Photography Tour:  Haines, Alaska

Jeff and I are all excited for this Haines excursion, a photography tour to capture the local scenery and wildlife. We’ll be with a small group of twelve other photographers building comradery as we capture the beauty of Alaska. It is led by two local photographers, Tom and Dena of Rainbow Glacier Adventures. Luck was with us. The sun broke free of the clouds, and we could actually see the mountains and waterways. A beautiful day awaited.

Wildflowers in Haines stole the show

Wildflowers in Haines stole the show. If you look closely, you can see our cruise ship.

Our first stop offers a picturesque scene with grass in the foreground, a large bay in the middle and mountains with patches of snow in the background. At 10am we didn’t have the sweet light, but it was a gorgeous scene none-the-less.

Photo: Alaska does have mountains

For the first time, I can see that Alaska does have mountains

Jeff and I jump out of the van, whip out our hefty tripods, long lenses and set up to work the scene.  Everyone scatters looking for the best shot or so I thought.

The wildflowers are blooming!

The wildflowers are blooming!

Engrossed in shooting the scene, I look up to locate Jeff. He’s a couple hundred yards down the shoreline photographing a different angle of the bay and discussing the shot with Tom.  My competitive nature takes hold. I want to know what the other photographers are shooting, and if their position offers a better scene than mine. I scan the area. No-one else is around.  Where is everyone? I look behind me to see them boarding the van. Huh? How can they leave this scene early?

It must be that they are like Jeff, they got the perfect shot the first time. Now, my inferiority complex sets in. I hurry up with my last shot and head to the van.

Our next stop is a view across the bay to the only salmon cannery still in operation in Haines.

Last operating fish cannery in Haines set on the bay

This time, before quickly re-boarding the van, a couple of my fellow photographers stopped to shoot a few wild flowers. Why aren’t thy all shooting this beautiful scene? Maybe they just prefer shooting during the golden hour.

Our next stop is by the side of the road and Jeff and I are the only ones shooting this old float house. Most of the group takes a quick look, but none of them stop to photograph it. This is one strange photography workshop. We have people, scenery, but no photographers.

Old float house left at the side of the river.

Old float house left at the side of the river.

We have one more stop before lunch. Everyone else stands around at the parking lot as I scramble down the hillside to put the grass in the foreground. I have been so focused on getting the shot, that it only now that I realize that most of the participants don’t even have a camera.  Whaaat? 

Our boat offers a good focal point and a puts the town in perspective

Our cruise ship offers a good focal point and puts the town in perspective (small!)

Who goes on a photo safari without a camera? Feeling that I must be missing something, I timidly ask one individual, “you don’t have a camera?” “I just came along to enjoy the scenery“, she responded.

Stop after stop, the pattern emerged. Everyone else enjoyed the scene for a few minutes, taking a token shot with their phone (if they brought one), and then headed back to the vehicle. Meanwhile, Jeff and I are first off the van and the last back on the vehicle. The pressure was on to keep moving. 

Lunch time

A picnic lunch is provided, and the group heads to a picnic table on the shore of a beautiful lake. Jeff and I and one other are the only ones shooting. Finally, I have time to shoot. Food is for the weak minded.

Capturing the light while the others ate lunch

Who takes time for food when there is light to capture?

Back to the city of Haines, and a quick side trip to an old tribal home.

Artist work of an original tribal home

Artist work of an original tribal home

The moral of this story is: just because it says photograph tour doesn’t mean people will actually shoot! Tom and Dena were great, and I highly recommend them the next time you are in Haines. But, they had no choice with our group. All our group wanted to do was look at some pretty scenery and move on.

Remember, it’s all about the light and having a camera to capture it!