The Bird Photography Workshop in British Columba was by all measures, awesome! Well the weather was a bit dodgy to get things started, but we were well rewarded by a bevy of birds and some superb interaction between Bald Eagles as the week went on. We photographed Bald Eagles everyday of the workshop and filled in nicely with other cool birds like Rough-legged Hawk, Short-eared Owl, cute songbirds and countless waterfowl.
This workshop takes place along the Vancouver BC coast and the Fraser River Valley. Why you ask? Here is the thing a lot of people don’t know, Bald Eagles migrate! In November and December the Bald Eagles migrate from Alaska and Northern Canada to feast on the abundant food supplied by the salmon runs. As many as 8000 Bald Eagles take advantage of the salmon and the perfect conditions to find their mate and start a new family. The interactions over food and finding a mate were awesome.
Birds Galore is more than just eagles!
Until you have joined this workshop, it is probably hard to imagine getting tired of photographing Bald Eagles. Trust me when you have photographed hundreds of Bald Eagles flying past your camera at point blank range, it’s refreshing to have more birds to photograph. There is not a lot of standing around on this workshop!
In past years we photographed these bird species on the Bird Photography Workshop in British Columbia.
Red-tailed Hawk, Pacific Loon, Red-throated Loon, Pied Grebe, Common Goldeneye, Wood Duck, Sandhill Crane, Northern Pintail, Belted Kingfisher, Short-eared Owl, Barn Owl, Barred Owl, Bufflehead, Northern Shoveler, Mallard, Hooded Merganser, Snow Goose, Mute Swan, Rough-legged Hawk, Canvasback, Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Virginia Rail, Common Snipe, Great Horned Owl, Northwestern Crow, Pileated Woodpecker, Spotted Towhee, Pacific Wren, Red-winged Blackbird, Mountain Chickadee and multiple species Herons and Egrets.
How Close Are to the Birds?
People always want to know how close we get to the birds on the Best Bird Photography Workshop in British Columbia. The answer is complicated because it is rarely the same, so I always say bring your longest lens, and we’ll go from there. Occasionally though we do have close encounters of the bird kind!
My thoughts about the bird photography workshop in British Columbia
One of the many cool things about my job as a workshop instructor is nothing is ever the same. As many times I run a workshop in the same locations and the same time of the year they are just never the same. One time, I was on one of my Kenya Safaris and was on two of them back to back. The second one, just 6 days later, was so entirely different that I was stunned and I am rarely taken off guard like that! The moral of that story is this workshop was different than any of its previous versions. It was not better or worse just different. When you look at the itinerary, just keep in mind, we never change up a workshop unless we have to make changes. I am sure the times that I have had to change the itinerary it was to everyone’s benefit, mostly the clients!
W.C. Fields famous quote about working with children and animals should also have included the weather! On this year’s workshop, it was rainy and pretty cold when the wind was whipping off the bay. At dinner time the forecast called for heavy rain and wind, and so we made the call to cancel the morning photography session and have a classroom session. Nobody cried out loud, but nobody wanted to get soaked either. I am going to guess it was not more than 2 hours into our classroom session when the “sky is falling” forecast failed to materialize. We adapted and stopped the class and got dressed grabbed a fast food lunch and found the birds.
On this years workshop, there were not as many individual Bald Eagles as in previous years, but the quality of photography was higher. There was a lot more interaction between the eagle which made the images more dynamic. We needed to work harder and spend more time traveling find the birds, but when we did, wow! For example, this eagle shot at the top of the page was not available in previous years because there is not usually water there!
This is the first time that we have done the workshop in January, and I imagine it will stay there forever now. The weather was warmer, the 20s to mid-40s. We still get up at the crack of dawn, but that means 7AM and not 3AM! The day ends early too, about 4:30pm, so no long lunches, grab and go and eat in the car was the best situation.
We had great overcast skies. I hear you saying, “Wait what?” I love overcast skies as long as it is bright and alive and not dark and gloomy. When it is overcast, we can photograph in any direction, and we can shoot all day thanks to the giant “softbox in the sky. Don’t worry there were pleasant breaks so get your bright light shots too!
