Glacier National Park Photography Workshop
With Sarah Ehlen
September 27 - October 1, 2019
There are few places in the world as beautiful as Glacier National Park. From amazing alpine scenery, gorgeous waterfalls, turquoise colored streams, and lush cedar groves, the photographic opportunities are endless. During this workshop, we’ll explore the best places for landscape photography, taking in iconic views and also hidden gems that most visitors miss. We’ll time our field shoots to be out when the light is at it’s best, and we’ll make use of midday hours for group critiques, discussion, and lectures on various landscape photography topics.
This is a four day workshop beginning with dinner at 6:00pm on September 27th at the Cottages at Glacier in St Mary and ending with dinner on October 1st in West Glacier. Maximum number of participants is 10 with two instructors for field shoots. This workshop will have both field and classroom instruction and is open to all experience levels.
itinerary & logistics
We’ll begin the workshop on the east side of the park and end on the west side. The east side is where the plains meet the mountains, creating dramatic panoramas and giving us the easiest access to Logan Pass and the heart of the alpine zone. We’ll spend plenty of time soaking in the views at St Mary, Many Glacier, Two Medicine, and along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
After that, we’ll round out our Glacier adventure by heading west. Whereas the east side is all about big mountain views, the west side features water and lush forests. We’ll photograph quiet mossy trails, giant cedar trees, turquoise creeks, and colorful rocks along the shores of Lake McDonald.
We’ll be out photographing for most sunrises and sunsets during the workshop, weather permitting. Sunrise this time of the year is at approximately 7:30am and sunset is at approximately 7:20pm. We’ll plan meal time around the light. While we are on the east side, meals will be catered for our group due to limited dining options in St Mary in late September. On the west side, there are several restaurants and options for to-go lunches, so meals will be on your own.
Most of our shooting locations in the Park are easily accessible roadside locations. There will be some short, easy walks on well maintained paths with optional longer hikes of 2 to 4 miles round trip (easy to intermediate level) for those that would like to hike. We’ll be at elevations ranging from approximately 3,000 to 7,000 feet during this workshop.
The itinerary below is a starting point and is subject to change based on weather and other conditions. Weather in Glacier National Park is notoriously unpredictable so please be prepared for all conditions.
Sept. 27: welcome dinner
Workshop begins with a group dinner at 6:00 PM at the Cottages at Glacier in St Mary.
Sept. 28: Day 1
We’ll begin this day with sunrise at a spectacular viewpoint. After breakfast, we’ll reconvene to cover some essential landscape photography topics before heading out to further explore the St. Mary area & Going-to-the-Sun Road. We’ll end with sunset at the Continental Divide, weather permitting.
Where to stay: St Mary (see lodging info below)
Sept. 29: Day 2
This day will be spent exploring the classic mountain views of the Many Glacier and Two Medicine areas. These valleys are known for gorgeous lakes, waterfalls, and wildlife. We’ll be out from sunrise to sunset, with a brief break and critique in the middle of the day.
Where to stay: St. Mary (see lodging info below)
Sept. 30: Day 3
This day we’ll move from the east side to the west side of Glacier, exploring more of the scenic highlights of Going-to-the-Sun Road along the way. There will be time to check-in at your lodging in West Glacier before heading out to photograph sunset at another spectacular viewpoint.
Where to stay: West Glacier (see lodging info below)
oct. 1: day 4
Explore the west side of Glacier, including Lake McDonald, McDonald Creek, and lush cedar groves. Workshop ends with a farewell dinner.
Where to stay: West Glacier (West Glacier is an easy 30-40 minute drive to the airport in Kalispell.)
Travel & Lodging
Participants should plan on arriving by September 27, with time to drive to St Mary yet that day (for those that are flying in.) St Mary is a 2+ hour drive from the nearest airports in Kalispell or Great Falls. The workshop will begin with dinner at 6:00pm in St Mary.
The best airports to fly into for this workshop are Kalispell: Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) or Great Falls (GTF) There are direct flights from Minneapolis on Delta. Alaska Airlines also flies to these locations via Seattle.
Vehicles can be rented at either airport. For our field shoots it will be best to carpool. We will work out the details of that prior to the workshop start date.
Note that lodging is limited near Glacier National Park and often books up well in advance, so I would recommend making reservations as soon as possible. Here are some options:
St Mary Lodging (nights of Sept. 27, 28, & 29): I recommend booking lodging at The Cottages at Glacier. This is where we will meet for meals and instruction, so staying in one of the cottages will be the most convenient. Most of the cottages are two bedroom, so sharing with other participants is an option. Alternatively, Glacier Trailhead Cabins is also an option and is only a short drive from St Mary and the Cottages at Glacier.
West Glacier Lodging (nights of Sept. 30 & Oct. 1): I recommend booking a room at the Glacier Guides Lodge in West Glacier. This lodge includes breakfast and is very close to the entrance to the Park. West Glacier is only a 30-40 minute easy drive to the airport in Kalispell, so that will be convenient for people flying out on Oct. 2nd.
The cost of the workshop is: $925* per person + catering (see note below.)
*In late September dining options in St Mary are extremely limited. For that reason, I am in the process of arranging for our meals to be catered while we’re on that side of the Park. I will update this website and open up registration as soon as I’m able to finalize the cost of the catering for the group. Please check back to register. I hope to have the pricing finalized by the middle of December.
Workshop tuition does not include lodging, meals while we’re on the west side of the Park, transportation, or the Park entrance fee.
Registration coming soon!
What To Bring
Glacier National Park Entrance Pass (This can be purchased at the entrance gate if needed.)
Sturdy Hiking Shoes
Daypack that can hold camera gear and personal items
Headlamp or flashlight
Clothing Layers: synthetic hiking pants, waterproof jacket & pants, fleece, thermals, insulated vest or jacket, hat, & gloves. (Layering is always a good idea to be prepared for all possible weather. It is best to avoid cotton in favor of wool or synthetic fabrics that will dry faster and keep you warmer if they get wet.) Err on the side of bringing too many warm clothes, rather than not enough. September is a month that can bring everything from sunny days to frost and snow.
Trekking poles (optional, but many people like them for taking pressure off the knees and feeling more steady on the trails.)
Recommended Photo Gear
Camera with extra batteries & memory cards
Lenses: I recommend a wide angle in the 10-24mm range and a mid-range telephoto if available. If you own more lenses, feel free to bring anything and everything that you have.
Sturdy Tripod & camera quick release plate (Very useful!)
Camera Battery Charger
Circular Polarizing Filter (Very useful!)
Neutral Density and Split Neutral Density Filters (Optional, but neutral density filters will help with long exposure water photography. Split neutral density filters are not as useful, but may be worth bringing if you already own them.)
Camera Cable Release Trigger
Lens Cleaning Cloths
Microfiber cloths to wipe water drops from your camera and other photo equipment.
Kneepads or a small gardening pad from the hardware store (inexpensive kneepads are great for getting interesting, low angle shots in comfort.)