Leaving for Alaska on Tuesday. Any last minute tips/advice?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by bfenner, Jul 6, 2012.

  1. bfenner

    bfenner Mu-43 Regular

    54
    Sep 24, 2010
    I'll be equipped with: GF1, EM-5, Lumix 20mm (w/ polarizing filter), 45-200mm, 7-14mm and tripod. My destinations include: Anchorage, Valdez, Kennicott gold mines, Worthington Glacier, Summit Lake, Tangle Lake, whale watching and salmon fishing, amongst others. Any pointers on getting the most out of this photographic opportunity?
     
  2. m43dex

    m43dex Mu-43 Veteran

    242
    Mar 5, 2011
    Michigan
    I'm jealous, sounds like an awesome adventure... have a great time. :smile:

    Not sure what AF mode you are using on the OMD... pay attention to that L-PAD, its so easy to move the focus area. I don't see extra batteries in your post but I will assume. Too many memory cards are better than not enough, take lots of great shots. I like to check my settings before and after each shoot so I'm sure what to expect on the card.

    Also are you taking a tablet or pc to check your review pics daily?
     
  3. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    Don't do anything at the last minute.

    Go to Alaska, have fun, and shoot lots.
     
  4. drcolby

    drcolby Mu-43 Regular

    30
    Jul 4, 2012
    We just returned

    We just got back from 3 days in SE AK and then back on the ferry. Rained whole trip which made for lots of mist and mystery with the scenics .
    Make sure you have your rain gear for both yourself and cameras.

    Dave
     
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  5. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Jim
    I was there in 2006. I would suggest good monopod; on some parts of our "land tour" (Denali Park) a tripod was just undoable. Of course we were with a group, not backpacking individually, so YMMV. A quick release for the monopod would be advisable.

    Also I would suggest rain covers for the rigs - not all of the lenses are weather proof. In some areas we experienced a fair amount of precipitation. (I was using a Nikon D70S and resolved the issue by using Zip Loc bags. Cut hole for end of lens, stuff camera into bag, zip until straps get in the way). Never had an issue with gear failure, but when we got home I bought suitable rain protection for the Nikon. Whale watching was especially wet - it rained fairly hard during the entire outing. The Zip bag looked hokey as the dickens, but it kept the rain off of the gear and allowed me to keep shooting when others had their cameras under their ponchos.

    Take plenty of memory cards (obviously); there are stores in a number of the localities (such as Anchorage) that will inexpensively and quickly burn your photos to DVD for mailing home as backups. Also spare batteries and I would pack a good flash. I took an SB600 Nikon and it did nicely.

    One thing I did right - I didn't burden myself down too badly with gear. Lots of walking and lots of things to see - and sometimes the camera gear just gets in the way of enjoying the trip.

    Things I did wrong - I took too large a bag; next time I'll take a bag for storage/traveling for the gear, but a smaller one for day shooting. Security is, of course, an issue - where to leave the unused gear while you're out and about. That varies depending on location.

    Also I could have used a longer lens to good advantage in Denali; I think the 45-200 will hold you in good stead.

    I failed to put power bars or munchies in the bag the first couple of days and that became wearisome; sometimes you need that extra boost and parts of Alaska are sadly lacking in convenience stores :wink:.

    Consider a photographer's vest; they look plenty dorky but no one on our cruise/land tour looked anything but dorky for 13 days. American tourists seem to tend to be an unattractive lot :biggrin:. A vest leaves hands free and you do not have to constantly keep track of a bag.

    Also a Tilley hat can be handy; they don't have a firm bill like a baseball cap to get in the way of the camera when using a viewfinder, shed rain pretty well, and can be secured in the wind with drawstrings. On the underside of the hat is a small pocket that will hold a memory card.

    Have a great visit!!!

    Regards,

    Jim
     
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  6. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    Since you note that you have the E-M5 if you also have the weather sealed 12-50 kit lens, I would be sure to bring that along as well. If you don't have that lens, I would consider trying to acquire one before I went. As others have mentioned, even in mid-July, one cannot rely on encountering dry weather in Alaska.

    What sorts of images are you hoping to capture? Landscapes? Wildlife? People? Family snapshots?

    How are you traveling? I assume it's not a cruise because of your list of destinations (but we all know what happens when we assume). Are you going to be driving or flying amongst your various waypoints?

