We are happy to announce – & to be accepting bookings for – our Welsh Birds of Prey Photography Workshop dates for 2017, as in previous years, these are to be held in a small village near Welshpool, these workshops are ideally suited to both amateur & semi-professional photographers looking to expand their portfolio. Photography leaders from NaturesLens will provide guidance & advice when needed to assist you in making the most of every photography opportunity.
You can be assured that we are already on the look out for some new props to bring up for posing the birds upon.
Spring 2017 Birds of Prey Photography Workshop – 22nd & 23rd April 2017.
The fresh spring air & green foliage make the setting hugely attractive for photographers, & if we’re lucky, there may even be a bluebell or two. Both Pui Hang & David will be on hand to assist you in honing in your composition & motion photography skills so that you obtain editorial-quality images to cherish for years to come. Over the Saturday afternoon & full day on Sunday you will have abundant opportunity to use the varied lighting conditions & different locations at your disposal.
We will have extensive access to our falconer’s land over the course of the workshop, providing you with optimum choice of positions from which you can photograph the elusive owls & raptors as they are held & released within the perfect controlled setting for you to capture impressive images. Our falconer has an experienced eye for photography, so he knows what nature photographers will be looking for & will assist accordingly when needed.
The format of this workshop consists of a special late afternoon/early evening session with an owl on the Saturday, giving you an amazing opportunity to get up close to this magnificent bird & take close-up images; followed by a full day of birds of prey photography on Sunday.
Autumn 2017 Birds of Prey Photography Workshop – 21st & 22nd October 2017.
NaturesLens invites you on a 1.5 day photography workshop, based near to Welshpool, capturing impressive images of birds of prey using the varied backdrops which the locality has to offer; including disused quarries, barn & farm areas & expanses of woodland. Our guides will offer advice to ensure that you obtain magnificent photographs of these bird species both posed & in-flight.
Autumn brings rich textures & colours to rural areas, as the leaves turn to red, gold & brown, & begin to form a soft blanket which covers the ground. This provides a stunning backdrop for nature photography, & the soft light & warm colours will allow you to capture breathtaking images of bird species.
Although the 2018 trip to photograph the Ice Bears is already full – there is a possibility of us running the Ice Bears of the Yukon photography workshop again in 2019 or 2020, as with the 2018 trip there will only be a tiny number of places available, if you would be interested in joining one or other of us on this photography workshop deep in the wilds of the Yukon, then get in touch & we can send you details.
We are pleased to announce a new photography holiday for August 2018, & to bring you a special offer in the form of both a reduced price & a reduced deposit for the period between Christmas & New Year. Why not head to British Columbia with us in August 2018 for our new 11 day Grizzly Bears of the Taku River, British Columbia Photography Holiday, where we will transport you in by helicopter to a remote camp on the bank of a beautiful river – right in the heart of bear country? We virtually guarantee that you will return from this trip with a portfolio stuffed to the brim with fantastic images of adult bears, the younger bears, the landscape & more besides.
You will be completely immersed in the world of the Grizzly Bears of the Taku River from the moment you arrive, living within their forest environment from dawn until dusk. Bears of all ages, both male & female, will be present throughout your trip, so there are hugely diverse bear photography opportunities for you to utilise including the chance to photograph adorable grizzly cubs as they explore & learn to survive.
All internal transfers, accommodation & meals at the camp, which is beside the Taku River, are included to make things as straightforward & enjoyable for you as possible. The location of the base for the trip can only be accessed by helicopter, & we also include this exciting experience in the price of the trip which offers you another unique view of the landscape.
The nature of the trip means group sizes must be kept small to allow for the best possible experience for photographer & animal alike, so booking early is essential.
Other trips to this venue are typically charged at £7999 for 6 days in the bear camp, we have negotiated a special rate allowing us to include 8 full days in the bear camp for the same price.
… The best part of this, we require a smaller deposit than normal to reserve a place – normally we require 20% – in this case, until 1st January 2017, the deposit is locked in at £1250.
Grizzly Bears of the Taku River Proposed Itinerary
04-Aug-18 – Day 1: Travel from UK to Whitehorse, arrival in Whitehorse & overnight.
05-Aug-18 – Day 2: Early shuttle bus transfer to Atlin (1.5 hours) & helicopter trip to our remote bear camp where your bear photography adventure begins.
06-Aug-18 – Day 3: Grizzly bear photography at our remote bear camp in the wilderness.
07-Aug-18 – Day 4: Grizzly bear photography at our remote bear camp in the wilderness.
08-Aug-18 – Day 5: Grizzly bear photography at our remote bear camp in the wilderness.
09-Aug-18 – Day 6: Grizzly bear photography at our remote bear camp in the wilderness.
10-Aug-18 – Day 7: Grizzly bear photography at our remote bear camp in the wilderness.
09-Aug-18 – Day 8: Grizzly bear photography at our remote bear camp in the wilderness.
10-Aug-18 – Day 9: Grizzly bear photography at our remote bear camp in the wilderness.
