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Alaska Wildlife Photography

Wildlife photographers in Denali National Park

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McNeil River Grizzly Photos
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Denali National Park Wildlife
Wildlife Photography

Alaska is world renowned for its scenery and wildlife. Amateur and professional photographers flock to the state in attempt to capture the ultimate photo. However, along with the beauty of the state comes the challenges….at Alaska Stock Images, you will find a wide variety of Alaska photos including Wildlife Photography. To find more pictures of Alaska or photos of wildlife, visit our search page.

Wildlife photographer
Photography in Alaska

Summer photography: Perhaps one of the biggest challenges with photography in Alaska is the short summer season. With snow not melting until as late as May and June in some places and snow arriving in the mountains as early as September, summer is a scant three to four month window of time. However, along with the short season comes long daylight hours and long periods of time when the daylight is soft and warm and not the harsh blues of mid-day sun. Although there is plenty of time during the day to photograph, this can prove to be its own challenge. Because sunset can be as late as 10pm, 11pm, or none at all, staying up late enough or getting up early enough to capture these late in the day colors may be for only the truly dedicated and energetic!
Moose in Fireweed
Moose & Fireweed

Photographing wildlife should also be done with great care. Even though many areas where there are large concentrations of animals have grown used to seeing humans, the animals still remain WILD and must be given plenty of room and their body language watched closely. In order to prevent encroaching on an animal's space, cameras with long focal lengths are generally used including 300mm, 500mm, and 600mm lenses.

For capturing wildlife in and amongst foliage such as wildflowers and birch forests, the best time of season would be mid-July to mid August. The Fireweed and Lupine flowers are profuse throughout Alaska and wildlife can be found wandering in an among the foliage foraging for food. Late summer and fall can also provide some of the most intense colors across Alaska. The tundra, brush, and birch trees found all around Alaska turn to a vibrant palette of colors including yellow, orange, and red. "Peak season" in the interior of Alaska is from about mid-August to late September. Capturing wildlife with the fall colors as a background creates a beautiful portrait.

Fall colors in Denali National Park
Fall colors in Denali National Park
Denali National Park is perhaps one of the most famously photographed locations. A large number of Grizzly photos, moose photos, and caribou photos come from photographers who visit this area. However, access for the amateur is limited to taking the park bus to a location of choice or by foot or bicycle. Professional photographers can apply for a "park pass" but be warned that proving you are a professional can be taxing. Denali National Park also offers a "road lottery" open to the public that provides the opportunity to 400 vehicles to make their way into the park over a four-day period. Road Lottery applications are accepted by mail during the month of July.

Grizzly in Denali National Park
Grizzly & Mt. Mckinley
Winter photography: Just as the summer is short, the winter provides a lengthy season to photograph wildlife in the winter, but daylight can be limited to a few magical hours. Wildlife remains prolific in the winter. Although access to Brown Bears and many species of birds wanes, moose, fox, Dall Sheep, Bald Eagles, polar bears, and many hearty "winter birds" stick around. In fact, winter can be the best time to photograph wildlife. With fur coats in their prime, moose, Dall Sheep, and other big game are at their best. Other animals such as the Arctic Fox, Ptarmigan, and Snowshoe Hare have undergone their transformation from brown and black fur or feathers to pure white. Bald Eagles are prolific in some of their winter grounds such as the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve and also on the beaches of the Homer Spit. Of course, along with winter comes the cold. Perhaps the biggest challenge of winter photography is dealing with sub-zero temperatures. The cold zaps batteries, messes with electronics, and can ultimately damage film if the cold is too severe. Wrapping tripod legs with foam or duck tape is common to prevent holding frozen metal legs. Be prepared to carry extra equipment and dress appropriately.

Ptarmigan in white
Ptarmigan in white

Books of Interest:

Moose Peterson's Guide to Wildlife Photography : Conventional and Digital Techniques - With more than 20 years' experience in wildlife photography, Moose Peterson is America's most accomplished documenter of endangered species. He reveals his professional secrets and techniques in his most comprehensive and spectacularly photographed guide to date. Peterson explains exactly how to make the most of your equipment and how to use animals' habits to optimize your results.

The New Complete Guide to Wildlife Photography: How to Get Close and Capture Animals on Film - Its a "must have" book for anybody wanting to explore wildlife photography as a hobby or professionally, and just a great, easy reading book.

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