Wisconsin Photo Tour Deposit
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Dates: July 2020 - exact dates coming soon

Fee:  $3,500

Included:  Lodging, transportation during the workshop, pontoon, guiding and photo instruction, digital workflow sessions

Not included: Airfare and travel to and from Madison, Wisconsin, most meals

Deposit:  $1,000 to secure your spot

Balance: $2,500 due by April 7, 2020

Leader:  Bryan Holliday

Group Size: 3 photographers

Join me for a very unique opportunity to spend the week in a comfortable log home in rural Wisconsin and immerse yourself in some great bird photography on the lake!  

This is my family's lake home and I have been going there since I was born.  This is not a well known birding destination, but it certainly could be, and I would like to keep it that way :)  I have intimate knowledge of the birds that use the lake and surrounding areas and where and when they are nesting.  There are breeding colonies of Forster's Terns, Common Terns, and Black Terns, along with many other aquatic and marsh species.  There is a steady flock of White Pelicans that spend the summer on the lake.  Osprey and Bald Eagle nest nearby.  This trip is timed to coincide with the birds feeding chicks and fledglings, which is the absolute peak of bird activity.  The birds and the beautiful natural surroundings make for fantastic opportunities to shoot the birds in flight.  We will photograph from the pontoon boat as well as from land, depending on the current weather conditions and bird activity.  The focus will be getting out on the boat and photographing the water birds as often as possible.

Accommodations:  Private family log home with 3 bedrooms and 2 shared bathrooms, both with a shower.  You will have your own private room and full size bed and will share the bathroom with one other person.  Full kitchen, small dining room, living room with 3 couches and a fireplace and TV (local air channels only, no cable).  It's very comfortable and cozy.  We do not have internet service, so no Wifi, however your cell phone should work and you can use it as a hotspot if you need internet.  Another option is to head over to the nearby campground where they have a general store with Wifi.  They have amazing ice cream, so you can enjoy an ice cream cone on the patio and get on their Wifi for a bit.  

Equipment:  You will want to bring a long lens of 400mm, 500mm or 600mm plus extenders.  This will be what we shoot with most of the time.  A mid-range zoom lens and a wide-angle landscape lens will be handy for the times we encounter birdscape opportunities.  We will also shoot the gulls from the back of the boat while chumming them, which offers some really fun flight shots.  The 100-200mm range usually works best for that.  A tripod will be helpful both on land and on the boat, but lots of the flight photography can be done handheld if you are able to hold your rig.  

Physical Activity Level:  Fairly easy, standing and sitting on the boat, must be able to get on and off the pontoon boat from shore or pier.  Not much walking, as the lake is about 100 yards from the house.  

Conditions:  Summer in Wisconsin can offer a variety of weather conditions, but it is often in the 60's or 70's in the early morning and can warm up to the 80's or 90's mid-day.  Mid-high humidity is normal.  Sometimes the highs are in the upper 70's and it's very comfortable.  It can be bright sun one day and overcast the next.  Sometimes it's breezy and other times dead calm.  The mosquitos aren't much of a problem on the water, but they can be persistent on land, especially at dusk.  

Other considerations:  Bring a hat, sunscreen, a long-sleeved shirt, a bag or backpack for your gear and snacks while we're out shooting. 

Things to pack:  Definitely bring a combination of shorts and pants, hiking boots, sandals or water shoes (laugh all you want, I wear Crocs and they work great), t-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, fleece or sweatshirt, light jacket, hat for the sun, swimsuit if you would like to swim in the lake in the afternoon.  It's very shallow and comfortable temperature.

Expected species:

Common Tern, Forster's Tern, Black Tern, Osprey, Bald Eagle, American White Pelican, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Double-crested Cormorant, Ring-billed Gull, Marsh Wren, Sedge Wren

Other species that we have a decent chance to see and can try to photograph:

Least Bittern, American Bittern, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Red-headed Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Indigo Bunting, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Purple Martin, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, Cedar Waxwing, Grey Catbird, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Alder Flycatcher, Great-crested Flycatcher, Dickcissel, Henslow's Sparrow, Eastern Kingbird, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, American Goldfinch, Eastern Bluebird, White-tailed Deer!

