Workshop sources

Winter Eagle Photography on the Hungarian Great Plain

 

February 3 - 9, 2019

Cost: £945 per person including 6 nights accommodation, meals, airport transfers, tuition and use of hides. Flights and alcoholic drinks not included

 

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This workshop is a very intense small group (3 guests max. per workshop) Workshop in search of Eagles in Koros-Maros National Park, Hungary. Not for the faint-hearted - mornings will be very early, days long, and conditions in the Eagle hide basic but we should be rewarded with close-up images of White-tailed and Imperial Eagles visiting  a site we have prepared in the heart of the National Park. They are normally joined by large numbers of Buzzards and hooded crows. Occasionally, Marsh Harriers and Sakker Falcons may fly past. We need to be in place in the hides before dawn and won’t be able to leave until after dark as the Eagle are very sensitive to human presence. The hide has one-way shoot through optical glass both at ground  and chest level and is heated, There is also a fan system to prevent condensation on the glass and a chemical toilet in an anteroom.

As the birds are all wild, we can’t guarantee exactly what will or won’t turn up but we will have been attracting them to the site with daily food offerings (hare, rodents, sheep carcasses) for several weeks prior to the workshop. The images shown were taken during trips over the last two years.

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In addition to days spent in the Eagle hide, we will also visit a thermal pool to photograph Kingfishers and use one of several purpose built hides for woodland birds.

At the end of a hard day, we’ll eat in a local Hungarian restaurant and then relax in our well-appointed private villa. Each guest has their own bedroom and shares a bathroom with one other. There is a well appointed lounge and dining/kitchen room plus wide screen TV, Espresso coffee machine, dishwasher etc.

There will be an opportunity to review some of your images at the end of the day to see what’s working well for you and where you  might need a bit more focus.

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Pricing

The price of the trip is for  6 nights including accommodation, meals and transport/airport transfers. Please note that flights to Hungary, travel insurance and alcoholic drinks are not included!  
If the  Pound - Forint exchange rate drops by more than 10% from its Feb 28th  2018 value of 331.43 Forints to the pound  (as listed by HSBC UK bank Travel Money website) then we’ll add a surcharge to the final amount to cover the difference. This will be paid with the final instalment 6 weeks before the trip date . If we do so (and I’m hopeful that it won’t be necessary) then you will, of course,  be offered the option to cancel the trip at that point and we will refund your deposit. Should you prefer to pay the entire amount of the holiday when you book then I can guarantee there will be no surcharge..

Our current price (not including the above described currency exchange rate proviso) is: £945 per person. A deposit of £195 pounds per person  is required at the time of booking, with the balance due 6 weeks prior to the trip.

Equipment to bring

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Camera
A DSLR is essential for this trip. The perfect choice is a model with good high-ISO performance as winter light, especially early and late in the day, can be quite limited, a reasonable frame rate (for flight shots), and a modern autofocus system with multiple focus points. Both full frame (FX) and crop sensor (DX) models are suitable although I recommend longer lenses for full-frame. You’ll need enough batteries for a full day of shooting, and plenty of memory cards.

Tripod
You’ll also need a sturdy tripod for use in the hides. This should be rated to support the weight of your heaviest lens plus camera plus tripod head plus an extra kilo or more. We won’t be walking long distances, so weight of the tripod isn’t too important. The tripod head should be similarly rated. Generally, people tend to use Gimbal heads, fluid video heads (or, occasionally,  ball heads). You’ll be using the tripod while sitting on chairs so it doesn’t have to be particularly tall. We can supply beanbags for shooting through the additional floor-level windows in the eagle hide. Most wildlife photographers remove the centre column of the tripod (if it has one) to improve stability.

Lenses
You’ll need a long telephoto lens for smaller or distant subjects - ideally at least 400mm for a crop-sensor (DX) camera and at least 500mm for a full frame. If possible (and if your lens is compatible with them) bring along extenders to give yourself further flexibility. 1.4x extenders are the most useful, but 1.7 or 2x can be occasionally helpful.
A mid-range telephoto will be needed for larger (and closer) birds. 200mm for a crop sensor, 300mm for a full-frame sensor are ideal. Of course, if you have a zoom that covers this range then that adds flexibility.
If you have a choice of suitable lenses, it’s best to bring one with the widest maximum aperture (lowest f-stop value) to help with low light shooting and to render backgrounds nice and soft. One-way glass in the Eagle hide lets us get closer to the birds than open hides but it reduces the light reaching the camera by 1.5 stops.

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High-quality telephoto and super-telephoto lenses are expensive. If you don’t already have one, you might want to think about hiring one just for the duration of the workshop as this is a lot cheaper in the short term than buying. I’ve found www.lensesforhire.co.uk to be very good in the past in terms of range of lenses and reliability.
If you have white lenses (Canon, Sony) you’ll need to cover these with dark material or lens camouflage as they can easily be seen by the birds, even behind one-way glass. 

Please pack battery chargers for your camera (and a European to UK adapter plug). A cable release can sometimes be useful for longer exposure tripod shots. Lens cleaning cloths and a blower are always recommended.

Laptop
If you have a laptop, I’d suggest bringing it along. If you pack a memory card reader you’ll be able to back up and review your photos on the computer. We’ll also be looking at post-processing techniques for wildlife images during the workshop, so a laptop will enable you to try these for yourself. (We’ll be using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, but the techniques apply to other image editing packages). There’s WiFi at the accommodation, so you’ll be able to keep in touch with the outside world.

Clothing
All clothing should be in subdued or dark colours to aid concealment. It’s likely to be cold, so so pack layers - ideally a thermal base layer then an overlayer. You’ll need water/snow proof winter  coat, trouser, boots and good gloves.