Clients worry about food on these trips, and if you know me, then you know worrying about food is silly. I have a knack of finding the place in town that has the best food, and that isn’t always the most expensive. We ate breakfast at the hotel or at the nearby Starbucks. We took our dinners together at night (not included), and the lively conversations were fun and sometimes educational. I expect several new friendships were made on the workshop between the clients and me as well.
About The Gear
I always say there is never enough glass for bird photography and that is true here. If you don’t have at least a 400mm with a high pixel camera, then we should talk before you join. As I mentioned earlier with fewer birds, they were often farther away, and folks that had 600s were much happier than those that did not. Don’t get me wrong there were times an eagle posed within a few feet or right over your head. You will get images, but the longer your glass, the happier you will be. The Sigma 150-600mm is perhaps the perfect lens for this trip. For about $1000 it’s a heck of a deal for a heck of a lens!
Conclusions from The Bird Photography Workshop in British Columbia
Come well armed with a variety of clothes for wet, dry and snowy conditions. The weather people are never right.
It’s not the number of images that you take, but the number of images that you keep. You may not burn through cards like crazy, but I think you will be happy with the photos that you create.
We always try to meet the schedule, we don’t always succeed, but sometimes the workshop is better for the change!
What do the Clients Say?
Great, and the whales, wow!
I had a great time and made a bunch of great photos. Jeff’s very knowledgeable and helpful with questions and equipment. Jeff also put us in all of the right situations to get the shot. I am looking forward to my next workshop with him, you should give them a try, he’s great!
Jeff makes the experience interesting, exciting and educational. In addition to sharing his knowledge and in depth experience as a photographer, he also shares his knowledge of the locale, the wildlife and fun facts about the encounter. Not only that, if you need assistance during or after the trip, he’s always there for you..
Traveling and photographing with Jeff is not only rewarding, it’s also fun. Jeff ensures that every detail is handled and manages to keep you entertained throughout the trip. If you haven’t gone on a “funshop” with Jeff, you are missing out on a great experience.
I learned a lot!
Thanks a lot for a great workshop. I learned a lot and enjoyed the ambience. I particularly appreciated the way could relate to different levels of expertise, which is difficult.
I would love to go on another workshop with you.
I was amazed!
I have had numerous workshops with Jeff and have enjoyed and learned on all of them. In Brazil, I was amazed at the breadth of animal life. Jeff is very knowledgeable about the birds and wildlife and that really helped me create some great photos.
I would recommend taking any of his workshops.
One of the best photography trips I ever did!
Jeff was the Great Leader in one of the best photography trips I ever did … he made the impossible come true by organising a 3 day Harpy photography session in the middle of the amazon forest and in the best of circumstances.
After that we visited the Pantanal. Main target animal to photograph was the Jaguar, and we had 13 sightings in 4,5 days !! Next to that there were countless other bird species to see up close and photograph, and he really went out of his way to make photograph kingfishers in action possible. He gave great advice in both the making of the photos as also in the afterwork in Photoshop afterwards.
I will most certainly participate in other workshops he organises.
Thanks Jeff for the greatest of nature experiences!
You DID amaze me. Thank you so much!
A great experience
I just wanted to thank you again for a great experience with you and your class. I really enjoyed getting to know you and am a big fan of your sense of humor and expertise. A perfect mix of fun and professionalism.
Thank you for a wonderful workshop. I learned so much and feel I got some good pictures.
Thank YOU for hosting a terrific workshop last week. I enjoyed every moment (well, maybe not the bugs) and learned a lot about my cameras along the way. It was everything you said it would be (and more), even the breaks in shooting we got along the way were perfect, and I would take another workshop with you in a heartbeat.
I tend to view the success of a wildlife photography trip by the numbers of “big winners” I get. This workshop was one of the best. Jeff’s sessions are well prepared and his experience really pays off in his ability to work with the photographers on settings, lighting and other factors that contribute to great photos. For the less experienced wildlife photographers, Jeff is a great teacher.
I recently returned from a Safari to Kenya with Jeff. I’ve been to Africa four times and this safari exceeded my expectations. Thanks Jeff for a wonderful experience!
I was AMAZED, as promised!
Jeff kept his promise: I was amazed! Amazed at the beautiful animals, amazed at the beautiful settings, and most importantly, amazed at the shots I took home with me.
All in all a fantastic trip.
