Grand Tetons National Park is the American Alps, Yellowstone, our Serengeti. These two national parks need no introduction to wildlife photographers. Their opportunities are legendary. 

On this workshop Doug Gardner and I will be bringing a small group of photographers into the Western Hemisphere’s undisputed epicenter of wildlife photography. Grizzlies, black bears, wolves, moose, elk, bison, mule deer, pronghorn, owl, towering mountains, the explosive colors of fall. . . this is Jackson Hole and Yellowstone in the Fall. And the whole thing is timed for the peak of the rut!

Workshop Details

Leaders: Jared Lloyd and Doug Gardner

Cost: $3,450

Dates:

September 24 – 1, 2017

Lodging: Lodging is provided with the price of the trip. Workshop price is based upon double occupancy. A limited number of single supplements are available upon request for an additional price.

Meals: Not included.

Skill Level: Beginner to advanced

Physical Level: moderate (elevation)

Number of Participants: Limited to 8. This offers a 1:4 ratio of instructor to participants

Airports: 

  • Fly in: Jackson Hole Airport. Jackson, Wyoming. Airport code: JAC
  • Fly Out: Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport. Bozeman, MT. Airport code: BZN

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What You Can Expect

This workshop is all about adventure, the big mammals of the West, and landscape photography with a captial P. Moose, elk, pronghorn, bison, and bears are just a few of the photographic subjects that we wil puruse on this expedition.

  • Photographing in Jackson Hole this time of year is all about the rut. You will have the opportunity to photograph the big mammals of the Northern Rockies in action as they battle for the hearts and minds of the ladies
  • Big mammals are not the only wildlife we will see. Jackson Hole is the Serengeti of North America and countless other opportunities could arise from grey wolves to great grey owls
  • The addition of Yellowstone to this workshop expands our possibilities well beyond anything that Jackson Hole could provide by itself  be significantly increasing our opportunity for grizzlies, wolves, and the elk rut.
  • This workshop will take place not only durring the rut but also at the peak of the fall foliage and will give you the opportunity to photograph the landscape as it can only be seen this time of year – cloaked in gold
  • Personalized 1 on 1 in the field instruction
  • A ratio of 1:4 in terms of instructor to participants
  • Daily opportunities for personal Lightroom and Photoshop instruction
  • Periodic image reviews through the duration of the workshop in order to assess your progress and specific needs
  • Post Trip Notes. These are detailed PDF files that are an in depth compilation of skill sets discussed each day. 2 – 4 pages of information will typically be provided for each day of the workshop. Many photographers have commented that they learned just as much from the post trip notes as they do from the actual in the field workshop itself. Feel free to ask questions about this.
  • A head first dive into hardcore wildlife photography and what it takes to get the job done
  • The opportunity to work in a small ratio of instructor to participants. Most other workshops offer a far larger ratio
  • And let’s not forget, one heck of a great time!

Itinerary

Day 1. Fly into Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) and shuttle to our hotel. Once everyone has arrived, we will head into town in order to pick up any last minute items that participants may need. We will then grab dinner together an host our official meet and greet as well as discuss the logistics of the coming week. 

Day 2. We will leave pre-dawn in order to be in place for a sunrise landscape. We will then shift gears to wildlife for the rest of the morning. During our midday break, we will have our fist classroom session on photographic strategies for big mammals. Afterword, we will have our evening shoot.

Day 3. Morning and afternoon shoots focusing on moose, black bears, and fall colors.

Day 4. We will start the fourth day with a morning shoot in Jackson Hole before transferring to Gardiner, MT where we will based out of for the duration of the workshop. This evening, we will conduct a midweek review of participants photographs thus far. This will give us the opportunity to gauge participants’ strengths and weaknesses, and allow us to know how to customize and tailor the remainder of the workshop to individual needs.

Day 5. We will spend this day photographing in Yellowstone National Park. Depending upon given situations, we may or may not have a mid-day break back at the hotel.

Day 6. We break up the 6th day into two shoots – morning and afternoon much like we did in Jackson Hole. During our midday break, Doug Gardner will give a presentation on a still undetermined topic in wildlife photography.

Day 7. We will spend the morning photographing in Yellowstone National Park. In the evening, we will conduct a blind group critique that will last well into the night and has thus far proven to be a major highlight of each workshop that we offer this. These critiques run the gamut of possible topics ranging from composition and exposure to lightroom and even printing. This is one session you will definitely want to bring a notebook for. We will provide pizza and alcohol.

