Nothing quite compares to the exhilaration one feels from a Ground Level Polar Bear Photography Workshop in the polar bear Capital of the world, Churchhill, Manitoba. Churchill is home to the largest concentration of polar bears in Canada. In the fall, bears populate the shores of the Hudson Bay waiting for the ice to from in order to go hunting for seals. It’s during this time that we will be travelling by 4×4 vans looking for polar bears. We photograph them from either inside the Van or we step out and photograph them on land. Our local experienced guide will keep both the bears and us safe at all times. Other animals such as arctic, red and cross fox along with willow/rock ptarmigan and pine marten are very common and we will take every opportunity to photograph them. You really have to be present to fully appreciate the beauty and power of these magnificent polar bears at ground level, eye to eye!
Polar Bear Workshop
What to Bring
A long lens (400mm and up), a wide angle and everything in between is what I recommend. Every encounter is different and various focal lengths will ensure you’re ready for any given situation.
Here’s what’s in my camera bag for reference:
- 600mm F4
- 1.4 extender
- 2 camera bodies
Clothing and Accessories Recommendation
Our time will be spent photographing in open wide fields in a variety of winter conditions.
Temperatures in the months of January and February can vary from -5Cels to -25Cels not including the wind factor. The key to keeping warm is in layering and your choice of clothing.
- Toque/beanie (windproof if your jacket has no hood)
- Balaclava (with an opening in the mouth area to prevent camera viewfinder fogging)
- Neck warmer
- Sunglasses or Ski goggles (snow acts as a reflector and can easily irritate your eyes)
- Lip balm
- One or two long- sleeve base layers (synthetic or wool is best)
- A warm hoodie (RAB makes an excellent one: Power Stretch Pro Hoody )
- A warm winter parka or jacket (preferably with a hood)
To keep my hands warm in cold weather, I wear a good pair of ski gloves that allows me to operate my camera. And on very cold days, I insert a chemical hand warmer (supplied during the workshop) in each glove for extra warmth. Some will layer their gloves (thinner one to operate the camera and a warmer one to cover the other pair while not shooting) and some will wear mitts with a built-in glove that can be accessed by “flipping” the mitt. My recommendation is to find a system that works for YOU.
A popular photography glove system amongst photographers is the Heat3 Smart Glove.
I use a 3-layer system to keep my legs warm. Thick fitted long underwear that transfers moisture away from the skin, quick dry pants and insulated ski pants (with inner thigh venting for heat regulation).
Thick pair of wool socks and a good pair of winter boots keeps my feet warm while out on the frozen fields. When shopping for boots, don’t be sold solely by “cold ratings” such as “rated for -100Cels”, the cold will eventually penetrate the best boot out there if you’re standing still. The trick is to keep your feet moving on very cold days. Look for a boot that goes mid way from your ankle to your knee, has a thick rubber sole, and a removable inner boot system (dries quickly should they get wet).
- 6 full days of shooting
- Photographic Field Instructions
- Ground transportation in Churchill
- Expert Local Guide
- 7 nights accommodation in Churchill (single occupancy) with continental breakfasts
- Airfare to and from Churchill, Manitoba
- Meals and drinks
Everyday starts with an early breakfast. Our guide will pick us up at the hotel daily right after breakfast and then we head out looking for polar bears and photograph any other wildlife we see along the way such as fox, ptarmigan, snowshoe hare, etc. We break for lunch and head back out for polar bears until sunset. We will be having dinner at the local restaurants and the evenings are spent downloading your images and getting ready fo the following day of shooting. Marc will also be doing a Photoshop class one or two of the evenings.
Dates and Cost
October 29th – November 3rd, 2020
November 5th – November 10th, 2020
Cost: $6650 CDN. Deposit of $2000.00 required at registration and remaining balance due 90 days prior to workshop start date.
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