Chilkat Eagles

Dates: November 17 - 21, 2015

Fee: $1900 includes 5 days shooting in the field, photoshop demonstrations, critiques.

Deposit: $500

From: Haines, Alaska

Leaders: Matthew Studebaker

Max Group Size: 5 Participants, Min group size: 3


Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and glaciers, Haines is truly in the most scenic setting one could imagine for any destination in Alaska. Just north of Juneau, Haines is accessible by road, air, and water. In November, Bald Eagle numbers are estimated to reach over 3000 individuals, all congregating to take advantage of the salmon run. We will concentrate on photographing Eagles, but large mammals like bear and moose may be possible, along with spectacular landscapes and some other bird species as well.

Cost Includes Five full days shooting in the field. Does not include flight, meals, or lodging.

Trip Leader Matthew Studebaker. Matthew has been a birder for the last twenty years, and has been specializing in Alaska for the last five years.

Required Deposit  $500. Make personal checks out to, “Studebaker Studios LLC”. And mailed to:
Studebaker Studios, LLC

Flights – To get to Haines, Alaska, first you will have to travel to Juneau, Alaska. Juneau (airport code JNU) has several 737 flights per day and is easy to book via or other online travel site. From Juneau, you can either take a small airplane (, 30 minute flight) or take the ferry  ( or 4 hour boat ride).

Although the price of lodging is not included, I have pre-reserved a room for each of you to guarantee that you have a place to stay. If you would rather choose a hotel of your own, feel free. Once you sign up for the photo tour we can transfer the room I booked for you to your name and credit card. Room cost is just over $100/night at the hotel I recommend.

Waders: I personally prefer wearing waders on this trip in case I want to get in some shallow water to get a low angle on an eagle. Waders also keep me dry in the snow. If you don’t wear waders, you will need at least knee-high water proof boots to cross shallow water and keep your feet dry.. When we do wade into water I don't intend to get deeper than about a foot of water, but I recommend chest waders so that we can set our cameras low to the water and can crouch down and photograph at a low angle. I recommend going to your local sporting goods store and trying on several different types to find a comfortable pair before making a selection if you haven't already. 

Jacket:  Waterproof and warm

Hat and Gloves:  Waterproof gloves are often too bulky for operating camera controls.  I prefer a light to mid weight glove for my right hand and will often wear a heavier waterproof glove on the left.  I will be bringing at least two hats and up to 3 pairs of gloves just in case one pair gets wet or lost.

Bag Blind and/or Gillie Suit. None needed.
Ear Plugs:  Just in case your neighbor snores.

Cell Phones and Internet: 
The hotel has wifi. It’s a bit on the slow side, but works fine for checking e-mail or the weather. We’ll have cell phone reception in town to about 5 miles outside town. Reception will be intermittent in the Eagle Preserve itself.

Equipment to bring: 

  • DSLR camera
  • Tripod that can get wet
  • Wide angle landscape lens
  • Super telephoto lens. Anything less than a 500mm will need a tele-extender attached.
  • If you have a lens in the 100mm to 300mm range that can be perfect for including some scenery with the eagles.
  • Binoculars if desired

Weather and Schedule: 
Most days it will be common to wake up in Haines with light snow and temperatures in the upper 20’s to lower 30’s. While the average temperature will range around 30, be prepared for a cold morning in the teens or a warm afternoon in the 40’s.

We will shoot for about 7 hours each day, perhaps sneaking in a few extra minutes at dawn and dusk for landscapes:
        November 2013 Alaska Standard Time

        Sunrise                    8:03 a.m.
        Sunset                     3:30 p.m.


Early Arrivals:  Feel free to arrive in town as early as you like and stay later. Unfortunately, I can’t accommodate early arrivers in my vehicle. Having other people along inevitably slows me down a lot as I move very fast and push very hard during my pre-workshop research.

Meals: The hotel serves a free continental breakfast in the morning. Because the day light lasts less than 8 hours, I won’t want to take time to go  back to town for lunch. Instead, I will take everyone to the grocery store to pick up some bagged lunches that we can eat in the car. We will eat dinner back in town after dark. There is only one restaurant open with adequate food ranging from salads to burgers to salmon.

Physical Requirements: 
Moderate activity. A lot of the photography will be done next to the road near the vehicles; however, we may need to hike up to a quarter mile from the cars along the river banks if necessary to get close to the eagles. When hiking, we will take our time, go slow, and not do it all at once. You don’t have to be in great shape for this trip but if you have back or knee problems you may want to talk to me further.

Learning / Slideshows: 
I will have a few brief slideshows outlining techniques and compositional ideas for the trip. I will also have critique sessions and Photoshop demonstrations. I will also 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. I'll need YOU to tell me if you have additional questions, learning objectives, or concerns as well. I think all of you know your way around your camera fairly well but please don't hesitate to let me know if you have questions. If I don't know the answer, I'll do my best to find out. 

My job is to know the area, do hundreds of hours of research, know and be able to ID the birds 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 birds or assist the group in stalking them, advise on how to make the most of each photo opp, 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.

Photographic Objectives: 
This trip's date range will make it ideal for photographing huge numbers of Bald Eagles.  Eagles are the main target of the trip. The landscapes are spectacular, and large mammals are possibilities as well. Other bird species we will probably encounter include Pine Grosbeak, Black-billed Magpie, Stellar’s Jay, American Dipper, Trumpeter Swan, and more.

Fill out the following form to register for the photo tour:


To sign up for the trip, add the deposit to your chart and checkout at the top of the page