It's time to check off another line item on your bucket list.
With pleasure I invite you to join me in remote coastal Katmai National Park for 7 nights in mid-September, 2020 to photograph brown bears chasing salmon.
Arrangements have been made with a highly-respected, long-term (over 2 decades) coastal Katmai NP boat operator to host our group.
After a 1-hour floatplane flight from Kodiak, AK, we will set down on a remote coastal Katmai NP bay where we will be met by a skiff and shuttled to the "Ursus", the original "Time Bandit" boat from the TV show Deadliest Catch, our home for the week.
This is a solid ship that I've had the privilege of staying on and the Katmai NP bays we will be visiting are incredible (Geographic and Kukak Bays for example).
While we will be boat-based (extremely convenient in this location), the skiff will transport us to the shores of the salmon streams where we will get up close and personal with the bears while photographing them.
The amount of time allocated for this trip means that the ship can move from bay to bay, targeting the best salmon runs and providing variety in our images.
The September timeframe is ideal for bears looking good with new coats and a huge size, up roughly 40% from August.
The lighting is softer at this time of the year with a low angle ideal that is ideal for photography.
Also, the number of dark hours is adequate for a decent night of sleep while still taking advantage of the ideal lighting hours.
Humpback/pink, chum/keta/dog, and sometimes sockeye/silver salmon, a bear favorite, run at this time of the year.
There are no promises that we will see wolves, but this time of the year holds an increased chance of this encounter.
Plan on hanging out with a small group that shares your passion for wildlife photography in a spectacularly scenic location.
Note that this is not Katmai NP's popular Brooks Falls where there is often a waiting line to get onto the observation deck.
When and Where
Thu, September 17 to Thu, September 24, 2020 in remote coastal Katmai National Park, Alaska.
Hopefully you, along with up-to-7 other participants.
Sign up with your friends!
The cost for the 7-night Kodiak-to-Kodiak trip is $7,695 per person plus crew tips.
Meals are included.
Email me at Bryan@Carnathan.com
to sign up or ask questions!
What are We Photographing?
Our primary photo subject will be brown bears.
Wildlife, by definition, is "wild" and that means it is unpredictable and there can be no guarantees.
That said, coastal Katmai National Park is an extremely reliable location to photograph brown bears and, as mentioned, the bears should be chasing salmon in the small streams at this time of the year.
In addition to brown bear, we could see other animals including sea otters, whales, and potentially even wolves.
We will be opportunistic and take advantage of any interesting subjects that we encounter – and discovering those moments are part of the excitement.
In addition to the immersive wildlife photography experience, there will certainly be opportunity for some landscape photography.
The views from the boat are awesome.
While the implied definitions of these terms vary, I see "workshops" typically laid out with a planned schedule and "tours" typically designed to put you in front of subjects at the right time.
I'm calling this trip a "tour" because the primary goal is for you to get great images and we will be opportunistic in that regard, making a firm schedule difficult to implement.
That said, we will spend a lot of time together and I will teach (including as we are actively photographing), answer questions (please bring many), critique images, assist in editing, etc. throughout our time together.
Thus, the educational element will also be a primary part of our time together – an "Instructional Photo Tour".
In the field, we will photograph side-by-side.
You taking great images home will be a primary goal, but you capturing those images yourself is important and I can best describe what you should do if I am doing it myself at the same time.
This also provides the participant opportunity to watch how it is done.
Your constant feedback and questions during the IPT are important and will enable me to provide you with the best experience possible.
An "expedition" is another type of immersive photography experience and this event involves multiple daily mini-expeditions.
Certain is that we will have an adventure.
This will be an only modestly strenuous trip, with much of the strain dependent on the size and weight of the gear you are carrying.
Sometimes the hike from the skiff to the bears will be short and sometimes we might eventually end up as far as (roughly) a mile up the streams.
Thus, one needs to be in reasonable physical condition.
What is Included
From Kodiak and back to Kodiak, all food and lodging (on the boat) is provided.
In the boat's current configuration, lodging is two bunks per room and two rooms per bathroom.
What is Not Included
Transportation to/from Kodiak and any lodging prior to or post trip.
Note that flights to Kodiak are typically out of Anchorage.
Tips for the crew are not included.