More details: We get up early and leave while it is still mostly dark (by 5 a.m.) so that we can be where the birds are for the soft pre-dawn light and colorful sunrises.  Breakfast can be before we leave or bring it with.  I will be up at 4 each day to make coffee and get coherent.  We will also head back out for evening sessions to take advantage of the sunset colors.  If it is overcast, we will be able to photograph further into the day.  Most days we will be done shooting by mid-morning and will return to the comfort of the log home for some brunch.  Our afternoons will be spent downloading and reviewing images, informal post-processing workflow lessons and tips, image review and critique, and showing off your great shots to the gang.  It's also a great time to catch a much-needed nap.  We will eat our dinner and then head out for the last few hours of the day and enjoy the evening light.  If the weather does not allow us to go out on the boat, we will shoot birds on land.  If the weather does not allow us to shoot at all, we will make use of our time indoors with more photo editing, post-processing lessons, and image review/critique.  

There are no guarantees with nature and wildlife photography.  I will use my knowledge of the area and the local wildlife to do my best in making sure we are in the best places at the right times with the conditions we are given to have the most productive trip possible.  

Food: Due to our traveling and a busy start to our adventure, I will provide dinner on Sunday, July 7 once we're all at the lake.  I will also provide breakfast and lunch items on Monday, July 8.  After lunch on Monday, we will all drive into town and hit the grocery store where you can purchase the food you would like to have for the week.  You will need 5 dinners, 5 lunches, and 5 breakfasts.  If our group would like to join forces and figure out group meals, we can certainly do that.  You will have the full kitchen to use as you wish.  

Projected Itinerary:  

July 7:  You will need to arrive in Madison, WI by early afternoon on Sunday, July 7.  I will pick you up there and we will drive north about an hour to get to our destination.  (If you are local and will be driving, you are welcome to drive to the lake and can have your car there all week).  Once we arrive at our lake home, we will get settled in, have dinner, and do our introductory tour and slideshow.  Then we'll hit the sack as we will be getting up early.

July 8:  Breakfast. Depart by 5 a.m. for our morning shoot.  Return by mid-late morning.  Eat lunch.  Go to town to shop for groceries for the week.  Rest a little, eat dinner, go out for our evening shoot until sunset.  Bed.

July 9-12:  Breakfast. Depart by 5 a.m. for our morning shoot. Return mid-late morning.  Eat lunch.  Download cards, edit photos, image review, post-processing lessons, rest, take a nap, eat dinner, go out for evening shoot until sunset.  Bed.  

July 13: We will pack up and I will drive you back to Madison to catch your flight or bus.  If you are driving, departure time can be any time up until we need to leave for Madison.  Depending on flight times and departure time, we may be able to squeeze in one last morning shoot.  

Travel considerations:  To make our itinerary work out, you will need to arrange travel to Madison, WI so that you are there by early afternoon on Sunday, July 7.  There are direct flights and connecting flights into Madison (MSN) from all over.  Another option is to fly into Chicago O'Hare (ORD) and then ride the Van Galder bus to Madison.  

Plan to depart from Madison, WI on Saturday, July 13.  I will drive you back to Madison in time to catch your flights or bus.

If you live within driving range and would like to drive your own vehicle to our lake, that would work great.  You are welcome to have your car there with you all week.  

Payment: Your deposit can paid with credit card or Paypal by using the link at the top of the page. Once your deposit is processed, I will email you the registration form and waiver so you can print it out, complete it, and send it back. This will hold your spot. The balance can be paid by personal check or credit card (additional transaction fees apply for credit card payment) anytime up to 90 days before the trip.

To sign up for this great trip, please send your deposit through the link at the top of this page. Please call or email me with any questions you may have. 815.721.2218 or bryanholliday@gmail.com