Location: Kearney, Nebraska

Dates: March 13 – 16, 2017

Deposit: $500 / Tuition: $2,495

Come Fly Away!

 Join elite nature and wildlife photographers Michael Forsberg, Melissa Groo and Bob Smith along the Platte River in Nebraska to photograph one of nature’s oldest and largest migrations; the Sandhill Crane migration.

For millions of years, Sandhill Cranes have migrated through North America on their way to breeding grounds up North, and the Platte River in Nebraska has long been one of their landing destinations. The hundreds of thousand of cranes that travel through Nebraska every late March create an absolutely stunning sight for photographers and nature-lovers alike.

 In this workshop, you’ll be immersed in blinds along the Platte River to get an up-close look as the cranes dance, sing their famous “Crane Song”, and do other fun things that make for extraordinary pictures!

The workshop hotel and classroom is the Fairfield Inn in Kearney, Nebraska.

What you’ll learn:

History of the Sandhill Crane Migration
How to Photograph Cranes/Birds
Photographing From a Blind, Blind Etiquette
Nature/Conservation Photography Techniques

2
Years Running
4
Expert Instructors on Faculty
4:1
Student:Instructor Ratio

2017 WORKSHOP INSTRUCTORS

SCHEDULE

SANDHILL CRANES PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP SCHEDULE

SANDHILL CRANES DAY 1

  • 5:00pm – Depart Fairfield Inn
  • 6:00pm – Welcome Reception
  • 8:15pm – Opening Film “Crane Song”

SANDHILL CRANES DAY 2

  • 5:20am – Depart Fairfield Inn
  • 6:30am – Positioned in Blinds
  • 7:32am – Sunrise
  • 10:00am – Depart for Fairfield Inn
  • 11:00am-3:00pm – Lunch/Download/Downtime
  • 3:00pm – Image Edit/Critique
  • 4:00pm – Presentation
  • 5:30pm – Depart Fairfield Inn
  • 6:20pm – Positioned in Blinds
  • 7:53pm – Sunset

SANDHILL CRANES DAY 3

  • 5:20am – Depart Fairfield Inn
  • 6:30am – Positioned in Blinds
  • 7:30am – Sunrise
  • 10:00am – Depart for Fairfield Inn
  • 12:00pm – Lunch
  • 12:30pm-3:30pm – Field Work
  • 4:00pm – Return to Fairfield Inn
  • 5:30pm – Depart Fairfield Inn
  • 6:20pm – Positioned in Blinds
  • 7:54pm – Sunset

SANDHILL CRANES DAY 4

  • 5:20am – Depart Fairfield Inn
  • 6:30am – Positioned in Blinds
  • 7:28am – Sunrise
  • 10:00am – Depart for Fairfield Inn
  • 11:00am-3:00pm – Lunch/Download/Downtime
  • 3:00pm – Image Edit/Critique
  • 4:00pm – Presentation
  • 5:30pm – Depart Fairfield Inn
  • 6:20pm – Field Work
  • 7:55pm – Sunset
  • 9:00pm – Farewell Dinner

SANDHILL CRANES PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP DETAILS

LOCATIONS

WHAT WILL WE DO?

  • This workshop will provide opportunities to photograph sandhill cranes from group blinds on the Platte River as the cranes come back to the river roost for the evenings, and when they leave the river at first light in the mornings. In the mornings we will be up early and get to the blind and be settled in an hour before sunrise and will not leave until the birds have left the river. In the evenings, we will arrive to the blind about two hours before sunset and will not leave until dark. Between blind trips, we will download and edit images, have a group critique session of selected images, and provide opportunity to learn more about the Platte River Valley, its conservation and the wildlife it supports. There may also be opportunities to photograph these birds and other migrating waterfowl midday from county roads while they are feeding on waste grain leftover from in farmers fields from the previous fall harvest. Waste grain provides and nutrients from prairie grasslands and wet meadows provides fat reserves they need for migration and their early stages at the nest.

WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES?

