.

    DK

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    Re: Photographing in Alaska

    Temperature-wise, it shouldn't be exceptionally cold. However the expected dampness, rain and drizzle can make the temperature seem much colder than it actually is. We trolled for salmon up and down the Kenai River in early August. We passed our fishing lodge on every leg of our troll and we usually asked the guide to stop the boat so we could run up to our rooms to add clothing. By the end of the morning, we felt like the Pillsbury Dough Boy because we were wearing so many layers of clothing...

    Photographing in Alaska

    BTW: A graduated neutral density filter may help to balance the stark gray skies you may encounter. However, I would experiment with one first before relying on it to shoot my Alaska photos. Please let us know how you liked the cruise and the photo problens you encountered.

    My wife did not want to go with me on my Alaska trip because it was a "man trip" with my son-in law, his dad and his brother. Salmon fishing was our main purpose with sight seeing secondary.

    However, Judy and I are considering an inside passage cruise for the Summer of 2013. We are having a fund raising event for our dog rescue efforts next month and a generous donor who owns a cruise booking business has donated an Alaskan cruise for our auction. Judy and I plan to bid on that. First, we want to ensure that our rescue organization gets a good bid for the trip and second, Judy would love to take a cruise.

    If we don't get that auction, I will try to convince Judy to take a cruise out of Venice, Italy and also take the fast ferry over to Croatia for a few days...

    I would rather toss my photo gear in a backpack, a couple of changes of clothes in a carry-on bag and travel to Venice, Croatia and Istanbul without a lot of plans and going wherever the notion takes me. Judy however, wants a trip planned down to the minute and always having someone to guide her. She is definitely not an avid traveler but, that is the only way we are not compatible. We do great in all other ways.

    Travel is in my genes and that is why I spent 32-years in the Navy! I absolutely love my home and San Diego County is one of the most beautiful areas in the USA. However, travel still calls me like a siren's song.

    My ancestors who were Scotch-Irish (AKA: Ulster-Scots) first arrived in America an 1634 landing in Virginia. They constantly migrated South and West, through North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi. Louisiana and Texas, and fought in all the wars and revolutions of our nation. Every federal Census has my forebears in a different location.

    Judy's forebears were Puritans from England and landed in Massachusetts around 1620 or so. They stayed put and the first of her family to leave that state was her dad who joined the Army in World War Two.

    Our genes have stayed true in my love of travel and Judy's desire to remain in one place.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 25th April 2012 at 05:12 PM.

  10. #10

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    Re: Photographing in Alaska

    We did a similar trip last July, with some of the same locations. My photos can give you some idea of what to expect (although we may have been lucky in terms of the weather):
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/len_elg...7627406475244/

    Enjoy your trip, the scenery is magic!

    /Lennart Elg

  11. #11
    RosesHawk's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing in Alaska

    Lennart, you have some incredible photos of Alaska. I appreciate you sharing them with me. I hope we get as lucky with the weather.

    DK

  12. #12
    RosesHawk's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing in Alaska

    Richard, thanks for all the good advice. I won't have too much of a problem with the cooler weather... My wife on the other hand with will be packing her lined jeans and heavier clothes. But since we will be going from one extreme to another I want to have clothes that will be able to do double duty. Our second leg of the 2 week trip is gonna be at the south rim of the Grand Canyon...

    DK

  13. #13
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    Re: Photographing in Alaska

    Hey everyone, sorry it has been a while since my last post. We finally went on that cruise to Alaska. It was WONDERFUL!!!! I got some great shots. Saw a black bear, eagles galore, and watched and photographed a glacier calving!!! What an amazing trip! Then to cap that off, drop by the Grand Canyon for a few days, and got some more awesome shots. Early morning shots, afternoon shots, and even storm shots... although no lightning photos.

    I hope to get through my photos soon ad post a few.

  14. #14
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing in Alaska

    Look forward to seeing them.

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    Re: Photographing in Alaska

    If your camera has live view it will be worth shooting with bent arms to further isolate the camera from vehicle vibrations by not holding up to your eye ... particularly if you shoot any video sequences.

  16. #16
    jeeperman's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing in Alaska

    I look forward to seeing your images upon your return. As a kid I spent 6 yrs in Anchorage. Great memories of a beautiful place. I miss waking up in the morning to see 3-6 moose looking in my bedroom window.

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