I must say this trip was amazing on all fronts. I truly enjoyed photographing with you, and I also very much appreciate all of your time and the one-on-one education you gave me on Lightroom. Sharing your workflow process with me and straightening out my library added frosting to the cake, so to speak. Best of all I enjoyed our social outings. All in all a fantastic trip.
Over the top!
Reflecting back from this workshop…seriously once in a lifetime experience. My excitement is over the top when expressing it to others. Thank you so much for everything!
Jeff is the Best Workshop Leader
I’ve done a lot of Wildlife Workshops and Jeff is the best workshop leader I’ve worked with. I’ve done three workshops with him and plan to do more. I’m an experienced wildlife photographer and also learn something valuable when I’m with Jeff. I tend to rank workshops on the number of big winners I get. From one of Jeff’s workshops I got a photo that won best wildlife photo of the year in the 16 camera clubs of Northern California annual competition. Jeff works extremely well with inexperienced as well as experienced photographers.
Jeff’s photo workshops are the BEST!
Jeff’s photography workshops are the best! Jeff is personable, experienced and knows his locations as well as photographic skills. He has helped me learn my equipment, the computer and the subject matter we are shooting. You can count on his trips being a great experience and fun! This year I produced a calendar called the Gift of Wings – I chose my favorite photos with wings – his trips made three months and the cover – Eagles, Owl and Wood Duck. You can see the calendar on facebook at Kathy N Deets , La Grange, IL or at www.barkershopphotos.com. Great memories! I hope to take more of his trips. Your welcome to call me directly for a referral – 708-542-8969. Kathy Deets
Checked off all of the boxes!
Thank you both so much for such an enjoyable workshop. My skill level was greatly increased and that was my goal.
The group interaction and the after class discussions (ha..ha), were defiantly a bonus. I hope to do workshops with you both in the future, as this one checked off all the boxes for a successful workshop.
What an awesome experience!
What an awesome experience! The accommodations were excellent, the local guides were the best, and the photo opps were amazing!
Impressive wildlife photography expertise
I first met Jeff Wendorff on one of his wildlife workshops and was most impressed with his expertise and experience with wildlife photography. When I learned he does a yearly Africa Photo Safari, I signed up immediately. I was not disappointed. Jeff hand-picked the 3 Porini Camps for our Kenya trip, selects his jeep guides and is the perfect host. The guides find where the wildlife are, put you in a perfect position for action shots considering lighting conditions and with only 3 per jeep, you have plenty of room to move around and stow gear. The lodging, food, and camp staff are outstanding at each camp site. Great stuff. I’m going back this year with Jeff to do it all over again. From lumbering elephant herds towering beneath Mt. Kilimanjaro, to black-mained lions, to leopard with cubs, to cheetahs on the hunt to rare spotted dogs to fantastic Africa sunset silhouette shots, it doesn’t get any better….But I’ll let you know when I get back…..JD Thompson
A photo adventure you don’t want to miss
This is one photo adventure you don’t want to miss, especially on your first trip to Africa. Highly recommended.
Met and exceeded my requests and expectation
I went on a Tiger Photo Safari in India with Jeff and I ask Jeff to customize the trip for some extras that wanted. He met and exceeded my requests. I also traveled to Kenya with Jeff and he was great there too, you won’t be disappointed with him as your guide!
One of the best photography trips I have taken
Jeff’s Mongolia Golden Eagle Festival and Gobi Desert extension was one of the best photography trips I have taken. The photo opportunities were numerous. Jeff’s itinerary enabled me to improve my skills of photographing sand dunes, desert landscapes, portraits of locals dressed in traditional costume, birds in flight, running horses, and sunrises and sunsets. Jeff was available to assist group participants with camera settings and best angles to capture amazing photos. This is a photography tour not to be missed.
An excellent experience
I had an excellent experience in Canada with you last time and am looking forward to the next two I have joined!
I really enjoyed your honest critiques of my photography they were very helpful. Thank you!
Paris was great, loved the experience and your feedback the last few days was invaluable. I was pleased with your willingness to work with me when I peppered you with questions and that really made it all worth while. My wife has even commented on the noticeable improvement in my work.
