It's one of those classic "Alaska dream come true" moments. Laurie Baird and her husband Richard had traveled from Vermont to the Land of the Midnight Sun chasing memories and great photos.
On day six of a seven-day adventure during the summer of 2016, Laurie - a professional photographer - was exploring the area around the Eieilson Visitors Center, at Mile 66 on the Denali Park Road. She says she was intrigued by a rack of antlers on the ground. Behind, a clear view of Denali opened up.
"I loved the composition and the range, with the antlers in view and the mountains," she says. "It spoke of Alaska and its beauty."
Laurie's image won the Denali Backcountry Adventure's Photo Contest.
The Denali "Grand Slam"
Before coming to Denali, the Bairds had already visited Kenai Fjords and explored Anchorage. The amazing memories and photos were piling up. Their trip on the Denali Backcountry Adventure, 92 miles down the Denali Park Road, turned out to be a 'grand slam' day in Denali.
"Along the road, we encountered at least seven grizzlies," Laurie says. "Two were moms with cubs. One mom had two babies and we watched one of the cubs steal a prairie dog-like animal from the mom and they had a nice chase. We saw bull moose together in the same tundra space hanging out, Dall sheep and a wolf walking along the road at one of the rest stops. We had what our driver called the "grand slam" since we viewed all the animals within the area, and a few views of Mt. McKinley (Denali) - there was not a cloud around it, which we were told was rare."
Laurie and Richard began planning their return to Denali as soon as their trip ended.
"Our entire trip was superb - it was a photographer's dream come true," Laurie says.
Laurie's Photo Tips:
Laurie Baird has been taking photos for most of her life, and doing so professionally for the past four years. She had superb results during her Alaska trip. Here are some of her suggestions for getting the most out of your photos when traveling in Alaska:
- Have Patience: Finding and spotting the animals takes time and preparation.
- Be Ready: Wildlife is abundant in Alaska. When you see something, try to contain your excitement and focus on the image.
- Gear Up: Have the right equipment and be well acquainted with it. Laurie traveled with a Canon T3 and T6 with multiple lenses. Her kit also included a tripod and back-up batteries.
- Move Around: Within the bus, of course. Feel free to switch seats or head to the loading door to get the best angle.
How she won
The team at Denali Backcountry Adventure were looking for an image that told a story. They received dozens of entries, and so many were of a high caiber, says Cameron Morrison, Marketing Specialist for Alaska Collection by Pursuit. Laurie Baird's image of the antlers in front of Denali really stood out for its depth, composition and colors.
"We just loved the perspective of this shot," Morrison says.
The quality and abundance of images submitted into the contest show just how photogenic a day on the Denali Backcountry Adventure is - no matter your expertise or how many animals you see.
"We are blown away by what people have seen and photographed out there," Morrison says.