Snowy Owls breed on the high arctic tundra, very far north in Alaska, Canada and Siberia. These places are extremely difficult to reach. During winter though, they migrate south to Canada in rather big numbers and are easily spotted near places as Montreal, Quebec and Ottawa. Snowy owls occupy a vast, open landscape here with small towns and miles of open polder farmland, which is an excellent habitat, with plenty of voles and rodents to hunt for. A habitat that is a fantastic photo-setting at the same time: flat open snowy fields, with small authentic barns, old fenceposts, and Snowy owls blending in the icy white landscape, against a low sun creating a stunning lightshow! A freezing cold wind is blowing, but the Snowy owls don't seem to mind. We however are packed in warm clothing fighting the cold, and wait for the big moment. It's time for the owls to start hunting, and all lenses are pointed towards it. Time for action!
HINT: you can easily combine this trip with our photography tour to Yellowstone
The Canadian Snowy Owls recently got very popular amongst birdwatchers and photographers. In a short time it got quite busy on the public spots and crowds of photographers gathered. Yves is working together with a Snowy owl expert that has exclusive access to some of the best areas. It will only be our group ànd the Snowy owls on stage. Nobody to come and disturb us. We stay close to these places and have a great accomodation nearby. This means we don't have to travel far each day and loose a lot of time. We will get up very early each day to be ready before sunrise and photograph through the morning. We have our lunchbreak in a warm place and go out again in the late afternoon, shooting until all twilight colors have faded out in the evening sky. We are with a very small group, thus very flexible. We search for the best conditons, every moment.
Photographing Snowy Owls is done with style: dressed warm in our down parka's, warm hat and gloves, big snowboots. We spend hours close to the Snowy Owls. They will give as show never to forget. The landscape and winter conditions are amazing. In a week time we can expect all kinds of weather; sun, misty, white out snowblizzards,...It is all the same for the Snowy Owls, and all these conditions are great for photography. White on white subjects are very appealing, and we will use all our photography skills to use the cool tones in the pictures. We go out every day, in whatever weather conditions and not miss a single moment. It is the extremes we are looking for, that makes the most impressive pictures.
Snowy Owls, Snowy Owls, Snowy Owls
Target species number one is of course thé Snowy Owl. After a long journey 'south' they come to winter and hunt on voles and rodents in the wide open fields of southern Canada. Every owl has it's own mind, and can be photographed in different ways. The easiest ones can be approached within just a few meters, making even those long lenses too big! We search for various winter landscapes, so we can photograph the owls in as many different situations as possible. Most common are the speckled younger and female birds, but if we are lucky, we might even find an adult male in pure white plumage. Some years also other species of owls are to be found and photographed, including Great Grey Owls, Northern Hawk Owl and Boreal Owl.
Autofocus and exposure controls and many more
For a bird photographer nothing is more exciting than to have a Snowy Owl in the viewfinder, when it jumps up from the snow and goes for it's hunt straight to your camera in full speed. During our week every photographer will get plenty of instructions how to adjust your camera's and lenses AF settings to get the highest succes rate in sharp frames. Exposure of white subjects on white sunny backgrounds is very challenging for your camera, so we will have a very close look at this as well. Before we get out in the cold, we will prepare you how to dress appropriately and how to protect your precious gear, and how to handle long lenses and when to use or not use your tripod. We will get into every aspect of how to get those stunning shots! This might probably the biggest bird action photography your camera will ever get to see!
Yves, in his favourite environment
During this photoweek you will be guided by Yves. He travelled to Canada years ago to photograph Snowy Owls. He met a real 'Snowy Owl whisperer,' and agreed to come back and guide a trip together for dedicated photographers. Now they are eager and ready to plow through the deep snow in search of Snowy owls together with the passionate photograper. Yves loves the freezing cold and Arctic birds, such as the Snowy owl, and he will help you at any time to get to know as much as possible about the Snowy owl and how to photograph it and how to prepare for the cold.
Book this trip
01 Nov 2018
Accomodation and transport
We will fly to Montreal and drive with a minivan to our basecamp, a cosy B&B about an hour and a half drive from the airport. The accommodation is very comfortable, and we provide everyone with a single room with own facilities. From this venue we will be close to the Snowy Owl locations. However, it is possible we will change destionations on larger distances, just to make sure we get the best conditions. We are with a small group, so we can move easy and fast and adapt to potentially other or better conditions.
International flights are not included in the trip price, but we can send you a proposal for a matching flight schedule. You can also combine this trip with our photography tour to Yellowstone, also with Yves. Do ask about the details when you subscribe.
Clothing, condition and gear
Very warm clothes are essential for this trip, because we will be out for many hours in sub zero temperatures. Yves will explain you how to dress warm, and what kind of clothes to bring for this trip. We can expect very different temperatures, ranging from -5°C to -25°C, windchill factor not included! We'll never walk large distances, but deep snow, cold and long days will be the challenging factors. Everybody is welcome to join us on this adventure, and with appropiate clothing you will be able to fight the cold. We will photograph fast moving birds, so bring very fast camera's, with lenses from 200mm to 600mm. Distances to the owls will vary a lot, from just a few meters to birds in the landscape. Lenscovers will protect your gear against cold and snow. On a normal day we will get to shoot loads of pictures, so you will need a lot of battery power! Bring big and fast memory cards too. We advice to bring a laptop and fast card readers and big memory disks. You will be amazed by the number of pictures we can take each session. Don't expect to have enough time to download during the lunchbreak.