Whitetail Rut in Shenandoah National Park Instructional Photo Tour

Alert Whitetail Buck, Shenandoah National Park

One of my primary goals is to help you get great images, and to that end, I invite you to join me in Shenandoah National park to photograph the wildlife and landscape this incredible location has to offer.


2 Openings: Sunday, November 14 — Thursday, November 18, 2021

The plan is to meet at the lodge on Sunday evening and photograph most daylight hours Monday through Thursday.


Hopefully, you, along with 2 (3 at most) others. Large group workshops are substantially more profitable from a business perspective, but serious wildlife 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.

Featured Review of this Workshop

"I had the pleasure of spending a few days with Bryan photographing deer during the rut. It was an exceptional experience — both the rut and Bryan's help. He knows the animal behavior, the site, and, of course, photography inside-out and is extremely generous with sharing that knowledge. He was continually concerned with my experience and always put my shot ahead of his own — even to the point of encouraging me to be rude, and not even worry about passing in front of his lens, when trying to position myself. And, he is just great company and a pleasure to hang out with. Very highly recommended."

"I think you're an awesome leader."

Matt H


The cost for this IPT is $1,490 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!

Whitetail Buck in the Forest, Shenandoah National Park

What are We Photographing?

Our primary photo subject will be wildlife. By definition, wildlife is "wild," and that means it is unpredictable, and there can be no guarantees. That said, Shenandoah National Park is a very reliable location to photograph whitetail deer, and the environment here is especially photogenic.

During much of the year, the whitetail buck in SNP have their heads down feeding. That practice changes during the rut when whitetail bucks exhibit great behavior. Late fall colors provide our backdrop, and very few park visitors are expected at this time of the year.

We will be opportunistic and take advantage of any additional wildlife subjects that we encounter. Bears are plentiful in this park, though they are good at eluding me in November. In addition to the immersive wildlife photography experience, we will have landscape photography opportunities, with incredible sunrises and sunsets being a strong potential.

My time in the field is limited, and I look for locations with a high probability of good photo opportunities when I make the time investment. Shenandoah National Park rarely lets me down. We will work hard to improve your photography skills, including photo critiques (if desired), and capturing some great images is a goal. We'll have a good time along the way, hanging out with a group sharing the passion.


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. 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.

Physical Requirements

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 wildlife photography opportunities encountered. Still, we will be carrying our gear through the woods, tall grass, and light brush over hilly terrain at times.

What is Included

Transportation during the experience and everything described in the Tour/Workshop/Adventure/Expedition section above, is included. By not including the items listed below in the fee, individuals are free to choose their level of spending.

What is Not Included

If our schedules can align, I may be able to provide transportation to and from the Dulles International Airport or to and from anywhere directly on my route from the north — primarily RT 81. Otherwise, transportation to/from Skyland Resort is not included. All participants are required to have an entrance pass for Shenandoah National Park (an NPS requirement).

Lodging is not included. We will be staying at the Skyland Resort, a national park lodge. I usually get a basic room, but other options are available, including cabins. I am happy to connect you with other participants if a shared room is desired.

Food and drinks are not included. Because of this location's remoteness, our food will primarily consist of what is offered at Skyland Resort (dining room, take out, or taproom), along with any food brought along into the park. We will typically begin photographing before food services are open in the morning, so plan to pack breakfast to eat before the morning shoots. I take a cooler with jugs of ice, and ice is available at the lodge (you need a bag/bucket to transport it from the ice machine). Pack granola bars and other snacks/food along to keep energy levels up while photographing. We often decide we don't want to leave the action to find lunch, and sandwiches and other to-go snacks are usually available for purchase at Skyland Resort. Plan to have water or other drink available to take with you.

Buck in the Brush, Shenandoah National Park


At this time of the year, the days are getting shorter, and the nights are correspondingly getting longer. Our best opportunities will be found early and late in the day. and we will target these times. Still, it is usually worth staying out all day. The sun is relatively low in the sky, and the animals typically remain active during the day. The plans are very flexible, and we can target any specific interests the group has.

Big Meadows Whitetail Buck

Cancellation Policy

Travel insurance is strongly recommended. Planning a workshop is very time consuming with associated, 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.

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Email me at Bryan@Carnathan.com to sign up or ask questions!

10-Point Whitetail Buck

Camera Gear Needed

Aside from a great attitude and a strong interest in learning wildlife photography, you are going to need some gear. While most cameras with a telephoto lens will work fine for this event, mid-upper-grade gear is optimal.

When photographing bucks in rut, I am not as concerned about a fast frame rate as with some other subjects. There will be times when a fast frame rate is beneficial, but rut posturing often occurs at slower speeds, and I usually opt for higher resolution cameras. 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. 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 other lenses and 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.

Old Rag Mountain, Shenandoah National Park

We can potentially 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 Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens), along with circular polarizer and neutral density filters.

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 adequate memory card capacity, enough batteries to last at least a day, and enough chargers to restore that capability overnight.

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.

Whitetail Buck in Morning Light

Weather / Clothing

The weather in late November is typically very nice, though cool and sometimes even cold, 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 (in regards to camo).

Insects are not typically bothersome in mid-November. Ticks are reportedly present, though I have yet to find one on me in SNP.

I will be authorized by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, to conduct services in Shenandoah National Park.

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Contact me at Bryan@Carnathan.com.

First-Light Buck, Shenandoah National Park

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