    I would consider investing in a ND filter or two since it's possible you'll be shooting in situations with lots of reflected light (glaciers, lakes, etc.). If you get a 52mm filter and a 46-52mm step-up ring you could use it on either the P20 or the P40-150. I would also pick up a polarizer for the P45-200 and a lens hood for the P20.
     
  7. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    Interesting topic, we're going to Alaska in August so I have many of the same concerns/questions.

    If you don't mind my piggybacking onto your thread... the rain protection topic is a good one, I'd just started wondering about that myself. Can anyone recommend good rain solutions for m4/3 gear besides ziplocs? I'd like something durable and better designed if possible :smile: I've got a variety of lenses and a G3, if that matters for recommendations. I'd hate to end up not taking photos for half the trip because I'm hiding under a poncho!
     
  8. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Jim
     
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  9. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    I see your point :rofl:

    Actually that just reminded me of Scott Kelby's tip to use hotel shower caps, comes with convenient elastic already in place and everything!
     
  10. heedpantsnow

    heedpantsnow Mu-43 Veteran

    332
    Jul 24, 2011
    I've been to many of those places. My advice would be: don't be too busy taking pictures to enjoy the experience and the people you're with. Make pictures that spark memories of the experience; don't let the pictures BE the experience.

    Eat LOTS of King Salmon.
     
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  11. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    This is terrific advice! :thiagree: Look particularly for any salmon from the Copper or Yukon rivers as these fish have to travel the furthest and thus their meat is the fattiest/richest. You won't go wrong with Sockeye Salmon, either.
     
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  12. lucyallen

    lucyallen New to Mu-43

    6
    Nov 1, 2011
    Napa, CA
    I just returned from 5 weeks in AK: 2 weeks doing east/west inside passage, Juneau, Denali, Homer, Seward etc. Tried out my new Oly OM D, wish I had more weather sealed lenses but used cheap rainsleeves (cut in half). My first all RAW trip, wish I had brought memory cards but had a back-up drive. Generally I'm not much of a 100-300 fan but just had to bring one (Pany) and am glad I did! Bears (from a respectful distance), whales and sea otters, eagles - great fun. Also the 14-140, my favorite. Amazing weather in Denali, saw her all 4 days. My biggest fear was getting a mosquito or two in the sensor when changing lenses, almost need a mosquito net for the camera. Even though it was rainy most of the time it was not much of an issue. I hike wearing my camera with a Sea to Summit light dry bag sort of wrapped and loosely sealed around my camera with a microfiber cloth or two stuffed in my pocket. Yes! Don't forget to get out from behind the camera and just BE there.
     
  13. Calving glaciers make BIG waves.
     
  14. bfenner

    bfenner Mu-43 Regular

    54
    Sep 24, 2010
    Thanks for all the advice, everyone. Unfortunately, my gear budget is about all but spent up. I do have extra batteries and memory cards, and wil be bringing an external hard drive but no laptop or tablet. Rainy weather gear is definitely a good call, considering time and money I'll probably have to go with the ziploc bag/shower cap strategy. My goal is to shoot a variety of people, wildlife, scenic shots with the focus being mostly on landscpe. Eating lots of salmon was already on the itinerary :smile: . Also a great tip on keeping in mind to enjoy the experience and not let photography be the main focus. After all, I am an amateur taking these pictures for me and to share, I'm not a paid pro on assignment. Stay tuned, I'll be sure to post lots of pics once I'm back.
     
  15. harrysue

    harrysue Mu-43 Regular

    164
    Mar 12, 2011
    Valdes isn't very big, and there's diner in the middle of town called, if I remember right, the Halibut House. Back in 2003, we had chunks of fried halibut and salmon wedges that were cheap and good. Not much else there except franchise food.

    We started in Anchorage, saw Denali, drove up to Fairbanks, and SE to Valdes. It was September and the tundra was in full Fall color. Worthington glacier and the car ferry to Seward were on our agenda too. In Seward, the Exxon funded fish/bird/seal habitat is nice, and you will likely take the boat tours to the glaciers.

    Probably not a good idea to leave valuables in car at trail heads. At one spot outside Anchorage, broken car glass littered the parking lot.
     
  16. capodave

    capodave Mu-43 Top Veteran

    514
    Jul 4, 2010
    Southern Cal
    Dave