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Midcoast Alewife Run Wildlife Photography Workshop

Down East Adventures

Regular price $700.00

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Midcoast Alewife Run Wildlife Photography Workshop

This wildlife photography workshop is for advanced beginners through experienced photographers. The 1.5-day course will provide instruction and opportunities designed to help you capture wildlife images that tell compelling stories.

Instructor Bio

 Loren Merrill is a wildlife photographer and science writer with a doctorate in wildlife ecology and animal behavior. Loren’s approach to photography is heavily influenced by his background in natural history, ecology, and animal behavior, and his goal is to capture images that help communicate stories of the natural world to others. While he has conducted research and pursued photography on four continents, Loren’s ties to Maine run deep; he grew up searching for snakes, turtles, and birds in the Midcoast area, and his first field job was for the Audubon Society’s Project Puffin in 1995. 

 Decades spent in the presence of wild animals have provided Loren with unique insights into their behavior, and he is able to parlay that knowledge into being better prepared to understand and anticipate his subjects’ action. To paraphrase Louis Pasteur, "wildlife photography favors the prepared mind."

 Loren is a dedicated instructor receiving a number of teaching and mentoring awards while in academia and he works with each participant to help them achieve their goals.

Workshop Description

The objective for this workshop is to provide you with the tools, both conceptual and technical, to improve your wildlife photography. Our subject for the workshop will be the flurry of bird activity associated with the spring alewife run. Typically squeezed into a few short weeks, the alewife run is an annual rite of spring that occurs when large schools of these medium-sized fish swim up coastal streams and rivers, returning from the ocean to breed in freshwater ponds and lakes. These runs attract a lot of avian attention- from gulls, cormorants, and herons to osprey and eagles- and provide opportunities to work on a range of photographic techniques: birds-in-flight, fights over fish, aerial chases, etc. The environmental settings also provide opportunities to work on more creative images: long exposure shots of herons standing by rushing water, high-key images of birds surrounded by white-water rapids, composite images of birds in flight, etc.

The workshop will combine classroom time with field time, emphasizing hands-on learning. Classroom time will be split into two sessions: an introductory session the first afternoon covering conceptual ideas and approaches to wildlife photography, along with a discussion of shooting techniques, and an image review and editing session mid-day on the second day. Field time will be split into three sessions: an afternoon/evening shoot on the first day, followed by a morning shoot and a late afternoon shoot on the second day. There will be breaks for meals and a little bit of downtime in the afternoon of the second day.

This workshop needs a minimum of three participants. In the event the minimum is not met, we may cancel or offer to move you to a different workshop. The maximum amount of participants is five.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do I need a lot of experience or expensive gear to take this workshop?

    This workshop is geared towards those with some level of experience and familiarity with their camera. You should be able to adjust the white balance, ISO, shutter speed, and aperture settings in your camera. I will work with each participant to help them maximize their camera’s capabilities. 

  • What about transportation?
    Participants are responsible for their own transportation, and we encourage carpooling.
  • What about lodging?

    Maine is a popular place, and many hotels and B&B’s fill up fast. We ask that you stay close to our predetermined meet-up locations. Somewhere in the Damariscotta/Newcastle or Bristol areas is ideal, but Camden/Rockland is only 30-35 minutes to the north.

  • What should I wear?

    The most recommended piece of gear is a pair of sturdy shoes, ideally waterproof or water resistant. We may walk across uneven, hard, wet surfaces, so hiking shoes with good tread are very helpful. We also like to layer, which usually means a base layer of synthetic, fast-wicking material, a warm fleece or soft shell, and a down jacket for cool mornings. Other suggested items are found below:

    • Insect and tick repellant
    • Sunscreen
    • Waterproof outerwear
    • Wool socks
    • Gloves
    • Two hats, one for warmth, the other for sun protection
    • Rubber boots (not absolutely necessary, but there may be mud or wading in some locations)
    • Small waterproof ground pad/tarp
  • Should I be concerned about ticks?
    Yes. All outdoor activities in New England carry the risk of picking up these nasty hitchhikers. Please use bug repellent that you can apply to your skin, or even better, permethrin, which you apply to clothes you plan on wearing in the field. Also, give yourself an extensive review when you get home at night to check for ticks.
  • What happens if the weather doesn’t cooperate?

    Please keep an open mind when it comes to your expectations about what “good conditions" are. May weather in Maine can be unpredictable; it can be sunny, humid and in the 80s, or it can be overcast, rainy, and in the 40s. We’ll be keeping an eye on the weather so we can be prepared for whatever it throws at us. We want to teach you how to shoot in all conditions! Wet conditions can yield some of the most novel, exciting wildlife images.

  • What does my tuition cover?
    The price of the workshop includes all fieldwork, group instruction, and individual tutoring. It does not include travel insurance, meals other than what has been specified, transportation, and lodging.
  • Should I bring a laptop?

    Yes. We recommend you bring your laptop to follow along during classroom time and to take notes. We also recommend you bring a card reader so that we can share and critique your photos if you’d like. If you have photo-editing software on your computer (e.g., Lightroom) you’ll be able to work on editing images during our afternoon classroom session on the second day.

  • What camera equipment do you recommend I bring?
    • DSLR or mirrorless camera
    • Lenses equal to or greater than 300mm are recommended (this can include zoom lenses)—I’ll be shooting with a 300mm prime lens with a 2x converter
    • A sturdy tripod and head
    • Waterproof camera bag
    • Extra camera batteries
    • Extra memory card if your card is under 50GB


The payment is 50% refundable in the event you have to cancel, as long as the cancellation is made 21 days before the trip. After that time, your payment is non-refundable. Alternately, 100% of your payment will be refunded if a replacement can be found prior to the trip.

COVID-19 Info

Please refer to the CDC website for the latest guidance on COVID-19 and travel.

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