Alaska: A Photography Guide to the Last Frontier
If you’re planning on a January break after the hubbub of Christmas and NYE, then Alaska could be the perfect place for you.
For photographers around the world, Alaska is a must-visit location, full of gorgeous scenery, adventure-filled hiking trails and an abundance of wildlife.
Even if you just want to go on a small weekend mini-break, this state has enough around every corner to fill up a beautiful square photo book that can fit comfortably on your shelf.
But where exactly should you go when you visit? Well, to help you out, we’ve created a little photography guide to help you find your feet in America’s very own winter wonderland – otherwise known as the “Last Frontier”!
Embrace the Cold at Mendenhall Glacier
When you think about Alaska, it’s impossible not to think of ice, snow, puffer jackets, and freezing fingertips! But this is all just part of the adventure, of course.
When you arrive in Alaska, the very first thing you should do is bite the bullet and visit the Mendenhall Glacier, beloved by photographers for its spectacular blue, glacial ice that travels for thirteen miles. It might get a little bit nippy, however, so just remember to bring touchscreen gloves – you might need them if you want to keep your fingers when snapping pictures!
Wave to the Bears in the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center
One other thing that Alaska is known for is the amount of bears. Seriously, there are a lot of bears. According to recent wildlife studies, Alaska is home to more than 40,000 grizzly bears, along with 100,000 black bears that roam wild. Complete with various polar bears and kodiak bears, this makes Alaska the most bear-inhabited state in all of the US, but getting up close and personal with them is not advised.
While you may come across bears when walking one of the many Alaskan hiking trails, it’s always best to keep your distance and keep yourself safe. Instead, we suggest taking your bear snaps at the infamous Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. This is a sanctuary dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife, with a number of viewing platforms where you can safely photograph bears, wolves, wildcats, and bison to your heart's content!
Experience the Wonders of Nature in Fairbanks
A few blogs back, we wrote a photography guide to an Iceland vacation, with one of the most exciting things to capture being the northern lights. But did you know that you can see the northern lights in your own backyard? That’s right. If you visit Alaska – specifically, Fairbanks, Talkeetna, or Denali – you have a good shot at aurora-viewing, especially if you visit from around April to August.
Photographing the northern lights can be a little difficult on the smartphone, of course, but it’s not impossible. Just make sure to adjust your exposure time to 10-15 seconds and turn off the flash. There are also apps like NightCap, and even Northern Lights Photo Taker to assist the process!
Go Dog Sledding in Willow
If you want to get the heart pumping a little – and have a completely unique photo opportunity in the process – then travel to the Willow kennel for the ultimate dog sledding experience. Here, you can experience an award-winning tour that has been voted 'Best of Alaska' for multiple years now, with several energetic huskies that can take you through the wonderful Willow scenery.
It’s a must-experience if you’re looking for something a little different to upload to our photo book maker. Mushing can be a little tricky to get the hang of, but with the enthusiastic, friendly tour guides, you’ll soon get into the swing of things – so long as you don’t spend the whole time looking at the dogs and going ‘awww’.
Free Willy at Resurrection Bay
Just as the landscapes of Alaska are home to thousands of bears, the waterscapes are home to thousands of whales! Coastal Alaska serves as a feeding ground for numerous species of whales, including the humpback whale, gray whale, beluga whale, and killer whale. The best way to see these whales is by going on a boat cruise, with one of the most popular being the Resurrection Bay whale watching cruise, just south of Seward.
Here, you have a good chance of photographing both humpback whales and killer whales, which travel into the bay when the salmon begin schooling for spawning runs. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience and, if you get your timing right and capture one breaching, it’s sure to round off your Alaskan vacation with a flourish!