11-Aug-18 – Day 10: Morning flight by helicopter to Atlin & shuttle bus transfer back to Whitehorse.
12-Aug-18 – Day 11: Travel to UK.
More Grizzly Bears of the Taku River, British Columbia Images
The moment we see the last client off when we’ve ended one of our photography holidays, usually sees us both breathe a sigh of relief, & the end of the recent Alaska Photography Holiday was no different; that point has normally been reached only by planning over a period of several years, by having planned contingency plans & contingency plans for contingency plans; at that juncture, we can perform the final few tasks to wrap the tour up, one of these is to send an email thanking our clients for their participation & inviting them to contribute some images that they captured whilst away with us, to our blog – we love showing off what clients achieve as we feel it is a good measure for other clients to see what can be captured in the relatively short time frame of one of our holidays.
So when our clients send in images or thank us via email we beam from cheek to cheek – it’s even more awesome when we receive a testimonial like this, from Jayne, regarding our Bald Eagles of Alaska Photography Holiday:
“Back home after a fabulous 10 days in Alaska. Been up for about 30 hours so it’s going to be an early night but just wanted to say anyone thinking about a wildlife photographic holiday I can’t recommend NaturesLens highly enough. Every detail is covered to make sure we have the best photographic opportunities & we always have a great laugh together. Thank you David Miles & Pui Hang Miles for everything you do.”
Jayne first published a blog posting of her own, with her recollections of the trip, you can read that blog posting here, then she sent us a selection of different images again, also of the Alaskan Bald Eagles, for us to publish on our blog – so here are those images:
As Jayne mentions on her own blog posting, the main focus of our Bald Eagles of Alaska Photography Holiday is, rather obviously, the Bald Eagles & so these first photos show the varied behaviour of these amazing birds – all up & down the Chilkat valley & the river that has carved it’s course through the mountains, eagles will be found; they fish the chumming salmon from the river & feast on the bloated fish on the banks of the frozen river, upon landing a fish or ‘liberating’ it from another bird, the adult bald eagles typically throw their head back & bark into the air, showing their dominance & announcing that they are the ‘top of the tree’.
Typically this dominance is short lived, other eagles will swoop in & attempt, in the case of the juvenile eagles, to intimidate the current fish-holder off the fish via a series of low-level swoops; in the case of the adult versus adult, the swoops are far more brutal, often resulting in contact & one bird being slammed to the ground.
It is not just eagle versus eagle contact that the fish-holder has to contend with, ravens constantly dot the river banks waiting to challenge for scraps of fish.
Often times, the bald eagle will become so annoyed with the developing situation that he will take off with the fish & fly elsewhere to finish the meal.
Often times, between meals or whilst waiting for another eagle to land a fish, the eagles perch & pose, fly around & land, all on washed up trees & drift wood that has been swept downstream by the Chilkat river.
Like many of our photography holidays that mention a specific species in the title, the bald eagles were the main focus of the NaturesLens Bald Eagles of Alaska Photography Holiday, but many other species were spotted in the Chilkat Eagle Reserve & two further days allow participants to expand their portfolio out to further topics or species.
Many of our clients produce calendars or photo books after a trip & a variety of images make these ‘pop’. So for one day, the group was offered the chance to head across the border into British Columbia & the Yukon for some high altitude landscape photography.
For another couple of days, Jayne & several others took the opportunity to visit the Kroschel Wildlife Centre, this is not a game farm like many of the ‘wildlife centres’ in the USA are, the centre takes in orphaned or injured animals from across Alaska, the owner, Steve, frequently gets calls from vets all over Alaska & is asked if he can rehome a certain species. The centre is ‘home’ to a wide variety of animals including bear, wolverine, lynx, porcupine, red fox & wolves, some of which are shown in images, captured by Jayne, below:
Whilst 2017 is too busy to prompt a return to the Chilkat Valley of Alaska & the wonderful wildlife that exists within this harsh environment, NaturesLens will be returning to Haines in 2018 or 2019 – if you would like to join us on for another Alaskan Photography Holiday, send us a message & we will add you to a list of interested clients.
Late November 2016 saw the inaugural NaturesLens Bald Eagles of Alaska Photography Holiday to South East Alaska to photograph the Bald Eagle ‘Council’. The ‘Council’ is the annual gathering of thousands of Bald Eagles on the shores of the Chilkat River to feed up for Winter on the late run of Chum or ‘Dog’ Salmon. NaturesLens based the photography holiday in Haines, a small town on the Alaskan coast – & it would be difficult to find a friendlier place.
As usual David & PN had sorted out all the travel & accommodation detail &, in addition to their presence, we enjoyed the company of 2 local guides, Joe & Thomas, both of whom know the area intimately & are accomplished photographers in their own right. The omens were therefore well set for finding the best sites for capturing images of the main subject for this holiday, the Bald Eagles of Alaska.
