Photography Tips for Your Next Adventure Canada Experience (Part 1)

Guest post by Kristian Bogner — Nikon Ambassador


Choose the Right Gear

Adventure Canada rips provide spectacular photographic opportunities and its important to bring the right balance of gear to capture it all while only carrying the amount of weight and equipment you are comfortable with. As a pro photographer I would bring at least three camera bodies, and an assortment of lenses ranging from fisheye and 14mm wide-angle to at least 600mm. I would also bring some adventure cameras like Nikon’s new Keymission 360 waterproof camera to capture video. For many people this would be way too much weight to bring. For those people I would recommend a camera like the new Nikon D7500, which has great high ISO capability, fast focusing, DX crop factor to extend the zoom of lens choices, great video and a lot more. Another more compact camera I would recommend is the COOLPIX P900 with a huge zoom range from 24-2000mm equivalent. Last year people with this camera got some wonderful up-close polar bear, whale, and bird shots.

Whatever you choose for a main camera, make sure you are familiar with it and it feels good to you. I would recommend taking a wider lens for shooting icebergs, villages and interesting trips to shore and a long telephoto lens for capturing wildlife, birds, and icebergs up close.

I also recommend bringing a backup camera just in case. It can be a smaller, less expensive camera or even a good cell phone, but make sure you have a backup option just in case something happens to your main.

You may also consider bringing an adventure camera like Nikon’s new Keymission 360 or Keymission 170. They are waterproof and shockproof and are great for capturing immersive videos and stills on hikes, in the zodiac and more. You can check out a 360 video I just did with some recent adventures here.

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Bring Extras

Some days on can be filled with non-stop visual surprises from polar bear to whale sitings, incredible icebergs, to unique birds and more. One of the most common issues that I see photographers run into is running out of battery power or memory card space before their day is done, causing them to miss capturing some of the magic.

I highly recommend bringing and extra one or two batteries for your camera and remembering to bring your charger.  I also advise on bringing several memory cards and buying cards of large capacity and good write speed. For capacity I recommend 64GB or 128GB cards, they have come down in price a lot in the past few years. I also recommend a fast write speed which will ensure that it is less likely to have a write error and that you can shoot video on your camera without dropping frames.


Get Steady Images from a Moving Vessel

Getting steady imagery can be challenging all by itself but while on a moving ship even more so. Here are some pro tips for getting images without camera shake:

First of all, and it may seem obvious, adjust your camera grip, use dynamic pressure and push with the butt of your trigger hand and hold the tip of the lens with your other hand and pull to create a locked grip. Next, shoot with a fast shutter speed like 1/2000sec where possible, especially outdoors on a nice day where there is lots of light and where you are using a longer lens. Even with a wider lens I would advise shooting at at least 1/500sec.  In order to make this easy, you can set your camera to Auto-ISO and dial in the Aperature and Shutter speed you want. The ISO will compensate to give the correct exposure. If your camera doesn’t have that feature try Shutter Speed Priority. With either of these options you can use Exposure Compensation on your camera to adjust if the meter is giving you a subject that is over or under exposed.

  • Vibration Reduction (Lens VR) can help you shoot up to two f-stops slower while avoiding vibrations and camera shake. If operation from a moving vessel I recommend using the Active option if your VR has it. I would warn however that under some circumstances VR can error and actually make the shake worse. In the situation where you are on a moving ship and your subject is moving and the water or waves are moving in different directions, test your VR, zoom in and ensure that your images are sharp. In these scenarios I would actually turn off Vibration Reduction, especially if its bright enough for you to shoot at 1/2000sec which should eliminate any vibration issues anyways.
  • Monopod or Tripod: Sometimes we are on deck for some considerable amounts of time and thats were a monopod, or light tripod like my Manfrotto Befree Carbon are great to rest your camera on, yet still have it ready to shoot if wildlife appears. A monopod or tripod can also help steady your camera and reduce shake considerably.


Protect Your Camera

We often go on smaller Zodiac boats to visit shore, go on hikes, etc. I recommend a lightweight waterproof bag to put your camera in if the waters get a bit rough or there is a bit of sea spray. You can buy these at MEC or other outdoor shops and camera stores. You can also get splash and rain proof lens and camera covers.

I also like to keep my main camera handy and immediately accessible while offloading the weight from a neck-strap to my shoulders by using my Lowepro Toploader Pro AW camera bag. These are amazing and also have an All Weather rain cover in case you start getting wet.

I also recommend a waterproof memory card holder hard case to protect any extra memory you might take on a day trip. At least bring a double zip-lock bag to put your memory card case inside just in case.


Master In-Camera Settings

Here are some in-camera settings that I would recommend for getting better images:

  • Picture Control Settings — One way to get better images right out of your camera is to adjust your picture control settings right in-camera. I recommend setting sharpening to about 6 out of 10 and saturation to nearly the max if you are shooting wildlife and nature. If you are photographing people set it to +1 so their faces don’t get too red.


  • Image Preview — Having image preview come on after each picture you take uses a considerable amount more battery, so I recommend turning that off and just previewing every couple of images or when your lighting or settings are changed. I also recommend setting your preview to display highlights so that you can see flashing highlights that are blown out or overexposed and compensate for that if necessary.


