Alaska

Discussion in 'Geographic Location' started by jandc, Jan 25, 2006.

  1. jandc

    jandc Member

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    I'm seriously thinking of taking a month or so in the summer and shooting some of the film we sell for a change.

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Thanks
     
  2. Troy Hamon

    Troy Hamon Member

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    Ah, but advice on what? If you shoot the film other people recommend is it because you want to take photos like the ones they've taken or because the conditions and expressive desires are universal? Or are you referring to location advice or conditions, like planning for bugs (buy a bug jacket...we're not joking here...if you want to be outside in Alaska in the summer it is quite necessary...your only alternative, DEET, will wreak havoc with your equipment and they'll still fly in your nose and eyes...I haven't tried the old smoke a cigar trick that some people swear by, so can't say anything about its effectiveness...this may be a record-setting parenthetical run-on sentence, English majors take note!)?

    As far as photographic advice, I recommend you bring large quantities of your favorite film, add a couple of others that you would like to try (or more if you want), and plan your locations not based on photographs you've seen of Alaska but of the type of photographs you'd like to take...then figure out what locations might suit that goal. An awful lot of people come here and take the same set of photographs that everybody else takes, I'm just recommending you not let the postcard stock override your own artist's eye. Good luck.
     
  3. NikoSperi

    NikoSperi Member

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    One of my 2006 resolutions is to take some specific landscape photo trips... so in the research I've done, and despite it not being out of personal experience:
    Alaska + Summer = bring insect repellent :wink:

    Iceland, southwest Ireland, and the White Desert are on my wishlist...
     
  4. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Personally, I think he should just shoot Velvia 50, but that probably isn't the type of advice John is looking for.
     
  5. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    there used to be a product called "fly dope" it smelled pretty foul, but it kept the bugs at bay.
     
  6. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    Check the time--I think June/July=eaten alive by bugs. August is supposedly better.

    Matt
     
  7. jandc

    jandc Member

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    Is the spring better bug wise or fall?

    Interested in off the normal tourist path places that are interesting.

    I'm not sure exactly what I'm asking for except that its not film or equipment recommendation. More along the line of advise from those who either live there or have been there that might be helpful.
     
  8. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    John,

    I wanted to go to Alaska a few years back. I think I still have the travel books (lonely planet guides) somewhere. PM me if you would like them. I am pretty sure I saw them recently.

    Matt

    P.s. I have a coworker who used to live in Alaska. I'll check with him on the bug situation. I believe that fall is better. He was the one who told me that June/July were the bug months.
     
  9. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    Fall is much better. In the spring the bugs are really hungry! But if you are in an area with a little wind, in open areas or along the coast, the wind tends help keep the bugs away, or at least lessen the problem.
     
  10. Troy Hamon

    Troy Hamon Member

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    Well, I certainly live in Alaska, but Bristol Bay is truly beyond the boonies, as you can't drive here from anywhere. My experience is biased to the southwest corner of the state, but unless you are coming in winter there are really only two things you may seriously need to consider that wouldn't be normal fare elsewhere. First, if you plan on shooting outdoors (and yes, you can shoot a lot of interesting interiors in this state if that is your thing...), you want to invest in some rubber knee boots. Most of the state is easier to enjoy with these items. Depending on how much of a water shooter you are, you might want to trade these for more coverage yet, but at least knee boots. Second, purchase a bug net. People will argue about when is less buggy. Well, I haven't been in a very large proportion of the state, but I can tell you that in June and July we get some ferocious mosquitoes. In July and August and September we get white-socks (black flies). And in August and September we get no-see-ums (black gnats). The white-socks and no-see-ums are not less ferocious than the mosquitoes. They are all pretty serious contenders. There is no predictably better period of time out where we are, it just depends whether the wind is blowing. If it isn't...watch out. All the bug repellents you can buy are highly destructive to camera gear. They also usually don't work overly well, but that is another issue entirely. The great thing about a head net (my minimum equipment requirement) or a full bug jacket (my preference) is that they are small, easily packable, and you always know you could pull them out if needed. Sometimes it's nice just to have the option, often it is an absolute necessity. I hope you have a great trip.
     
  11. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    I live about 50 miles NE of Anchorage, and in the late Summer and Fall, from early morning until mid to late afternoon, I can go outside without any bug dope or net and not be bothered. But bugs go after some people and leave others alone, and if my wife accompanies me during those same “bug free” time, the bugs are all over her (like flies to honey!). But I notice that if the wind is blowing (and it always seems to blow in my area), then the bugs can’t seem to fly, and so can’t land on me to bite. If I go out late in the day or evening, or in the woods, or in remote places in the Interior, then the bugs are much worse and, like Troy said, you really need a net. I also saturate a bandana with deet and wrap around my neck, which helps keep those little bugs from going down my shirt. Some years are worse than others, and a wet spring guarantees a bigger bug population. But overall, the bugs don’t seem to bother me that much.

    Troy also mentions knee boots. I forgot about that, probably because it’s standard equipment when I’m off the trail. The Fall is dryer, but it seems much of the state is a bog. In the late Spring or Summer, I’ve sunk in up to my knees. So bring or buy some boots. And finally, consider some thorn-proof pants.

    I think the nicest time to visit is about September 15. Maybe a week earlier. There should be fresh snow on the mountains, and the leaves should still be on the trees.
     
  12. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    I just checked and I can't find these books. I must have cleared them out in a fit of organization. I probably figured that it will be 10 years at least before I can do that trip...

    Matt
     
  13. Troy Hamon

    Troy Hamon Member

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    Eric, I've always heard that there are areas where the bugs aren't so bad...maybe I'll get out to see some of them sometime. Probably about 20 years from now...

