Bald Eagle Photography Workshop

Join me for one week of bald eagle photography in world renown Southeast Alaska. The Chilkat River Bald Eagle Preserve is world famous for the incredible bald eagle gathering there in late fall. It’s the place to go for bald eagle photos. This November we’ll be there once again.

The trip is designed to appeal to either beginners and intermediate photographers looking to learn about technical wildlife photography concerns, such as exposure and focus and flight photography, as well as more advanced photographers, comfortable with their skillset and technical understanding, looking for a great opportunity to produce a great portfolio of bald eagle photos.

A bald eagle and a black-billed magpie, Haines, Alaska

The southeastern St. Elias Mountain Range is a stunning backdrop for these photos. Rugged, soaring peaks photograph well with rugged, soaring eagles.

Your own private accommodations, no need to share a room here.

A diverse variety of bird species to photograph as well as the eagles.

Late in the season typically means more snow, less dirt, and better photography opportunities.

Limited to just 4 clients

  • – Accommodation in Haines, Alaska
  • – All ground transportation
  • – 7 days, 6 nights
  • – Bald eagle and landscape photography
  • – Small, customized photo group
  • – Flexible itinerary
  • – Photography instruction and image review/critique

Join me for this tour  〉

Bald Eagles Fishing. Flying. Feeding. Fighting.

The action is always a thrill. Bald eagles gather in large numbers every fall for the last great supper before they head south over the winter.  The annual count varies, but numbers as high as 3500 bald eagles along the river are not uncommon.

The eagles spend almost as much time fighting as they do feeding. It’s fascinating behavior to observe, and can make for some dynamic photo opportunities.

There’s not much activity you won’t get to see and photograph on this tour.

Our small personalized photography workshop and tour puts you and your photography in the right place. At the right time.

Upon your arrival in Haines, Alaska, we’ll pick you up, and take care of just about everything from there (meals not included). Transport. Accommodations. Instruction.

You and your camera do the rest.

Well, you and your camera and the eagles do the rest.

Juvenile bald eagle attacks an adult bald eagle for food on the Chilkat River, Alaska.

Bald Eagle. American Eagle.

This tour is all about the eagles. You’ll watch and photograph bald eagles attacking one another, talons bared, wings spread, defending their stash. You’ll photograph bald eagles in flight, soaring against a backdrop of the world’s highest coastal mountain range.

You’ll learn start to identify behaviors, such as shows of dominance. The hierarchies of the bald eagle “flock” are readily apparent.

On any given day, we may well photograph over 50 different eagles.

Attack shots. Soaring and swooping shots. Fishing and fighting. Portraits and poses.

Want to learn more about bald eagles?  〉

Your Trip Details

Plant yourself along the shores of the famous Chilkat River, in Southeast Alaska. The towering St. Elias Mountain Range loom all around, proving a near perfect backdrop for your photography.

Bald eagles sit perched in Cottonwood trees behind you. In front of you. Beside you. Eagles soar in the sky above you. Eagles sit on the snow-covered gravel bars of the Chilkat. The cold mountain air rings with a series of high-pitched whistling or piping notes as the eagles display their dominance, and chatter about how amazing they are.

The Chilkat Eagle Preserve is simply an incredible experience in the fall. One of the largest gatherings of eagles in the world. A late run of Chum salmon give. the eagles a much needed late supply of food before the river freezes over and the eagles must venture further south for the winter.

Photography opportunities typically include eagles soaring and banking overhead, taking flight and coming in for the landing. Eagle attacks as they fight, often astonishing viciously over their food. Bald eagles dragging a 5-10lb salmon from the river. Bald eagles perched on a branch in the woods. Almost any typical of shot you might conjur up can happen here.

My small private workshop, a maximum of four clients, means we can focus on both your experience and your photography. It’s hard to beat the Chilkat when it comes to both of those things.

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2017 Dates

Nov 12-19, 2016
Nov 19-26, 20-16

2017 Dates

TBA

Trip Cost

One week = $2500
Two weeks = $3900

Workshop or Tour

Most of the photo trips I run are photo tours, not photo workshops. The emphasis is on putting you in the right place at the right time, and organizing a productive, safe and rewarding photography tour for you.

This trip is a little more instructional, and so I advertise it as a workshop.

The primary things I focus on with novice to intermediate photographers are

  • i) learn how to shoot in manual exposure mode
  • ii) know your various AF modes
  • iii) know how to find, read and interpret your RGB histogram
  • iv) practice trying to anticipate behavior and compositions. Learn to see what is NOT in front of you.
  • v) Enjoy yourself.

The more work you can do on these things BEFORE your trip, the stronger your photography will be for your trip. So do your practice, and do your homework.

