Michigan Snowy Owls

Michigan Snowy Owl Balance
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Snowy Owl Deposit
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Trip One Dates: February 20 - 22, 2019 (one space left)
Trip Two Dates: February 27 - March 1, 2019 (spaces left)

Photo Tour Fee: $1400
Includes in-the-field guiding and instruction. Does not include lodging or meals

Deposit: $400

From: Sault Ste Marie, Michigan

Leader(s): Matthew Studebaker

Target Group Size: 5 photographers

Our trip will begin in Michigan's Upper Peninsula near Sault Ste Marie. Here we will spend each day with the dozen or so Snowy Owls that have migrated to the area for the winter. We will strive to create a beautiful portfolio of owl images from tight action shots to loose environmentals of the owls. The following gallery was photographed exclusively at the location we will be using this year.

Travel considerations: Fly to Sault Ste Marie directly. YAM is the bigger airport on the Canada side of the city but you have to deal with customs. You can also fly to CIU on the Michigan side, but it's very small and may be expensive. Alternatively you could save a little money and fly to Detroit and drive the four hours north. You can either rent your own vehicle and follow me to our shooting locations, or ask to ride with me.

We are feeding the owls: I am feeding the owls tasty, nutritious mice. If you aren’t ok with me feeding the owls, this trip is not for you!

Camera Gear: Bring a digital SLR and your longest telephoto lens. Also bring a medium telephoto (like a 300mm or a 70-200mm) if you have one as well for close flight shots.  Bring a tripod for your long lens, and binoculars if desired. No flash will be necessary.

What to pack

  • Boots: Warm, waterproof winter boots with wool or two layers of socks.

  • Winter Jacket: Temps are veritable from -15 to +40. Check the forecast a few days before the trip

  • Hat and Gloves

Weather and Schedule:
The sun will rise around 7:40 am and set at 6:20pm. We will meet early enough to get to our first location around sunrise and photograph through 11am or so if we have sun. After lunch, a slideshow, and a little personal time, we'll head to our afternoon location by mid afternoon and photograph until we lose light. On cloudy days, we will abbreviate our afternoon break and try to maximize mid-day overcast light. Be prepared for snow and temperatures between -10 and +30 F. 

Transportation: From our hotel, we will need to drive up to a half hour. 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 $110/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.

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. 

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 op, 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 within a 1 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 long hikes.