Travel Photography: Ketchikan, Alaska
In the last article I wrote about downtown Seattle and some of its attractions. From there we boarded the cruise to our first stop, Ketchikan.
Ketchikan is a small city named after the Ketchikan Creek, which flows through the town, emptying into the Tongass Narrows a short distance southeast of its downtown. Walking the streets of Ketchikan, there’s a small town vibe all around; small stores sell their goods to the visiting tourists bustling about.
A small walk away from the docks is Creek Street, a boardwalk mounted in stilts on a high slope on the east side of Ketchikan Creek, east of the city's downtown. It is infamous as being Ketchikan's red light district, roughly between 1903 and 1954, and some of its attractions are commemorations of this past.
From the boardwalk it’s possible to spot seals, fish and birds swimming in the creek bellow and through a path that passes through trees and back up in to the city again.
While we wanted to see salmons and bears, sadly, it wasn’t meant to be. Our cruise was during the last week of august, up to the first week of September; by this time, the salmon had already swam upstream and died off, and the bears had already had their fill and were starting their hibernation. As it was – when I was there – all there was to see of the local fauna was scavenger birds feeding on salmon carrion.
So if I ever return, I’ll make sure to come during the seasons that showcase the area’s wildlife – around June to August.
The weather and how it affects photography
Though it wasn’t very cold at the time I was there, it rained a lot. That is the one prominent feature of the area’s climate, the high amount of rainfall with an equivalent average of 153 inches per year. This particular issue is important when trying – like I was – to take photos; there’s an almost constant over-casted sky that makes for difficult lighting. While this kind of light is good for portraits – because it gives an even light and a natural soft box effect (as in the photo below) – it doesn’t allow for much contrast and is not that great for landscapes.
For this reason, many photos that seemed good in my camera’s screen did not make the cut for posting here. Because of this, one of the best advice I can share with any photographer – especially when traveling – is to keep shooting. When you think you have your winner photo, keep shooting; when you think you’re done taking photos, keep shooting; if there’s still space in your memory card, keep shooting; and if you run out of space in the memory card – put a new empty memory card – and keep shooting. There’s nothing like knowing you could have taken that winning shot you wanted – on that trip you may not take again or may not return to in a long time – and didn’t.
In the end I did find some good photos and I did have a lot of fun. I wish I’d taken more quality pictures, but I learned and did better on our next port.
In the next article I will write about the glaciers of Juneau. There, we had the amazing experience of going on a helicopter and dogsled ride on top of the glaciers, it was an incredible experience. So thanks for reading and don't miss the next article.
Photo credits: Jose Ramos.
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