  • D-lighting — If you are shooting with a Nikon you will have a D-lighting option. This is a great feature to help fill in your subject in the midtone range. I recommend this setting at Medium to help balance the bright icebergs and darker water, along with many other high contrast situations.


  • White Balance — Another important in-camera feature is your white balance. Changing your white balance manually is like adding a warming or cooling filter to your camera. Auto white balance is fine for many situations but by changing your camera to shade or cloudy setting you can warm up the shot or use tungsten or other settings to cool it down and create some really interesting and creative effects.

Kristian Bogner is a third-generation pro photographer, speaker and ambassador for Nikon Canada, Broncolor, Lowepro and Manfrotto. His work has received numerous awards including 3-time Commercial Photographer of the Year for Canada with the Professional Photographers of Canada Association and 2015 Master Photographers International Commercial Photographer of the Year. Join him this summer aboard our Heart of the Arctic expedition, and put his photo tips to use in the #MyAdventureCanda photo contest—where you can win an Arctic expedition—presented in partnership with Nikon Canada!


Photography Tips for Your Next Adventure Canada Experience (Part 2)

Guest post by Kristian Bogner — Nikon Ambassador


Evaluate Your Images

I encourage photographers to have a look at some of your images each evening when you are back in your room, either on computer or in your camera and see how you did and what you could improve on for the next day. Zoom in to your images, preferably to 100% zoom and see if your images are in focus, if there is any camera shake and see what worked and what didn’t. This simple step can make a big difference and help you take your photography to the next level.

While on board attend any photo workshops that are being offered to get pro insights throughout the trip and ask Adventure Canada photographers to help you if you have noticed any issues in your nightly evaluation or if you want more tips for capturing unique subjects and situations that you might encounter. They will be happy to help you get your own spectacular images to take home with you.


Shoot the Light

There are exceptions to this rule but generally early morning and late evening provide the lowest, warmest and most unique and pleasing lighting situations to photograph outdoors. On my last Adventure Canada trip I would get up really early and capture that blue light time and sunrise and also be on deck before, during and just after sunset. I then tried to have a quick nap throughout the day at some point if it was possible to stay caught up on sleep. If that is too extreme, then just pick the early morning or late evening to shoot and get on a routine that allows it.


Use a Sharp Focus

I judge a lot of photo contests and one of the things I love to see is nice sharp focus on whatever the main subject or focal point of the image is to be. Here are some tips to get great focus. First make sure your camera is set to AF-C (continuous) vs AF-S. This will ensure that when you have that whale sighting in your viewfinder and you press the shutter, the camera will fire without delay, even if it thinks the subject isn’t in focus. Next use a smaller selection of points and your joystick on the back of your camera to set where the camera is to focus. I personally use single point focus selection, but some of you may prefer a bit larger cluster of points or group point focus if you have that as an option. I set the focus point where in my image frame I want the subject to appear and precompose the image, then I just make sure that point is on the subject for razor sharp focus.


Level Out the Horizon

The other big thing I like to see in images is a nice level horizon line. Most new Nikon cameras have a feature called Virtual Horizon which shows you if the camera is level. I like to go into my custom button settings and set the extra Function button on the camera to toggle between exposure metering and virtual horizon. That way once my exposure is set I can have the camera viewfinder show me if the camera is level and then I can quickly adjust accordingly.


Maintain Your Camera

On any longer trip I recommend a bit of ongoing camera maintenance to ensure that your camera performs at full capability throughout. First, bring several soft or microfibre lens cleaning cloths to wipe your camera lens and screen. Fingerprints, water droplets and dirt on the lens can degrade your image.  I always bring several of these and put a few in individual zip-lock bags just so they stay dry.

Next, I recommend an emergency sensor cleaning kit like Visible Dust swabs that fit your sensor and the Blue-capped cleaning solution. When on deck with the wind, etc., sometimes dust can get on your sensor during a lens change. If its a big piece of dust it could be on all of your images and having the ability to do a quick sensor cleaning in the field can be really useful.

Lastly Wipe Down your cameras and lenses at night with a towel and some fresh water just in case it got some ocean spray on it.


Keep the Passion! 

A child-like enthusiasm wins every time! An Adventure Canada expedition is truly a spectacular opportunity to photograph. Stay positive about your photography, bring a zest and a child-like wonder and enthusiasm to each new day and let your passion for capturing the amazing nature around you guide and inspire your next photograph.

I hope you enjoyed these tips. Check out for more tips, instructional videos and workshops throughout the year. I will be on the Arctic Safari this year and have many exciting talks and more great tips to share throughout the trip. I can’t wait and hope to see you there!


Kristian Bogner is a third-generation pro photographer, speaker and ambassador for Nikon Canada, Broncolor, Lowepro and Manfrotto. His work has received numerous awards including 3-time Commercial Photographer of the Year for Canada with the Professional Photographers of Canada Association and 2015 Master Photographers International Commercial Photographer of the Year. Join him this summer aboard our Heart of the Arctic expedition!