Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Alaska - The Last Frontier

This is one of the most spectacular views in all of Alaska, and is in Denali National Park. It is Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley) and part of the Alaska Range reflected in the aptly named Reflection Pond. It was taken pre-dawn, before the sun broke the horizon. At over 20,000 feet, it is the tallest mountain in all of North America.

When shooting in pre-dawn conditions, it is best to arrive about an hour early when it is still dark. That gives you time to set up your equipment and be prepared for the show that Mother Nature provides. I always recommend going to the location the day before to get the lay of the land, and to determine the approximate spot where you want to set up your camera and tripod.

Because you arrive in the dark, it helps to have a headlamp to light your way, and to make sure that  you are properly placing the camera on the tripod. To make it easy on yourself, set the ISO,  f/stop and shutter speed the night before when you can see what you are doing, and have one less thing to do when you arrive in the morning. Of course these settings will change quickly as the sky lightens, but at least it will get you in the ballpark at the beginning.

With your camera on Aperture Priority, set the ISO at 400 or 800, and the aperture at around f/8. The shutter speed will set itself. That will give you decent depth of field at the beginning. As the sky lightens, you can go with a smaller f/stop (f/16 and smaller) and/or a faster shutter speed. You want enough depth of field to render the scene as sharp as possible.

Also it is best to use a cable release or remote trigger to minimize camera shake. Yes, even on a tripod you can introduce vibration when pressing the shutter button. If you do not have a separate shutter release, you can set your camera's timer to a 2-second delay. That will give the camera 2 seconds to stop vibrating after you have pressed the shutter button.

If you want to put yourself in this scene, come join me in Denali National Park September 2 - 8. We stay in a lovely lodge only about a mile from this location, and we pass it nearly every day. It doesn't get much better than that! There is only 1 opening left so let me know right away if you are interested. Details are on the website   http://awakethelight.com/denali-national-park/ 

In addition to incredible mountain scenery and sweeping vistas, we will see grizzly bear, caribou, and moose. We will be there at the time of peak fall color, and the tundra will be ablaze in reds, golds, and yellows.

We have our own large vehicle with an experienced naturalist driver. Everyone has a window seat and plenty of room to spread out. Only a select few are allowed this deep into the park. Awake The Light is fortunate to be one of only two photo tour companies allowed this type of access. We will have incredible photographic opportunities each and every day.

1/30 sec at f/8, ISO 400.  Canon 5D Mark III body with Canon 17-40mm f/4L lens set at 24mm. Gitzo tripod with ballhead.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied. It speaks in silence to the very core of your being."  --Ansel Adams

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