Photographing birds from floating blinds: a wildlife photo workshop in La Dombes, France in July 2018
From June 30 to July 10, 2018, we will teach a wildlife photography workshop about photographing birds from floating blinds in the marshes of La Dombes.
La Dombes is a swampy area northeast of Lyon, France. It is also called the region of the thousand lakes, and it is home to over 130 species of migratory and resident birds.
Some birds you will photograph during the workshop
La Dombes: a paradise for wetland birds
The region of La Dombes is home to a great variety of bird species. Nearly 130 species come there regularly to mate. 30,000 birds winter there every year.
The region is covered by more than 1000 shallow manmade ponds, which are used for fish farming. Their peculiarity is that the bottom of each pond is slightly sloped, so that the water flows slowly and steadily towards the outfall. These fish ponds attract a great variety of bird species. La Dombes is an internationally important habitat for migratory wetland birds.
From May through July, some species that you might see in La Dombes are great crested grebes, little grebes, black-necked grebes, red-crested pochard, whiskered terns, night herons, purple herons, gray herons, crab egrets, egrets, great egrets, cormorants, coots, warblers, sedge warblers, European kingfishers, and marsh harriers.
La Dombes attracts more than birds. Muskrats, nutria, dragonflies, green frogs and snakes also live in and around the ponds.
The region of La Dombes is often bathed in gorgeous light. In spring and early summer, early mornings suffuse the ponds with warm, muted light. It is truly wonderful to see ducks or grebes moving on the ponds in this magical atmosphere.
« This workshop showed me the importance of light and setting. I have felt this in the past, but I had never managed to express it before. Amar helped me discover it. His approach completely changed my mind. Now photography is much clearer to me. »
A maximum of 5 people
Up to 5 people can participate in this trip. The small size of the group guarantees that you will receive personalized advice on how to take the best pictures you can. Most of your photographs will be taken from floating blinds located in various ponds.
Trip schedule and syllabus
The trip will begin on Saturday, June 30, 2018. The group will meet at the Charles de Gaulle airport near Paris, and then travel to La Dombes by train. The trip will end on Tuesday the 10th at the same airport.
The trip is divided into two parts:
- One week photographing birds from floating blinds in La Dombes
- Three days in Lyon, photographing the city of lights. This part of the trip will be dedicated to travel photography.
During the week dedicated to photographing birds, the photographers will live in two country houses in a private area. Each cottage can hold 3 photographers. Each participant will have his or her own room and a shower and toilet. Meals will be served in the common kitchen.
During our time in Lyon, we will stay in a downtown hotel.
The price of the trip includes:
- The round trip from Paris to Lyon by train
- A truck for group transportation
- Rent for the floating blinds and ponds
- Technical presentations on photography
- Presentations on bird species and behavior
- Technical advice on correcting and editing photos
The price does not include meals. Breakfast and dinner will be served in the community kitchens. We may have lunch there also, or we may go to a restaurant.
Every day, after a good breakfast, each photographer will go to one of the ponds. We will either have lunch in the shared kitchen of one of the houses or in one of the many restaurants in the area. In the evening, dinner will be provided at the cottage. You are totally free to choose when you take pictures.
The program will be the same every day of that week. During these seven days you will have an opportunity to spend time at all the ponds we will have rented.
After the workshop, we will stay in a beautiful hotel in downtown Lyon. We will tour the city of lights for three days, eat at some excellent restaurants, and visit a winery.
« This workshop on wildlife photography using floating blinds was very well organized and innovative. It was an opportunity for me to continue my quest for photographic inspiration. The technical explanations were simple and clear. The food was excellent. The lights that bathe the area are beautiful. This is a photography workshop that I would take again as soon as possible. »
We will explain how to use floating blinds, teach photography techniques, and give lectures.
Here are some points which will be discussed during the trip:
- The species of wetland birds found in La Dombes and their behavior
- Taking pictures from a floating blind
- Composing photographs which show animals in their natural environment
- Processing and enhancing photos
Equipment needed for the trip
We recommend bringing the following equipment:
- A DSLR
- At least a 300mm lens. The range of possible lenses is quite wide: an 80-400mm, a 100-400mm, a 150-600mm, a 200-400mm, a 300mm, a 500mm, a 600mm, or an 800mm could all be used. A 70-200mm with an extender would also work.
- A ball. It is necessary for setting up the camera in the floating blind. We recommend a ball like a Wimberley, but a standard ball will also work.
- A focal length multiplier: 1.4 or 1.7
- A tripod for photographing kingfishers from a fixed blind
- For the three days in Lyon, we recommend a wider lens, like a 24-70mm.
For using the floating blinds, we recommend:
- A pair of waders for walking in the ponds. These are big waterproof boots that come up to chest level. We usually wear cotton underpants under the waders, since mornings can be cool.
- A waterproof bag to protect your gear in case it rains.
« During this wildlife photography workshop, I learned more than I thought I would. I thought that photography was something easy. I thought it was an art form in which I could progress by myself. During this week, I realized that it was interesting to listen to someone who knows more about photography and understands technical terms. »
Gaining new technical insights
If you already have some experience with photography and you want to improve your technique on very particular points, then this trip is perfect for your needs. Since the number of participants that we take is limited, you are guaranteed to learn the specific information you want.
This trip is not only an adventure that you will share with other photographers. It is also a time during which you can ask any technical questions you want to address. At the end of the workshop, you will leave with an improved photographic approach.
Every day, we will review everyone’s photos. In addition to giving tips for improvement, we will provide technical presentations on topics that the participants are interested in.
Traveling with other people who love nature's beauty
Participating in this photography trip with us is the best way to meet other photographers who love the beauties of nature while learning new skills in a pleasant, relaxing environment. You will enjoy this holiday where you can exchange your inspirations, impressions, and technical insights with other photographers who share your interests.
The places we will go have been selected to meet the unique needs of wildlife photographers. This is the advantage of a trip organized by photographers.
We are familiar with the area where we will take you. The sites we have chosen are gorgeous. The wildlife is fabulous, the landscapes are unique. It will be a delight for anyone who loves nature's beauties.
Sharing our passion for the beauties of nature
Our goal is to help you to focus your attention on the beauties of nature. We will teach you how to create beautiful wildlife photographs and avoid asking you unnecessary questions.
A perfect mix of holiday and learning experience
Participating in a wildlife photography trip with us is the best way to meet other photographers who also love the beauties of nature while learning new techniques in a pleasant, relaxing environment. You will enjoy this holiday where you can exchange your inspirations, impressions and technical insights with like-minded photographers.
« I really enjoyed this wildlife photography workshop. The atmosphere and location were new to me, even though I have already participated in numerous wildlife photography trips. I have traveled to many different places, but this time it was totally different. It was very surprising to discover the beautiful lights and magical environment of La Dombes. »