Jeff’s guidance was incisive and very helpful
This was a small group trip which benefitted everyone. The organisation was extremely good so that none of us had to think about the practicalities of each day, and we could concentrate on the photography. Jeff’s guidance was non intrusive, incisive and very helpful. His experience helped me look at what I had in my viewfinder much more critically than I would have done previously, and to adjust my viewpoint when needed. Similarly when it came to post production, his comments helped me select those images that were worth looking at again and reject those that weren’t. At no time did I feel unable to ask for help since he is very approachable, easygoing, and has a wealth of experience. We all had a great deal of fun as well and we have already enquires about trips for 2021.
I really appreciated Jeff’s knowledge
I have just returned from an amazing photo safari adventure in Kenya. I am still grappling with the overwhelming animals I saw and photographed. Some of the highlights of this trip included:
- Amazing number of wild animals and birds of every brilliant hue and colour
- Following the animals in their natural habitats – including observing a number of hunts
- Excellent hotel and glamping accommodations
- Great food including sunrise breakfasts in the wild and sunset happy hours
- Cultural experiences including a visit to a Masai village
I really appreciated Jeff’s knowledge about the wildlife we saw and identifying animals and birds in the photographs I took. With Jeff’s help, I managed to greatly improve my skills as a photographer.
This trip was always on my bucket list. It far exceeded my expectations. I will certainly join one of Jeff’s expeditions again. In fact, I have!! I have booked a trip with him to Brazil to photograph the jaguars.
You would be a darn fool not to accompany Jeff to Ecuador!
I am going to make this very easy- if you like photographing birds, especially stunningly, startlingly, splendidly spectacularly colorful tanagers, barbets, toucans and hummingbirds at point blank range you would be a darn fool not to accompany Jeff to Ecuador. I have just returned from the montane forests there and I can tell you that there is no better opportunity to photograph birds with so much ease and comfort than in Ecuador. So don’t be a darn fool and go on this trip, it will blow you away.
We cannot imagine a better leader and safari
My husband and I took Jeff’s Kenya Workshop in February 2020 and we cannot imagine a better leader and safari. Jeff is personable, knowledgeable, intuitive and downright funny. He has been visiting Kenya long enough that the agenda is fine tuned as to which camps, guides, vehicles & drivers we use, as well as knowing the optimum timing for the trip. The locations of our three awesome tented camps gave us an interesting variety of ecosystems and wildlife. Most of our game drives were in conservancies which means less crowds and the ability to drive off the trails to get close to the wildlife. Jeff and our Maasai guides were well versed on all the local flora and fauna and knew the history and personal stories on several of the individual animals and lion prides that we saw. Jeff is very observant and will casually offer suggestions like “be mindful of your background” when you are too darn excited to notice; and when asked a question, he will answer to any depth you require or want, including knowing most camera systems. He only takes a maximum of 6 participants so with 2 safari vehicles there was the ability to move from one side of the vehicle to the other to shoot moving wildlife, as well as ample room to store camera gear. We are now planning to sign up for another trip with Jeff. I would even do the same one again! And then there is that Juju Jacket….pure magic.
Jeff was well organized and informative from start to finish
This was my first trip with Jeff and I can guarantee it will not be my last. Jeff was well organized and informative from start to finish, with a very pleasant and genuine caring for each of the clients on the trip. Jeff made sure everybody was inclusive, and gave just the right feedback to every client. From the beginning in Nairobi, at Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage we knew this was going to be something special. Everyday was amazing and Jeff was excellent at instructing the drivers to get us in the right spot at the right time to take some awesome photographs. Our regular sundowner drinks at the end of the day was the perfect way to spend time with fellow travellers and reflect on how lucky we were to have just experienced nature at it’s best. Every night the mantra amongst our group was “it just keeps getting better”.
The accommodation, food and staff at the camps are first class. I could not believe how good the food was, all locally cooked by internationally trained chefs. The accommodation is clean and very comfortable. The staff are always smiling and go that extra bit to make sure you are happy.
If you are considering travelling to Africa on a safari then I highly recommend travelling with Jeff. I look forward to my next adventure with Wildlife Workshops.
Best Bird Photography Workshop Photo Gallery
If you would like to see some of the images I have made on the BC Birds workshop please visit my gallery.
What else can I tell you about the bird photography in BC? Hit me up in the comments!