Adventures NW Alaska Fjords Photography Workshop with Bear Viewing

Trip Highlights:

  • Tracy Arm / Fords Terror Wilderness Area
  • Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area
  • Baird Glacier Nature Site

Our 8-Day Adventures NW Inside Passage Photography Workshop aboard the David B offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take your photography to the next level while exploring the awe-inspiring waters of southeast Alaska as well as a Bear Viewing opportunity at Pack Creek.

In this hands-on workshop we’ll have an opportunity to make photographs aboard the M/V David B as we explore and photograph from the boat, skiff and land. We’ll visit majestic Tracy Arm, the stupendous Dawes Glacier, Endicott Arm, Admiralty Island (Kootznoowoo) and more.

Opportunities to capture memorable images of the stunning scenery and epic wildlife (think: whales, brown and black bears, porpoises, moose, sea lions, otters, mountain goats, eagles, wolves, etc.) will be plentiful as we trace the complicated waterways of the northern Inside Passage. Unlike the cruise ships and other big boats, we’ll enjoy intimate exploration of this world-famous passage, with opportunities to discover not only the epic grandeur but the intricate details as well.

The vast fjord of Tracy Arm is world-famous for its glaciers, icebergs, waterfalls and wildlife. The massive Twin Sawyer Glaciers at its head calve icebergs that are among the biggest in Alaska – and photographically brilliant!

Fords Terror (named for a reversing tidal rapid that we’ll navigate at slack tide in the skiff) is a breathtaking steep-walled canyon-like fjord. Our anchorage is surrounded by sheer cliffs, laced with waterfalls, rising thousands of feet into the sky.

100-mile long Admiralty Island is called Kootznoowoo by the Tlingit people who live here. Translation: Fortress of the Bears. This name is apt. The island boasts the highest concentration of brown bears in North America (one per square mile!). We’ll have an opportunity to photograph the bears at the Pack Creek Viewing Area, one of the prime bear-watching sites in the world, where we’ll be accompanied by a naturalist. The island’s cathedral-like forests of massive ancient Sitka Spruce offer an extreme—and photographically diverse—contrast to the scoured glacial terrain nearby.

We’ll cruise the length of Endicott Arm to its end at the Dawes Glacier with its wall of ice towering hundreds of feet above the surface of the water. We’ll have a chance to explore on foot after landing the dinghy on a glacial moraine, visiting glittering tide pools and mossy forests. Endicott Arm is a lonely place—cruise ships are generally absent and a deep, abiding silence prevails, broken only by the exhalations of whales and perhaps the music of wolves.

We’ll enjoy the creature comforts of the David B, a beautifully-appointed 65-foot wooden boat built in 1929 and lovingly restored – private staterooms with heads, a shower, fireplace, wood-fired cook stove and gourmet meals that have become legendary on the Alaska coast. Microbrews and fine wines. This is not industrial tourism.

The boat’s “saloon” is equipped with a ceiling-mounted LCD projector and pull-down screen for evening instruction in utilizing Adobe Lightroom to bring out the best in your pictures. Once the images are optimized, we’ll share and discuss the work in group critiques. Finally, we’ll spend time learning to fine-tune for printing. Everyone will go home with a gallery-quality print – ready for framing – from the workshop.

During the workshop, we’ll have extensive shooting opportunities every day (weather permitting)—from the boat, the skiff and on land, instruction time aboard the David B, and generous amounts of ‘down time’ to savor this special place. The trip is limited to eight passengers so individualized instruction is assured.

The David B’s skiff is a marvel of engineering and ideal for photography: roomy, super-stable and dry. Skiffyasaurus, as it’s known, affords us amazing close-up photo opportunities of the glaciers, waterfalls and wildlife.

The small size of the group (and the unique amenities of the beautiful boat) combine to deliver a week of awe, wonder and artistry that you will remember for the rest of your life.If you are passionate about outdoor photography, we hope you’ll join us for this special 8-day photography workshop aboard the David B.  Our professional instructors John D’Onofrio and Alan Sanders will guide you through the techniques they use, as well as, give you useful tips to help you make your best photos. You’ll spend time photographing dramatic landscapes and iconic wildlife in the Tracy Arm/Fords Terror Wilderness Area, Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area, and the Baird Glacier Nature Site. This workshop also includes discussions on how to use Adobe Lightroom effectively and insightful critiques of your photographs.

Sample Itinerary:

Trip Number: 316
Dates: May 30 – June 6, 2018
Boards: Juneau
Disembarks: Petersburg
Rates Per Person: $7,000

Day 1 – Auke Bay to Taku Harbor

You’ll board the David B at 12 pm at Auke Bay in Juneau. After an orientation we’ll be underway around 1 pm with lunch served shortly after. Once lunch is finsihed, your instructors will have a lecture and discussion session while the crew searches for humpback or killer whales. As soon as wildlife is spotted, you’ll take a break from the lecture/discussion session and start taking photos.  In the late afternoon, the David B will anchor in Taku Harbor and there will be a pre-dinner shore excursion to take pictures at an old abandoned cannery.

Day 2 – Taku Harbor to Wood Spit and Fords Terror

The boat will be underway before breakfast. On the way to Endicott Arm, you’ll discuss the previous day’s photos with John and Alan. There will be a mid-day stop at Wood Spit for wildflower and old-growth forest photography. In the afternoon, we’ll be underway again and cruise deeper into Endicott Arm for our destination of Fords Terror — described by John Muir, as “more Yosemite, than Yosemite.” At Fords Terror you’ll have the opportunity to photograph one of Southeast Alaska’s most breathtaking landscapes.

