FEBRUARY 23-24, 2013

Pine WarblerCome join me at Gary Carter’s in McLeansville, NC for some close-up winter bird photography on February 23rd and 24th, 2013!  We’ll spend most of our shooting time in a comfortable (but unheated) bird blind that will hold a maximum of 7 shooters (and this trip is limited to 6 other shooters and I).  There will also be the opportunity to take images of the flower garden in winter and other potential subjects, but the focus will be on the birds.  I expect that we’ll have the opportunity to photograph at least 13 different bird species to maybe more than 20 different bird species.  The birds that I expect us to be able to photograph include northern cardinals, blue jays, eastern bluebirds, Carolina chickadees, Carolina wrens, tufted titmice, pine warblers, red-bellied woodpeckers, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, downy woodpeckers, common grackles, northern mockingbirds, white-throated sparrows, and white-breasted nuthatches.  In the winter, there are usually a couple of other sparrow species around, sometimes a brown creeper, sometimes other woodpeckers, sometimes both species of kinglets, etc.  Of course gray squirrels will also likely make their appearance.  I anticipate being able to get a variety of shots including natural shots, “Birds and Blooms” type garden shots, and birds bathing and drinking.

If you can’t join me on this trip, but want to visit Gary’s place, there are more opportunities listed on his web site here: www.garycarterphotos.com .


1.  This is different from most of the organized trips that I lead in that I expect to be creating images as well.  That doesn’t mean that I won’t stop shooting & help solve an equipment or technique problem or to share something that I am doing or thinking.  It just means that rather than constantly watching for a way to help the other participants, I will be focusing on the subjects myself.  Gary, will of course be on site, and I am sure that he will offer his abundant expertise as needed.

2.  In the interest of full disclosure, I want to specifically say that I have worked with Gary for the last several years helping him with his bird photography weekends and co-leading the Hands-On Herp Photography weekends and Conservation Photography weekends.   Gary and I are continuing to collaborate on some trips, but since I no longer live in North Carolina full-time,  the best way for me to photograph at Gary’s seemed to be to take a group, so that is what I am doing…  I think that are advantages to going to Gary’s with me since I am intimately familiar with his setup, but also did want to let you know that Gary and I have worked on projects together in the past and anticipate doing so in the future.


CardinalIf you are interested in bird photography, chances are that you have heard about or read about photographing birds in Gary Carter’s setup.  Gary is a professional wildlife photographer who began developing THIS blind/habitat area for photographing birds well over a decade ago.  He has generously shared not only his photography area, but also his photographic techniques and expertise with MANY, MANY photographers from all over the world.

We’ll all be staying at the same hotel on the night of February 22, 2013.  I anticipate that we will be arriving at different times, so supper that night is on your own, but if anyone is interested, we can make a group plan for supper for the folks who have made it to town and follow that up with a slide show of shots from Gary’s.

We’ll begin the first morning at 8:00 with a quick introduction to the site and some housekeeping announcements (where to find hot drinks, snacks, and the bathroom).  Then, we’ll adjourn to the blind and begin photographing the birds that are flitting in and out to grab one of the variety of treats that Gary has skillfully hidden near a photogenic perch (and note, those photogenic perches often change throughout the day as Gary uses his exterior decorating skills to make set changes…).

We’ll take snack and potty breaks when Gary refeeds the birds and redecorates the sets.  As the sun gets too bright to make “good” bird pictures, we’ll take a quick tour of the remainder of the area and adjourn inside to warm up, eat a great lunch, and share digital or print images that you we have brought.

As the sun starts to dip a bit, we’ll go back to the blind for another flurry of feeding and bathing activity.  That evening, we’ll have a group meal at a local restaurant of the group’s choice, hopefully dragging Gary and Janice Carter with us.

We’ll return the next morning for another half day of great bird photography with everyone departing from Gary’s at some point before noon for their long drives/flights home.

The helpful hints found at this link can help optimize your visit.

RobinBluebirdPine WarblerCardinalCardinalNuthatchTitmouseTitmouseChickadeeChickadeeSparrowSapsuckerWoodpeckerWoodpecker


We’ll be at Gary’s on Saturday, February 23, 2013 from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM and on Sunday, February 24, 2013 from 8:00 AM until 12:00 Noon.


This hands-on photographic opportunity will be held at Gary Carter’s outdoor photographic facility designed by a photographer for photographers where the “For Everything There is a Season” bird and herp photography weekends are held.  The majority of our shooting will be in an unheated blind, so I anticipate that we will continue shooting in the event of rain, snow, or sleet (happily shooting, I might add!).

There is, of course, the chance that a winter storm may preclude our getting to the area.  If it is just a standard snow/ice storm, I anticipate shooting anyway with some additional travel time needed.  We will be staying just off of a major highway that Gary’s facility is just off of as well, so access should be relatively easy, even if we all have to ride in my 4WD truck.  If it is a major storm, then we will look at rescheduling the trip.

Carters Trail
4023 Hines Chapel Road
McLeansville, NC 27301TRANSPORTATION

Participants are responsible for their own transportation. We can arrange travel from the local Greensboro (GSO) airport if needed.

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We will be staying at a local hotel.  More information will be sent to participants as we get closer to the photographic opportunity.


All meals on February 23 are included, as is breakfast on February 24.  Breakfasts will likely be at the hotel.  Snacks and drinks will be available throughout the day.  If you have dietary restrictions, allergies, or other special requests (like a favorite drink), please let us know.


BluebirdBring the camera gear that you would normally use to photograph birds.  The blind area is set up optimally for a 400 to 500 mm lens.  Photographers have successfully used shorter (50 mm!) and longer (600 mm with an extension) tube to create images from the blind.  The birds are also used to flash, and fill flash (from a flash on a flash bracket) will enhance many shots taken here.

Note that this is a winter bird photography trip, so come prepared to sit still in the cold.  This may include insulated coveralls, hats, gloves, handwarmers, and other standard winter gear.  This is a trip where you will have the chance to take MANY, MANY bird pictures, so make sure you bring enough memory cards.

Here are some things that I would normally take on this trip:
Camera body
400 to 500 mm lens (we can arrange rental if you don’t have one and want to try one…)
Support (tripod with gimbal head)
Lighting (flash, flash cord, flash bracket, and Better Beamer flash extender)
Spare battery
Spare memory card
Insulated coveralls
Insulated boots


The price for this winter bird photography trip is $468 per person.  This price includes access to Gary’s wonderful bird photography sanctuary, assistance/support from Robert and Gary, 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 1 supper, and 2 nights lodging (double occupancy).  If you want single occupancy lodging, the price increases to $580.

If a non-photographing guest wishes to accompany you, we can accommodate them for $160 (double occupancy).

Payment for the workshop must be received in full at the time of registration.  You will not be officially registered until your payment has been received.  Payment may be made through PayPal or a check made payable to Robert Smith.

Payment may be sent to:

Robert Smith
P.O. Box 1034
Biloxi, MS  39533-1034

Use the below links to register via PayPal – You don’t have to have a PayPal account.



Robert Smith is a wildlife biologist by vocation who has been carrying a camera in the field for over 2 decades.  He has worked extensively with birds, bird habitat, birders, and bird photographers.  You can explore some of Robert’s bird galleries here: Bird Photo Gallery

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