  • Photographing cranes in Nebraska’s Platte Valley is a very different experience than photographing cranes on wintering grounds or other migratory staging areas in the continent like Bosque Del Apache NWR in New Mexico or the San Luis Valley of Colorado where they are acclimated to human presence. This crane population in the Central Flyway is hunted in every state and province along their migratory pathway, except in Nebraska. Therefore the cranes are very skittish when they arrive here and usually do not tolerate human presence at less than several hundred yards unless you are in a blind or a vehicle. And while there are many protected areas for cranes and other wildlife along the river, central Nebraska is not wilderness. It is countryside, mostly in private ownership, and ranks as some of the most productive farmland in the world. Finally, the cranes and their daily rhythms and patterns change constantly, dictated by weather, water levels and disturbance, which are ever changing along the Platte. In late March, it can be 80 degrees and shirt sleeves one day, and 15 degrees and a blizzard the next. Together, this makes photographing these birds very challenging. Photographing here is a practice in patience, persistence, and acceptance of what it gives you, but it can also be very rewarding and the experience itself and its sight and sound is unforgettable.

Come fly away with nature photographers Michael ForsbergMelissa Groo and Bob Smith as you photograph the annual migration of the over half-a-million Sandhill Cranes that arrive along the Platte River in Nebraska in the Spring. Immerse yourself in the blind and get the most amazing images of some of the most unique wildlife.

Workshop tuition includes all workshop instruction and events, access to Nikon equipment for use during the workshop, transportation to events during the workshop, and all meals.

Workshop tuition does not include travel before and after workshop, and lodging during the workshop.

Fairfield Inn & Suites 

510 W Talmadge Rd,
Kearney, NE 68845
(308) 236-4200

  • This will be the headquarters for the workshop. This includes classroom instruction, receptions, and Nikon & vendor rooms.
  • Call and mention “Sandhill Cranes Photography Workshop” for discounted group rate.
  • Kearney Regional Airport: The airport in Kearney is the closest travel option to the Sandhill Cranes workshop, but there are less flights into this airport so it can be more difficult to find a flight at the time you want.
  • Lincoln Airport: Lincoln, NE is about two hours away from Kearney and the Sandhill Cranes workshop, but the Lincoln Airport offers many more flight options and flexibility than the Kearney airport.
  • Long telephoto zoom lenses that can reach out to the 400-800mm range are a must to have the chance to fill the frame with cranes. Because of low light levels and shooting through small windows or ports in the blinds, you will also need to have a sturdy tripod that will hold your long lens, and a cable release to trigger the camera during longer exposures.
  • Mid-range telephoto zooms that you can handhold within the 80-400mm range provide great flexibility and make great landscape lenses that put the birds in context of  the habitat. Finally, a wide angle prime or zoom lens will allow you to capture the big skies and if we are lucky,  fire red prairie sunsets.
  • You will also need a laptop to download and edit your images on.
  • Because of Nebraska’s weather in spring, you will want to stay both warm and dry. Even in blinds which are enclosed wooden structures that look like box cars, they can be very cold and the winds can be harsh.
  • Prepare to bring layers with both wind and water protection. And bring good warm boots, gloves or mittens with liners, and warm headwear. Then check the local weather forecast the day before you leave and adjust your packing accordingly

ADDITIONAL ONLINE COURSES

Advance your Travel Photography even further.

Summit Online is our online photography education platform that offers a variety of high quality video courses taught by experts.

National Geographic Research with Jim Richardson

Get the most out of your photo trip to the Sandhill Crane migration by learning how to properly research the location your traveling to as well as the “story” you hope to unearth there. Our Summit Online photography course, National Geographic Research with Jim Richardson, takes you where very few have ever been before — behind the yellow border. Jim brings you inside many of his Geographic stories and what ties them all together: his research. Discover how a National Geographic contributor prepares for a shoot in a foreign location and prepares for the many facets of the story they hope to discover. National Geographic Research with Jim Richardson includes the following lessons:

  • Lesson One: Finding a Topic, Pitching a Story
  • Lesson Two: Starting a Mock Research Topic
  • Lesson Three: Getting into the Details & Outline
  • Lesson Four: The Actual Shoot

The Digital World with Allen Murabayashi

Prepare for your trip to the Sandhill Crane migration by learning how to properly upload and market the photos you capture while you’re there. Our Summit Online photography course, The Digital World with Allen Murabayashi, takes you on a journey through the digital world that drives today’s creative industry. As a Co-Founder of the unique website Photoshelter.com, Allen provides you with online tools that can better your freelance photography business and personal processes relating to photography and other creative realms. The Digital World with Allen Murabayashi includes the following lessons:

  • Lesson One: Overview of Media & Industry
  • Lesson Two: The Business of Photography
  • Lesson Three: Photoshelter tool : Photo Management
  • Lesson Four: Search Engine Optimization, Analytics, Bounce Rates and More

GALLERY

© 2015 Philippe Bouchard

© 2015 Philippe Bouchard

© 2012 Chris Carruth

© 2016 Kyle Aiton

© 2016 Melissa Usrey

© 2016 Melissa Usrey

© 2016 Mary D'Agostino

© 2016 Mary D’Agostino

© 2016 Melissa Usrey

© 2016 Melissa Usrey

© 2016 Kristen Tucker

© 2016 Kristen Tucker

© 2016 Kristen Tucker

© 2016 Kristen Tucker

© 2016 Carl Henry

© 2016 Carl Henry

© 2016 Mark Brown

© 2016 Mark Brown

© 2016 Todd Lester

© 2016 Todd Lester

© 2015 Matthew Eaton

© 2015 Matthew Eaton

© 2013 Howard Arndt

© 2013 Howard Arndt

© 2013 Howard Arndt

© 2013 Howard Arndt

© 2013 Howard Arndt

© 2013 Howard Arndt

© 2016 Drew Castellaw

© 2016 Phil Westin

© 2016 Phil Westin

© 2016 Jerry Usrey

© 2016 Jerry Usrey

© 2016 Grant Halverson

© 2016 Grant Halverson

© 2016 Natalie Dustman

© 2016 Natalie Dustman

© 2016 Mark Brown

© 2016 Mark Brown

© 2016 Susan Miller

© 2016 Susan Miller

© 2016 Jay Hamlin

© 2016 Jay Hamlin

© Jennifer Leigh Warner

© 2016 Jennifer Leigh Warner

© 2016 Andrew Chad

© 2009 Jack Rendulich

© 2009 Jack Rendulich

© 2007 Rick Allen

© 2007 Rick Allen

© 2016 Renee Bourcier

© 2016 Renee Bourcier

© 2007 Cal Mckitrick

© 2007 Cal Mckitrick

© Isaac Spotts

© 2016 Isaac Spotts

© 2013 Nancy Crase

© 2013 Nancy Crase

© 2016 Carl Henry

© 2016 Carl Henry

© 2013 Mary D'Agostino

© 2013 Mary D’Agostino

© 2010 Earl Richardson

© 2015 Philippe Bouchard

© 2015 Philippe Bouchard

© 2015 Emilie Milcarek

© 2015 Emilie Milcarek

Photo by Michael Forsberg

© Michael Forsberg

© 2015 Bruce McCallum

© 2015 Bruce McCallum

© 2015 Tobias Butterfield

© 2015 Tobias Butterfield

© 2015 Tobias Butterfield

© 2015 Tobias Butterfield

© 2015 Sarah Desjardins

© 2015 Sarah Desjardins

© Michael Forsberg

© Michael Forsberg

© Michael Forsberg

Photo by Michael Forsberg

© Michael Forsberg

Photo by Kai Casey

© 2014 Kai Casey

© 2014 Dane Cronin

© 2013 Keith Allen

© 2013 Andy Dyson

© 2013 Foto’s by Field

River Crossing

© 2013 Andy Dyson

© 2016 Kyle Aiton

© 2016 Paolo Sartori

© 2012 Blair Lockhart

© 2010 Deborah Cull

© 2012 Alex Gauthier

© 2016 Cate Brown

© 2016 Mark Brown

© 2016 Mark Brown

© 2013 Keith Allen

© 2016 Doug Stroud

© 2016 Doug Stroud

Olympic Boxing

© 2011 Andrew McLean Brown

© 2013 Andy Dyson

Dinner Time

On The Lookout

© 2013 Foto’s by Field

© 2015 Emilie Milcarek

© 2015 Emilie Milcarek

© 2015 Corey Solotrovski

© 2016 Mel Lyons

© 2016 Mel Lyons

© 2013 Michael Pierce

© 2015 Kelsey Brunner

© 2014 Casey Hall

© 2015 Matthew Eaton

© 2012 John Salisbury

© 2012 Marlee Ellen Miller

© 2012 Howard Arndt

© Madelyn Foster

© 2016 Madelyn Foster

© David Anderson

© 2016 David Anderson

© 2012 Keith Allen

© 2014 Laura Humes

© 2012 Ben Dann

© 2016 Paolo Sartori