After an amazing time in Katmai National Park where we saw more bears and had more opportunities to photograph bears than ever before [combined] we were back in Anchorage – but we only stayed one night before driving to Girdwood in our newly acquired rental car.
Girdwood is best known for its winter skiing on Mount Alyeska, but during the summer you can visit for hiking, mountain biking on Mount Alyeska or just to enjoy the quaint little town of Girdwood which boasts America’s best rated laundromat, a nice cafe and the usual scattering of bars and restaurants.
We visited the laundromat, the cafe and a pub, and we also took the gondola up the mountain. It was kind of expensive so in hindsight I’d recommend you walk up (don’t be lazy like us), and here’s a good tip – take the gondola down, they don’t check tickets going the other way! Our laziness was pointed out to us in epic proportion when at the top we learnt that there was an endurance team running race going on; the competitors were running up the mountain and taking the gondola back down for each additional lap. Some competitors had ran up as many as ten times that day before we’d finished fluffing around in town and saw them at the top.
At the top the views are quite spectacular on a clear day. If only I had my mountain bike with me I would have loved to ride down.
Without a bike, my running shoes or a paraglider (for the adventurous) I busied myself taking photographs of the views. When I saw some mountain bikers getting off the chair lifts I decided I’d try catch them in action too.
With my tripod and wide-angle lens I setup on a corner with a small jump and waited for the bikers to come by. Since I was using such a wide-angle lens I needed to be pretty close to the track, there was nothing subtle about my photography attempt but I had a pocket full of awesome business cards from UPrinting which they were kind enough to give me, so I knew if any rider asked me I’d be able to hand them my card. Essentially the cards make me a little more confident in my professionalism and make me more comfortable taking shots of strangers – I’m always happy to share my photos with anyone who might be in them and by handing out a card they can easily get in touch so I can send them a photo later.
Heading down the gondola we’re in a carriage with a group of the runners, most were about to do one final lap up to finish the day. It was exhausting just thinking about it.
That evening we camped beside a creek along a forest walk just outside of the town of Girdwood; it was a spot recommended to us by the cafe barista and our first experience of free camping in Alaska. Something I’ll no doubt touch on again because Alaska has such awesome camping opportunities.
Are you comfortable taking photographs of strangers? Any tips or strategies which make it a more comfortable experience for you?