The Gear Corner

What to bring on your Photo Tour

Alaska is a photographer’s dream, but preparing and packing for your adventure can be daunting. We are here to help you decide what gear to bring. If you don’t find what you are looking for here, contact us, we would love to hear from you and help answer any questions you might have. 

Remember, the best camera is the one you have. You can bring any type of camera for your tour with us. Whether you have a smart-phone, point-and-shoot, bridge camera, DSLR or mirrorless, there is always something for us to focus on so you can improve your images while enjoying taking in the beautiful and serene views at each of our locations.

If you do have a camera with programmable and/or manual settings and interchangeable lenses, here is what we recommend:

  • Lens(es) ranging in focal length from at least 24 mm to 200mm , if you want really good wildlife shots, you will typically need a 300 mm or longer lens unless we get lucky!*
  • Circular Polarizing filter(s) **
  • Fully charged battery (preferably at least 2)
  • At least 16 GB memory card (We have 8GB cards available for purchase)
  • Remote shutter release or cable shutter release (optional)

*There are a lot of lenses on the market, if you are looking to save space/weight you may want to consider an all-purpose zoom lens that will give you a range of focal length between 18-300.

If you aren’t as concerned with the amount of gear you travel with, bringing “faster glass” (lenses that have f-stops that range closer to f/2.8) will give you better images in situations where you need faster shutter speeds (photographing wildlife).

**It is not as necessary to have a Circular Polarizer for your telephoto lens, it is more important to have one for the lens you will use for wider landscape shots at those compositions have more dynamic range.

Camera showing a photo

Here’s what we provide:

  • Sturdy tripod (We have tripods available to loan if you prefer not to travel with one)
  • ND filters in varying grades

Don’t have a DSLR but want to try one? We currently have a limited number of Nikon camera bodies and lenses to rent. Just let us know when you book your tour.

We have filters for you to use and try during your excursion with Denali Photo Guides.

What filters do we use and why?

In landscape photography, just as in portraits, fashion, products, or any other subject matter, accurate color capture is crucial. What makes it so much more difficult with landscapes, however, is the wider disparity in dynamic range, not only between foreground and background elements, but primarily between the upper and lower halves of the frame– between the earth and the sky. If you are into shooting landscapes, overcoming this hurdle will require you to have one of two filters (if not both) in your arsenal, even if you don’t use filters in any of your other photography.

If you have never used filters before, this is a perfect opportunity to experiment in beautiful locations. We will teach you how to use these tools in a friendly, easy-to-remember way. 

Circular Polarizers help to capture contrast and vividness in a photo, enhancing colors in your sky and elements in your frame. The Circular Polarizer (CPL) filter, when rotated at a particular angle minimizes the haze in the sky and enhances the color by reducing the polarization effect caused by sunlight.

Sometimes called the secret weapon of professional landscape photographers, polarizing filters create richer, more vivid colors. The filter pulls double duty by (1) cutting down on reflections from bright surfaces like water and rocks, and (2) adding rich blues to skies by darkening them and increasing the color and tonal saturation throughout the frame.

Neutral density gradient filters help balance the exposure between the ground and sky to capture a range of exposure that the camera cannot possibly handle on its own. If you expose for the ground, you’ll get a gray or white washed-out sky. Exposing for those awesome blues and soft, billowy clouds, on the other hand, will make the ground so dark you’ll lose much of the detail you set out to capture in the first place.

The filter itself is dark at the top, completely clear at the bottom, and essentially shades of gray in between. There are two varieties, the circular version attaches to the front of the lens like any other traditional filter. The other type is a square or rectangular filter that you hand-hold in front of your lens or attach a square filter holder. Both work the same way, darkening the sky to avoid blowouts, while leaving the ground untouched and unfiltered. It’s a seamless transition that ensures proper exposure throughout the frame – making sure you get vibrant, saturated, and (most importantly) accurate colors in all of your landscape shots.

In case you forget!

Denali is quite remote, there is a very small camera shop with limited inventory. If you forget important equipment or if your gear breaks during your trip, try to get what you need in Fairbanks or Anchorage before you come to Denali. We do not have spare batteries but we do carry power inverters in the vehicles in case you need to charge a battery; however it’s always best to come prepared with fully charged batteries.