The scenery of the Alaskan ‘panhandle’ is the stunning product of glaciation – high snow-covered mountains & deep, wide valleys. We journeyed in from Juneau by ferry, which enabled us to take in the scenery at a leisurely pace & also to acclimatise to the temperatures (cold or, alternatively, bloody freezing, if you choose to go on deck at 0∘C when travelling at 15 knots). For much of the journey, we were glad to be scenery peepers from the comfort of the lounge!
There’s not a lot of usable daylight in Alaska in November so, having breakfasted in our comfortable apartment rooms, we usually set out soon after 7am to get to the prime Bald Eagle viewing sites. We became intimately familiar with the ‘pull-outs’ on the Highway North West of Haines. One because it was a good starting site & a second because it had a loo (don’t get too excited – no water, no heating, no warm seat (unless you got in fast after the last occupant!)).
The daily morning challenge became to balance high ISO against available light to get images which were not too grainy, but in which the birds were sharp. Later as the light improved, the sites were beautifully side lit by sunrise, leading to some stunning golden tinged imagery. The hunt was always on for the iconic images – low flying over the river with wing-tip grazing the water, the mid-air ‘L’ shape, & the fights over fish. We moved around freely, picking sites down at water level or alternatively high on the bank to get the best vantage points. There was sufficient space for everyone, even when organised groups converged with the many independent photographers on a particular highlight.
The weather varied from dry & bright to overcast to falling snow. The latter was particularly challenging as, whilst it gave us atmospheric images, autofocus tended to lock onto the snowflakes rather than the birds. On the other hand, we had some star birds that took up a stance in a nearby tree at an accessible height, & were very tolerant of the surrounding throng on cameras.
As the good light was generally over by 2pm (it was dark by 4pm), lunch was usually a snack & the evening meal was taken early in keeping with American custom.
It was off-peak season in Haines so the choice of eateries was limited but nonetheless no disappointment. Of course, the cuisine leaned towards archetypal American influenced international, but a local Bakery became a firm favourite with both a Thai & American menu. The fact that it’s run by a crazy, fun Thai lady was the added bonus. We were there for the Thanksgiving weekend – a family holiday with most of the shops closed. Nevertheless, the Bakery whipped up a takeaway Thanksgiving Supper for us, & the hotel kindly let us use a Conference Room so we could sit down together. A further highlight for the connoisseur of international imbibition, was the micro-brewery right next door to the hotel. A peculiarity of local licensing laws was that it could not operate as a bar; however, it was permitted to allow ‘tasting’ so long as no-one consumed more than the equivalent of 3 pints in any 12 hour period! There’s also a gin distillery but we never quite made it that far.
The photography was not all about bald eagles though; some of the group took the opportunity to travel over the border into Canada & the Yukon interior where there was plenty of opportunity for landscapes & cloudscapes, & we even came across 3 moose, although the grab shots did not do them justice.
There is also the Kroschel Wildlife Sanctuary, with examples of Alaskan fauna such as Red Fox, Grizzly Bear, Wolverine, Wolf, Pine Marten & Silver Fox. The animals are all orphans or rescue who would otherwise not have had a future. They live in large free-range enclosures & are habituated to their handler, but other than that they are ‘wild’ & many have been stars in wildlife documentaries. The enclosures are constructed to facilitate photography & this was a good opportunity to get close to animals that are either seldom seen or only from afar.
Our departure day was due to include half a day’s photography before a charter flight out to Juneau. However, an imminent storm meant we were called urgently to the airport & managed to ‘escape’ shortly before the weather arrived, dumping over a foot of snow.
I mentioned this was the inaugural Bald Eagles of Alaska photography tour, the implication being that there will be others. David & PN have confirmed this, although the dates are not yet set. Nevertheless, if you’re interested in capturing these iconic birds, in a stunning location & a fun atmosphere, let them know.
JOIN NATURESLENS TO PHOTOGRAPH THE SLOVENIAN BEARS & CUBS FOR YOURSELF
Slovenia is an increasingly important location for the European Brown Bear & their survival as a top-level predator within Europe & it is easy to see why. The lush forests provide the ideal habitat free from being hunted for the European Brown Bear to thrive & survive, our 5 day photography workshop in the midst the territory of these impressive animals provides an abundance of opportunities.
We have two opportunities for you to photograph the amazing Slovenian Bears, both costing £1599 exc travel to Slovenia itself – all transportation within Slovenia, breakfast, lunch & dinner, accommodation & guidance/tuition from Sean Weekly is included, the date for the Slovenian Bears & Cubs Photography Holiday is May 20 – 25, 2017, whilst that for the Slovenian Bears, who will hopefully be bringing their older & bolder cubs to the hides, is set for September 2 – 7, 2017.
To hold a place on either trip, we only require a 25% deposit from you, £400, with the balance due 12 weeks prior to the trip taking place.
Please be aware, you will require lenses that let in the maximum amount of light – largest aperture or smallest f-stop – & a camera with which you are comfortable capturing images at a high ISO – the action is not fast-paced, so rapid FPS is not a deciding factor for equipment suitable for this trip.