Rocky Mountain National Park is an incredible photography location, offering abundant wildlife and spectacular scenery. The spring timing means a lower number of park visitors and is ideal for baby animals, with elk calves interacting with their mothers being a primary subject for us. Snow remaining on mountain peaks should stand out in our landscape photographs.
The plan is to stay in an ideally-located (quick access to the hot spots) house in Estes Park, CO, just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. With each participant having a private room, this home will be the base for our adventure and provide space to gather 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.
3 Openings: Sunday, May 30 to Saturday, June 5, 2022
The plan is to meet at the home on Sunday evening. We'll head out photographing early Monday, wrapping up after a morning shoot on Saturday.
Hopefully, you, along with 2 (3 at most) others. Large group workshops are substantially more profitable from a business perspective, but serious wildlife and landscape photography is very challenging in large groups. A small group means better photo opportunities and more personal attention. It also means that we can travel together throughout the park in a single SUV.
The cost for this IPT is $3,090, including lodging (an approximately $1,000 value) with a 50% deposit locking in your spot (balance is due 180 days before the IPT). Email me at Bryan@Carnathan.com to sign up or ask questions!
What are We Photographing?
Our primary photo subjects will be wildlife and landscapes. Wildlife is, of course, "wild," and that means it is unpredictable, and there can be no guarantees. That said, Rocky Mountain National Park is an extremely reliable location to photograph rocky mountain elk, the calves should be out and up, and the scenery available for backgrounds here is excellent.
In addition to elk, we will likely photograph other animals, with moose, bears, sheep, deer, and coyotes being notable possibilities. On this adventure, we will be opportunistic, taking advantage of any interesting subjects that we encounter. In addition to the immersive wildlife photography experience, we will target landscape photography opportunities. In that regard, a recent forest fire should present us with unique scenery. The views from the alpine tundra and Trail Ridge Road are always incredible.
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 challenging to implement. That said, we will spend a lot of time together. 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 priority. Therefore, I will call this an "Instructional Photo Tour."
In the field, we will photograph side-by-side. You taking great images home will be a primary goal, but 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 aspect also provides the participant opportunity to observe how to photograph wildlife and landscapes. Your constant feedback and questions during the IPT are essential, enabling me to give you 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.
Photographic Skill Requirements
Photographers at all skill levels are welcome on this IPT. Beginners will quickly learn the basics, moving up to the next levels of competency. Experts should expect to be challenged.
This event will be modestly strenuous, with much of the strain dependent on the size and weight of the gear you are carrying. There will likely be some easy opportunities encountered, but we will be carrying our gear through the woods, tall grass, and light brush over hilly terrain at times.
What is Included
Lodging with a private bedroom is included. Transportation during this 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 to choose their level of spending.
What is Not Included
Transportation to/from the rental house and the Rocky Mountain National Park requires each participant to have a park pass. Denver International Airport is conveniently located 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 and drinks are not included. For expediency, breakfast will be on your own at the house. Typically, we will come back to the house after the morning shoot before heading out for second breakfast or early lunch. We may pick up food to go for the evening. A small grocery store, a deli, and a couple of small restaurants are conveniently located. Nearby Estes Park also has many food options.
Our best opportunities will be found early, and late in the day holds promise. We will target these times. As mentioned, we will typically come back to the house after the morning shoot, grab a meal and perhaps a meal to go, load, review, and backup images. Especially with the nights being short, afternoon naps may be required. We'll head back out late afternoon. The plans are all very flexible, and we can accommodate any specific interests the group has.
Travel insurance is strongly recommended. Planning a workshop is very time-consuming, with significant associated and often non-refundable costs. If a cancellation notice is provided within more than 180 days of the workshop start date, a full refund minus a $195 administrative fee will be provided. Cancellation notices received within 180 days of the workshop start date will not generate a refund unless that workshop opening can be re-filled, in which case, a full refund minus a $195 administrative fee will be provided.
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 and landscape photography, you are going to need some gear. While most cameras will work fine for this event, mid-upper-grade gear is optimal. A DSLR camera or a late-model MILC (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera) is recommended.
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. 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 for breaking out your big lenses, and it is also a great time to try new ones, perhaps via renting.
My current plan is to take a pair of high-resolution cameras (probably Canon EOS R5 bodies) along with a 600mm lens (probably the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM Lens) and a telephoto zoom lens (probably the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens for my primary wildlife kit. I'll bring a variety of accessories, including a Black Rapid shoulder strap to carry the big lens.
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 (such as the Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens) and standard zoom lenses (the Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens, for example). Bring circular polarizer and neutral density filters. If the night sky is clear and dark (and we are willing to stay up late enough), the milky way is spectacular when photographed from this park. For that subject, you will want a wide-aperture, wide-angle lens.
Bring adequate memory card capacity, enough batteries to last at least a day, and enough chargers to restore that capability overnight. 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, preferably a headlight. Binoculars are not required, but they may be found useful.
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 May and Early June is typically comfortable, though cool and sometimes even cold (mostly mornings and late evenings). Dressing in layers is optimal. Waterproof boots and clothing are strongly recommended, including rain covers for camera gear while in the field.
Plan for walking in woods and in tall meadow grass that can be wet at times.
Be aware that the altitude at Estes Park is 7,500' and Trail Ridge Road reaches over 12,000'. If you've never experienced altitude sickness, I assure you that it is not fun. Arriving early enough for acclimation is the best defense.
I will be 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.