North American predators are extremely difficult subjects to film in the wild. Almost all published photographs of puma or mountain lion, bobcat, lynx, wolverine, and gray wolf are of captive or wildlife models. Yet the images one can produce at a wildlife model shoot are dynamic and compelling and fun. We'll be offering two seasons in the Autumn of 2006, timed so that participants may also participate in our first session of our Yellowstone Wildlife Fall Photo Tours.
We'll be photographing the mammals of 'Animals of Montana' (see my scouting report 2005, or 2006, or 2007, or 2008) for more information) which offers an incredible variety of subjects. Mary and I have photographed at several different facilities over the years and, of them all, Animals of Montana has proven to be the best. On our first shoot in September of 2005 we were simply amazed at how the owner of Animals of Montana, Troy Hyde, worked his adult Grizzly Bear. We'd never seen anything like it, and we obtained the best images of Grizzlies we'd ever filmed. If you'd like to see a wonderful portfolio of just some of the subjects we shot on our first photo tour in September, 2006, check out our Trip Report, or for 2007 or for 2008.
We'll be shooting a variety of predators, and although most of these will be native North American species, we'll also have the opportunity to film exotics as well. Animals of Montana has, as I write this, African Lion, Siberian Tiger, Snow Leopard, and an incredible Black Leopard which we will definitely photograph if the cat is available. These animals don't seem 'right' for Montana, but successful imagery is all in the angles, backgrounds, and perspectives and we'll be able to make great portraits of some, or very authentic habitat looks for other species. For example, the plant life of Siberia is quite similar to that of the forest areas of Montana, and the lichen-covered rocks of Snow Leopard country are the same everywhere. I know, I've been in Snow Leopard habitat in Asia.
The North American predators will of course offer no such issues, and we'll have the opportunity to film several species in a variety of ways -- from portrait to animal in habitat. Unlike any other facility I've filmed at, the Pumas of Animals of Montana are not declawed, so it is possible to get great shots with claws visible, or as the puma stretches and scratches a log, or climbs a tree.
Quite honestly, I'm more
excited about shooting here than I have been at any other location.
It's the best I've found, and you will return from the shoot with
absolutely spectacular images.
Northern Montana is the home for almost of the subjects we'll be shooting. Our autumn shoot may coincide with the peak of Montana's fall color, so we should have some of the predators framed by red and yellow foliage in gorgeous settings. Now, imagine all of these subjects in the grand landscape of Montana! If you can imagine that, you'll have some conception of the types of photographs possible on this unique wildlife model shoot.
We'll be shooting for three days, with a fourth day reserved as a rain day. In the event that we do not need the rain day you may elect to photograph more animals on this fourth day at an additional charge.
You will be shooting a smorgasbord of North American and Northern Hemisphere predators, from one of the largest species, like the Siberian tiger, grizzly bear, black bear, puma (cougar-mountain lion), gray wolf, African lion, and black leopard, to some of the smaller major predators, which may include bobcat, lynx, red and gray fox, skunk, badger, coyote and raccoon. Exactly what we shoot will depend upon several factors, which can include availability of a subject or its temperment on a given day. More importantly, however, is the fact that we do not have to be on a schedule where we have a given amount of time to shoot a subject. Troy doesn't work that way. Instead, we'll be able to photograph a subject for as long as we wish, or until the animal grows bored, tired, or hot, and it's obvious that the shoot is no longer productive.
That said, Mary and I will also be keeping a sharp eye on 'pacing' ourselves so that we can indeed photograph many different species and we'll orchestrate the group, survey the group, and decide for the group to best facilitate your photographic needs.
If weather permits, we'll take a few of our subjects to a compound in East Glacier where our backdrop will be the mountains of Glacier National Park. In March there is a possibility that inclement weather could close the highway to East Glacier, or there could be too much snow at the East Glacier compound to make photography practical.
Our shoot will be divided among a variety
of 'primary' and 'secondary' animals. The secondary species include
striped skunk, porcupine, raccoon, and badger. We'll be shooting
several of these, in addition to the primary species which are
our primary focus.
Photo: Ellen Goff
mandatory orientation meeting will be held on the first evening
of our photo shoot. Mary and I will also do an introductory power
point presentation on computer where we'll review the subjects
and, far more importantly, the techniques we'd suggest you use
for a successful shoot. We'll discus metering, composition, AF
concerns, and group dynamics and protocol, so you'll have a really
clear idea of what the conditions are like and what you'll be
shooting and where.
Photo: Ellen Goff
We'll be photographing the next three
days, weather permitting, with our shooting times determined the
evening before by Animals of Montana. Depending upon the location
and the subject, thestarting time for shooting will usually be
shortly after sunrise. Depending upon the lighting conditions
and temperature, we may shoot throughout the day. If the weather
is sunny and hot we will, most likely, take a break during mid-day
as the contrasty light is unattractive and the animals are generally
less cooperative when it is hot. A weather day is built in to
the program, and if we have three straight days of shooting we'll
have an optional fourth day of shooting.
