Florida is the undisputed Mecca of bird photography in the United States. If you could sit down with pen and paper to try and design the ultimate landscape for attracting the densest concentration of birds possible, it probably would still not be as good as Florida – especially the Gulf Coast of Florida.
This workshop will provide an extraordinary amount of diversity, while still focusing on the crown jewels of the region. From wading birds to shorebirds, burrowing owls to barred owls, this workshop has every facet of bird photography you can imagine. If you want to learn how to take your bird photography to the next level, this is a workshop that you will not want to miss.
But this workshop is so much more than just another Florida bird photography workshop. In fact, this experience is completely unlike any other offered. In the morning, you might find yourself waist deep in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, eye level with black skimmers or reddish egrets, while the afternoon may have you trekking through ancient tropical hardwood hammocks to photograph nesting barred owls. Not only do we photograph burrowing owls (yes, different from barred), but we find and photograph sandhill cranes with newborn colts. Wading birds like rosette spoonbills will certainly make their way into the lineup, but so will night photography sessions where you learn to use flash to photograph alligators at night!
Dates: April 11 – 17, 2021
Optional Single Supplement: $700. A limited number of single supplements are available. Please inquire if interested.
Location: based out of Sarasota Florida
Airport: Sarasota – Bradenton International Airport
Arrival: before 2pm on the first date of the workshop
Departure: After 12pm on the last date of the workshop
Lodging and ground transportation are both included with the price of this workshop.
Skill Level: Beginner to advanced
Physical Difficulty: moderate (must be able to get up and down from kneeling and / or laying position)
Participants: This workshop will be limited to a maximum of 5 participants.
What you can Expect
- 5 full days of photography and instruction
- An in depth review / classroom session
- Unparalleled opportunity to photograph the following species:
- Nesting burrowing owls and chicks
- A variety of other nesting wading birds such as great egrets, little blue herons, wood storks, etc. . .
- Reddish Egrets
- Frame filling opportunities with a variety of shorebirds
- Several unpublished local hot spots
- Hands on in the field instruction customized to meet your personal needs
- A private online forum specifically for this workshop that you will have access to 2 months prior to the start of the workshop.
- One heck of a good time!
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 this workshop to 6 participants 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.
Review and Critique
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. We will provide both pizza and alcohol for this review.
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.
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 kind of tripod and head will I need?
Yes you will! Tripods are crucially important in wildlife photography and on this workshop you will need one. Though there may be times that we hand hold our lenses, in most instances we will want to properly stabilize our equipment.
For wildlife photographers, as a general rule of thumb, you want a tripod with a load capacity that is twice the amount of weight that you will put on it. So, you were to estimate that the tripod head weights 5lbs, your camera body weighs 5lbs, you biggest lens weighs 12 lbs, this is 22 lbs total. And therefore, we recommend you have a tripod that can hold a minimum of 44lbs. Most likely you will need to round up to 50lbs for this.
Another rule of thumb for wildlife photographers is to work with a tripod that DOES NOT come with a center column. There are thousands of reasons you will want to get lower with your gear. But, there is rarely any reason you want to get taller. Thus, a tripod without a center column will allow you to get your camera all the way down to the ground – which is critically important in many situations.
For more information about Jared’s suggestion for tripods, click this link: TRIPOD PRIMER
For more information about Jared’s suggestion for heads, click this link: TRIPOD HEAD PRIMER
Will I need flash?
Flash photography in so many ways is almost synonymous with bird photography. However, given the locations and situations that we will be photographing on this particular workshop, flash will not be an absolute necessity. If you already own a flash and flash bracket, then by all means bring it. But it will not be necessary to rush out to buy or rent flash for this trip.
What size telephoto lens will I need for this workshop?
This workshop is all about photographing birds. Although we will be up close and personal with many of our subjects, we always recommend that you have the longest possible lens when photographing birds. For this reason, you will want something that can reach at least 500mm. This does not mean that you necessarily need to have a 500 f/4 lens. This length can be reached through a variety of ways such as zoom lenses digital crop factor cameras and teleconverters.
Please do not feel the need to pass this workshop by or rush out to purchase a lens for this trip just because you do not have a 500mm lens. There are a variety of places that specialize in renting gear like this and we can help you out with discounts through those companies in order to help you cut costs a bit.
Let us know if you do not have the necessary telephoto power for this workshop and we will work with you personally to make it happen for you.
Will we be working from boats on this workshop?
Yes we will! Two of our days will be spent working with boats in order to access otherwise inaccessible rookeries. Our boats will get us to some of the best locations on Earth to photograph spoonbills and other waders.
How do I protect my gear while we are on the water?
The best way to protect your gear on the water is with dry bags. Pelican cases are great, but they are big, cumbersome, and take up way too much room on the boat. A roll top dry bag that is big enough for you to slip your big lens with camera attached and roll the top down 3 times, is all you will need. These are cheap and can be picked up online or at pretty much any big box outdoor shop and even Walmart!
What will the weather be like?
As we will be based on the southern Gulf Coast of Florida, springtime temperatures can fluctuate quite a bit on this trip. Mornings can be slightly cool and thus demanding light weight pants and a wind breaker / rain jacket. On the other hand, temperatures can also swing into the upper 80s. More often than not, temperatures top out in the mid-70s this time of year and carry a low of 60 degrees. Nice and comfortable.
Here is a little teaser of what you can expect to see and photograph. I spent a week trekking around the Gulf Coast before my workshop in April 2019, filming and photographing sandhill cranes with newborn colts, barred owl chicks, and whitetail deer fawns. These are just a few of the subjects we will find and photograph on this photography workshop.
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.
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