Seasonal Alaska Photo Tips

When to Photograph What in Alaska

Have you ever wondered when’s the best time to photograph brown bear snagging salmon from cascading falls… meadows and fields carpeted with wild lupine… 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 Alaska photo tips chart 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°S (Adak) to 71°N (Utqiagvik) so this list is far from complete, but it is a good starting point to learn 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 - alaska photo tips

Spring tide in Turnagain Arm at sunset.

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.

Aerials (fixed wing)  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov  Dec
Aerials (helicopter)  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Alaska State Fair               AUG Sep      
Anchorage Fur Rondy Winter Festival   FEB Mar  
Anchorage skyline at twilight  Jan Feb Mar APR OCT Nov Dec
Anglers   May JUN JUL AUG Sep  
Auroras (northern lights)  Jan Feb MAR SEP Oct Nov  Dec
Autumn colors   Aug SEP Oct  
Bald eagles   MAY Jun Jul Aug Sep  
Berries   AUG Sep  
Belugas   AUG SEP  
Brown bears (Chinitna Bay)   May JUN JUL AUG Sep  
Brown bears (Denali National Park)   Jun Aug Aug Sep  
Brown bears (Katmai National Park)   JUL  
Brown bears (Lake Clark National Park)   Jul AUG SEP  
Coastal scenes  Jan Feb MAR APR May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov  Dec
Dall sheep (Turnagain Arm)  Jan Feb Mar Apr MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT Nov  Dec
First snow (mountain summits)   Aug SEP Oct  
First snow (sea level)   Sep Oct NOV  
Glaciers (hiking)  JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Glaciers (by air) JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Glaciers (by boat)   Apr MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP Oct  
Historic mines   May JUN JUL AUG Sep  
Ice flows on Cook Inlet & Turnagain Arm  JAN FEB MAR Apr  
Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race   MAR  
Lupine   JUN JUL  
Migratory birds   Apr MAY JUN JUL  
Moonrise (Hunter moon)   OCT  
Moose  JAN FEB MAR APR MAY Jun Jul Aug Sep OCT NOV  DEC
Moose calves (newborn)   MAY JUN  
Moose in rut   SEP OCT NOV  
Mountain scenes  Jan Feb Mar APR MAY Jun Jul Aug SEP OCT NOV  Dec
Mountain streams   Apr MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP Oct Nov  Dec
Salmon   May JUN JUL AUG Sep  
Seabird rookeries   May JUN JUL Aug  
Snowy taiga  JAN FEB MAR  Dec
Waterfalls   Apr MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT Nov  Dec
Whales   Apr MAY JUN JUL AUG Sep  
Wildflowers   Jun JUL Aug  
By | 2018-04-22T18:59:40+00:00 May 29th, 2017|Photography Advice|2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Joseph Goyanko, Jr. June 3, 2017 at 7:47 am - Reply

    Do you have any tours in Dinali for Aug 3-6?

    • Jody Overstreet June 3, 2017 at 11:19 am - Reply

      Hi Joseph, thank you for your inquiry! While we run photography workshops in Denali National Park on occasion, unfortunately, none are scheduled for your timeframe. Flightseeing photography tours around Denali are available throughout year. Let me know if I can answer questions or set something up for you like this. ~Jody

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