Bald Eagle Photo Tour
The November gathering of bald eagles along the Chilkat River, just outside Haines, Alaska, is world famous. As many as 3000 bald eagles at a time might congregate along the river, feeding on the rich salmon run before the coming winter freezes the river over. A small, private photo tour and workshop combination, designed to meet your interests; whether they be learning about wildlife photography basics, or just maximizing your photography opportunities in the incredible setting of the Chilkat Eagle Preserve.
- - Accommodation in Haines, Alaska
- - All ground transportation
- - 7 nights
- - Bald eagle and landscape photography
- - Small, customized photo group; 4 people max
- - Flexible itinerary
- - Photography instruction and image review/critique
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The Chilkat Eagle Preserve, near Haines, Alaska, is world famous for the incredible bald eagle gathering there in late fall. 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 see so many eagles soaring, diving, fighting and competing for food.
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.
Most of the photo tours I run aren't workshops, but this trip is a little different. While in the field, we'll look at ways to improve what we do, to better understand the technicals of wildlife photography. We'll also have plenty of time when we return from shooting to review our images and look for ways to improve our photos.
Photo Tour Location
The Chilkat Eagle Preserve was officially designated in 1982 with the specific goal to "protect and perpetuate the world's largest concentration of Bald Eagles and their critical habitat". Over 48 000 acres of land, mostly river bottom land along the Chilkat, Kleheni, and Tsirku Rivers has been put aside to help preserve this incredible gathering.
A combination of mostly Cottonwood trees and mighty Sitka Spruce provide great habitat, and the backdrop of that massive St. Elias Range mountains is about impossible to beat.
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.
Although there are between 200 and 400 resident eagles "year round" in the Chilkat river area, the fall gathering increases the population number drastically; sometimes as high as 300 bald eagles. Tall cottonwood trees can appear to be almost weighed down with eagles perched so densely on their branches.
Bald Eagle Photography
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.
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.
I've photographed bald eagles for over 10 years; and offer my years of experience in shooting and watching the great birds to help improve your photography. I've shot bald eagles in a variety of different locations and circumstances, and have loads of experience trying to get into the best possible position to maximize the photography opportunities. We'll discuss those things and more, as well as carefully review our images after shooting, and discuss what might work to strengthen and improve our photography.
$2400.00 for one week, $3900 for 2 weeks
Nov 16-22 and/or Nov 23-29
Nov 15-21 and/or Nov 22-28
Group size is limited to a maximum of 4 people. The small group size is fundamental to the 'you' in 'your photo tour'.
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.
I'll provide for you
First rate organization and accommodations, in the field photo advice, image review and critique, and first class local guiding experience. Sat phone,first aid kit, emergency equipment.
Meals are not included, but there are various options for meals in town.
The terms of the tour are simple.
50% deposit = $1 200.00. The balance is due 60 days prior to the trip departure.
This trip requires a minimum of 2 people to go.
If you have to cancel after you've paid in full, refunds will be given for the balance depending on whether the spot is filled. It's also contextual - I understand emergencies, etc, and try to be as flexible as I can about that kind of stuff. If I can't fill the spot, I can put the balance towards the trip the following year, if you'd like.
I'll stress again the benefit of heading out with an Alaskan company. You simply can't beat local experience when it comes to nature photography, and particularly wildlife photography. What you get here is an Alaskan guide working together to offer you the best in bald eagle photography.
As the photo tour leader, I bring a wealth of backcountry and photography experience to this tour. I've photographed Alaska's bald eagles intensively for well over 10 years now, across much of the state, and have sound experience with eagles and bald eagle behavior, which can make all the difference for photography.
I've taught for a long time, in one on one situations as well as class room situations, and my experience in instruction will hopefully be of some value to folks on this trip I'm offering this trip as either a photo tour, or a workshop for folks looking to learn a little more about wildlife photography.
You'll want to bring your enthusiasm, your love of wilderness, adventure and good times, and a sense of wonder. Your camera gear, and clothing for a week. Good raingear and warm clothing is essential in Alaska at any time of year. You'll want to be in decent shape for short day hikes and jaunts along the river with your camera gear as well.
Bring a bundle of warm and winter clothing; I can provide a detailed list of things you'll want to consider.
Bring a laptop, if you can. Extra storage for your images and backup, like a small portable hard drive or similar. I use an old PDx7 to backup images to, as well as dump them onto my laptop.
I run Nikon Capture NX2 on my laptop, as well as Photo Mechanic and Adobe Photoshop. We can use those software programs to review and quickly edit/adjust images after a shoot in our review/critique sessions. If you use Lightroom or any other application, that's fine, just make sure you have it with you on your laptop.
Bring a bunch of memory cards!
Meet us in Haines for a great bald eagle photo tour.