Alaska ...

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by sjlogghe, Jul 6, 2010.

  1. sjlogghe

    sjlogghe TPF Noob!

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    Heading to Alaska at the end of the week. I've been trying to read up on how to use the new camera, (D5000) and bought a couple photog books to study up on before I leave.

    But I thought I'd ask for some suggestions on camera settings for taking pictures in Alaska??!! Lots of scenery pictures, glaciers, etc. I haven't had as much time before the trip to play around with settings as I had wanted - so some tips would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!
     
  2. benlonghair

    benlonghair TPF Noob!

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    Allow me to be the first to say get a copy of [ame=http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Exposure-Photographs-Digital-Updated/dp/0817463003/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1278427436&sr=8-1]Understanding Exposure[/ame].

    There is no way for anyone to tell you what settings you're going to use, but if you learn what Bryan Peterson explains in his books, you'll know how to determine what settings you need. Good luck!
     
  3. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    There aren't specific camera settings for Alaska, or any other place. The camera settings will be dictated by the light and the desires of the photographer.
    Learning about exposure (shutter speed, aperture etc.) will allow you to control those settings to get the results that you want, rather than relying on the camera's dummy modes.

    My suggestion would be to take a tripod, a circular polarizer filter and bug repellent.
     
  4. Boomn4x4

    Boomn4x4 TPF Noob!

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    Nobody can simply tell you what settings to set your camera too. There are far too many desired outcomes that are dependent on so many different settings... Metering, white balance, ISO, shutter speed, aperture, focus modes, focus points, color modes, blah blah blah... There is absolutly no possible way for anyone to be able to tell you the settings to shoot at, each individual shot requires different settings, dosen't matter if you are in Alaska shooting landscapes, or in a studio shooting portraits.

    Until you take the time to understand for yourself what the settings need to be, when you are shooting landscape scenes, turn your setting dial to the picture of the mountains. If you are shooting portrait scenes, turn your dial to the picture of a head. If you are shooting fast moving birds, turn your dial to the picture of a guy running.

    Better yet, if you want to buy me a plane ticket, I'll go there with you and tell you what setting to use for each shot.
     
  5. edouble

    edouble TPF Noob!

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    I would definitely take a ND filter so all of the bright whites aren't blown out
     
  6. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    An ND filter won't necessarily keep whites from being blown out, it darkens the whole scene...you can still blow out the whites if you overexpose.

    It would be helpful for getting longer shutter speeds though, which can be a nice effect when shooting waterfalls.
     
  7. flyingember

    flyingember TPF Noob!

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    before you leave do the following: take photos, take photos, take photos. Wisconsin will have similar trees to a large degree. go into the woods nearby and take photos there to get some practice

    you'll be more comfortable with the camera if you've used it even some.

    don't take a tripod, it's summer. sunrise is at like 4:30am and sunset is at like 11:30pm. you won't have much dark to need a tripod for
     
  8. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    It doesn't have to be dark for you to need/want a tripod. :er:
     
  9. Gaerek

    Gaerek TPF Noob!

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    Where in Alaska are you going? People like to talk about Alaska like no matter where you go, it's all the same. Problem is, Alaska is huge. It's area is equal to 1/3 of the United States. Southeast Alaska is way different than South Central Alaska, which is way different than the Interior, which is way different than say, Denali National Park. I live in Sitka, which is in Southeast Alaska, about 100 miles, as the crow flies, SE of Juneau. Although I can't give you any specific settings or whatever, here are some tips:

    -Make sure you have a sturdy tripod. If you don't know why, let me just say that 90% of when I shoot, I'm on a tripod, regardless of light. Low ISO, stopped down with CPL means you probably need a tripod. Just because there's between 16 and 24 hours of light (depending where you are) in Alaska, doesn't mean you don't need one.

    -A CPL is basically a requirement, especially if you're lucky enough to visit during clear days and/or you're anywhere near the water.

