Winter is a magical time in Yellowstone, when the world has turned white and the darker animals are easier to find but not so easy to photograph.
Ever wonder how I get those beautiful images of the wolves and other animals in the snow? Well, it took years of practice and trial and error, all while learning nature’s cues on how to find what might be hidden just beyond a hill or stream. And, now, for the first time, I will share my winter time secrets with you during a private or group photography workshop in Yellowstone.
HOW WE WILL SPEND THE DAY
We will begin the day before sunrise, heading out to Lamar Valley to look for wolves. As the day continues, we will also look for weasels, badgers, foxes, coyotes, frosty bison, golden eagles on the hunt, big horn sheep, pine martens, moose and otters. A day in the field will last about 10 hours, ending at approximately 4 p.m.. You will be encouraged, on one day tours, to bring a lunch that can be eaten on the go, and snow shoes, if you have them. Short hikes are possible – it is always good to get out and stretch your legs and see what is beyond the road.
During the course of the day, we will attempt to photograph animals closeup, using telephoto lenses, and in the landscape, using wide angle lenses. We will follow the rules set in place by the park service and discuss the ethics of wildlife photography so that we do our best not to disturb the animals, or get in the way of other photographers. We will work on composition and how to get that perfect exposure in the snow.
For group workshops, we will have a get together the evening before, to become acquainted and so that I can answer questions. On the first day of the tour, we will meet one hour before sunrise and go directly to the Lamar Valley area, for either sunrise or early morning wildlife photography. The day will end at around 4 p.m. The second day of the tour will begin at 9:00 a.m. and end after sunset. After the tour, feel free to email me up to 5 of your best images for critique and suggestions.
You will be responsible for wearing warm and comfortable clothing. Be prepared for the temperatures to range 40 degrees during the course of a day. It may snow, rain or shine. It may be frosty and bitterly cold, or too warm for your jacket. I suggest a down winter jacket with fleece layers, a warm hat, gloves that will allow you to control the camera (heavy and light gloves are preferred), a face mask, sunglasses, sun scree, snow pants, good comfortable and warm boots (I use Baffin and winter Muck Luks, warm socks (I always carry an extra pair in case they get wet) and hand and toe warmers.
Food is scarce to non-existent in the park so bring what you need for the day. I will have a cooler to store your food in.
Photography equipment – you must know the basic settings of your camera in order to attend these workshops, and how to switch them on the fly. You will want to have 1 or 2 camera DSLR camera bodies, with a long lens, preferable 400mm or more and a landscape lens, ie 17-35 mm. If possible, a mid-range lens, Canon 100-400mm or Nikon 70-200, would be great. Most of my lenses are 2.8 or 4.0, for better images in low light. Teleconverters if you have them. I recommend having your lenses and teleconverters micro-adjust for perfect focus on all of your camera bodies. Also, make sure your sensors are clean but, I don’t recommend you doing this yourself. Bozeman Camera, in Bozeman, MT, does a great job with both of these tasks and does rent tripods and lenses for your convenience. http://bozemancamera.com 406-586-8300 – tell them Deby sent you. If you are a Nikon user, I have some telephoto lenses that can be rented. Don’t forget a tripod!
Unfortunately, we can not guarantee that you will see and/or get to photograph in particular animals. Nature is nature and somedays are filled with great sightings while others can be slow and we have to work real hard.
One half of the tour amount is due at the time of registering and can not be refunded, so be sure and do all of your research before booking your tour. We recommend that you purchase trip insurance, in case the unexpected happens. The balance will be due two weeks prior to your tour and can be refunded if you notify us 5 days in advance (no refunds on snow coach tours).
Roads on the Northern Range are well-maintained in the winter and normally do not pose a problem unless we get a new storm during the night with high winds.
You will be responsible for transportation to Gardiner, MT, where your workshop will begin, and for your accommodations. I can make recommendations for motels and food, or you can check the “Gardiner” tab.
I have been located in Gardiner, Montana, and touring the park for photography, videography and wildlife watching on a near daily basis for the past six winters, so please do not hesitate to ask questions. There is one grocery store in town, only a few restaurants open and not all motels are open, during the winter. Your entertainment at night will be limited to a couple of local bars, dining out, or getting warm in your room. Gardiner is a small town so you can walk almost everywhere but make sure you give the local deer and elk the right-of-way.
More information on Yellowstone in the Winter:
Private, one-day tour:
$1075 for each person participating in the two-day workshop. Dinner, not drinks, included for night before workshop, and lunch on each day.
Maximum 3 people on each tour
We ask that you refrain from smoking or wearing scents of any kind on the day of the tour, for the comfort of those, including your tour guide, who might have allergies.
NO firearms, or weapons of any kind
Bear spray is recommended, even in Winter
You will be responsible for your equipment and comfort
You must sign a waiver of responsibility before the tour