Yesterday we took a Kenai Fjords tour to see the wildlife and Glaciers characteristic of the Alaskan Wilderness. I was a little disappointed in the pictures that we took as the conditions were very challenging. In photography, light exposure comes from balancing three things: f/stop, shutter speed, and ISO. If you have low light conditions, you can open the aperture by choosing a lower numbered f stop, you can choose a slower shutter speed, or you can increase your ISO making the sensor more sensitive to light. There are tradeoffs however to doing any of these. If you choose a larger aperture, you sacrifice depth of field so that not all of your subject will be in focus. If you shoot at a lower shutter speed, you will have motion blur, and if you increase ISO you introduce grain, or noise into your image which can be removed post processing, but you end up with a softer focus.
Add in the fact that the longer the lens, the less light you have to begin with, and the slower your lens or f/stop. Yesterday on the tour, we had dark skies, a lot of rain, and the motion of the boat, which created really challenging conditions. It was hard to be on the boat and look around thinking that if the sun had been shining it would have been without a doubt the most spectacular scenery on this planet. As it was, peaks and mountains were shrouded in mist, fog and clouds which have their own intrigue, but make photography nearly impossible.
So, it was an exercise in mastering bad conditions to the best of my ability, which is probably not a bad thing, except that I felt like this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and not one that I wanted to be tested on. Still, I did the best I could, the results of which I will include in this post. We saw whales, puffins, a variety of other birds including an eagle, otters, sea lions, dolphins and seals.