Humpbacks and orcas and grizzlies, oh my!!
Have you ever wanted to spend 10 days on a beautiful boat, staring out at the gorgeous coastline of southeast Alaska, watching sea otters splashing on the waves, eagles flying overhead as they hunt for fish, whales breaching and bears prowling the shoreline? And all the while taking fantastic photographs to bring home and show family and friends? This is your chance to have that very experience, and you'll have it with a top-notch conservation organization and me, your on-board photography guide.
The Oceanic Society is a non-profit dedicated to conserving the world's oceans by connecting people to nature. Since 1969, they have guided tens of thousands of travelers on life-changing journeys to explore the natural world. Oceanic Society knows how to plan an epic adventure, and this trip to southeast Alaska won't disappoint! Get an in-depth look at the Inside Passage of Southeast Alaska including Glacier Bay and Chatham Strait, while photographing an array of wildlife.
Dates: July 12-21, 2016
About the Trip:
The Oceanic Society has put together an incredible adventure aboard the Snow Goose, a 65-foot power vessel with six private cabins, three bathrooms and two hot showers. A spacious salon offers a comfortable area to gather, with large windows that allow views out to the water for spotting wildlife at any time of day, plus plenty of deck space from which to view breath-taking glaciers and coastline and look for wildlife in the water and on shore.
Exceptional food is provided by the chefs, with a menu that includes everything from warm scones fresh from the oven in the mornings to roasted romanesco and seared local steak in the evenings.
While you'll be as pampered as if you were on a luxury cruise, you'll also feel as if you are aboard a marine biology field station. We have access to six double sea kayaks for exploring closer to shore, plus a large skiff for on-shore ventures. There is a hydrophone for listening to whales, and microscopes for getting a closer look at tiny organisms found along the journey.
Bring your camera gear as I will offer help and instruction on getting the best photos possible of the wildlife we spot along the way. With our small group, we'll have plenty of opportunity for one-on-one time, with tutoring for proper exposure and settings, composition, and capturing action, as well as editing and post-processing advice in the evenings. If you're an experienced photographer, you'll find incredible opportunities to add to your portfolio, and if you're a beginner with your camera, you'll have plenty of personal guidance in getting great shots. Whatever your experience level, you'll leave the trip with not only a refreshed spirit, but a great collection of photos!
Oceanic Society and the Snow Goose crew are committed to research and conservation. You will learn about the local flora and fauna, and get an intimate look at a fascinating, diverse and stunningly beautiful ecosystem. All those with an adventurous spirit and curious mind are welcome!
The wildlife we'll see:
One of the main spectacles of the Inside Passage of Alaska is the large number of humpback whales feeding during the summer months. You'll witness their unique strategy of bubble net feeding, as well as their famous breaching behavior. Resident and transient orcas are present in the area, as are Dall's porpoise, Stellar sea lions, sea otters, and harbor seals.
In the skies above, you are certain to have many opportunities for viewing bald eagles. We are also likely to see golden eagles, puffins, oystercatchers, harlequin ducks, loons, cormorants, surf scoters, and a variety of gull species.
Along the shoreline, keep a sharp eye out for moose, grizzly bears, black bears, and wolves.
We will have opportunities for on-shore excursions, which will provide the chance to see even more species, including birds and smaller land mammal species. We'll also be able to explore intertidal species like sponges, anemones, mollusks, nudibranchs, and sea stars.
Explore Glacier Bay:
We will be traveling from Gustavus, Alaska to Sitka, Alaska, and a good portion of our trip is right through Glacier Bay, a protected wilderness to which few vessels are allowed access. We will have a wonderful opportunity to explore the pristine bay, enjoying old growth forests and watching the awe-inspiring sight of tidewater glaciers calving into the sea. You'll learn about plant succession, glaciation, geology, and the biodiversity of this beautiful area.
What camera gear to pack:
Any camera you have, right down to a point-n-shoot, will be good enough to get a variety of shots. We'll work with whatever you bring. However, for an idea of what you might want to pack, here's a list of what I usually carry in my kit:
- Extra memory cards
- Waterproof card case
- Extra batteries
- Battery charger
- External hard drive
- CF card reader
- Dry bag (for carrying gear in kayaks)
- Lens cleaner + lens cloths
- Camera instruction manual
- 2-3 camera bodies
- Telephoto prime lens (400mm or longer)
- Teleconverter (1.4x, 2x, etc)
- Telephoto zoom (70-200mm, 70-300mm, etc)
- Wide-angle zoom (17-55mm, 24-70mm, etc)
- Shorter prime lens (35mm, 50mm, etc)
- Polarizing filter
- Neutral density filter
Tips for traveling with your gear:
The safest way to get camera gear to from point A to point B when flying is to carry it on with you. Have your one carry on and your one personal item be gear, and check a bag with your clothes and other necessities. If the airline loses your luggage, you’ll be able to wear your same clothes for a day or two while you wait for your luggage to arrive, or you can buy new clothes just about anywhere you land. But you won’t be able to quickly replace lost, stolen or broken camera gear.
For flights, I use either a Think Tank rolling carry-on sized camera bag (specifically, the Photo Airport International V 2.0 Rolling Camera Bag), or a Pelican Case (specifically the Pelican 1514 Carry On 1510 Case with Dividers). My preference is the Pelican Case, and I can fit a 500mm, a 70-200mm f/4, a wide-angle zoom, two camera bodies, a flash and other small bits and pieces. My tripod goes either in my checked luggage or, if it is a smaller tripod I squeeze it into my “personal item” which is usually the Timbuk2 Espionage Camera Backpack, which fits additional camera gear, my laptop, chargers, my binoculars and a toiletries kit for long flights.
Be sure to check any weight requirements for carry-on bags with the airlines with which you’re flying. Some airlines have maximum weights for bags, including carry-ons, and are strict about them. Sometimes I hit the limits of space or weight requirements for my bags and in these situations, well, what else are jacket pockets for?
If you absolutely can’t get around checking camera gear, be sure to place locks on the zippers of your checked bag and have the airline wrap it in plastic. This will deter theft, which happens even with the most reputable of airlines. As far as preventing rough handling or gear breaking, or having your gear arrive with you at the final destination, you just have to cross your fingers as there are no guarantees for that.
Note: I mention a tripod in the packing list and here in the tips list. Because we are primarily on a boat or in kayaks, you’ll be hand-holding your camera most of the time. But when we have opportunities to go onshore, you may want to set your camera up on a tripod for tide pool and landscape shots. If you have room to bring a small but sturdy tripod, I recommend packing one. If you don’t have room, don’t sweat it.