Northern Ohio Songbirds

Northern Ohio Songbirds Deposit
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Available Dates: May 11, 12, 13, 14

Fee: $2200 four full days shooting in the field. The deposit is $800, leaving a balance of $1600 due 90 days prior to the start of the trip.

Target Group Size: 4 photographers

From: Richfield, OH

These are the forests I know best. I live here. I grew up here. My intimate knowledge of the area allows me to make the most of each opportunity. I 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’ll do everything I can to get you that perfect shot, whether we are photographing a Blue-winged Warbler picking bugs out of Hawthorne blossoms, or a Scarlet Tanager singing from the top of a rugged fallen log. Most locations are within 20 minutes of our hotel. As a birder as well as a photographer, I have all the bird's songs memorized and am very good at quickly locating any species for the group.

Our hotel sits just outside Ohio’s only National Park. From here, we will have easy access to The Valley and a variety of metro parks in the area. Each morning we will meet around dawn in order to maximize our productivity during the trip. My goal is to help each of the four participants walk away with as many high quality images of as many species as possible. We will create set-ups and simply photograph the birds on their own terms as well, depending on the situation. During harsh mid day light we will go over some slideshows and processing tips, as well as have some free time. We’ll have another long shooting session each evening until the light fails, and then have dinner as a group for whoever wishes to join.


"Having joined Matthew on this Northern Ohio photo shoot, I cannot speak highly enough about the opportunity it presents. Last year we did exceptionally well on Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Indigo Buntings, Cerulean, Yellow, Yellow-throated, Blue-winged, Brewster's, Chestnut-sided, Hooded Warblers, Bobolink, and others!" - Dan B.

Cost Includes Four full days shooting in the field. Fee does not include hotel or meals.

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. The quality of these images surpasses weeks and weeks of work at migrant traps and has the advantage of depicting the birds in their preferred environment and breeding habitats.

Where to Stay
We will meet each morning in the hotel lobby of Holiday Inn, Richfield, Ohio.
5171a Brecksville Rd.
Richfield, OH 44286
This is where I recommend staying, but feel free to camp or stay at any of the other hotels in the area.

Best airport: CLE in Cleveland is certainly the closest airport. The Akron/Canton airport is only 40 minutes away and may offer cheaper flights at times. Either location will be good.

Cell service:
Service will be good during the entire trip.

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. Insects are rarely an issue at this time of year, but no one will laugh if you put on bug spray.

Sunrise 6:15am.   Sunset 8:30pm

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.

Please have breakfast on your own before we meet in the morning. We usually eat at Panera Bread or Chipotle for lunch, and I have found some locally owned and run restaurants in the park that are fun for dinner.

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

  • 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 other’s 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 photo tour 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 Basic Schedule for photo tour days

  • If you want breakfast be sure you’ve had something by the time we meet. The hotel should have continental breakfast available.

  • Meet at 6:30 am in the hotel lobby. Brief introductions.

  • Proceed to a Nature Preserve about 10 minutes away to attempt to photograph Blue-winged Warblers, Bobolinks, and others

  • Dive 15 minutes to the best Scarlet Tanager / Cerulean Warbler location.

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

  • When slideshow is finished, break/on our own for a couple hours if and only if it’s sunny. Otherwise we’ll keep shooting.

  • More songbird photography

  • When light fails, pack up and head to restaurant near hotels.

Equipment: I recommend bringing a digital SLR with matching lens. When you calculate your digital crop factor (usually 1.5x the normal focal length or so for digital cameras today) and slap on your tele extenders (1.4x or 2x) you should have the equivalent of at least 600mm. Please be familiar with using the equipment you bring. While I have experience with basic Nikon, Canon, and Olympus systems and can help guide you along, you could miss a rare photo opp when adjusting settings or even looking through the viewfinder with new equipment.


Likely Species on the Northern Ohio Workshop - species in bold have historicly been the most cooperative, and a sampling of other species usually oblige as well:

  • Virginia Rail

  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird

  • Red-headed Woodpecker

  • Tree Swallow

  • Eastern Bluebird

  • Veery

  • Scarlet Tanager

  • Willow Flycatcher

  • Great-crested Flycatcher

  • Carolina Wren

  • Bobolink

  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

  • Warbling Vireo

  • Yellow-throated Vireo

  • Red-eyed Vireo

  • Prothonotary Warbler

  • Yellow-throated Warbler

  • Blue-winged Warbler

  • Common Yellowthroat

  • Hooded Warbler

  • Ovenbird

  • Louisiana Waterthrush

  • Yellow Warbler

  • Cerulean Warbler

  • American Redstart

  • Chestnut-sided Warbler

  • Indigo Bunting

  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak

  • Eastern Towhee

  • Swamp Sparrow

  • Song Sparrow

  • Chipping Sparrow

  • Henslow's Sparrow

  • Baltimore Oriole

  • Orchard Oriole

Above are images taken by previous participants from this photo tour