Obviously if you have specific photography related questions, we’ll go though some of those as well.

For those folks who are interested, we’ll go over basics of bald eagle photography; exposure and shutter speed, flight photography, picking your subject, picking your window, etc. We’ll look at the basics of in-the-field wildlife photography such as anticipating the action, being in the best spot you can to shoot, and knowing your subject.

We’ll also look at metering mode choices, reading and understanding your histograms. Whether you’re a beginner with wildlife photography, or an intermediate – advanced photographer looking for a well organized tour to maximize your field opportunities I’ll do my best to accommodate you.

Orientations

You arrive in Haines, AK, either by ferry, road or plane. Most folks come in by ferry. I’ll pick up, well check you in at the hotel where you have your own private room, with most modern amenities. Get situated, we’ll have a brief safety orientation and lunch at what is my favorite little cafe in all of Alaska, Mountain Market. Then we’ll head up the river to go do some photography.

Back in town, you can download images, clean up and we’ll go out to dinner. There are a few restaurants in town to choose from. Haines being a quiet little fishing village tucked away in a remote part of southeast Alaska, food choices can be limited, of course, but the fare is typically good. Most places supplement with a wonderful  touch of friendly small town service. Haines is a great little town.

The hotel doesn’t include a breakfast, but each room has its own kitchenette, and the grocery store is directly across the street. Or, it’s just a couple blocks’ walk down to Market Market for a Breakfast Burrito and a latté.

Daily trips we head up the river to shoot. it’s a 30-40 minute drive, depending on road conditions. For lunch, we can either swing back in to town and get a bite and hot drink, or plan head and bring a lunch from town. Either is fine, and we can work those details out as a group. There’s also a small restaurant available just north of our shooting locations we can make a run to if you’d like.

Meals & Wheels

All your transport is taken care of once you arrive in Haines. I have a couple of conversion vans, 15 seater vans converted to captains chairs that will comfortably fit up to 7 people, so with a small group we’re not crowded. There’s plenty of room for your camera gear and bulky extra clothing layers as well.

I bring both a satellite phone and an emergency backup satellite connected messaging device, incase of emergency out of cell phone reach. I have two first aid kits with me as well. The All Wheel Drive van includes a safety tow strap, snow shovel, two full-size spare tires, flares and reflectors as well. There is a fire extinguisher under the back seat.

There are a limited number of options for eateries in town, but most folks have given positive feedback of the food and service. I typically buy groceries for my breakfast and some snacks and a couple lunches as well. If you’d rather eat out, the Bamboo Room up the road is open for hot breakfast.

I also suggest it’s a good idea to bring a thermos and cup. A hot coffee or tea or coca is a nice treat when the photography slows down on the middle of a cold and snowy day.

In The Field

Your photography is the focus of the trip. We aim to spend most day light hours in the field. While there are a range of species around that might be nice to photograph, I definitely that if you want good eagle photos, spend your time concentrating on photographing eagles. So other species are secondary.

Birdlife is mixed, but we’ve had a good time photographing ravens and black billed magpies, hairy and downy woodpeckers, glaucous-winged and Bonaparte’s gulls, American Dipper, Trumpeter swans, mallards and teal.

Non-bird species we’ve seen and photographed in the area include coyote, fox, grizzly bears, moose, mink, weasel, and snowshoe hare. But remember, this isn’t a general “see ’em and shoot ’em” photography workshop, so we don’t usually spend a lot of time on anything other than the eagles.

Cameras and Clothes

Upon your reservation I’ll include a detailed trip packet with information about your clothing gear and camera gear requirements. For now, it’s safe to say you want long, fast lenses, solid autofocus, a sturdy tripod and plenty of memory cards.

Although it’s not the arctic, wind and cold can be a challenge. you want arctic wear clothing. Big, burly pac-boots, a thick down or similar parka, hats and gloves, and so on. The temperatures will likely dip down around the freezing range, or below, but there’s no need to be uncomfortable if well-dressed.

Terms & Conditions

The Terms and Conditions for all Expeditions Alaska trips, my guiding business, can be found on the website here.

This tour is limited in scope, by weather and available space, so it fills up early. If you’re at all interested in the tour, I strongly suggest you contact me asap via the form below, and we look at availability and waiting lists. Thank you.


Inquire For More Info

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Itinerary

Flexibility matters when it comes to productive photography. In order to optimize your photo opportunities, we need to be fluid with out schedule. Adapting to changing conditions and situations is more effective than rigidly outlining and sticking to some preconceived plan.

So, with that caveat out of the way

Day 0 – Arrive in Juneau, AK, overnight there (not included).

Day 1 – Travel by ferry or plane to Haines (not included). We’ll pick you up, and transport you to the hotel, and checked in.

