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BY CHRISTOPHER BATIN
Photographers as well as feature story writers will delight in the pre- and post-conference photography opportunities available throughout Alaska in late August and early September.
Here are my recommendations:
While there are ample autumn colors in mid-to late August, how long the leaves remain on the trees depends on autumn storms. In my opinion, the best time for photos, in all areas except the Far North, is immediately after the conference until mid-September, when autumn windstorms strip the trees of their leaves.
After conference, I strongly recommend a drive south along the Alaska road system. One route I recommend is to drive the Richardson Highway from Fairbanks down to Valdez. My favorite fall scenery is along the Glenn Highway, from Glennallen to Palmer. And of course, there is the magnificent stretch along the Parks Highway, between Wasilla and Fairbanks, with occasional views of Denali in all its splendor. My favorite autumn photography with Denali in all its glory is on the Parks Highway from Talkeetna north, unless, of course, you are able to travel to Wonder Lake within Denali National Park.
For wildlife photography, there will be a Denali National Park wildlife photography trip and details are now available at www.owaa.org/2012conference/pre-and-post-conference-trips. Brooks Camp is on the fringe of 5 million acres of what is known as Katmai Country. This area is home to some of the best brown bear viewing and photography in the world.
At mid-day, head out to one of three bear-viewing platforms and photograph brown bears. The best time to photograph numbers of bears at Brooks Falls is July and September, where one can see as many as 50 bears at a time. Fewer bears are present in June and August. Other superb bear photography locations exist, especially on salmon streams statewide.
Chena Hot Springs is a great place for northern lights photography, but some members might want to consider a trip farther north, to position themselves under the aurora band.
“We have been told by photographers that Bettles is the best place worldwide they have found for aurora photography,” says Jamie Klaes with Bettles Lodge. “The intensity of the lights here needs to be seen to be believed.”
Bettles is located about an hour’s flight via bush plane north of Fairbanks and is centered directly under the aurora band, which is an oval area of high aurora activity that spans the top of the world. Because of the near equal amount of day and night hours in September, photographers should plan an aurora photo shoot in addition to other activities to maximize the time afield.
For those who want an expedition-type of photo safari, Artic Treks is offering two spots on their 2012 trips. One is a caribou migration camp, which is a spectacle unlike anything on earth. The polar bear photo safari to the Kaktovik-Barter Island area includes some unique photo backdrops. Spend up to two hours with a licensed boat captain to photograph bears relaxing on the Barrier Islands and swimming in the intertidal lagoons. One person per trip. A substantial OWAA discount applies.
Whether you drive the road system, or partake in a photo safari, bring plenty of memory cards and be prepared for inclement weather.
For information about booking pre- and post-conference trips, visit www.owaa.org/2012conference/pre-and-post-conference-trips. ♦
—Chris Batin has been a member since 1979. He is the 2012 conference local chair. He is also editor and publisher of Alaska Angler, and Alaska Hunter Productions and Video Productions. Contact him at ChrisBatin@AlaskaAngler.com.