Please visit the Photography Workshops page for the latest openings.
One of my primary goals is to help you get great images and I'd love for you to join me for 3 or 6 days of wildlife and outdoor photography in this great location. I have made space in the schedule and have the necessary Shenandoah National Park permit in hand.
When and Where: Sun, June 9 to Wed, June 12, 2019 and/or Wed, June 12 - Sat, June 15, 2019 in Shenandoah National Park
This trip is offered in a choice of 3 or 6 days (other options will be considered). The plan is to meet at the lodge on Sunday and/or Wed mid-day and we will wrap up after a morning shoot on the last day.
Hopefully you, along with 3 (at most) others. While large groups are far more profitable from a business perspective, photographing wildlife in the field is challenging in large groups and keeping the group small means better opportunities and more personal attention.
The cost for this IPT is $995 per 3 days with a 50% deposit locking in your spot (balance is due 90 days prior to the IPT). Email me at Bryan@Carnathan.com to sign up or ask questions!
What are We Photographing?
Our primary photo subject will be wildlife. Wildlife, by definition, is "wild" and that means it is unpredictable and there can be no guarantees. That said, Shenandoah National Park is one of the best locations in the world to photograph whitetail deer and whitetail fawns are one of the cutest creatures on the face of this planet (it seems that everyone loves pictures of them). The timing for this trip is such that most of the fawns will be recently-born and the foliage for the always-important image backgrounds, which are also excellent here, should include beautiful bright green colors. Even with the high whitetail density found in SNP, fawns remain quite challenging to photograph, but the rewards are worth the effort.
Deer are not the only wildlife subject found here and, especially at this time of the year, there is high likelihood that black bears will avail themselves as subjects along with a variety of birds and other smaller mammals. We will be opportunistic and take advantage of any subjects that we encounter – and those moments are part of the excitement. In addition to the immersive wildlife photography experience, there will certainly be opportunity for some landscape photography. My time in the field is limited and I need to have a high probability of good opportunities when I make such time investment. SNP rarely lets me down in that regard. Basically, we will work hard to capture some great images, attempting to build out your portfolio and light up your social feeds as well as working on improving your photography skills. And, we'll have fun along the way.
A Sense of Urgency for this Trip
CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) has been detected within 11 miles of SNP (according to the SNP wildlife biologist I talked to in Mar 2018). This awful disease is always fatal to deer and when it reaches within 5 miles of the park, implementation of an already-established plan will significantly reduce the deer population here. That means this awesome experience is at high risk and that is one of the reasons I make this location a priority.
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 a moderately strenuous trip, with much of the strain dependent on the size and weight of the gear you are carrying. There will likely be some easy wildlife photography opportunities encountered, but we will be carrying our gear through the woods, tall grass and light brush over hilly terrain, often attempting to keep ahead of moving wildlife. Thus, one needs to be in reasonable physical condition.
What is Included
Transportation during the experience along with everything described in the Tour/Workshop/Adventure/Expedition section above is included. By not including the items listed below in the fee, individuals are able choose their level of spending.
What is Not Included
If staying for the entire duration of the trip and as long as our schedules align, I can provide transportation to and from the Dulles International Airport region or from anywhere directly on my route from the north — primarily RT 81. Otherwise, transportation to/from Skyland Resort is not included. Also, the National Park-required entrance fee is additionally required.
Lodging. We will be staying at the Big Meadows Lodge. I usually get a very basic lodge room, but other options are available, ranging from camping to cabins. I am happy to connect you with other participants if a shared room are desired.
Food. Because of the remoteness of this location, our food will primarily consist of what is offered at the Wayside Diner or the park lodge along with any food brought along into the park or purchased at the camp store. Because it gets light very early at this time of the year (getting enough sleep will be one of our challenges), we will begin photographing before services are open. I usually pack breakfast to eat in my room prior to the morning shoots. I take a cooler with jugs of ice and ice is available at the lodge (you need bag/bucket to transport it from the ice machine). Typically, we will eat second breakfast/early lunch (or perhaps both) at the Wayside Diner (usually open 8-8 at this time of the year) or optionally the lodge and we will likely eat at the lodge for early or late dinner (it closes at 9:00). I suggest packing granola bars and/or bringing other snacks along while photographing (especially in case we find an amazing subject that we don't want to leave). Plan to have water or other drink available to take with you.
At this time of the year, the days are long and the nights are correspondingly short. Our best opportunities will be found early and late in the day and we will target these times. Fatigue can dampen mental and physical sharpness, so we will usually return to our rooms mid-day for some downtime and a nap. We will go back out mid-late afternoon and stay out until the light level drops too low for good images. These plans are all very flexible and we can target any specific interests the group has.
Travel insurance is strongly recommended. If a cancellation notice is received between 90 and 179 days before the workshop start date, a 50% refund of any payments made will be provided. If a cancellation notice is provided within less than 90 days of the workshop, no refund of payments made will be provided ... regardless of the cancellation notice received date, any workshop openings that are re-filled will be refunded payment in full minus a $195 administrative fee.
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 photographing wildlife, you are going to need some gear and mid-upper-grade gear should be considered for good results from this event.
For fawns, a camera with a reasonably fast frame rate (fawns are almost constantly moving) and high-performing AF system is preferred, though not required. This generally means 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 is preferred. Wildlife activity is greatest early and late, so wide apertures are often an advantage 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.
Ideal is a camera such as the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with a Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens (with built-in 1.4x extender) or Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM Lens. The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens is usually in my primary wildlife kit. I'll bring a variety of other lenses and accessories including a Black Rapid shoulder strap to carry the big lenses with.
I primarily use a monopod while photographing wildlife in this location. It is not as stable as a tripod and requires more effort to use, but it is much faster to set up and adjust. While neither are mandatory, one or both is preferred. I always take both to this location.
We can potentially make use of a full range of landscape photography gear, including ultra-wide to wide angle lenses and circular polarizer and ND filters.
It is highly recommended to bring a laptop, enabling review of your images during our time together. Bring an external hard drive for an additional level of backup. Bring adequate memory card capacity, enough batteries to last at least a day with enough chargers to restore that capability overnight.
Consider what failure of any piece of gear means for your experience. Consider bringing a backup for items identified as critical.
As always, feel free to ask us for gear advice.
Weather / Clothing
The weather in early June is typically very nice in Shenandoah National Park. However, the mountain can create its own weather and that can be at least somewhat unpredictable. Rain gear may be very appreciated at times, including rain covers for camera gear while in the field.
Plan for walking in light brush (including mild briars) and woods. The wildlife we are pursuing is acclimated to humans and does not seem to care what we are wearing (though you might get their attention if you look like a black bear, a primary deer predator). Camo clothing is not necessary, but it is a good option. I wear mostly camo and part of the reason is to be less obvious to other park visitors.
Insects can be annoying here and ticks are reportedly present (I have yet to find one on me at this location). Permethrin and other insect repellent may be appreciated and I also wear a ball cap to help keep gnats out of my eyes (and avoid sunburn). Especially mid-day, shorts may prove the most comfortable option at times.
Sign Up or Ask Questions!
Contact me at Bryan@Carnathan.com.