If you think you’ve “seen” Glacier Bay from the deck of a cruise ship, be prepared to be pleasantly surprised and amazed by the things you’ll see on this trip. Glacier Bay is one of the largest national parks in the United States and yes, it does feature a lot of ice. However, there’s so much more. Traveling on a 50-foot boat that we use for our sleeping and eating, we take up to eight passengers. You’ll get closeup photos of humpback whales, sea lions, sea otters and often, brown and black bears as they forage along the ocean shoreline. Although we can get many amazing photos right from the deck of the boat, we’ll also kayak and do short hikes. I’m partnering yet again on this trip with Juneau resident and photographer extraordinaire Mark Kelley. Mark is a NANPA member who has been a Showcase winner many times. He has produced numerous coffee table books and calendars on Alaska and is an all-around nice guy. This will be my seventh trip to Glacier Bay. Our parent company, Dolphin Charters, has been traveling Glacier Bay for some 40 years. The captain knows the area intimately, and as a former whale biologist, intimately understands the behaviors of these magnificent marine mammals.
On this winter trip we’ll be exploring the south side of this photogenic island in a large van. I’m partnering with Strabo Tours to seek the best winter light. Iceland in winter is cold, yes, but not as cold as you’d think, with the Gulf Stream keeping coastal temperatures around freezing. Expect beautiful beached icebergs, lots of waterfalls, and with luck, the aurora borealis and ice caves. We’ll be based at an Icelandic horse ranch for a couple of days to marvel at these photogenic creatures and also detour to the Blue Lagoon for a soak in the hot waters. The people of Iceland are kind, friendly folks and that will be a highlight of the trip. We stay in comfortable, warm hotels and you will eat well. Prior to the trip we’ll go over gear needs carefully.
Story and Photographs by Hank Erdmann
Facing the Howling Blizzard with Your Camera by Hank Erdmann
Winter is a wonderful time to pursue the art of nature and outdoor photography. Too many photographers put their cameras away once the leaves have fallen and don’t take them out again until cherry trees blossom. Photographing in winter does however take some dedication or at least enjoyment of the outdoors regardless of the weather. Just as when weather changes and rain begins to fall, some of your best shots will be made when those weather changes start or end. But as with rain, snow and cold weather require some precautions to protect your equipment and yourself.
In cold weather you have to get to the subject and safely back. Common sense says if you are cold, wet, shaking and miserable, the quality of your photographs will reflect your mental and physical state. Your comfort zone is a range of temperature that your body can operate effectively in and be relatively unaffected by uncomfortable conditions. That zone is different for all of us, narrower for some and wider for others. If you are not reasonably comfortable, your photography will reflect that fact. Its hard to get tack sharp, correctly exposed images if you are shaking, even with your camera mounted securely on a tripod. It will be impossible to concentrate on exposure and composition if your mind is preoccupied with keeping your body warm. Remember, you are supposed to be enjoying yourself, only those crazy enough to pursue nature photography as a full-time profession actually need to be out taking photographs in the winter. Whether it is for a vacation or occupation it makes sense to spend some time preparing yourself and your gear to stay within your comfort zone in cold weather. Continue reading