The schedule may vary, but a typical day looks like this:
We will wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, slip into waders (hip waders provided, bringing your own chest waders is a better option), board the skiff with our gear, and, along with a bear guide, will head for the streams holding both salmon and bears.
Typically, we come back to the boat for lunch and go back out for another round of photography later in the day.
Staying out all day is an option we can request.
Please note: travel insurance is very strongly recommended for this trip.
While the operator has had "only three trip cancellations in the past twenty-two years due to weather (guests didn't schedule buffer days)", they "cannot accept liability for costs incurred due to weather or other forces of nature."
They are "a small company, servicing relatively few clients each season, and the nature of [their] trip presents some variables over which [they] have no control."
Safety comes first.
If conditions are not safe, they don't fly.
Allowing some flexibility in travel (buffer days) is highly recommended in this part of Alaska.
This trip will fall under the operator's booking guidelines as follows:
To reserve your space, a 50% deposit (not refundable unless your reserved space can be rebooked) of trip price within 10 days of verbal confirmation of your desired dates.
Final payment is required 90 days prior to trip departure date.
Reservations made within 90 days of trip departure dates require full payment.
Credit card payments are welcome.
Cancellation fees are in effect.
Anyone requiring a different payment plan can ask about the Custom Pay Plan.
Let's Do This! Sign Up Now!
Email me at Bryan@Carnathan.com
to sign up or ask questions!
Camera Gear Needed
Aside from a great attitude and a strong interest in wildlife photography, you are going to need some gear and while most cameras with a telephoto lens will work fine, mid-upper-grade gear should be considered for best results from this event.
There will be times when a fast frame rate is beneficial (bears chasing salmon for example), but I will likely opt for higher resolution cameras that typically do not have the fastest-available frame rates.
A DSLR camera or a late-model MILC (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera) should be in your bag.
A telephoto lens or lenses will be needed with a full-frame equivalent of at least 400mm (250mm on an APS-C) suggested and having longer focal lengths available will be appreciated at times (full frame 600mm equivalent is ideal and a 1.4x may even be appreciated behind this lens).
Wide apertures are often an advantage, especially on dark days, and the wide aperture's ability to blur the background can be useful.
Any telephoto lens can work, but there may be times when an f/4 or wider aperture is preferred.
This is a great event to break out your big lenses for and it is also a great time to try a new one, perhaps via renting
My current plan is to take a pair of high-resolution cameras such as the Canon EOS 5Ds R
along with a 600mm lens such as the
Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM Lens
(probably along with a Black Rapid shoulder strap
to carry it with) and a telephoto zoom lens such as the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens
for my primary wildlife kit.
In this location, I plan to carry both setups in a MindShift Gear FirstLight 40L
We will sit together in a line on small folding stools while photographing streamside and a strong tripod
with a gimbal head
I'll leave my backpack on the ground/sand beside me (on a garbage bag to keep it clean) with the second camera and lens ready to grab when the bears get too close for the big lens (expect them to get very close at times).
Bring some basic landscape photography gear.
Bring adequate memory card capacity, enough batteries to last at least a day and enough chargers to restore that capability overnight.
Bringing a laptop is highly recommended, enabling review of your images throughout the time we have together.
Bring an external hard drive (or multiple of them) for an additional level of backup.
Bring a flashlight.
Consider what failure of any piece of gear means for your experience and consider bringing a backup for items identified as critical.
As always, feel free to ask us for gear advice.
Weather / Clothing
The weather in Katmai in late September is typically very nice, though cool and sometimes even cold (mostly mornings and late evenings).
Dressing in layers is the best plan.
Rain protection may be required at times, including rain covers for camera gear while in the field.
The wildlife we are pursuing is acclimated to humans and does not seem to care what we are wearing.
Thus, camo clothing is not necessary.
Just in case you were wondering, bears think salmon taste much better than people.
Sign Up or Ask Questions!
Contact me at Bryan@Carnathan.com
I've just returned from an awesome 17-day trip to Colorado, hanging with some great people, and taking (more than) a few pictures.
As I began unpacking, I thought I'd keep track of what I removed and share with you what was in my backpacks for this trip.
While leading photography workshops was my primary purpose for being in Colorado, I can instruct best when I am shooting myself.
Those, I needed gear appropriate for what we were photographing — wildlife and landscape.