Day 8. Shuttle to Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport.

A Day in the Life of this Workshop

We will leave very early in the morning while it is still dark. Exactly how early will depend upon where we will start our day photographing. Before the sun ever rises we will be in place for a morning landscape shoot. From here we will quickly transition over to wildlife photography and head off in search of our target species for the morning. We will finish up with the morning shoot between 10am and 11am, for which we will then head back to the condos for lunch, classroom sessions, and a little break. That afternoon we will head back out into the parks in search of wildlife. We will photograph as long as the light will allow us to. Afterword we will have dinner together as a group.

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The workshops that we offer are kept small so as to make the experience completely personalized. As many realize, workshops with 10-20 people are very common. By limiting the size of the trips to 5 people (8 with a second instructor) we are able to offer opportunities that simply cannot be found in larger groups.

In the Field Instruction

While we are in the field, each day brings something new. Every time we set down our tripods, conditions, lighting, backgrounds, action, etc. . . will offer us new and unique challenges. From the right brain creative aspects of learning to see the possibilities of composition and light, to the left brain analysis of exposure, there is a lot to keep up with out there. But don’t worry, that’s what we are here for.

Small group sizes allow us to devote significant amounts of time working individually with participants while in the field. As conditions are ever changing, the realm of topics to be discussed while on location is endless.

Technical aspects of photography such as exposure modes, metering patterns, histograms, auto-focus modes, ISO, f/stop, and shutter speeds will all be discussed with nearly every shoot. Why we recommend the settings that we do, how it applies to this situation, and what are the pros and cons of these different technical decisions that we are forced to make in the field.

Moving well beyond to technical parts of photography, while we are in the field together we will spend much of our time also discussing the creative aspects of photography as well. Understanding light and how to exploit it creatively sits at the heart of photography and this will be a key undercurrent throughout the workshop. You will learn the different types of light and how to properly handle them. You will learn how to control perspective and the relationship that this has with your viewers psychology. You will learn how to start seeing like a professional in terms of quality or opportunities as well as compositions.

The technical parts of photography are the easy stuff to learn. Though it may seem daunting if you are still learning, this side of photography is made simple when taught how each of these components functions in relation to real world situations and repetition. On the flipside of this coin however is the creative part of photography. This is the subjective, the art, the intangible stuff that takes cliché and uninspired technical perfection that is a dime a dozen and catapults it to a true work of art with the ability to make a lasting impression on your viewer.

This is our lofty objective while we are in the field.

Classroom style Instruction

Each day during our midday breaks you will have the opportunity for some form of classroom instruction. 

Day 2. We will give a lecture of photographic strategies for working with large mammals which will focus heavily on composition and different types of light.

Day 3. Private reviews of everyone’s photography will be given on this the third day. This will allow us to ascertain where each person stands and what we may need to concentrate on with them in the field. 

Day 4-5. Post processing instruction (Lightroom and / or Photoshop) will be available these two days during our midday break. This will by request. 

Day 6. We will finish up our final day with an in depth blind critique of everyone’s works. This will prove to be one of the most valuable parts of the workshop to participants. 

Review and Critique

There will be two scheduled reviews of your work while on this workshop. During the midday break on the second day of shooting we will do a private review of images with each participant in order to get an idea of each participants specific level of skill as well as how they are progressing with the workshop. This in turn will give participants the opportunity to know what they need to be working on, as well as let us know what we need to be working on with that individual.

On the last day of the workshop, we will spend the evening in an extensive blind critique of everyone’s best images. Blind critique means that there will be no names attached to the images and everyone will have an opportunity to weigh in on strengths and weaknesses as well as suggestions for improvement. From composition to lighting, post processing to exposure, this critique will run the gamut of all aspects of nature photography and becomes one of the most important parts of the workshop for the participant.

Pre-Trip Instruction

Prior to this workshop, we will set up a private Facebook group for which participants will receive and invitation to join. From this platform, we can begin discussions relevant to upcoming workshops starting several months out.

Post-Trip Instruction

Throughout the duration of the workshop, we are compiling notes based upon the days activities, concepts discussed in the field, obstacles, challenges, and successes. After the workshop, these notes are then compiled into a series of documents. The idea behind this is to take real world situations that you yourself were apart of  to use as an instructional resource for you to refer back to after the workshop. Photographic concepts are outlined in detail, and specific examples are used with in depth descriptions of how exactly the photograph was made including the reasoning and artistic aspects that went into the composition as well as the technical side and how the two are used in conjunction with each other to express your creative vision.

