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Nature Photography in Glacier Park

Nature Photography in Glacier National Park

Instructor:  Rick Sheremeta, ME, P.E. (Ret.)

This is a comprehensive one-day program which has been structured to help the intermediate level photographer improve his or her skills with nature photography.  In this course, you will learn “How to make a photograph” versus just taking a snapshot.  You will also learn how to develop your own creative vision through use of composition, working with natural lighting, control of motion, use of perspective and depth-of-field, plus other valuable skills all intended to help sharpen your photographic capabilities. 

In the program, you will accompany the Instructor while exploring Glacier National Park and capturing some of its unique grandeur via photography.  You will travel through the different ecosystems of the Park, lead by a knowledgeable Institute staff member, in a multi passenger van.  As we venture through the Park, we will be on the constant lookout for wildlife, and stop at scenic sites that provide unique photographic subjects and challenges.  We will also get off the road and do some easy hiking.  We will discuss the ethics of wild land and wildlife photography, striving to understand and minimize our impact.  This will be a full day, regardless of weather. 

Time will be split between fieldwork, and classroom discussion.  Review of student imagery is a vital part of the learning process and will also be included as time may permit.  While this program will be geared to the experienced photographer, it is open to all skill levels from beginner through advanced.  We will be concentrating on the Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) Camera. 

Prerequisites – knowledge of and familiarity with your camera equipment.  All cameras are different.  Due to time constraints, it is not possible for the instructor to devote limited time trying to figure out for you how your camera works.  Therefore it is ABSOLUTELY  MANDATORY that you know how your camera functions and where all of its controls are located before participating in this program.

            MANDATORY CONTROLS TO KNOW:

  • How to turn camera on and off;
  • How to set camera MODES – Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, etc.;
  • How to change ISO;
  • How to change Exposure Compensation in Aperture/Shutter Priority Modes;
  • How to activate Histogram on Image Preview Screen – PLEASE HAVE IT TURNED ON
  • How to activate “Overexposure Warning” and have it turned on
  • Have your camera manual on-hand.

Meeting Time:  See Itinerary

Meeting Place:  Glacier Park Field Camp Meeting Hall (see campus map)

Itinerary: Nature Photography 

8:00 AM – 6:00 PM - We will split our time between classroom lecture and hands-on fieldwork at location(s) TBA.  Topics to be covered include Basic review, composition, perspective, dynamic range, exposure problems & solutions, exposure compensation, depth-of-field, histogram use, control of natural and artificial light, control of motion, focus and hyper-focal distance, filter type and use, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, histogram, close-up, image file format (jpeg or RAW), focal length selection.

12:00 AM – 1:00 PM – Lunch break and discussion in the field; bring lunch.

4:00 PM – 6:00 PM – Review of student fieldwork/photo critique; class end

Accommodations: Accommodation at Field Camp the night before, and/or after the course may be arranged through the Registrar.

Food:  Students are responsible for their own meals. The Field Camp kitchen will be available for cooking and storing food. Please bring a sack lunch and ample snacks for each day on the trail.  Morning coffee will be provided.  Students are responsible for all other beverages and meals. 

Equipment: Please see Basic Gear List.  Weather can be variable so please be prepared with appropriate clothing including rain gear, and sturdy shoes or hiking boots.  Make sure you have at least 2 liters of water per day.  We will be carrying all photography equipment and personal outdoor gear on short hikes (1-4 miles), so think about how you want to carry equipment and how much equipment you want to carry.  Please pack all of your equipment in a small daypack and/or camera bag, so that we can fit everyone comfortably into our van. 

Please bring the following camera equipment:

  • Camera: 35 mm Digital (DSLR), Point and Shoot, or 35 mm film camera;
  • Lenses - wide angle and telephoto (fixed focal length or zoom); macro lens if you have one;
  • Memory cards - enough for one day of photography (4-8 MB min. size );
  • Electronic flash; Off-camera flash synch-cord – optional but recommended;
  • Electronic shutter release – optional but recommended;
  • Film Camera Users.  If you have a strong preference of slides or prints, bring what you like best.  A few recommended brands are Fuji Velvia and Provia slide films and Kodak TCN black and white if still available.  Plan on shooting a minimum of three rolls of film each day.  Please bring a selection of your favorite slide, print and black and white film;  
  • Rain Protection – Bring several 1 gallon and smaller size Ziploc bags and a large heavy-duty garbage bag for covering equipment should it rain – umbrella and/or camera rain cover if you have one;  
  • Extra batteries for cameras, flashes and charger(s) for batteries;
  • Sturdy Tripod with adjustable head.  If you need to purchase a tripod – do not waste money on inexpensive, skimpy tripods – you will be sorely disappointed with the results (Tripod should be capable of supporting a minimum of 16 lbs. – Ballhead with same capability also recommended) ;
  • Sturdy camera bag, backpack or fanny pack for carrying equipment, extra clothing/rain gear, lunch and water;
  • Manuals for all equipment (each camera/brand/model is different – do not rely on instructor to be knowledgeable about your camera’s operation)
  • Filters:
    • Circular Polarizer (either screw-on or filter holder type);
    • 3-stop Graduated Neutral Density (suggest rectangular type for use in filter holder or hand-held);
    • Solid (3-stop) or Variable Neutral Density (recommended but not mandatory);
  • Lens cleaning brush, cloths, fluids;
  • Macro lens and/or other macro devices such as extension tubes, or diopters; 
  • Lap-top computer for image review/critique;
  • USB Flash (Thumb) Drive to transfer images for student reviews. 

Physical Requirements: Moderate Hiking - distances covering less than four miles and less than 1,000 feet elevation gain per day.

Transportation during course: We will be traveling in a Glacier Institute Van.

Weather: This course will not be canceled due to weather. 

Recommended Reading:

Mountain Light. Galen Rowell.

The Art of Photographing Nature.  Martha Hill and Art Wolfe.

The Nature Photographer’s Complete Guide to Professional Field Techniques.  John Shaw

Exploring Glacier National Park: A Natural History Guide.   David Rockwell, Falcon Publishing, 2002.

Academic Credit: This course may be taken for 18 Office of Public Instruction (OPI) renewal units (for teacher’s license renewal).  If you wish to take an Institute course for OPI credit, you will be asked to fill out paperwork and pay a $20 credit fee at the start of your course, payable to Flathead Valley Community College.