Day 3 – Fords Terror to Dawes Glacier and North Dawes Anchorage

After a hike at Fords Terror, the David B will get underway and you’ll spend the day focused on icebergs and glaciers. There’s always a possibility to spot a black bear foraging on barnacles at low-tide. When the boat arrives at Dawes Glacier we will maneuver the David B just right so you can capture the glacier calving icebergs into Endicott Arm. Later in the day, we’ll anchor at North Dawes, just off the main channel in Endicott Arm. At North Dawes you’ll be able to go ashore and explore the flora of a saltwater meadow and to look for black bears and mountain goats.

Day 4 – North Dawes Anchorage to Tracy Arm and No Name Cove

It will be an early start and after breakfast, you’ll gather in the saloon for a critique session as we work our way out of Endicott Arm and into Tracy Arm. The fjord that makes up Tracy Arm is spectacular and depending on the conditions of the ice in the fjord, we may have a chance to visit Sawyer or South Sawyer glaciers.

Day 5 – No Name Cove to Windfall Harbor

On our way to Windfall Harbor, there will be more opportunities for photographing humpback whales, as well as discussion about your photographs as we cross Stephens Passage. When we arrive at Windfall Harbor, a guide from Pack Creek Bear Tours will meet the David B and accompany us ashore to photograph brown (grizzly) bears that forage on spring sedges at the water’s edge. The bear guide will remain on the David B overnight to answer questions about the brown bears of Admiralty Island and Alaska.

Day 6 – Pack Creek to Cleavland Passage

Early in the morning, you’ll be underway for the Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area. This special place is where brown bears that are accustom to people commonly forage. You’ll be there to get some amazing photographs.  In the afternoon we’ll say goodbye to the bears and the bear guide and cross Frederick Sound, a known feeding area for humpback whales.  We’ll also stop at a haul-out site for impressively large Steller’s sea lions.

Day 7 – Cleveland Passage to Baird Glacier Nature Site (Scenery Cove)

Baird Glacier Nature Site is the outwash plain from Baird Glacier. To get to the site, we’ll skiff to a gravel bar that was recently the glacier’s ending point. In 2015, the glacier broke away from that bar, known as the end moraine, and there’s now a shallow, iceberg-filled lake between the glacier and the bar. Here we’ll photograph emerging landscapes and birds such as semi-palmated plovers, and Arctic Terns.

Day 8 – Scenery Cove to Petersburg

The David B will arrive in Petersburg between 12-1 pm but don’t pack your bags until we get to the dock. There’s still plenty of time to take pictures of landscapes and wildlife, as well as time for you to get in you final questions to John and Alan.

Click here to see our current schedule and rates.

Comments from Previous Workshop Attendees:

” Honestly, it was the best trip of my life..I learned a lot and gained a level of confidence that translated to better pictures. You are very good teachers. I am grateful to you both, for your professionalism, patience, kindness, and your humor!”

–              L. Clarke, Sandy, OR.

“The best outcome has been a change in the way I’m seeing. I can’t quantify what I mean but it is very exciting!”

–              D. K. Fowler, Australia

” The whole experience was unbelievable…my perspective about photography was blown out of the water!”

–              S. Finch, Stanwood, WA.

“An awesome experience…with excellent instructors.”

–              M. Rough, Spokane, WA.

Class Details from John & Alan:

In this hands-on workshop, we’ll have an opportunity to make photographs in a remote wilderness landscape. Then we’ll use Adobe Lightroom to bring out the best in your images. We’ll also discuss the use of Photoshop as well as other plug-ins that can be used in conjunction with Lightroom. Once the images are optimized, we will share and discuss the work as a group. Finally, we’ll spend time learning to print our work. Everyone will go home with at least one print – ready for framing – from the workshop.

What to Bring:

  • Camera and lenses (lenses with built-in stabilization will be welcome for shooting from the boat)
  •  Laptop with Adobe Lightroom installed. Adobe’s Photography Plan, which includes both Lightroom and Photoshop can be purchased at here: (www.adobe.com/creativecloud/plans.html.) Familiarizing yourself with Lightroom prior to the workshop will be advantageous.
  • Extra
  • Memory Cards and Batteries
  • TripodBattery Charger
  • Cable Release
  • Computer Mouse for processing images (laptop touch pads are not sufficiently facile)

Meet Your Instructors:

Alan Sanders

Instructor for photography cruise in Glacier Bay

Alan Sanders has been making photographs since the 70’s and teaching photography since the 80’s. He has taught at the University of Alaska, Anchorage and Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.

As a recovering commercial photographer specializing in advertising and public relations, he now concentrates on fine art photography. His photographs have been in many group- and one-person shows. Alan also has work in the permanent collections of several museums as well as many private collections.

Currently he teaches photography at Whatcom Community College and is a digital imaging specialist at Quicksilver Photo Lab in Bellingham.

John D’Onofrio

Photography Cruise in Glacier Bay Instructor

John D’Onofrio’s photography has been exhibited widely in museums and galleries around the United States and utilized by the National Park Service, the National Forest Service,  the National Parks Foundation, and Defenders of Wildlife.

His work has been published in numerous calendars, books and publications including National Geographic Adventure, Trail Runner, Tracks and Trails,  and Washington Trails, and featured on the NBC and ABC television networks.

He is co-author of Images of America: Mount Baker (Arcadia Publishing) and loves nothing more than a good adventure.

He lives in Bellingham, WA. where he serves as editor/publisher of Adventures NW magazine.