This is the second blog post in a series on photographing an Alaskan cruise. We took the southbound cruise from Whittier to Vancouver with Norwegian Cruise Lines. We also spent an extra day and a half in Vancouver. I'll be blogging about our experience and the photo ops at each destination as well as other topics such as what photo gear to bring.
Try Using a Passing Boat as your Foreground
An Alaskan cruise can also be a great photoraphy trip. In this blog, I'll give my tips on photographing an Alaskan cruise and how to get the most out of it from a photography perspective. What photo equipment to bring will be the next topic in the series on Photographing an Alaskan Cruise.
- Balcony. If you can afford it, get a cabin with a balcony. The balcony was my favorite part of the cruise. It was wonderful to sit on your balcony with your favorite beverage and look for beautiful compositions at any time of the day. It is also your private viewing area for the glaciers, sunsets, and sunrises.
- Multiple Camera Bodies. If you have multiple camera bodies, have each set up with different focal length lenses. This will reduce the need to switch lenses and reduce missed shots. The lenses you need will vary based on your distance from the shore. I normally had my Canon 5D mark III set up with a telephoto for wildlife. I saw humpback whales, dolphins, orcas, seals, and bald eagles all from my balcony. For the second body, I normally had a wide angle or a longer zoom lens (70-300mm) depending on the distance from the shore.
- Think Foregrounds. There is a lot of beautiful mountain scenery in Alaska. Depending on the focal length of your lens and the distance from the shore, you could have a lot of empty water in the foreground. For a more interesting composition, look for objects for the foreground of your photo – islands, passing boats, icebergs, and reflections can all make interesting foregrounds. Since the boat is moving, the compositions and foregrounds will constantly change.
- Sunrises and Sunsets. If you have clear or partly cloudy evenings and mornings on your cruise, the sunrises and sunsets can be beautiful. If you are coming from a different time zone, you will likely be up early in the morning, check outside your cabin, the sun rises really early in Alaska. Sunsets seem to last a long time in up in Alaska. Look for sunsets reflecting in the clouds, on the white mountain peaks, and on the water. Also, try shooting directly into a sunset to produce a silhouette of the mountains.
- Panoramas. Think about shooting panoramas both horizontal and vertical. Horizontal panos are useful when you have a beautiful mountain range in front of you with no foreground objects. You will see many waterfalls cascading down from the top of the mountains on your cruise. Try a vertical panorama for these waterfall scenes. I shot my panoramas handheld. With a fast shutter speed and advances in panorama merge software, successful panoramas can be shot handheld.
- Bring a Camera Everywhere. If you bring a point and shoot, take it with you wherever you go on the ship. I got some good photos while eating in the dining rooms that I would have otherwise missed.