Lake Hope Ohio Songbirds 2020

Lake Hope Songbird Photo Tour

Trip Dates: April 27 - April 30, 2020  

Fee: $2200 includes four full days shooting in the field

Deposit: $520 (this will cover lodging for 5 nights only, leaving the entire tour fee of 2200 due 90 days before the trip)

Target Group Size: 4 participants

From: near Athens, Ohio

Lake Hope State Park, surrounded by Zaleski State Forest, offers countless miles of woodland roads providing access to Ohio's second largest forest. The timing of this trip coincides with the arrival of the park's astounding 19 breeding species of warblers, along with vireos, tanagers, orioles, and other beautiful songbirds. What's more, the forest will be in bloom with fresh, small leaves, and redbud and dogwood blossoms.

During the Photo Tour, I show you how to get that perfect shot, whether we are photographing a Prairie Warbler picking bugs out of a Redbud Tree, or a Louisiana Waterthrush singing from the top of a mossy rock in the middle of a stream, the photo tour focuses on giving the images that extra touch that separates the good images for the work of a master bird photographer. I also know exactly which parts of the forest to shoot from and when, how to take advantage of the birds’ daily patterns and work with the light. I have all the Eastern US bird's songs memorized as well as excellent hearing, which will enable us to quickly locate birds. This will be my 9th consecutive year running this popular photo tour.

Photo Tour Goals: Songbirds are usually treetop species and very difficult to photograph. Our goal is to obtain exceptional photos of 1-3 species per day. Quality over quantity.

Where to Stay: We usually stay in the park itself. More information will be provided once a deposit and contract are received.

Best Airport: Port Columbus International Airport (CMH) in Columbus, Ohio is the closest large airport, located 71.8 mi, 1 hour 35 mins
Northwest of Lake Hope State Park.

Cell service: Service is a little hit or miss in the forest. I can usually get one or two bars of service on the hills, and often have no service in the valleys.

Weather: Be prepared for temperatures in the low forties in the early morning, when the birds are most active. Some years, we see 80 degrees by late afternoon, so dressing in layers is a good idea. We'll be shooting rain or shine. Your shoes could get a little muddy or dirty if we have a recent rain or heavy morning due. I recommend waterproof shoes. Insects are rarely an issue at this time of year, but no one will laugh if you put on bug spray.

Transportation: Each participant must have their own transportation. Carpooling will be optional. Usually each participant follows me in their own vehicle through the forest. Once I find a cooperative bird, we pull off the road and start working on a setup.

Food: Lake Hope State Park has a new diner inside the park which works well for lunch. Breakfast and Dinner information will be provided and will depend on the lodging.

What to pack:
· Tripod
· DSLR camera
· Your longest lens (600mm minimum when you count crop factor and tele-extenders)
· Flash plus better-beamer if desired (I will not be using flash but you are welcome to)
· Extra memory cards or laptop to download images
· Rain gear
· Waterproof shoes recommended in case the grass is wet
· Bug spray (usually insects are almost non-existent on this trip, but better safe than sorry)
· Notepad and pencil if you want to take notes during my photoshop demo
· Bring a sample of your own work if you like. It can be fun to share during lunch break to get to know each others work.
· A positive attitude. One negative person can put a cloud over the whole trip but good attitudes are contagious as well!

Physical requirements: We'll shoot primarily from standing positions unless you prefer to bring along a camping stool. The majority of our shooting will take place right next to the road, or a few hundred feet away at the most. This workshop is not physically demanding aside from requiring a lot of standing, but again, bring a folding chair or stool if you are concerned about getting tired.

Tentative Schedule for all four days

  • Sunrise is at 6:28 but we won't have enough light to shoot until around 7am at the earliest.

  • Have a brief continental breakfast, informal introductions

  • In field instruction and warbler photography 7-11:00am.

  • 11:30 -1pm lunch – show and tell. I encourage everyone to bring some prints or a laptop with your work to talk about if you like.

  • If the light is harsh, we may break for a slideshow immediately following lunch, followed by a break until 3pm. 3pm –Sunset more warbler photography.

  • If it's cloudy, we'll use our mid-day light to keep shooting after lunch until our light is gone around 6:30 or so, and have the slideshow after dinner in my cabin.

  • 8:23pm sunset. We'll head to dinner when we lose shootable light.



Likely Species on the Southern Ohio Photo Tour - species in bold have historically been the most cooperative, and a sampling of the other species usually oblige as well:

  • Broad-winged Hawk

  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak

  • Scarlet Tanager

  • Summer Tanager

  • Eastern Bluebird

  • Eastern Phoebe

  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

  • Red-eyed Vireo

  • White-eyed Vireo

  • Yellow-throated Vireo

  • Yellow-throated Warbler

  • Prothonotary Warbler

  • Louisiana Waterthrush

  • Pine Warbler

  • Blue-winged Warbler

  • Worm-eating Warbler

  • Common Yellowthroat

  • Hooded Warbler

  • Kentucky Warbler

  • Black-throated Green Warbler

  • Yellow Warbler

  • Cerulean Warbler

  • American Redstart

  • Black-and-white Warbler

  • Prairie Warbler

  • Northern Parula

  • Ovenbird

  • Yellow Warbler

  • Yellow-breasted Chat

  • Indigo Bunting

  • Eastern Towhee

  • Song Sparrow

  • Field Sparrow

  • Chipping Sparrow

  • Baltimore Oriole

  • Orchard Oriole

View the gallery below to see images taken on the Lake Hope Photo Tour by participants during previous years.

To sign up for the Photo Tour, please add the deposit at the top of the page. E-mail me with any questions at