What size lens do I need for this workshop?

The wildlife photography side of this workshop will be all about big mammals. Some of these animals are potentially dangerous. All of these animals can kill you.  So with that said, as wildlife photographers we prefer to use long lenses for a variety of reasons. 

We highly recommend that you have the capability of at least 400mm. This can be achieved a variety of different ways of course and zoom lenses such as Nikon and Canon’s 200-400 are, in our opinion, the absolute best big mammals lenses on the market. Other zoom lenses that will handle our needs on this workshop will include:

Nikon 80-400 (version 2)

Canon 100-400

Sigma 150-500

If you have bigger glass however, by all means bring it. Jared will have both a 200-400 and a 600 on this workshop. 

If you rent a big lens, just remember that you will need to also consider the type of tripod you have as well as the tripod head that you will be using. Smaller and lighter setups might handle a 70-200 just fine, but when an 8-12 lbs lens is put on the tripod, you will be very disappointed. 

If you have questions about this, please do not hesitate to ask. 

How can I rent a lens for this workshop?

I always recommend renting a lens instead of buying a lens for a workshop. Really, its recommended that you rent any gear first before you buy it in order to make sure it is exactly what you want.

If you need to rent equipment for this workshop, then we suggest checking out www.lensrentals.com

Other companies such as www.borrowlenses.com and www.lensprotogo.com are great companies as well.

If you chose to go through www.lensrentals.com however, we can give you a special code for a discount on your rentals.

What kind of clothing do I need for this workshop?

Fall in Wyoming is something of a non-season. It can be very difficult to gauge exactly what the weather is going to be like. The Teton range has the ability to create its own weather. For that reason, forecasts here change dramatically by the hour sometimes.

Your best bet is to plan for temperatures that will range from the low 20s to the low 70s. I realize this seems extreme, but this is life in the high country of Wyoming. There is a very good chance that it will snow during this workshop. It is also very likely that at some point you will be concerned with getting too much sun. 

As the dates for this workshop draw near, keep an eye on the weather every couple of days and this will give you a better idea of exactly what to expect. 

One week before the workshop, we will send out a pre-trip document to participants that will give you the latest forecast and a recommended packing list based upon this. 

Plan on dressing in layers. You will want a coat for early in the morning, but you will want to be able to drop down to a t-shirt by midday if needs be. 

In regards to pants, you will want something made from tough and durable material such as jeans or canvas due to the sagebrush.

Hiking shoes or boots are also recommended. 

How safe is it to work around these animals?

Wildlife photography by its very nature comes with a certain degree of risk. However, Jared has spent many years working with large and potentially dangerous animals. His knowledge of their behavior, body language, and even individual personalities in this area is second to none. Trained as a biologist and with over a decade of experience guiding people in these sort of situations, Jared will keep your safety as the top priority of this workshop at all times.

Understanding how to read the body language of these animals, and anticipate their moves is a major facet of this workshop. We will  spend a considerable amount of timing discussing behavior, biology, and ecology on this trip. This knowledge and understanding of the wildlife that we will be photographing not only will allow you to  catapult your photography to a whole new level, but it will also give you the ability to stay safe when working with dangerous wildlife. 

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Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding this or any other workshop that we offer. To the left, you will find a simple contact form in place to make this process as simple as possible for you. We realize however that sometimes these sorts of onsite forms are difficult to work with when more lengthy questions and comments are necessary. Therefore, below you will also find the appropriate email, phone number, and even facebook account that you can contact us with if you would prefer.

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c: 406-600-2047

Travel insurance

Fact: flights get canceled, airlines overbook, snow storms shut down airports, family members get sick, doctors occasionally deliver unexpected news. Life is what happens as we are busy making plans. John Lennon said that, and it’s about as true of a statement that can be made when it comes to travel.

The recent loss of power to Delta’s systems that led to the grounding and cancellation of thousands of flights drives home this point. With so many variables and possibilities out there that cannot be foreseen or planned for, we highly recommend purchasing trip insurance for this workshop. The costs are surprisingly low and well worth the small expense. Trip insurance gives you peace of mind and allows you to know that if one of those little inevitabilities in life happens to pop up, you will not lose your money spent on your workshop and flights.

CSA and Travel Guard are the two big ones out there. But you can get instant comparative quotes through www.insuremytrip.com