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Consider this a personal invitation to join me in Rocky Mountain National Park in mid-late September! RMNP is an incredible location (any park with "mountain" in its name has to be great) and the elk rut there is simply awesome, combining for a bucket list wildlife and outdoor photography experience. This trip is timed for the peak of the elk rut combined with what can be the peak of fall aspen color.
I have rented an ideally-located (quick access to the hot spots) home for us to stay in. Each participant will have a private room and the home will make a great base for our adventure as well as a great location to gather in for image review. Yes, we'll eat at Smokin Dave's BBQ (maybe more than once). Yes, we'll spend time along Trail Ridge Road (the highest paved road in North America).
Plan on hanging out with a small group that shares your passion for photography in a spectacularly scenic location.
When and Where
1 Opening: Sun, September 15 to Sat, September 21, 2019
1 Opening: Sun, September 22 to Sat, September 28, 2019
Wait List for 2020
We will be based in Estes Park, CO, just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park.
This trip is initially offered for 6 full days (other options will be considered – be sure to let me know of your preferred alternative). The plan is to meet in Estes Park on Sunday and we will wrap up after a morning shoot on the last day.
Hopefully you, along with 3 other participants. Large groups are far more profitable from a business perspective, but seriously photographing wildlife in the field is very challenging in large groups. Keeping the group small means better opportunities and more personal attention. It also means that we can travel together throughout the park in a single SUV.
The cost for this 6-day IPT is $2990 including lodging (an approximately $1,000 value) 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, Rocky Mountain National Park is a very reliable location to photograph rocky mountain elk and the bulls should be vying for herds of cows. In addition, the environment/scenery available for backgrounds here is excellent.
In addition to elk, we will likely see mule deer and other animals. 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 alpine tundra and Trail Ridge Road are awesome. Alluvial Fan Falls is conveniently located and other subjects abound.
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 modestly 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 (possibly in our back yard), but we will be carrying our gear through the woods and tall grass over hilly terrain at times, often attempting to keep ahead of moving wildlife. Some trail hiking is planned. Thus, one needs to be in reasonable physical condition.
What is Included
As mentioned, I have a house rented for this tour and lodging is included. This home has 5 bedrooms along with 3 or 4 bathroooms. 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
Transportation to/from the house and the required National Park entrance fee. Denver International Airport is convenient and often an inexpensive destination from an airfare perspective. I'm happy to attempt connection with other participants for sharing a ride to/from the airport.
Food. For expediency, breakfast will be on your own at the house. Typically, we will come back to the house after the morning shoot and will stop for lunch before heading out. We may pick up food to go for the evening, but will be flexible. The house is close to a small grocery store, a deli and a couple of small restaurants. Nearby Estes Park has many food options, but we will mostly avoid the heavy traffic in town there unless there is group consensus to visit a destination there.
Our best opportunities will be found early and late in the day and we will target these times. The 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 unless ... 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 learning wildlife photography, you are going to need some gear and while most cameras with a telephoto lens will work, mid-upper-grade gear should be considered for best results from this event.
There will be times when a fast frame rate is beneficial, but rut posturing is often done at slower speeds and I usually 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). 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.
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 (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 sometimes carry the second camera and smaller telephoto lens in a Lowepro Toploader Case.
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 and I always take both.
We will likely make use of a full range of landscape photography gear, including ultra-wide to wide angle lenses along with circular polarizer and neutral density filters. I'll bring a variety of other lenses and accessories.
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 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 RMNP in late September is typically very nice, though cool and sometimes even cold (mostly mornings and late evenings). Especially at higher altitudes in the park, snow can even come into play. Dressing in layers is the best plan. Rain protection may be very appreciated at times, including rain covers for camera gear while in the field.
Plan for walking in woods and tall meadow grass (that can be wet at times). The wildlife we are pursuing is acclimated to humans and does not seem to care what we are wearing. Camo clothing is not necessary, but it is an option.
The altitude at Estes Park is 7,500' and Trail Ridge Road reaches altitudes over 12,000'. If you've never experienced altitude sickness, I assure you that it is not fun. For those of us traveling from low altitudes, staying overnight, at least in Denver, the day before significant activity is a good idea.
I am authorized by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, to conduct services in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Sign Up or Ask Questions!
Contact me at Bryan@Carnathan.com.