Fox Island, a private island bordering Kenai Fjords National Park, reveals the pristine side of Alaska most visitors miss. The region is famed for sea kayaking, and an easy paddling trip will unveil some of the fjord estuary system's prolific wildlife. Keep your camera handy during paddling breaks to capture possible shots of Steller sea lions, sea otters, harbor seals and black bears wandering ashore.This morning we were back on our Magic Bus, headed from Girdwood's Alyeska Resort to Seward's Municipal Harbor. Our final destination was the Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge on Fox Island, so we "packed down" and left much of our non-photo luggage at the Breeze Inn in Seward.
We boarded a Kenai Fjords Tours boat and headed out into Resurrection Bay. In the Kenai Fjords National Park, rugged, snow-capped mountains rise out of the ocean; it's as if the Tetons met the Pacific.
A landscape photographer is overwhelmed with too many options; it becomes paralyzingly difficult to isolate a composition. Being on a boat at midday cut into the possibilities a bit, and the motion of the boat meant that landscapes needed to be taken at 1/1000th of a second as the scenery moved past you.
But you lose sight of landscape compositions as you're swept up into the wildlife challenges that present themselves port and starboard.
Make no mistake, however; collecting keepers under these conditions will challenge skilled wildlife shooters. The motion of the boat is stochastic at best. The wildlife is distant. And moving. There is glare on the water and bright reflections on curved, wet surfaces. Birds with any white on them (gulls, puffins, eagles, etc.) will have that white blow out unless you underexpose the scene. But dark birds, etc., will be blots of black on reflective seawater and bright skies. You could try your luck with spot metering, but remember that both you and the subject are moving. A polarizer would help with the sky and reflections, but you're shooting telephoto and need photons to keep the shutter fast and the aperture tight, without pushing your ISO against the ceiling.
After settling in at the lodge, some of us geared up and headed out in a small flotilla ("flotillita") of tandem sea kayaks to explore the nearby coves. "There were plants and birds and rocks and things," including moon jellies. And there was apparently some available real estate on Fox Island.
Kenai Fjords I