After lunch and a brief orientation, we’ll head up the river for the afternoon to photograph. Back to town, a shower and we’ll meet up for dinner.

Day 2/6 – Head out after breakfast and we’ll go to work on some bald eagle photography. Some days we come back to town for lunch, and head out again for the afternoon. Other days, we’ll bring a lunch and drinks and snacks and stay out all day. Those decisions will be made during the trip, with the input of the group.

Day 7 – We can go out for a shoot in the morning if you’d like. It’ll depend primarily on your departure schedules. If you have an afternoon flight, or are planning on leaving the following day, I can accommodate that.

Most folks will check out, shoot some in the morning, return to town and I’ll drop them at the airport of ferry terminal for their departure.

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What’s Included?

Your own room, with modern accommodations and amenities.

Transport in and around Haines, up the Chilkat River to the preserve in a comfortable All Wheel Drive conversion van.

Experienced, licensed and permitted guide.

Photography instruction.

Photo processing instruction if desired.

Safety provisions include satellite phone, first aid kits, emergency travel equipment.

What’s Not Included?

Meals.

Trip insurance (recommended).

Gratuities.

Transport to/from Haines.

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Bald Eagles – Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Portraits are always a favorite as well, and a great time to really learn about composition and exposure.Bald eagles are a wonderful subject. Each bird has its own personality, it’s own sense of character. You’ll enjoy coming to recognize and know individual birds from one another.

They’ll often fly by at speeds as high as 30mph, and, when diving, can even hit 100mph. A good auto focus system and a fast lens can be a big help to photograph these birds. With some practice, you’ll improve your flight shooting dramatically. We’ll also focus on timing, capturing a specific moment or piece of action; takeoffs, landings, etc.

Bald eagles LOVE to fight. From observation, they love to fight almost as much as they love to eat. A friend of mine joked that bald eagles appear to prefer to fight for a salmon than catch their own, and he may well be right! This can make for some dramatic photography, as 2, or more, bald eagles clash in mid-air, or tangle on the ground. A bird on the ground with a salmon is vulnerable to aerial attacks, and it’s an incredible experience to watch and photograph these birds fighting over a meal.

The bald eagles congregate here to feast on the incredible late run of Chum Salmon that make their way up river to spawn. Depending on the year, the eagle count here in November has been as high as 3000 and more eagles. It’s a phenomenal natural spectacle, to watch so many eagles soaring, diving, fighting and competing for food.

We’ll aim to shoot a diverse selection of images; portraits and closeup shots of perched eagles, eagles calling, flying, diving and fighting over fish, wider landscape-style images showing the habitat and surrounding environs, and all the action we can see.

The American Bald Eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, feeds mostly on fish; though they’ll scavenge meat of any kind. With a wing span as great as 7′ across, they’re a photogenic bird in full flight, those enormous wings spread wide as they soar against the snow-capped mountains in the background.

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VIDEO

FAQs

1. What length lens do I need?

With any wildlife photography, more is better. Sure, sometimes you can make an astonishing photograph with your wide angle lens. In fact, I love that kind of wildlife photography. But in general, longer will beat shorter.

My camera setup for Haines includes two bodies (one FX and one DX body), and a 500mm lens. I also shoot a lot with my 80-400mm lens. But the 500mm, with a TC sometimes, is the bread and butter. My advice is you want at least a 300mm lens.

2. What other subjects will we see and photograph.

Most of my wildlife photography tours tend to be subject specific. This tour is all about the eagles. There are a some other wildlife species around. We’ve seen moose, coyotes, fox, mink, weasel, even bears.

Bird life can be the best bet. You’ll see and photograph black-billed magpies, raven, American dipper. Gulls are abundant, including Glaucous-winged, herring and Bonaparte gulls. Downy and hairy woodpecker are typically around. Trumpeter swans are common, and duck species include mallards, teals and wigeon. Occasionally we even see loons on a fly-by!

It’s my opinion that wildlife photography is more productive and rewarding when we focus on single species. Should you wish, the opportunity arise to reasonably photograph other species is more than likely.

3. Clothing?

Cold coastal weather means heavy, insulate clothing. Upon your reservation I’ll forward you a comprehensive clothing list. Feel free to download the Trip Info eBook here if you’re looking for more information at the moment.

4. Weather?

Coastal Alaska in November/early December. Temperatures should hover around freezing, hopefully just below.

Colder is better. We want snow, not rain.

Winds can be adversarial down the valley.

5. Communications in town?

Wireless internet is available at the hotel; there are also hot spots in town you can purchase an account through. Cell service works for most major providers.

6. Two Person Discount

Each guest gets their own room. If you would like to share a room with your partner, let me know and we’ll discount your rate accordingly.

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