Alaska Winter Wildlife
Trip Dates October 8-15, 2018
Photo Tour Fees:
- Total Photo Tour Fee: $x
- Deposit: $1000 due to reserve a space on the photo tour (leaving a balance of 2200 due thirty days before the tour).
- The photo tour fee includes in-field guiding, instruction, transportation, but does not include lodging and meals. Participants can pay this themselves or for your convenience, pay through us and we'll pay the vendors on your behalf.
From: Fairbanks, Alaska
Leaders: Matthew Studebaker
Target Group Size: 5 photographers
Our trip will begin in Fairbanks, Alaska. From here we will start exploring the northern boreal forest in search of Moose, Spruce Grouse, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Northern Hawk Owls, and mountain scenery. Next we will head north crossing the arctic circle to the edge of the treeline where we stay in a beautiful bed and breakfast located at one of the most ideal places to photograph northern lights in the world. Proceeding further north, our group will cross the Brooks Range mountains with Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on the right side of the road, Gates of the Arctic National Park on the left. In the mountain pass itself we should be able to find Dall Sheep, Caribou, Willow Ptarmigan, and Gyr Falcons. The Brooks Range mountains themselves have a stunning and stark beauty. As they taper off, we enter the North Slope, where endless tundra provides habitat for Red and Arctic Fox, large Caribou Herds, and Musk Ox. Each night, whoever wishes can join me for photographing Northern Lights on the nights with clear skies.
Travel considerations: Fly to Fairbanks, Alaska
Equipment: I recommend bringing a digital SLR with matching lens. On this photo tour, we will want a wide variety of lenses. A long lens will be useful for mammals that keep their distance or for frame-filling portraits. At times the animals travel through scenery that is so beautiful, it begs to be included in the frame, so a mid-range lens will be useful. I found my 70-200mm to be perfect. We also will have opportunities for amazing landscapes and northern lights, so bring a wide angle as well. Bring a tripod, and bring binoculars if desired.
Likely Species on the trip. Opportunities in bold will be the easiest/most common -
October 7 - Pre-trip. Arrive in Fairbanks no later than the evening before the trip. Meet for optional meet and greet dinner.
October 8 - Fly to Barter Island, Alaska. Photograph Polar Bears by boat after checking into the lodging in the afternoon.
October 9 - Polar Bear photography all day.
October 10 - Polar Bear photography all day.
October 11 - Polar Bear photography all day.
October 12 - Photograph Bears briefly in the morning. Fly back to Fairbanks, AK
October 13 - Drive from Fairbanks to Wiseman, passing back through boreal forest looking for Spruce Grouse, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Hawk Owls, bears, moose, and landscapes, and the Aurora Borealis at night.
October 14 - Explore the Brooks Range from Wiseman, looking for Caribou, Dall Sheep, Ptarmigan, Red Fox, Gyrfalcon, and the Aurora Borealis at night.
October 15 - Drive up to Deadhorse. Stay in Deadhorse in a humble hotel for the night. Look for Musk Ox, Caribou, and Arctic Fox. Aurora Borealis at night if the opportunity presents itself.
October 16 - Trip ends. Fly out of Prudhoe Bay
- Grizzly Bear
- Musk Ox
- Red Fox
- Arctic Fox
- Dall Sheep
- Spruce Grouse
- Sharp-tailed Grouse
- Willow Ptarmigan
- Snowy Owl
- Northern Hawk Owl
- Gyr Falcon
- Gray Jay
- Boreal Chickadee
- White-winged Crossbill
- Pine Grosbeak
- Aurora Borealis
- Brooks Range Mountains
- North Slope Lakes and Plains
What to pack
· Boots: Warm winter boots and comfortable warm socks.
· Jacket: You will want a coat. Be prepared for temperatures from zero the lower 40's, with a moderate wind at times. Previous participants said they were happiest with a down jacket and a windbreaker or shell on top of that.
· Hat and Gloves: I recommend wearing a ski mask to keep your face warm if it is windy. A warm hood could be nice as well. Wear the warmest gloves possible but make sure you can still operate your camera gear with your gloves on.
· Bag Blind or Camo. No need to bring any.
· Camera Gear. Bring your longest lens, and landscape lens, and if you have room something in the 200 – 400mm range as well. Bring your widest lens for Northern Lights. A focal length between 10mm and 28mm is ideal. I'm happy with my 18mm on my full frame camera body.
Cell Phones and Internet: We will have fast wifi in Fairbanks, and no internet in the Brooks Range except it may often be available for a small fee from a diner we will use for many meals. We may only have phone reception around Fairbanks, and Deadhorse.
Weather and Schedule:
The sun will rise and set around 7:30am and pm. Most days it will be common to wake up with temperatures in the mid 20's. Some afternoons we could see temperatures in the lower forties depending on our elevation. We will use as much photographable light as we can each day, shooting sunrise through to sunset with a lunch break in between.
Transportation: There will be a lot of driving during this trip in order to gain access to a variety of habitats. I will rent a boat and a vehicle for the group.
More information to be provided about where to stay upon signing up for the trip. Fairbanks hotel costs are not included in the photo tour fee. All lodging north of Fairbanks IS included in the photo tour fee.
Meals: Meals will be included in the trip cost in all locations except Fairbanks.
Early Arrivals: Feel free to arrive in town as early as you like and stay later. Unfortunately, I can't accommodate early arrivals in my vehicle.
Learning / Slideshows:
On the first day, and during a couple mid-day breaks I will go over some tips, composition, and post processing ideas. My clients on this trip are usually very experienced photographers though, and unless you tell me otherwise, I am presuming that everyone is taking this trip more to maximize productivity than to learn how to use their gear. Along with a few brief slideshows and discussions. I will try to talk about my photographic vision for each situation and spout off my camera settings in the field as well as peek over everyone's shoulder from time to time to check histograms and exposures. Aside from that, I'll need YOU to tell me if you have additional questions, learning objectives, or concerns. I think all of you know your way around your camera fairly well but please don't hesitate to let me know if you have questions. If I don't know the answer, I'll do my best to find out.
My job is to know the area, do many hours of research, know and be able to ID the animals instantly and understand their habitat and behaviors, drive you to the most productive areas at the right time of day, be prepared to attract the animals or assist the group in stalking them, advise on how to make the most of each photo opp, ensure that everyone has their physical needs met, and ensure that everyone gets the most and highest quality images in the time we have.
Your job is to communicate your needs and have fun. I want to emphasize that each of you please communicate and keep me aware of your needs.
Almost all the photography on this trip will be done right from a boat or from the road next to our vehicle. If for some reason we can't find Caribou or Musk Ox right next to the road, I will hike up to a half mile into the tundra with whoever wishes to join me, but this probably will not be necessary.
I want everyone to walk away with a beautiful portfolio of Alaska mammals at the beginning of the winter snow fall. We will try for everything from action shots, to tight portraits, to wildlife-scapes showing the context of the landscape with the animals. Northern Lights will be a big priority as well at night.
To sign up for the Photo Tour, please add the deposit to your cart at the top of this page. E-mail me with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org