Winter, November through March, 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.
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 screen, 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. Don’t forget to bring hand and foot warmers.
THE NEW COVID WAY
During the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, our workshops and tours will be geared towards maximum safety for all involved. Masks will be worn when distancing is not an option, inside and outside. We will highly encourage clients to drive their own vehicle and follow their guide, using walkie talkies to keep in contact. If this is not possible, we will screen each person to assure they are healthy. Your guide will be getting regular COVID tests and limiting the number of tours in order to minimize virus contact potential. And questions, please don’t hesitate to contact.
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 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 one month 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 seven 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:
$600 for each person participating in workshop. November through March
$500 for each additional day(s), for a total of $1100 for two day private workshop
$150 for additional person/friend or spouse, who wants to come along per day, without instruction, if room is available.
Maximum 2 people on each tour/workshop
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, dress appropriately for winter
You must sign a waiver of responsibility before the tour
We will follow the rules set in place by the park service. Deby reserves the right to end the tour at any time if participants are rude and unwilling to follow the rules. No refund will be given.
Making a reservation:
Please contact Deby Dixon at firstname.lastname@example.org to choose your date and make payment, or check the bookings calendar under the pull down menu and pay on this site. Either way.