Our last shooting session each
day may conclude by 6PM or so, again depending upon the subject,
the lighting we desire, and the location of the shoot.
The Wildlife Model shoots are timed to maximize your travel/photography opportunities, as we have scheduled our first Model Shoot to preceed our first Yellowstone Wildlife Fall Photo Tour, and the second Model Shoot to follow our second Yellowstone Wildlilfe Fall Photo Tour. You may wish to do both, space permitting, of course.
If you sell photographs you probably
know that American predators are best sellers.
If you photograph for your own pleasure or for camera club competition or for prints, this shoot will provide you with an extremely wide range of subject matter.
If you normally photograph solo and haven't considered filming with a group, I don't think you'll find it compromising. On my personal shoots I often find I pick one spot and spend a great deal of time at that location, using a zoom for compositional changes. On group shoots, we encourage people to do likewise, but then to change positions with other photographers to get a different viewpoint and perspective.
Perhaps most importantly, shooting in our group will be far less expensive than booking a private shoot, and we'll be shooting more animals. A typical session for an individual is $200 per animal for about an hour's shoot, so if you hoped to photograph 3 animals a day you would be spending $600 on animal fees alone. Special animals, like the snow leopard, Siberian tiger, and Grizzly, are $500 per session - normally. We'll be shooting virtually everything that's workable, time and weather permitting, and we'll be shooting at least four animals a day.
You'll also have the very real benefit of shooting under our guidance, as we orchestrate the shoot selecting sites, making decisions, offering suggestions, all of the things that are required for a successful shoot. We'll be offering advice on composition, lens choice, exposures while we're in the field, insuring that you'll be getting great images. At our motel, we'll be discussing digital photography and, no doubt, Photoshop techniques that can be employed to make your images even better.
An added advantage of shooting Animals of Montana is the close working distances we'll be having. Most of the subjects can be photographed with a 70-200mm lens!
Transportation, once you arrive in Bozeman, is included. The Comfort Inn will provide airport pickup and we will provide ground transportation to all of the shooting sites during the shoot.
Lodging is included, based upon double-occupancy. We'll be staying at the Comfort Inn in Bozeman. There will be a charge for a single supplement - the price of a room.
We'll be providing a Welcome Dinner on our first evening and a Farewell Dinner on the last day of your shoot. Lunches will be provided for the three days of the shoot. We'll also be providing a variety of snacks. Two dinners - on Day Two and Day Three -- are not included, but the group eats as a group at a local restaurant.
If time permits, and sometimes it doesn't because of the busy shooting schedule, we'll devote one evening to a participant's portfolio show. Photographers should limit their images to no more than 40, which they'll show via a CD or thumb drive, on our computer. We'll have a digital projector along so we won't be looking at a laptop! If you intend to show slides, please contact us beforehand. A slide projector should be available if required, but we cannot guarantee that at this time. Make sure you contact us if you're showing slides.
The Photo Tour price is based upon Three days of shooting, the 11th, 12th,and 13th, with a fourth day, the 14th, included as a bad weather/rain day that we'll use if one of the three preceeding days is inclement. If the weather cooperates, the fourth day is a free day, but Troy will have subjects to photograph for an additional charge. Those subjects can include animals we've previously filmed or entirely new species. Rates per subject may vary and we'll provide a fee schedule to the registered participants.
Bozeman also has a spectacular museum, The Museum of the Rockies, with a great Native American, Western Settlement, and Dinosaur exhibit, and you might elect to visit the museum in lieu of shooting. There's also a prairie dog town about thirty miles east of Bozeman that should be active at this time. Yellowstone National Park is approximately 1.5 hours (max), so if you'd like to work on park scenics, pronghorns, or elk, all are generally available close to the northwest entrance to the park.
If we do not need the rain day for the three days of shooting, we'll have our 'Farewell Dinner' on the evening of the third shooting day. In that way, if photographers elect to do something other than shoot bonus animals (at the extra charge) they'll have the freedom to do whatever they'd like without the worries of making it back to Bozeman for a group farewell dinner
If we have a rainy day our time won't be wasted. We'll have along a digital projector and I'll demonstrate some RAW capture programs, ACR and Capture 1, and some interesting Photoshop techniques. We'll conduct this session as a seminar where we can cover multiple topics and demonstrate some very interesting ways to maximize the advantages of digital imagery.
The Photo Tour fee includes double-occupancy lodging at the Comfort Inn, lunches during the three shooting days with predators, two dinners, transportation to and from the shooting sites, and the Wildlife Model fees for three days of shooting.