Photographing Alaska: Landscape and Wildlife Photography Tips for Your Alaskan Cruise

You'll find plenty of breathtaking wildlife to photograph on your Alaskan cruise.
You'll find plenty of breathtaking wildlife to photograph on your Alaskan cruise.

Would you love to visit Denali National Park on an Alaskan cruise, and capture all the epic landscapes and wildlife you encounter on film? These tips and tricks will help you get the most out of your photos as you explore The Last Frontier while on a land and sea vacation.

The Elusive Landscape Photo

Getting home and finding out that none of your photos quite captured the gorgeous scenery you loved so much on your Alaska adventure can be upsetting. Use these expert tips and tricks to get more out of your landscape photos:

1. Take time to explore the area. Think about where light will and won't fall, then find places where the light helps you effectively capture a feature, such as the dramatic face of Mount McKinley from an excursion to Kantishna, Alaska. Alaska's long summer light can sometimes prove challenging for photographers. If you can, try playing around with the same subject during different times of the day.

2. Use fine details to convey emotion. When shooting pictures of the silent boreal forest on a hike through the Alaska Range, think about the emotion you'd like the photo to convey. Does the forest feel eerie, or light and happy? Once you determine that, pick a fine focal point — maybe a tree that has a gnarled branch or an unusual bark texture. Frame the photo around that point.

3. Use moving water as a composition element. Try using rivers and streams as lines in the composition, whether they're horizontal, linear, or dominant shapes in your photo. The contrast of moving water against the still landscape will draw the eye across the photo. Give this technique a try while rafting down the Nenana River.

Taking Clear, Focused Wildlife Photos

Taking photos of Alaska wildlife is challenging at best. To prevent yourself from the frustration that comes with taking hundreds of blurry photos, remember the following when photographing wildlife:

1. Have patience. Animals are unpredictable. No matter how stunned you might be at the sight of a bear sauntering down the road with her cubs, capturing the perfect photo of that bear on your Tundra Wilderness Tour through Denali National Park could prove to be almost impossible. As your subject moves, study it. Learn to understand its movements, and you'll get a feel for the way in which its personality can help create a compelling shot. Remember to always keep at a safe distance.

2. Include landscape to give context (sometimes). Powerful lenses allow you to take close-up, detailed pictures of animals such as eagles or salmon, creating some impressive portraits. Sometimes, however, it's worth putting on a wide-angle lens to include the landscape and provide context to the animal. You can often tell a broader story using this approach. 
 

3. Invest in a telephoto lens. A good telephoto lens can help you take safer, higher-quality photos of the wildlife you'll see while you hike along the Mountain Vista Trail on a Windows into Wilderness excursion. This is a great way to avoid the pains of sifting through 100 photos to find that perfect shot.

Whether you're an amateur photographer or a seasoned professional, you're guaranteed to find countless photo opportunities on your Alaskan cruise. Take time to enjoy the view from both behind the lens and with your own two eyes, and you'll come back inspired.

Ready to plan your visit to Denali National Park? Discover the Alaskan cruise that's perfect for you.