A Studio Time
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Your tour guide — Doug Hansgate — will work hard to get you to the best locations depending on weather and bird activity. When I shoot these areas, I like to explore and encourage you to spread out some, look for a vision of an image, find still water, and explore the best angle of light and composition. I will stay within our group to give you any assistance you might want, my focus is on you getting the shots not me. Plus, since the tour is limited to 6 participants, you can be assured of individual attention.
For a map of the Atchafalaya River Basin click here.
Photography skill levels will range from expert to far less experience levels. If you are a pro or less experienced, no worries … there is plenty of freedom to operate at your creative best. And if you are still eager to learn to improve your skills, consider arranging for private lessons from Doug Hansgate the day before or after tour. Doug is an extraordinary teacher and has a gift for simplifying things that leads to fast improvement. Such lessons should be prearranged with Doug so they do not conflict with our other duties but those that take advantage of such lessons will find it time well spent.
On this trip, you will use a variety of length lenses plan on at a least a wide angle and a zoom in the 70-300mm or 100-400mm range or so. Many of my images taken gliding through the cypress are shot with a zoom. Plenty of times I will use an extender if our vision for an image warrants. In fact I usually have something similar to a 16-35mm, a 24-70mm, 100-400mm and an extender in my wet bag. I don't always use all of that but when I need to, I am well equipped. Add a tripod and maybe a remote release and you have what you will need.
Most of the time you will shoot hand holding, sitting inside the kayak. Other times you might want a longer shutter speed and will need your tripod. Some of the images in the impressive sideshow were taken with the tripod in the water and me in the kayak.
Can you say layers? Weather changes frequently. At the time of this photo tour, spring is upon us, however the mornings can still be cool. It would be rare that more than a fleece would be needed at that time of year but who knows? Plan for it. Also, bring light rain gear — the fog, mist, or a light sprinkle are all likely during your time here. We enjoy the photographic opportunities that each offers, unless high winds or lightning dictate otherwise.
We use Native Ultimates kayaks, which are fantastic for photography. They are sit-inside kayaks and with your waterproof bag you should be fine. If you have not kayaked before, we will be happy to give some brief instruction. It is not nearly as hard as you might think. A friend that is a 73 year old retired priest finally tried one last summer after overcoming his fear. His reaction after about 30 minutes on the water? Where could he buy one!
Since kayaks give us great mobility, we can move around most of the day to find just the right spots. But we are never in a hurry. Rest assured you can paddle at your own pace. When asked about level of fitness, moderate would be likely the best answer.
Though I warn novices from exiting the kayak there are some places, if conditions are right, to do so and I ask that you only dismount your kayak in the presence of one of your guides. Water level and softness of the bottom are two keys that determine when you can do that, and of course, finding the spot where you can get back in the kayak is important. If this is on your list to do, just bring your waders. And yes, I will gladly take that iconic shot of you photographing standing in the water among the fabulous cypress for your portfolio.
I will transport all the kayaks and have them ready for you at our launch points when you arrive.
The length of our daily outings is flexible. I want to maximize the best light, atmosphere, colors and subject matter. Most days will include a morning session and then a late afternoon session to capture the golden hour, sunset and more. Our morning sessions start before sunrise. Generally we run later into the morning as we have shadow areas that can be spectacular when the sun is quite high. The bottom line is to stay flexible. While the trees aren't going anywhere, the weather, light, atmosphere and more will change — even a bit of rain may fall which can greatly enrich the colors. We adapt to what Mother Nature throws our way with safety first always at the top of our agenda.
Each day starts out before sunrise with a quick coffee or drink, as well as some rolls and pastries to get you off to a good start. Our goal is to have you on the water at our location before sunrise. After our morning on the water, usually around 9:30 - 10:00 am, we will head back to hotel.
After breakfast, we give you some time to relax. Our post-production classes run generally from 12 noon to 3 p.m. After class, we depart for our afternoon/evening paddle on the water. We will remain out until after dark.
If nature calls. we will assist getting you to shore should that be necessary … all part of helping you have the best experience possible.
The tour is priced at $659 per person and the guide and kayaks along with safety equipment are provided
Participation only reserved on receipt of a non-refundable deposit of $300 USD. Deposit methods accepted: Credit card via a phone call to Doug Hansgate, reservation coordinator, at 716-860-7194, or a check made out to Doug Hansgate and sent to 154 Christiana Street, North Tonawanda, NY 14120.
Please register by paying using paypal or contact Doug for additional registration information.
Only $659 per person. Class is limited to 6 students.
We depart the hotel to head out to our first location. The plan is to be on the water on location for sunrise shots before the sun.
In-class review of the morning images and post-production training, including luminosity masks.
Depart hotel to field location and remain in the field until dark.
Repeat of Sunday with new locations.
Repeat of previous day with location changes only.