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Insider Tips – Top 30 Alaska Photography Subjects and When to Shoot Them

Top 30 Alaska Photography Subjects by Season

Ever wondered when’s the best time to photograph brown bear snatching salmon from a cascading falls… alpine meadows carpeted with wildflowers… northern lights whipping across the night sky… or tail slapping whales in a coastal fjord? Alaska provides scenes like these and so much more, but they’re seasonal – so knowing where to be and when is key to success. Consulting the Top 30 Alaska Photography Subjects by Season is a good place to start.

Among the unique attributes of the subarctic, early spring is still essentially winter. Between winter and spring is a sub-season locals like to call “breakup,” during which time temperatures and precipitation can fluctuate wildly. It’s a gray and gritty time of year, but following one warm day in May, the landscape suddenly erupts in bright spring green. Newborn moose calves can be spotted tottering after their mothers soon after. Streams begin filling with spawning salmon around the same time, and wildflowers peak in early July. By late August, summer is already making way for fall and the first auroras of the season might be seen dancing through the night. Like a grand finale, autumn is short and explosive, with alpine tundra awash in golden crimson and snow-dusted mountain peaks. Alaska is a vast state ranging from 51°N [Adak] to 71°N [Utqiagvik] so this list is far from complete, but it will give you a general idea of what can be seen and photographed during each month throughout most of Southcentral Alaska; including Homer, Soldotna, Kenai, Seward, Girdwood, Anchorage, Palmer, Wasilla and Talkeetna.

* Peak months are noted in bold caps.

incoming tide at sunset on turnagain arm, early spring - top 30 alaska photography subjects

Spring tide in Turnagain Arm at sunset.

1. Aerials (fixed wing) JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNov Dec
    Aerials (helicopter) JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
2. Alaska State Fair       AUGSep   
3. Anchorage Fur Rondy Winter Festival FEBMar 
4. Anchorage skyline at twilight JanFebMarAPROCTNovDec
5. Anglers MayJUNJULAUGSep 
6. Auroras (northern lights) JanFebMARAprAugSEPOctNov Dec
7. Autumn colors AugSEPOct 
8. Bald eagles  AprMAYJunJulAugSep 
9. Berries AUGSep 
10. Belugas  MarAUGSEP 
11. Brown bears (Chinitna Bay) MayJUNJULAUGSep 
      Brown bears (Denali National Park) JunAugAugSep 
      Brown bears (Katmai National Park) JUL 
      Brown bears (Lake Clark National Park) JulAUGSEP 
12. Coastal scenes JanFebMARAPRMayJunJulAugSepOctNov Dec
13. Dall sheep (Turnagain Arm) JanFebMarAPRMAYJUNJULAUGSEPOCTNov Dec
14 First snow (mountain summits) AugSEPOct 
     First snow (sea level) SepOctNOV 
      Glaciers (by boat) AprMAYJUNJULAUGSEPOct 
16. Historic mines MayJUNJULAUGSep 
17. Ice flows on Cook Inlet & Turnagain Arm JANFEBMAR Dec
18. Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race MAR 
19. Lupine JUNJul 
20. Migratory birds AprMAYJUNJUL 
21. Moonrise (Hunter moon) OCT 
23. Moose calves (newborn) MAYJUN 
       Moose in rut SEPOCTNOV 
24. Mountain scenes JanFebMarAPRMAYJUNJulAugSEPOCTNOV Dec
       Mountain streams AprMAYJUNJULAUGSEPOctNov Dec
25. Salmon MayJUNJULAUGSep 
26. Seabird rookeries MayJUNJULAug 
27. Snowy taiga JANFEBMAR Dec
39. Whales AprMAYJUNJULAUGSep 
30. Wildflowers JunJULAug 


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