As this site is also a higher priority than my personal photography, I needed to do field testing of as much new gear as possible at the same time.
Flying meant my gear was limited to what would fit in my max-airline-dimensions checked bag, a carry-on, and a personal item.
My photo trip packing strategy is to put the items with the most value (both financially and for the shoot) and the items most sensitive to damage in my carry-on and personal item camera backpacks that go with me onto the plane.
Unless my checked bag is under the 50 lb weight limit (it seldom is and the bag I checked for this trip registered exactly 50.0 lbs on the scale), I'm also interested in putting the densest (think metal) items in my carry-on and personal item packs (I've not yet had these bags weighed for domestic USA flights).
The MindShift Gear FirstLight 40L
and MindShift Gear BackLight 18L
are my current favorite camera backpacks for travel.
The larger pack goes on my back with the waist belt tightened enough for the weight to be supported on my waist — not my shoulders.
The smaller pack goes on in reverse direction — a front pack — with the waist belt clipped around the front of the case (to get it out of the way).
Here is the list of what is (or was) in the two backpacks along with some interspersed reasoning:
- Canon EOS R
- Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens
- Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM Lens
- Sony a7R IV. This camera was shipped to me in Colorado and served as my primarily wildlife camera and Sony-mount landscape lens test camera.
- Two Sony a7R III cameras. These were backups in case the two Sony a7R IV cameras did not arrive for some reason. One was needed when an a7R IV had to be returned for a sensor that I could not get clean.
- Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS Lens with a Wimberley AP-616 Replacement Foot. This was my primary wildlife lens. It is awesome.
- Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS Lens with a Wimberley AP-620 Replacement Foot. On my review list, this lens was a good complement to the 600 f/4 and a great wildlife lens on its own. it is packed in the larger backpack, under a camera and some lenses
- Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter. This little teleconverter and its 2x sibling are seen stacked in their compact and very protective cases beside the mount end of the 600 f/4. The 1.4x saw some use.
- Sony FE 2x Teleconverter. This teleconverter did not see daylight on this trip.
- Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens with a Wimberley AP-610 Replacement Foot. I couldn't leave home without it for this trip. Aside from being a backup to the 200-600, I was not sure that 200mm would be wide enough for environmental portraits. While I ended up not using this lens, the wider focal lengths it has (vs. the 200-600) would have been useful at times.
- Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM Lens. This is a superb landscape lens that I used with the Sony a7R IV for landscape photography.
- Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Lens. I needed to plug some of the gap between 35mm and 100mm. This lens was compact and provides the image quality I needed.
- Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM Lens. When 24mm works for my astrophotography needs, this is the best lens available for that purpose and that is why it was along.
- Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens. I was able to get my hands on this promising new, little, inexpensive lens before leaving. Though I need to review more images captured with this lens, it appears to be the bargain I thought it would be.
- Really Right Stuff BH-40 Ball Head. The larger lenses were supported on a monopod most of the time, leaving the tripod needs to landscape purposes and this head was perfect for that use — compact and solid.
- 9 (mostly Breakthrough) filters. These included several sizes of circular polarizer filters and several 82mm neutral density filter densities. These were layered over the gear shown in the smaller pack.
- Several step-up filter adapter rings. I used these to adapt the 82mm ND filters to narrower lens filter threads on both my own and client's lenses.
- ProMediaGear, RRS, or Kirk L-plates were on most camera bodies along with a hex key wrench included in all bags.
- Really Right Stuff MPR-CL Rail with Integral Clamp (5.7"). I included this accessory to facilitate panorama landscape techniques.
- Lens filter wrenches, 2 small and 2 large, in each pack. These cheap, light accessories can save the day.
- A supply of Visible Dust Sensor Cleaning Swabs in each pack.
- Black Diamond Spot 325 Headlamp. The buttons are not the easiest to use, but this small, lightweight light is otherwise just what I need.
- Swarovski 8x30 CL B Companion Wild Nature Binocular. I have a decent quality large binocular that I don't carry because it is too large and heavy and I have a small binocular that I don't use because the optisc are poor. This Swarovski binocular is just the right size and the optics are excellent. Your eyes will thank you when looking through this model.
- 4 spare batteries — 2 for each camera brand. Note that Li-ION batteries must be carried on the plane.
