Winter Photography

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Distance

3 Miles

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Elevation Gain

100 Feet

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Difficulty

Easy/Moderate

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Cost Per Person

$300

Hike Overview

March 3-5, 2023: Using the iconic scenery of Glacier National Park as our canvas, we will dive into the fundamental techniques of shooting and editing landscape photographs. This class is primarily field-based, giving you ample opportunity to gain first-hand practice and experience capturing landscape photos in world-class locations. A small amount of classroom instruction will be incorporated as needed to learn about fundamental photography techniques (and to warm up our fingers and toes!).

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Winter Photography

Hike Overview Continued

Instructor: Rob Harwood

Using the iconic scenery of Glacier National Park as our canvas, we will dive into the fundamental techniques of shooting and editing landscape photographs. This class is primarily field-based, giving you ample opportunity to gain first-hand practice and experience capturing landscape photos in world-class locations. A small amount of classroom instruction will be incorporated as needed to learn about fundamental photography techniques (and to warm up our fingers and toes!).

Meeting place: Glacier Institute main office: 320 Nucleus Ave, Columbia Falls, MT

Itinerary (subject to change due to weather and road closures):
Day 1: We will meet bright and early in Columbia Falls for a brief introduction, and then set off to photograph our first sunrise at Lake McDonald. After sunrise, we will explore another nearby location to continue honing our shooting techniques before the sun gets too high in the sky. We will return to Columbia Falls for a classroom lesson on fundamental photography techniques, camera settings, and composition. After breaking for lunch, we will set out again for another on-location shoot to apply what we learned in the classroom. The evening will conclude with a sunset shoot back at the iconic Lake McDonald. (Meeting time – 6:15 a.m.)
Day 2: We will rise for another early morning and head to the east side of the park to capture the sunrise at Two Medicine Lake. After sunrise, we will explore the St. Mary area for the remainder of the morning. During the afternoon, we will grab an early dinner at St. Mary or nearby Browning, then return to St. Mary Lake to photograph the sunset. (Meeting time – 5:00 a.m.)
Day 3: For our final morning, we will once again meet in Columbia Falls and then head over to Apgar to capture one more sunrise at Lake McDonald. After sunrise, we will take advantage of morning light for a final location shoot at the nearby Hungry Horse Reservoir or North Fork of the Flathead River. Then we will return to Columbia Falls to bring everything together with a classroom lesson on editing/post-production. We will have the opportunity to view and critique some of the instructor’s photos taken during the course, and participants are welcome to share some of their photos as well! We will plan to wrap up and say our farewells by 2:00pm. (Meeting time – 6:15 a.m.)

Food: Meals are not provided on this course. Please plan to bring your own snacks and lunches that can be eaten out in the field. We will have breaks in the evening to provide enough time for dinner, but participants are responsible for bringing or procuring their own dinner.

Equipment: Most importantly are warm clothing layers (synthetic and wool materials only, cotton is NOT recommended), waterproof outer layers, comfortable winter boots, a warm winter hat, waterproof winter gloves, a trail lunch, snacks, water (we recommend at least 1-2 liters), backpack, and sunscreen. We will be on snowshoes for this course. Snowshoes will be available at the meeting location, however if you have your own pair please bring them along. Trekking poles can be helpful for balance on the trail. Binoculars can be useful, as well as a notebook, and a writing utensil (ballpoint ink pens tend to freeze in the winter, pencils and sharpies are best). A small foam sit-pad can come in handy for our lunch break.

Required Camera Equipment: All participants should bring the following items with them: A DSLR or mirrorless camera with full manual control. If you use a point-and-shoot camera, smartphone camera, or other consumer-level camera, you will not be able to get the maximum benefit out of this course because we will be covering techniques that those cameras are not capable of performing. A sturdy tripod can be useful for longer exposures, but shooting hand-held is perfectly okay on this course. If you bring a tripod, make sure to double-check that you bring the accompanying tripod plate along with you! Bring enough memory cards to last for 3 days of shooting, as well as batteries and battery charger for your camera. A couple extra batteries would be highly recommended so you don’t accidentally run out of juice in the middle of a beautiful sunset. Bring a minimum of one wide-angle lens (zoom lenses such as a 10-18mm, 14-24mm, 16-35mm, or something similar would be ideal, but any wide-angle lens is fine). Optional but recommended: A zoom lens covering a range of medium focal lengths would be recommended in addition to the wide-angle lens. Lenses such as a 24-70mm, 24-105mm, or 18-135mm are excellent examples. Optional: A telephoto lens may be handy to experiment with, but not required. Anything in the 100mm to 400mm range would do. Optional: Neutral Density filters can be beneficial for taking long exposures during the day but are not required for this Glacier Institute course.

Accommodations: Participants are responsible for securing their own lodging for this course.

Park Entrance Fees: Participants are responsible for purchasing their park entry passes prior to the course. These can be purchased online at: https://www.recreation.gov/sitepass/74280

Weather: The weather in West Glacier is generally ~10 degrees fahrenheit cooler than in the Kalispell area, with a much higher snowpack to be expected. Expect cold temperatures, snow, and wind. It is always best to have extra layers than not enough.

Physical Requirements: Moderate. We will be moving at an easy pace along a mostly flat trail for up to 3 miles.

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What to Expect On Your Winter Photography

We will engage in a mixture of classroom and field instruction. We will take leisurely strolls along the shore of Lake McDonald and in East Glacier. We will be hiking up to 3 miles with up to 100 feet in elevation changes.

Hike Details

  • This program meets at Glacier Institute Office at 320 Nucleus Ave, Columbia Falls.
  • The program will begin 6:15 a.m. on day 1 and ends at 5 p.m. on the last day. Please arrive 15 minutes early.
  • Hiking distance covers less than 3 miles with less than 100 feet elevation change.
  • Glacier National Park Vehicle Pass is required, you can purchase a pass at recreation.gov.
  • On-site parking is available.
  • There is a maximum number of 13 participants per trip.
  • This program has a minimum guest count of 3 people. In the unlikely case we don’t reach that number, you will be notified prior to the event.

What to Bring

Please remember that weather in NW Montana during all seasons can change quickly from warm and sunny to freezing at any time of the year. We recommend checking the weather prior to your trip. Please also check your course information sheet for specific gear requirements in addition to those listed below.

  • Lightweight hiking boots or a sturdy pair of hiking shoes
  • 2 liter sized water bottle or Camelback
  • Day Pack with plastic bag liner or cover
  • Heavy fleece or wool pants (or waterproof snow pants)
  • Insulated winter boots and extra wool or synthetic socks
  • Camera (optional)
  • Trekking poles, if you like to use them for hiking (optional)
  • Binoculars (optional)
  • Field Notebook notes and sketches

Download complete checklist here