Arguably, two of the main reasons people come to Alaska are scenic landscapes and abundant wildlife. As the air warms and the ground begins to thaw, numerous species will exit from their dens or return from their vacation homes to forage, mate, and raise their young, making the opportunity to capture these precious moments more abundant with each sunrise.
Taking photos is easy, but wildlife photography in Alaska requires a little more than pointing and clicking. As a nature enthusiast, you will want to get the most out of your image. Sure, it’s great to have a picture of a bear walking around, but what if you were to capture her pulling up a salmon or playing with her cubs? Those would be much more compelling shots and your likes and loves on social media would confirm it. We’ve put together a brief list of tips to maximize your efforts and help you capture the quintessential depiction of the Alaskan wilderness.
Become Familiar With Your Gear
The greatest moments of Alaskan wildlife can conclude within a matter of seconds, so making sure you aren’t fumbling around with your equipment is integral to being in the right place at the right time.
- Know what your minimum shutter speed is for your environment. For example, quick shutter speed with dull lighting will likely result in a darker picture than you’d like. Longer shutter speeds will allow more light to enter, but moving subjects can become blurry.
- Test out your ISO setting to find out how low or high you can configure it to achieve good lighting without sacrificing detail that can be inhibited by brightness.
- Streamline your lenses so that you aren’t lugging your whole studio around with you. Pick two or three lenses and know what kind of shots you want to take ahead of time so you aren’t constantly switching between a wide-angle and macro lens.
- Learn how to configure your camera without looking away from your viewfinder.
Research the Wildlife You Want to Capture
The quality of wildlife photography can be measured by the authenticity it creates, so becoming familiar with the antics and behavior of your subjects is important because it gives you the ability to predict their actions. Knowing the stance a lynx makes before pouncing on a rabbit can make the difference between capturing the act or simply getting a shot of him eating his prey.
Think Outside the Box
There are a variety of unwritten rules of imagery that will undoubtedly apply to wildlife photography, but often the best photographers know how to bend and break these rules to make powerful images come to life and provoke the thoughts of their viewers. For example, the rule of thirds discourages placing the subject at the center of an image, but what if the subject is unique to everything around it? Imagine a white bird at the center of a flock of brown birds. Thinking outside the box is what separates the typical photograph from a compelling one.
Review Your Pictures
To maximize your efficiency, you’ll want to do a brief inventory and review of your photos at the end of each day. This will allow you to prioritize your goals for the next outing and give you a chance to clear out your memory card and make space for more pictures. It’s not uncommon for wildlife photographers to take hundreds or even thousands of shots in a day, so the last thing you’ll want is to run out of space while you’re already in the bush.
Being prepared for wildlife photography in Alaska isn’t a small task. Aside from all the technical requirements, you’ll also want to make sure you’re well-fed and rested before and after each outing. Afognak Wilderness Lodge has all the amenities necessary to facilitate your adventurous spirit. This site accommodates up to 12 guests and here patrons can feast on hearty meals and take advantage of bagged provisions supplied each day, so there is no need to break your stride and return for lunch. Our log cabins each offer two bedrooms, a roomy living room, modern bathrooms, 24-hour electricity, and hot, running water.
Find out how we can become your impromptu photography studio by calling Shannon, Josh, or Luke at 360-799-3250.