Private Alaska Photo Tour

Ron Niebrugge Alaska, Kenai Fjords, Photos, Travel 17 Comments

A portion of a pod of ten orcas, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.

A portion of a pod of ten orcas spotted during our tour last week in Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.

Nice timing – after going three years with regular updates to this blog, I missed this entire past week!  Now I can explain.

I just finished a very interesting week accompanying one of the wealthiest Americans (according to Forbes) around Alaska on a private photo tour.  Well I say private, but he did have two non photographer friends with him, along with a highly capable staff member who took care of any logistical issues that arose during the trip, and 3 full time body guards!  Needless to say I received a lot of funny looks and comments.  Try walking around a town of 350 like Hope, Alaska – while surrounded by 3 very fit looking young men each sporting one of those curly corded  ear pieces – you know, the ones you see the Secret Service wearing in movies.

I gotta say I was a bit spoiled.  It was nice being able to  pull up to the nights hotel and have someone hand you a key to your room as you step from the car, while explaining you were checked in and your bags were already in the room!  And the meals – wow!

So now I’m back to my tent and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but that is ok – those trips are really fun too!

I should add, I signed a confidentiality agreement, so don’t look for me to be naming names – and sorry, I can’t even give hints.

This was the first time I have ever participated in a photo tour, and I gotta say I had a lot of fun.  I have received many requests for tours in the past years but have always explained I didn’t offer tours.  Well this one came together at the very last minute while I had a gap in my schedule, so I decided it might give me a good preview and gave it a try.  Since I did have such a good time, I’m thinking I might offer an occassional tour next year so stay tuned if interested.

P.S. We have now begun offering photo tours, go here to read more about our Alaska Photo Tours.

Comments 17

  1. Hey Ron,

    Well, I wouldn’t say I’m one of the wealthiest Americans, but I appreciate you not dropping my name. 🙂

    Sounds like quite the experience – glad you had a good time.

    On the picture: ya know, I’ve never seen an orca .. maybe someday a friend of mine will give me a call and say ‘Hey Carl, come shoot some orcas this weekend’. Maybe. 🙂



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    Thanks Ryan! You picked a great summer for your trip. I’ll have to swing by your website to see what you came away with, I imagine it was productive. The Sound can be a tough place to find orcas.

    Carl – I know, I hate to keep dropping your name, but what else can I do. 🙂 Hey, I’m almost always up for photographing orcas (well except this weekend lol) – now if you weren’t always running around in the Wrangells we would have a chance. 🙂 Have you really never seen an orca? You find me a (live) wolverine, and I will get you orcas! Heck, I will find you 10!

    Thanks mom!

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    Thanks Dennis,

    I think by far and away the best time of year in the interior locations like Denali is very late August and early September. The animals look great, and you can’t beat the colors. In addition, few bugs and no mosquitoes!

    But, September isn’t the ideal time here on the coast and Kenai Fjords. That is one of our wettest times of year, and much of the wildlife will be gone or departing, specifically birds like puffin and humpback whales. September can be great for orcas, but I prefer June for Kenai Fjords.

    So I would pick either June or early September depending which location is more important to you. That sounds like a good subject for a blog.

  4. That must have been an amazing experience, Ron. I saw a large pod of orca from the BC Ferry last week but had to go back to the car at that point unfortunately.

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  6. Hi Ron,

    My first trip to Alaska is coming up this Friday, 28th Aug. I will be spending 4 days at Denali NP and 4 days at Kenai Fjords NP. It is supposed to be a dream come true for my wife & I (since we planned this trip in Jan). However, I was extremely disappointed to read the weather forecast for the next 10 days as extremely wet & rainy (both at Denali & Kenai).

    After months of preparation (going thru all the websites including yours, pouring thru books & making tons of notes on the photogenic spots, getting the right gear including telephoto lenses, extender etc), it looks like the weather is going to play spoil sport. We both love to take landscape as well as wildlife images.

    Can you recommend / give some suggestions as to how we can still salvage this trip (inspite of the forecast for inclement weather) and return home with atleast a few good images of both Denali & Kenai Fjords NP’s ? We really appreciate your advise and help in our upcoming trip.


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    Hi Swap,

    I feel your frustration, rain can be challenging.

    They have a difficult time predicting the next days weather in Alaska, so I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in a forecast for a week out. Even if the weather is bad, it isn’t uncommon to have some breaks with unique conditions. It rained a bit in Seward today, but broke up a bit this afternoon enough for some amazing rainbows.

    If it is stormy, you can still photograph wildlife. In fact, bright sunny weather can be a bit tough given the contrast and the lack of activity – Denali mammals don’t move around much during warm weather. In Denali, you might even get a bit of snow which can be a real treat photographically. Cloudy weather is also ideal for fall color tundra closeups, so make sure you have a macro lens.

    Here on the coast, as long as the seas aren’t too rough you can work with stormy weather. The photo in today’s post was taken during a very wet, rainy day last week. The blues in the glaciers are extra rich on cloudy days – so there are plenty of nice things about bad weather.

    I hope you have a great trip!


  8. Ron,
    Was the sidetrip to the town of Hope photographically worthwhile? Or is the rest of the Kenai enough that the trip to Hope wasn’t as of much value, photographically?


  9. Ron,

    Many thanks for your tips and insight into the weather conditions. Feel motivated again to go out and do the best that I can. When in Seward, the hike to Harding Icefield is certainly in our plan (have taken notes based on your previous blogs)…Lets see how far we can push ourselves.

    Thanks for the good wishes.


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    Hi Swap,

    Great. The Harding Icefield trail is my favorite. I’m not going to have a chance to do it again this summer, but I would think you will find fall colors in the higher country.

    Hi Julie,

    It was worth it since this gentlemen enjoyed photographing old buildings as much as landscapes and wildlife. It is a neat little town, and only 10 miles out of the way – I really like it in September.


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