    The other thing I didn't write because I thought it was too obvious was rain gear. I then got to thinking about all the photos you see of Alaska, and realized that it may not be as obvious as I think it should be...so here's the pitch. It may rain for a month straight. If you go to southeast (Juneau/Ketchikan/Sitka) you will be lucky to see the tops of any mountains and it probably WILL rain for a month straight. It rains 120 inches per year there. Most of the rest of Alaska gets more sun than that, but in any one year you may get lots of rain at any time...if you don't have a plan for photographing in the rain you aren't planning to come up here to make photos... But it doesn't need to be goretex, it can be plain old rubber rain gear unless you are planning on backpack/camping/photography in which case you will need to pamper yourself a bit more than that...

    My 2 cents ran out a while ago, I must be up to a nickel by now...
     
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  15. vet173

    vet173 Member

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    Remember an Alaska nickel is worth $$$ down here. Thanks for all the tips from all of you up yonder.
     
  16. jandc

    jandc Member

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    Thank you all. These are the kind of things I was trying to find out about.
     
  17. mark

    mark Member

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    SO why do you folks live in Alaska? SOunds like you have two seasons: Snow, and Bug. Yuk!

    Post cards make it look pretty though.
     
  18. thefizz

    thefizz Subscriber

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    I was there last July for a few weeks and only got attacked by the little B@$T@&)S on one occasion so I lashed on the DEET and they retreated.
    This was on a hike in Denali National Park. No bug problems anywhere else.

    Alaska is just beautiful so don't let a few bugs put you off going.

    Peter
     
  19. Troy Hamon

    Troy Hamon Member

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    Actually, I've heard people who live in Anchorage refer to the two seasons as 1. Winter, and 2. Road construction. Out our way, it is definitely winter and bugs. I live here because I came here to do research as a graduate student, fell in love with the country, bugs and all, and found a job up here after school. I like it, winter and all, but I have had visitors who were much less fond of it...
     
  20. Sanjay Sen

    Sanjay Sen Member

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    Hi John,

    Here's my take on visiting Alaska from personal experience:

    Time: I went to Alaska in Sep-Oct 2002, and I think the timing of my trip was perfect. The crowds were gone, but most of the lodges/B&B, etc. were still open and so accommodation was not a problem (in fact, cheaper than regular season!). The weather was perfect 9 days out of 10 - it rained only one day during my trip. The interior (Glennallen comes to mind) was quite cold but Anchorage/Seward/Valdez was quite moderate. I encountered only one snow storm.

    Travel: If you are adventurous, you should drive the Dalton Highway (also known as the "Haul Road"), at least up to the Arctic Circle. Beware that this road is not paved up to and beyond the Yukon River crossing, and is mostly used by large rigs hauling goods to the Prudhoe Bay station on the Arctic Ocean. Most car rental companies will NOT let you drive on this road. National Car Rental is the only major chain that will rent you a truck with a cracked windshield to drive on the Dalton Highway.
    (Please note that the Dalton Highway may have been completely paved since my trip - paving was already under way in Oct 2002.)

    Besides the above, there are other beautiful roads/highways that are a pleasure to drive and afford a lot of photo opportunities - the Richardson Highway, the Seward Highway, the Glenn Highway, etc.

    National Parks: If you have enough time, you should visit these. You will not regret it. Especially, Denali NP & Kenai Fjords. Not to discount the others though....

    Sights: If you are lucky, you may be blessed with clear skies and those lovely displays of the Aurora Borealis - the famed Northern Lights. I was told that it is quite common to see these in Fairbanks, though I was not so fortunate.

    Recommended Reading: Lonely Planet Alaska, National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways.

    If you want, I can send you my copy of the Lonely Planet book, but the edition I have was current in 2002 - they have a newer edition out there. You can still have it if you want - just let me know. This is a great book.

    Sorry for the long post, but Alaska always excites me! Hope to be back there again someday, hopefully soon! :smile:

    Good luck with your trip!

    Regards,
    Sanjay
     
  21. roteague

    roteague Member

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    John, if you find all this too much .... then come to the "real" 49th state. :tongue:
    I'll show you a lot of spots where you don't need to worry about bugs.
     
  22. jandc

    jandc Member

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    Sanjay,

    A dangerous road to nowhere, sounds great.

    I broke down and bought all sorts of books today. but thanks for the offer.

    John
     
  23. jandc

    jandc Member

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    I spent 2 months in the 49th in the 90's while working for the government. I will come back some day and take you up on that offer.

    Thanks
     
  24. Troy Hamon

    Troy Hamon Member

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    I'd like to make it to the other 49th state as well. Though, technically, I've been there. I spent 3 hours in the Honolulu airport going through customs on the way back to the states from Australia in 1988. So when people ask if I've been to Hawaii, I have to say..."well...not in the way you mean by the question..."
     
  25. roteague

    roteague Member

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    For those who don't know what we are talking about, re "49th" state. President Eisenhower, in his 1954 State of the Union address, asked the senate to pass legislation making Hawaii the newest state - that would have made it the 49th. This became a bit of partisian wrangling, the Republican administration thought Hawaii would come into the Union as a Republican state, while Alaska would come in favoring the Democrats. It was such a foregone conclusion that Hawaii would become the 49th state, that there are many songs written and published celebrating it. However, after a big fight, Alaska was endorsed to become the 49th state, with Hawaii the 50th.
     
  26. Sanjay Sen

    Sanjay Sen Member

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    Thanks for the explanation, Robert. I was not aware of this and was wondering why you referred to Hawaii as the 49th state.