Southern Florida is the home of a remarkable number of beautiful bird species, and if you go to the right places you can get amazingly close to many of them. Roseate spoonbills, various species of herons and egrets, painted buntings, purple gallinules, anhingas, wood storks, white ibis are some of the birds you can expect to see and get within telephoto range. There are a lot of other animals, too, such as alligators, red-bellied turtles, otters, and white-tailed deer that you'll be able to photograph. In this workshop, Jim will spend time on the technical aspects of capturing birds in flight, and you will have at least one Photoshop session where Jim demonstrates how to replace cluttered or otherwise less-than-ideal backgrounds with much more attractive sky backgrounds or out of focus foliage.
For equipment, you should have at least a 400mm telephoto, but longer is better. Teleconverters in combination with zoom or prime lenses are recommended to extend your reach. If you'd like to have a discussion with Jim about equipment, drop him a note with your phone number and he'll call you back (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In addition to birds, you will be able to capture excellent shots of alligators as well. These reptiles have remained virtually unchanged for 200 million years because they are such efficient predators, and filling the frame with their primitive heads is exciting, indeed.
You will fly into Miami, Florida and meet the first night at the Holiday Inn Express in Homestead, Florida. This photo tour is a caravan tour -- meaning that everyone will drive themselves or car pool in a car caravan to our various destinations. Jim will lead, and everyone will follow. This way there is no problem with carrying a lot of gear, and if you want to bring a non-photographer spouse there will be no charge for them.
Day 1, Feb. 22, Thursday. Arrive in Miami, Florida and drive to our hotel. The base of our operations for the beginning portion of the workshop in Homestead, Florida. If you don't live within driving distance, you will need to rent a car and this will be your transportation for the workshop. When we travel to various locations in the Everglades and other birding hotspots, we can carpool to reduce the number of vehicles in the caravan.
We meet as a group at 5pm in the lobby of the hotel for an orientation to the workshop and a lecture on bird photography. Jim will discuss exposure and exposure compensation, focus points options, follow focusing, panning, image stabilization, shutter speeds, and other important issues pertaining to bird photography and specifically capturing birds in flight. Overnight Courtyard by Marriott.
Day 2, Feb. 23, Friday. We get up early (just like the birds) and drive a half hour to the Anhinga Trail in the Everglades National Park. The asphalt path as well as the elevated boardwalk gives us the opportunity to have close encounters with a large number of birds as well as lots of alligators, turtles, dragonflies, and frogs. Expect to see purple gallinules, anhingas, cormorants, ibis, egrets, herons, and hawks. After lunch, we drive a few miles to Mrazek Pond for more great photography of shore birds, white pelicans, roseate spoonbills, and more. At sunset we'll go for silhouettes of the birds in flight and beautiful reflections in the water at Mahogany Hammock, and then Overnight in the Courtyard by Marriott.
Day 3, Feb., 24, Saturday. About an hour and fifteen minutes from the hotel is our next sunrise location, Eco Pond. We work the trail around the pond. The list of bird species here is impressive. There are many species of ducks, yellow crowned high heron, glossy ibis, roseate spoonbill, least bittern, herons, and egrets. For the afternoon, we visit other hotspots for bird photography at Pa-Hay-Okee, Paurotis Pond, and at sunset we'll be at the Pine Glades Lake. When the sun is low in the sky, this is a great time to focus on backlighting. Overnight Courtyard by Marriott.
Day 4, Feb. 25, Sunday. We check out of our hotel this morning and drive about an hour to Shark Valley for their 8:30am opening. This is the heart of the Everglades, and we are surrounded by nature. The density of birds is impressive. In the afternoon, we will find ourselves in Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary where we should see one of the most colorful birds in Florida, the painted bunting. In addition to scores of other bird species, there are literally hundreds of alligators, otters, white-tailed deer, and red-bellied turtles. Overnight Naples
Day 5, Feb. 26, Monday. About a half hour from our hotel are two lagoons -- Tigertail Beach and Little Estero Lagoon - with wading and shore birds plus plovers, osprey, the reddish egret, sandpipers, rails, and sometimes a magnificent frigate bird. We spend the day shooting from low perspectives, working on flight shots, and taking advantage of beautiful lighting. In the early evening at the hotel, we will have a critique session and Jim will give you his feedback on your work as well as make Photoshop suggestions as to how images can be improved. Overnight Naples.
Day 6, Feb. 27, Tuesday. Drive to the Naples airport for your return flight home, confident that you've captured amazing photographs of many species of beautiful birds.
Workshop cost: $1250. Includes photo instruction and critiques on demand.
Limited to 10 people.
Not included: Airfare to Miami, transportion, hotel, food, items of a personal nature.
NOTE: We start shooting early on February 23, and at the end of the workshop you can depart Florida from Ft. Meyers on February 28. Therefore, you should arrive at our hotel on February 22, and make your flight home any time from the morning of the 28th.