Brown bears are North America’s largest predators and the undisputed king of any ecosystem in which they live in. Their size and power is unrivaled in the Northern Hemisphere. And Alaska happens to play home to around 32,000 of these bears – the largest population in the world.
This August, I will be returning to Lake Clark National Park with a small group of photographers to for another action packed brown bear photography workshop that will put you face to face with these bruins. Lake Clark National Park and Cook Inlet are a wildlife photographers dream. Towering snow capped mountains. Lush primeval forests. Sea birds galore. Fishing wolves. And of course, bears – EVERYWHERE.
If you are looking for a workshop steeped in adventure, one where bush planes and boats and four-wheelers all factor into the mix, than this trip is for you. Each day will be spent photographing a variety of different bears up close and personal. My workshop is timed to coincide with silver salmon migration. As these fish begin to push up into Cooke Inlet and its many small tributaries, the brown bears descend from all across the vast wilderness of the Alaskan Peninsula and it is not unusual to have 5 or more bears lined up right in front of us. Nor is it unheard of for a pack of wolves to join in the mix while we kneel feet away from the action filling memory cards.
This place is not like Katmai’s Brook’s Falls where you stand with a hundred other photographers on a platform watching bears wait for fish to jump into their mouths. Here, we have bears actively hunting fish in the deltas at the mouths of creeks, running full steam through shallow water often 25 feet away from us. And best of all, hiking is kept to a minimum. Unlike other workshops, where hikes up to 5 miles a day with equipment are the norm, we have four-wheelers that take us to the action every day.
Oh, did I mention the puffin rookery that we will also visit? On a calm day, we will head out into Cook Inlet by boat to one of the largest puffin rookeries in North America and one of America’s very first bird reserves (now national wildlife refuge) that was protected by Teddy Roosevelt over 100 years ago. Here, we will not only photograph flight shots from the deck of the boat, we will also land on shore to capture frame filling portraits of these birds at their nesting sites. The rookery is home to both horned and tuffted puffins – very different than than what you find in the Atlantic Ocean – as well as mures, and the occasional sea otters.
Deposit: $2950 (50%)
Dates: August 16 – 23, 2018 | 1 SPACE REMAINING
Included: 5 nights lodging at Silver Salmon Lodge, all meals while at lodge, and local flights.
Skill Level: Beginner to Advanced
Difficulty: Moderate due to some mud and water
Lodging: Silver Salmon Lodge
Airport: Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC)
What to Expect
- 6 days and 5 nights at Silver Salmon Lodge in Lake Clark National Park
- A small group limited to 6 participants
- hands on in the field instruction throughout the duration of the workshop
- opportunities for one on one instruction
- reviews and critiques of images in both formal and informal situations
- brown bears galore
- bald eagles
- and let’s not forget that this will be a first class experience and one heck of a good time!
- Day 1: Fly into Anchorage, Alaska and check into hotels. We will meet for dinner that night and discuss the coming week.
- Day 2: early morning flight from Anchorage to Silver Salmon Lodge. We will drop off our equipment, have breakfast, and then head out into the field to photograph bears – breaking only for lunch this day.
- Day 3 – 6: Mornings and afternoons spent finding and photographing brown bears. One of these days we will switch things up a bit and shoot puffins at one of their local offshore rookeries.
- Day 7: early morning shoot with the bears before loading up onto the plane and heading back over to Anchorage. Check in to hotels. That evening we will have a group critique and pizza party.
- Day 8: Fly home
Do I need Travel Insurance for this workshop?
Yes. For the Alaska Brown Bear workshop, we do require travel insurance. Given the use of small bush planes and boats to access our destination, both our company and the lodge company we use in Alaska require this – though you will only need to provide proof of insurance to us.
Will there be lectures and Lightroom / Photoshop discussions?
Absolutely. There will be several midday classroom sessions that we will conduct. These are optional of course, but will range from discussions on photographing bears in this environment, to advanced techniques in wildlife photography, to Lightroom and Photoshop workflows.
Our lodge is not accessible by automobile. The only way in and out (other than a very long boat ride) is by small planes that land and take off right from the beach. Typically these planes are Cessnas but may include slightly larger planes such as Beavers. We will travel in multiple small planes for the flights there and back.
The flight from Anchorage to the lodge will be around 1 hour as you fly along the coast of Cooks Inlet where glaciers, volcanoes, labyrinths of salt marsh, and waterfalls will all dominate the view.
Is there a weight restriction on the bush planes?
Yes there is. Typically, this restriction is 50lbs for gear. However, we have arranged for you to be able to bring 70lbs of gear total. This weight restriction is a combination of you luggage and camera gear.
As some items such as waders can be quite heavy, there will also be an opportunity for you to ship your waders to the lodge ahead of time in order to cut down on weight for planes.
Will I need waders?
Yes, you will need to bring waders for this workshop. Though many will suggest that hip waders are sufficient for photographing in this area, we highly recommend a pair of chest waders instead. Hip waders will do fine for you while walking and kneeling, however this can be a very wet place at times. You will find yourself sitting and even laying down here – for which hip waders will be of no use to you for keeping dry in those situations. Even if you do not feel comfortable with sitting or laying down on the ground for better angles with the bears, you will appreciate the added protection when simply riding around looking for bears.
What size lens will I need on this workshop?
We highly recommend the ability to reach out to at least 500mm. Zoom lenses are great options on this workshop given the changing situations that we will encounter. At times out distance from the bears will be measured in feet. At other times we may be 50 yards or more depending upon the situation. Jared carries a 600mm lens and a 200-400mm lens for this workshop.
Though we recommend at least 500mm, this does not necessarily mean that you need a 500mm prime lens. There are a variety of zoom lenses that will allow you to reach this focal length. Additionally, if you are shooting with a crop sensor camera, this should be taken into account as well.
As always, please do not feel the need to rush out and purchase a lens just for this workshop. It is OK to use us an excuse to do so, but this is not necessary as we suggest renting equipment you do not have for workshops. We can help you with a discount through both www.lensrentals.com as well as www.borrowlenses.com
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 a direct link to message me on Facebook if you would prefer.
e: jared at jaredlloydphoto dot com
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
For our Alaska Brown Bear Workshop, we require proof of travel insurance.