Alaska Photo Treks offers sunset tours year round. Sunset Photo Safari operates May- September. Twilight Photo Tour runs September-April. Departure times for both tours are dependent on sunset, which at this latitude changes dramatically throughout the year. The times for each week are posted on the respective pages for each tour. Winter months also include the northern lights viewing adventure, Anchorage Aurora Quest. Explore Alaska Photo Treks to learn more about these excellent, instructional day tours and multi-day tours and workshops.
How to Travel Like a Photographer in a ‘Photo-Takers’ World
6 Travel Photography Tips
There are two kinds of people in the world, photographers and non-photographers. Let me rephrase that. There are photographers and “photo-takers.” Photographers strive to learn what all the settings on their camera can do. They are students of light, and are willing to wait for hours in one spot until conditions are perfect. Their travel bags are filled with more camera gear than clean underwear. Post shoot, they can fawn over photos in editing programs for days, gently coaxing sliders to bring out the best part of each scene. They would never dream of releasing their creations for public consumption until each is properly optimized. Photographers are driven by one desire, to freeze a moment of time in perfect light and composition.
Photo-takers are happy to make use of their camera’s sophisticated auto settings. They are point-and-shoot warriors; attacking a scene with sniper-like precision, retreating and uploading to social media in a single fluid motion. In-camera editing and photo filters are their allies. They are thrilled when the technology gods smile upon them, and their camera produces a professional-looking image. Their threshold for social media-worthy images is much lower than photographers, and their sites are full of dark and blurry photos.
Photographers and photo-takers usually coexist peacefully in their parallel universes, but mixing the two types during travel can be stressful for both. I was recently on a business trip with seven associates, all but one of whom were non-photographers. While preparing for the trip, I had a passing thought to leave the gear behind, but we were traveling to a number of Scandinavian countries and the idea of going camara-less for nearly a month was too much to bear. The only alternative was to figure out a way to travel lightly and shoot stealthily. Get in and get out. In essence, to behave like a photo-taker.
For the most part, it worked out well. I didn’t once get yelled at for holding things up. There was one incident on a crowded airport shuttle when the only other photographer and I engaged in conversation about night photography, including details about how to get starburst patterns with the aperture setting. Eyes began to roll and someone murmured “boring.” But that was the only indication we were not among kindred spirits. While I’m not going to say it was easy to walk away from scenes that I knew in an hour or would be stellar, or that I’m entirely happy with the photos I grabbed, there were at least a few that will make it into a travel album. Others simply mark a spot I’d like to revisit and spend the time needed to make a memorable image.
Since photo-takers are a majority of the population and their ranks are comprised of friends, family members, and business associates, all of whom I’ve travelled with extensively over the years, I thought I’d share 6 travel photography tips I’ve learned to peacefully travel with them and still grab a few good shots on the fly.
Prior to this trip, I’d traded in my weighty Nikon D800 for the svelte Sony Alpha 7 II. Although I have a 70-200mm lens, I chose to bring my much smaller Zeiss 16-35mm f/4, and 55mm f/1.8 prime lenses. I also carried a MeFOTO DayTrip Tripod (1.8 lbs). The camera body and lenses fit nicely in a Think Tank Photo Retrospective 5 Shoulder Bag with room to spare, so it was easy to carry just about everywhere.
2. Keep Your Gear Handy
Keeping your gear light and fitting it in a single bag for travel is a no-brainer. You’re likely to have it with you at the right time and won’t have to kick yourself later for missing that once-in-a-lifetime shot.
3. Get to Know Your Smartphone Camera
For those times when your gear bag is not accessible, don’t overlook the camera you almost always have with you. This is something even I don’t take advantage of often enough. The latest generation of smartphone cameras come with a variety of manual setting options and take quality images. My Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has settings for EV, ISO, White Balance, Metering modes, and more. Shooting modes include selective focus and panorama options, and there are an ever increasing number of shooting and processing apps. Of course, relying on your camera phones puts you dangerously close to “photo-taker” ranks, but you can always distinguish yourself by actually knowing how to use all the setting and apps, and thoughtfully composing your shots.
4. Practice, Practice, Practice
If you want to grab any noteworthy scenes on the fly, you have to turn yourself into a fine-tuned photography machine. This means knowing exactly what settings to use and when. You also need muscle memory to find them, like playing a musical instrument. Practice enough and eventually you can play the right notes without consciously thinking about it.
5. Push Your Point of View
Set yourself apart from photo-takers by looking for unique ways to approach a subject. There are endless numbers of same or similar photographs of iconic travel destinations posted on the Internet daily. On location, you can easily see why these images all pretty much look alike. Nearly everyone walks to the same vantage spot, points, shoots, and walks away. If possible, get closer, go farther, walk around, get high, low, tilt the frame. Do whatever it takes to bring a fresh perspective.
6. Treat yourself to Photo-centric Travel
Check out the growing number of trips, tours and workshops designed to accommodate photographers. You’ll have the benefit of instructor/guides bringing you to the right place at the right time, and be surrounded by likeminded people who enjoy photography as much as you do.