Puffin Machias Seal Island Photo Workshop: July 20–22, 2022
10 participant maximum
CO-INSTRUCTOR BENJAMIN WILLIAMSON: Breathtaking images taken by acclaimed photographer Benjamin Williamson have filled the pages of Down East and many of its covers for the past four years, and earned a raft of accolades, including first place in the 2016 Maine Photography Show. In 2018, the U.S. Postal Service chose Ben’s photo of sunrise on the east-facing shore of Bailey Island for its “O Beautiful” series.
Ben is largely self-taught — he began taking pictures in 2012 while working nights tending bar. Likes of his iconic New England scenes on Facebook and Instagram quickly became requests for prints, and within two years of picking up a camera, Ben’s photography hobby had evolved into a full-time profession. “When I find something I enjoy, my first instinct is to share it,” says Ben, a native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, who lives in Brunswick with his wife, Kimberly, daughter, Charlotte, and two dogs.
Ben’s love of photography — and the beauty that he sees — is infectious. And his desire to share the work he loves is what drives the popular Down East photography workshops.
These one-day and multi-day trips, which fill up fast, draw photographers of all abilities from all over the world. At Ben’s favorite shooting locations around Maine, and in concentrated classroom sessions, Ben shares his best shooting and editing tips, helping new photographers master the basics and seasoned photographers take their skills to the next level. The bonds participants forge last long after the workshop has ended. “I love the camaraderie that develops,” Williamson says. “That’s very gratifying.”
CO-INSTRUCTOR: JOHN K. PUTNAM is a professional nature and landscape photographer based on Mount Desert Island, home of Acadia National Park, where he leads tours and teaches photography workshops while also operating a gallery of his own work. John has been a working photographer for over 13 years and in that time has amassed an image collection that spans five continents, six countries, 20 states, and more than 30 national parks, while his work has been published, awarded, and exhibited internationally. However, in recent years John has dedicated himself to documenting Acadia National Park; photographing its flora, fauna, landscapes, and hidden details. When it comes to photography, John’s knowledge of Acadia is unparalleled and he uses that knowledge to put himself and his students in the right place at the right time based on the tide, weather, light, and time of year. He loves teaching, showing off Acadia, and, most importantly, gets outside to photograph every day.
Explore Maine with acclaimed photographers Benjamin Williamson and John K. Putnam on this 3-day photograph workshop all about the Atlantic puffin! Machias Seal Island is the only place accessible from the U.S. where the public can photograph Atlantic puffins from land, and Bold Coast Charter Co. is the only U.S. tour authorized to make landings on the island. The birds are viewed from hides and are often only a few feet away. We may also have a chance to photograph harbor seals and gray seals resting on the rocks. We will also have the chance to photograph other birds including razorbills, common murres, arctic terns, common eiders, and occasionally bald eagles, peregrine falcons, shearwaters, guillemots, and northern gannets.
Landings on the island are not guaranteed. Neither are departures to the island. Bold Coast Charter Co. has been running this tour for many years and they put the safety of their passengers above all else. If a landing is not possible the boat will instead cruise the shores of the island where we’ll have the chance to photograph puffins swimming in the water and flying through the air.
Bold Coast Charter Co. does not offer refunds for non-landings, therefore, we cannot either. If the tour does not depart at all and is canceled due to weather or any other reason, you will be fully refunded the cost of the Bold Coast Charter tour. If we are not able to depart for the island we will instead spend our time photographing the incredible scenery along the Cutler Coast and at Quoddy Head State Park, which is arguably more beautiful and more dramatic than even Acadia.
Getting onto the island from the boat can be an adventure all in itself, from Bold Coast Charter Co: “Island landings involve participants transferring from the tour vessel into a large outboard-powered skiff which is navigated to a designated landing area on the rocky shoreline. Depending on the sea conditions, there is a possibility of wet feet, although most days we manage to keep everyone completely dry. While assistance is provided at every stage of the landing, conditions are slippery, and a degree of physical mobility and surefootedness is required.”
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.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do I need a lot of experience or expensive gear to take this workshop?
No. You can make great images right away with simple equipment, and that’s what this workshops aim to teach you. If you have photographed before and aim to update yourself on the latest techniques in digital photography, this is definitely for you. If you are just starting out and have a new camera you want to learn, this is for you, too. If you are a seasoned veteran who doesn’t need much help, just wants to go to great locations and have fun with like-minded individuals, well, this is for you, as well! You will need a basic DSLR camera and a tripod, but you don’t need a lot of fancy gear. I’ve put together a list of recommended accessories.
What about transportation?
Participants are responsible for their own transportation
What about lodging?
Maine is a popular place and many hotels and BnB’s fill up fast. We ask that you stay close to our predetermined morning meet-up location.
What should I wear?
The most recommended piece of gear is a pair of sturdy shoes. We walk across the hard and angular rocks in many of these locations, so hiking shoes 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. You will want warm clothing for windy days and for the boat ride out to Machias Seal Island. Other suggested items are found below.
– Sunscreen & Bugspray
– Waterproof Outerwear
– Wool Socks
– 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)
What happens if the weather doesn’t cooperate?
Bad weather is good weather to landscape photographers. If you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes. There are many idioms that apply to the weather, and if you don’t already know, following the weather is one of our favorite things to do! Ben’s been running workshops for years now, and he can honestly say that there hasn’t been a single day where we haven’t enjoyed being out photographing, even in the rain. Please keep an open mind when it comes to your expectations about what ‘good’ conditions are. We want to teach you how to shoot in all conditions!
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.
What camera equipment do you recommend I bring?
– DSLR or mirrorless camera
– Wide-angle and telephoto lenses, or an all-purpose zoom.
– Large, telephoto lenses are not necessary. 100-400mm lens suggested
– A sturdy tripod and head
– Circular polarizing and neutral density filters (not necessary but we will have opportunities to use them).
– Camera backpack and waterproof covering for gear. A backpack is necessary for the Machias Seal Island landing… you must be hands-free.
COVID-19: Please refer to the CDC website for the latest guidance on COVID-19 and travel.