Alaska Photography Tips for Capturing Breathtaking Photos
Alaska Photography Tips for Capturing Breathtaking Photos

Before I had even booked my vacation cruise to Alaska, I was searching online and asking photography friends for recommendations on what gear to bring and what to expect. I mean, if this was going to be the bucket list kind of trip people told me it would be then I didn’t want to miss photographing a thing. And here I am months later, still going through and making blog posts to share all the places and things we saw.  

This is a great post if you're planning on capturing Alaska from a cruise ship. Read - "3 Tips for Capturing Amazing Photos in Alaska"

Read more: 5 Tips for Better Travel Photography and Mistakes to Avoid

Overall, I was happy about my gear choices and there is very little I would change. Here are my 3 tips for photographing a 7 day cruise of Alaska.

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  • No.
    Camera bodies and lens choices

    I wanted to travel light but also be able to come back with solid photos.  This led me to take my Canon 5d Mark II as my main camera body and left me doing some online shopping for a new lens.  My current lenses ranged from 28mm to 100mm and I wasn’t sure that the 28mm would be wide enough for the landscape photos I knew I would want to take.  

    I also know there are tons of opportunities to photograph wildlife but since that isn’t as much my thing as landscapes I decided the 100mm would be enough reach for me. This is what led me to choose the Canon 16-35mm. I could go wide at 16mm for scenery and use the 35mm range for the lifestyle photos of the family on the ship and around the towns.

    In the end I took the Canon 5d Mark II, the Canon 16-35mm, and the Canon 100mm.

    If wildlife and close ups of that wildlife is your thing, then I would recommend you look for a telephoto lens longer than 100mm (probably even longer than 200mm although I’ve read people have had success with 200mm and wildlife in Alaska). I was able to capture the bald eagles from the ship but not much of any other wildlife.  

    We also didn’t plan any hikes as excursions or other types of activities where we would see wildlife so I knew that wouldn’t be a lens choice I would regret leaving at home.

    And I feel like it wouldn’t be fair if I left out the small part about taking along the Fuji XT1. I didn’t use this camera on the trip. At all.

    But, my son used it the whole time. He took over 650 photos with it during the 7 day trip. And I was so thankful that he had a camera that he could use to document Alaska through his eyes. It is lightweight, quick, and easy to use which makes it a great travel camera.  

    But, as much as I want to love it, I love my Canon more. Before the trip, I bought the Fuji 50-230mm zoom lens for him to use. This gave him more reach than I had with the Canon 100mm but I found that I didn’t feel the need to borrow the Fuji from him.

    Allison Jacobs

    Read more: 5 Must Have Tips for Traveling with Photography Gear

  • No.
    How to carry all the gear

    Along with traveling light, I didn’t want to be weighed down by huge camera bags. This was a family trip so I wanted to balance my photography goals with hanging with the family enjoying Alaska.  

    I ended up taking my Ona camera bag insert which I have loved for years. Throughout the trip I alternated between carrying it in a backpack or my purse depending on what we were doing that day. It allowed me to travel light but protect my gear at the same time.

    Allison Jacobs

  • No.
    Take some time to soak it all in

    This one isn’t a technical photography tip where I share my settings or gear. But, it is important to remember to put the camera down some and just enjoy the scenery of Alaska. Breathe in the crisp air and be present where you are.  

    There are some studies that show that we don’t remember things as much when we spend our time photographing them. I’m not sure that I agree with this but I do think that the time I spent sitting on the deck of the cruise ship just watching the scenery go by left me with some pretty amazing memories.

    Allison Jacobs


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