- Roughly 2.5TB of SD memory capacity. I don't like to re-use memory cards when traveling and the Sony a7R IV's 120GB uncompressed RAW files fill high capacity memory cards very quickly.
- Dell XPS 13 laptop (with an awesome Samsung 2TB 970 EVO Plus NVMe M.2 Internal SSD) and power supply.
- 2 external hard drives (Seagate 5TB and WD 4TB). Images from memory cards are copied to both drives daily. One drive stays in my car, one drive stays in the house/hotel, and the memory cards stay in my pocket upon being filled. I sometimes mail the filled/used memory cards home.
- Logitech MX Anywhere Bluetooth Mouse
- Keith Titanium water bottle. I go through TSA with the bottle empty and fill it on the way to the gate. There is then no need to wait for the water service on the plane.
- Garbage bags. They are small, light, cheap, and very useful for a variety of needs.
- A jacket with large pockets. If the worst case happened and I could not get a bag onto the plane, I can at least fill the jacket pockets with as much gear as possible.
Camera gear in the checked bag included:
- Really Right Stuff TVC-24L Mk2 Carbon Fiber Tripod. As already mentioned, the larger lenses were supported on a monopod most of the time, leaving the tripod needs to landscape purposes and this model was perfect for that use — light and solid.
- Really Right Stuff MC-34 Carbon Fiber Monopod
- 3 LensCoat camera rain covers
- 4 battery chargers — 2 for each camera brand. These mission-critical items were in my carry-on on the flight out, but they had reduced value to me on the return flight (they could easily be replaced). Being relatively light, I put them in my checked bag and moved heavier items to the backpacks.
I needed to remove enough weight from the checked bag for the Sony a7R IV box to be packed home. Yes, having the original box helps with resale value — it is psychologically important to some and therefore monetarily important to me.
- BlackRapid Breathe Sport Camera Strap (I opt for the "Left" model for big lenses) with a Really Right Stuff B2-FABN Screw-Knob Clamp.
Note that all of the links in this post lead to reviews on this site or the product pages of our affiliate retailers.
Hopefully you have found this information at least entertaining and watching me carry the gear through the airport is probably even more so.
– SIGMA Corporation is pleased to announce the upcoming launch of interchangeable lenses for the Canon EF-M mount digital camera series with APS-C image sensors.
SIGMA will gradually introduce the lenses as members of the Contemporary line.
The new Canon EF-M mount models will feature a newly and exclusively developed control algorithm that optimizes the autofocus drive and maximizes the data transmission speed.
In addition, these lenses will be compatible with Servo AF and lens aberration correction.
The lineup will include the Contemporary line set of three prime lenses 16mm, 30mm, and 56mm.
While retaining the compact, lightweight and outstanding image quality concepts of the Contemporary line, this new large-aperture lens series covering from wide to mid-tele angle provides the amount of bokeh and admirable brightness expected from F1.4 to be enjoyed on Canon EF-M mount cameras.
- Impressively compact construction with image quality rivaling SIGMA’s Art line.
To achieve such a compact construction, the lens design is considered based on the capabilities of the camera body function to correct peripheral light amount and distortion. A compactness and lightweight construction combined with superb image quality is achieved.
- Smooth AF ideal for video shooting
The combination of optical design for video AF and use of the stepping motor enables smooth and quiet autofocus. This lens is also compatible with the camera’s Face + Tracking AF.
- Data loaded for compatibility with in-camera aberration correction
The lenses will be fully compatible* with in-camera aberration correction, which includes corrections for peripheral illumination, chromatic aberrations and distortion. By matching corrections to the optical characteristics of the lens, this function takes image quality to an even higher level.
- Available Mount Conversion Service
This service converts the mount of SIGMA lenses to that of a different camera body, allowing photographers to continue using their favorite lenses over the long term regardless of camera system.
* Only when the camera is compatible.
EF-M Mount Models
- SIGMA 16mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary
- SIGMA 30mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary
- SIGMA 56mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary
Mount Conversion Service is available to convert other mounts of SIGMA 16mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary, SIGMA 30mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary and SIGMA 56mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary for Canon EF-M mount.
In order to apply for the service, please contact your nearest authorized SIGMA subsidiary or distributor.
carries Sigma lenses