    -If you can, make sure you can cover a wide range of focal lengths. If you can cover between 24-300 (35mm equivalent), you should be doing great. If you can cover more, than that's even better. Alaska is one of the few places where one second you're preparing to take a beautiful landscape, and the next second you need to be able to shoot an eagle catching a fish. Rent lenses if you have to. In addition, try to bring at least one fast lens (50mm f/1.8 would work perfect). If you plan on seeing any shows (native dance, etc) flashes usually aren't allowed.

    -Prepare to get wet. It rains, a lot here. Especially in Southeast Alaska. Although we don't get a lot of the rain shower type rain most places are used to, we get the mist that's more like a thick fog. If you're going to be shooting for more than 15-30 minutes, find a way to protect your camera (if it's not weather sealed)

    -Golden hour in Alaska is very early in the morning, and very late at night. In Sitka, where I live, which is fairly far South (relatively), sunrise was at 4:18 this morning and sunset is at 9:56 tonight. Prepare to get up early and stay up late. A nap in the middle of the day might be helpful.

    -Protect yourself! Bug spray, bear spray (big can of pepper spray), rain coat, sunscreen (yes, sunscreen, especially if you're on a boat on a sunny day).

    -Chances are it's going to be cloudy most, if not all the time you're here. If you have a macro lens, don't forget to look down. We have some absolutely beautiful flora here. Take advantage of the huge softbox in the sky.

    If I can think of some other things, I'll let you know, but this should give you a start. If you have any specific questions, let me know, and I'll try to answer them.
     
  10. Nod

    Nod TPF Noob!

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    Gaerek is giving you good advice. A long lens is a must (as he says) and a CPL. I agree with him that when people say "Alaska" be sure to say where you're going. At any given time, there a at least 3 seasons going on. Last time I was there, it was raining and warm in Anchorage, and we had frozen toilets in Fairbanks 2 days later. Take LOTS of cards, there is a picture no matter where you are. And lastly, be sure to post some pics when you get back. Enjoy your trip !
     
  11. sjlogghe

    sjlogghe TPF Noob!

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    I guess I worded my question wrong. I know there are numerous settings for numerous different types of pictures, scenes, etc. Specific settings isn't what I was looking for!

    Gaerek, thank you sooo much for the tips! That's what kind of stuff I was looking for. We are actually doing a cruise, with stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway. I'm such a newbie I know I won't be getting the best pictures ever, but hope to get at least a few semi-great ones - or at least better than what I would've, had I not bought the new camera and read the photog books!

    Any other tips, I'd be glad to have!!
     
  12. Gaerek

    Gaerek TPF Noob!

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    It's a shame that most of the cruises miss Sitka. We get our share of cruise ships, but Juneau and Ketchikan get the bulk, by far. Most people who stop here say its the most beautiful place they've been to in Alaska. Having said that, you'll be in SE Alaska which means prepare for rain. We just got off a 2 week stint of rain. Today was the first sunny day we've had in a while.

    If you have the ability, when you get off the boat to walk around, keep a nice mid-range zoom on if you can, but be sure to carry something wide and something else long. You won't be disappointed. If you're going to Glacier Bay (which I imagine you probably will) strap your longest glass on, and find a nice steady place to shoot from. A wide lens will be nice for a few shots, just to get a shot of the entire bay, but your workhorse in this case should be your long glass.

    I don't know if they offer them in Ketchikan and Juneau, but if you can, get on a whale watching tour. This is worth whatever it costs. I live here, and I still try to get on one every couple years. If you can only do one extra thing while you're in Alaska, get on a whale tour. And it's a bit of a misnomer because it's more like a wildlife tour. On most of these you'll see whales, orca, sea lions, sea otter, eagles, puffins, many variety of sea birds, and possibly bear and deer if the tour goes anywhere near land. However, if you get sea sick, be sure to take Dramamine or something like that.

    I can't wait to see your shots. Please post when you get back home!
     

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