Our cruise North meant that we spent a night and a day “at sea” before making landfall in Alaska. Our first port of call destination was Ketchikan. During our day at sea, we had a chance to explore the ship, get familiar with the various amenities (not much time spent in the pool in AK); especially the buffet and other food and drink options, and generally get our “sea legs” under us. Frankly, I don’t remember much about that first day at sea.
Our cabin (“stateroom”) had a starboard side balcony, which put us nearest the landward side. What impressed me most (though my research told me this was true) was the vast amount of mountainous wilderness the confronted us.
Photographically, this was a vacation which carried low expectations. Of course, I had the gear, but the challenges with a constantly moving ship meant all the issues of stabilizing the camera and the subject matter constantly moving and changing. In low light conditions, this was bound to create additional challenges. The cruise ship also seemed to consistently produce some marked “screw” vibrations.
I was fortunate to have the D700 and its ability to bump up the ISO. It appears that the higher ISO (800-1250) yielded some relatively low noise images, especially given low light conditions, lots of high key white snow cap and hazy skies.
I also was pleasantly surprised to find the new 70-300VR seemed to work well even mounted on the tripod. Trying to handhold, even with VR, in all but cases of bright sunlight, was just not as reliable as the tripod-mounted shooting. I carried the 70-300 and a Sigma 24-135 without VR, as well as a cheap 19-35mm lens. The jury is still out on the Sigma, but I am not overly impressed so far. I can see the (very expensive) Nikon 24-70 f2.8 in the future. I was favorably impressed with the (relatively slow) 70-300, however. It ended up being the “workhorse” lens for the trip, performing pretty well both handheld and on the tripod.
As we moved further and further North, the daylight hours got longer and longer. I took a number of shots as we moved toward Ketchikan, but the photography got better from Ketchikan on. For those who want to see more images, I have a New Additions Gallery on my website which has my initial selections of most of the trip. More to follow next week.