Central Florida

Trip Dates: 5 full days, March 16 - 20, 2020

Photo Tour Fee: $3200
Includes 4 air-boat outings, photo passes for the rookeries, in-the-field guiding and instruction. Does not include lodging or meals

Deposit: $600 (to be subtracted from the total tour fee, leaving a balance of $2600 due 90 days prior to the trip).

From: Orlando, Florida

Leader(s): Matthew Studebaker

Target Group Size: 4 photographers limit

Our trip will begin in Kissimmee, Florida. Here we will spend three sessions on a lake photographing a variety of waterbirds as well as photographing the endangered Snail Kite. For another three sessions we will travel to a variety of habitats to find everything from wading bird rookeries to rare woodpeckers. Next we will move to Titusville, FL where we will find palmetto dry lands with Scrub Jays as well as bountiful wetlands where we hope to find wading birds such as Spoonbills and Glossy Ibis, Waterfowl, and a host of other water-dependent species.

Travel considerations: Fly to Orlando, Florida. You can either rent your own vehicle and follow me to our shooting locations, or ask to ride with me.

Camera Gear: Bring a digital SLR and your longest telephoto lens. Some of our target birds, like Snail Kite, and Red-cockaded Woodpecker, will be fairly shy and we'll want all the reach we can get (at least 600mm including your tele-extender). Other target birds like Wood Stork or Florida Scrub Jay, may be so close we'll want a wide angle, so bring a medium telephoto (like a 300mm or a 70-200mm) as well as a landscape lens (I'll have a 17-40mm).   Bring a tripod for your long lens, and binoculars if desired. No flash will be necessary.

Likely Species on the trip. Opportunities in bold will be the easiest/most common -


  • Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

  • Mottled Duck

  • Blue-winged Teal

  • Common Moorehen

  • Purple Gallinule

  • Wood Stork

  • Anhinga

  • American White Pelican

  • Great Egret

  • Snowy Egret

  • Little Blue Heron

  • Tricolored Heron

  • Cattle Egret

  • Black-crowned Night-Heron

  • White Ibis

  • Glossy Ibis

  • Roseate Spoonbill

  • Black Vulture

  • Snail Kite

  • Red-shouldered Hawk

  • Crested Caracara

  • Limpkin

  • Sandhill Crane

  • Barred Owl

  • Great-horned Owl

  • Red-cockaded Woodpecker

  • Loggerhead Shrike

  • Florida Scrub-Jay

  • Palm Warbler

  • Pine Warbler

  • Bachman's Sparrow

  • many other species are possible as well

What to pack

  • Boots: Waterproof Hiking Boots and pants are a good idea in case we run into wet grass or a little mud

  • Light Jacket: mornings on the boat can be chilly. Prepare for temps in the 40's on the water.

  • Hat and Gloves: only if you want to be super prepared. At least bring a baseball cap.

  • Sunscreen: A good idea for working in the sun

Weather and Schedule:
The sun will rise and set around 7:20 am and set at 7:41pm. Most days it will be common to wake up with temperatures in the mid 50's to 60's. Some afternoons we could see temperatures in the lower 70's to 80's. We will meet early enough to get to our first location around sunrise and photograph through 10am or so if we have sun. After lunch, a slideshow, and a little personal time, we'll head to our afternoon location by 3pm and photograph until we loose light. On cloudy days, we will abbreviate our afternoon break and try to maximize mid-day overcast light.

Transportation: From our hotel, we will need to drive up to 45 minutes. Rent a car and follow me or ask before the trip to see about riding in my vehicle if desired.

Hotel: More information to be provided about where to stay upon signing up for the trip. Hotel costs are not included in the workshop fee. Hotel cost will average around $120/night if you stay at the same hotel as the group. I like to stay at well-managed chain hotels like Marriott or Holiday Inn. The first three nights will be spent in Kissimmee, FL, then we will change hotels to stay near Titusville. We should have good phone reception the entire time along with wifi at each hotel.

Meals: Free continental breakfast at the hotel. Lunches and dinners with the group if desired. We'll eat at places everyone can enjoy.

Early Arrivals: Feel free to arrive in town as early as you like and stay later. Unfortunately, I can't accommodate early arrivals in my vehicle. Please DO ask me if you want to know about good places to photograph before or after the trip. I have tons of great suggestions.

Learning / Slideshows: On the first day, and during a couple mid-day breaks I will go over some tips, composition, and post processing ideas. This is a photo tour, not a workshop, therefor I am presuming that everyone is taking this trip more to maximize productivity than to learn how to use their gear, but please ask if you have trouble or questions. Along with a few brief slideshows and discussions. I will try to talk about my photographic vision for each situation and spout off my camera settings in the field as well as peek over everyone's shoulder from time to time to check histograms and exposures. Aside from that, I'll need YOU to tell me if you have additional questions, learning objectives, or concerns.

My job is to know the area, do many hours of research, know and be able to ID the animals instantly and understand their habitat and behaviors, drive you to the most productive areas at the right time of day, be prepared to attract the animals or assist the group in stalking them, advise on how to make the most of each photo opp, per-arrange time with the most experienced and licensed boat captains, ensure that everyone has their physical needs met, and ensure that everyone gets the most and highest quality images in the time we have.

Your job is to communicate your needs and have fun. I want to emphasize that each of you please communicate and keep me aware of your needs.

Physical Requirements:
Almost all the photography on this trip will be done right from a boat or within a 10 minute walk of our vehicle. We may be standing and walking for long periods at times, but in general this trip should be fairly easy physically and will not require very long hikes or wading in water.

Photographic Objectives:
I want to go after some of the rare and special birds of central Florida, as well as photograph some of the more common species and include them in compositions which give you that "Florida feel". I seek situations where we have cooperative subjects in a pleasing environment so that we can include more in the composition than just the bird IF desired. From strong oaks floating beautiful strands of Spanish Moss, to silhouettes of palm trees and sub-tropical aquatic plants, we should have a lot of beautiful supportive visual material to work with.