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Hummingbirds and More Photography Workshop

Ecuador, South America

Greg Downing
Photography Workshop with Greg Downing
10 Days, 8 Participants
Explore a tropical paradise during this tropical and hummingbird photography workshop!

Trip Highlights

  • Greg will be joined by a full-time Ecuadorian birding guide, assisting with setups and helping to locate species and identify them.
  • Visit one of Greg’s secret locations teaming with tanagers and other passerines posing on perches, plus a special species of hummingbird you won’t see anywhere else!
  • Return home with new bird photography skills, particularly using fill flash, that you can put into practice anywhere.
  • Create a vibrant portfolio in a tropical setting with tons of images of different hummingbirds, tanagers, barbets, and more.

Dates

Main Trip, 8 people maximum

  • January 6–15, 2020 (1 opening)
  • January 6–15, 2021 (8 openings)

Cost Per Person (USD)

Price from $5,995
Full details

Want to talk first?

Call 1-888-667-0559 or 410-239-8025, Monday–Friday, 8:30 AM–4:30 PM Eastern Time. You can also send an email to editors@naturescapes.net.
Violet-tailed-sylph by Greg Downing

Hummingbirds and more!

During a new hummingbird and tropical bird photography workshop, visit the cloud forests of Ecuador in search of hummingbirds, tanagers, barbets, toucanets, and more. You will learn hands-on, with Greg teaching you multi-flash photography techniques, lighting effects, and how to capture stunning action shots of these tiny jewels in flight. We'll see and photograph upwards of 20 species of hummingbirds alone, and tons of other birds too!

Greg is a pioneer in multi-flash hummingbird photography and is a master at off-camera flash in tropical environments. He has been teaching his techniques for nearly two decades. During this tropical and hummingbird photography workshop, Greg will share his personal tips and methods for capturing these tiny jewels in flight and action, all while making your shots look completely natural. This workshop is not just about hummingbirds though. In recent years Greg has developed and discovered new locations for a plethora of other birds like many species of tanager, toucanets and much more. The action has been fantastic at these newly discovered locations so you're in for a real treat!

Multi-Flash Setups Provided for Hummingbirds

Everything you need for multiple-flash hummingbird setups will be provided—all you need to bring is a camera and lens! Since our setups will work with any camera brand, there is no concern about compatibility as long as you have a camera with a standard flash hot shoe. Camera lenses of 100–400 or 70–200 range are optimal for the setups, while longer lenses are recommended for perched hummingbirds, tanagers, and other bird species.

What You Will Learn

  • Master multi-flash photographic techniques.
  • Learn how to use outdoor fill flash as supplemental lighting for tropical bird photography.
  • Manipulate scene lighting to achieve the exact effect you want, creating important shadowing and backlighting.
  • Fine-tune your bird photography skills by photographing a variety of tropical bird species.
  • Greg will work with you one-on-one or as a group on post processing techniques in Photoshop® and Lightroom

“I have been a photographer for over 50 years. I never want to stop learning, and this workshop was a great learning opportunity. Multi-flash technique is an amazing way to freeze even the fastest hummingbird motion. Greg is a great instructor who made this technique come alive. I highly recommend this workshop.”

Marc B.

Velvet-purple coronet pink flower by Greg Downing

Possible Bird Species to Photograph

  • Andean cock-of-the-rock
  • Black-capped tanager
  • Black-striped sparrow
  • Blue-gray tanager
  • Blue-winged mountain tanager
  • Booted racket-tail
  • Buff-breasted tanager
  • Chestnut-breasted coronet
  • Crimson-rumped toucanet
  • Dusky bush-tanager
  • Ecuadorian thrush
  • Glowing pufflegs
  • Gray-breasted mountain toucan
  • Golden-breasted pufflegs
  • Golden-naped tanager
  • Hooden-mountain tanager
  • Lemon-rumped tanager
  • Long-tailed sylph
  • Masked flowerpiercer
  • Mountain velvetbreast
  • Purple-throated woodstar
  • Red-headed barbet
  • Rufous-collared sparrow
  • Rufous motmot
  • Sword-billed hummingbird
  • Toucan barbet
  • Tourmaline sunangel
  • Turquoise jay
  • Velvet-purple coronet
  • Violet-tailed sylph
  • Western emerald
  • and more!

Flame-faced tanager by Greg Downing

Itinerary

Day 1, January 6
Arrival in Quito, Ecuador

On day 1 you will meet our representatives at Mariscal Sucre International Airport and transfer to your comfortable hotel 20 minutes from the airport. The hotel is very nicely appointed with a pool, two restaurants, room service, and lovely grounds with abundant birdlife.

Arrival times for travelers will vary; no meals are included this day but there is room service and a restaurant at the hotel which you can utilize.

If you wish to arrive a day or two early to relax before the trip or do a city tour we can make those arrangements.

Hotel not listed*; no meals included.

Day 2, January 7
Fundamentals of Using Flash

After an early breakfast your group will travel less than 1 hour to Guango Lodge where you’ll spend the next 3 nights. We have specifically reserved the lodge for our use and we have even reserved the night before (January 6) so that we may arrive as early as we wish and check in immediately. Little details like this are what sets us apart.

Greg will give a brief orientation of the schedule and the lodge, and then we’ll dig right into our gear and start photographing! On this day we’ll be focused on key settings and the fundamentals of using flash as a supplemental lighting source. This will help you capture magnificent and sharp images of hummingbirds in the cloud forest that look natural.

Over the next few days of this hummingbird and tropical bird photography workshop, you will have plenty of time to fine-tune these skills and put everything to practice. This is Greg’s expertise and you will get lots of individual attention based on your specific needs. If you don’t need a lot of personal instruction then you can work at your own pace!

Guango Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 3-4, January 8-9
Multi-flash Setups for Hummingbirds and Other Species

After breakfast we will begin to use the multi-flash setups looking for noteworthy species like chestnut-breasted coronet, mountain velvetbreast, sword-billed hummingbird, tourmaline sunangel, golden-breasted and glowing pufflegs, long-tailed sylph, and others. This is where we will hone our skills with flash settings and really get to know our gear before heading to Tandayapa and some of the new sites for tanagers and more.

When not photographing hummingbirds we’ll keep an eye out for some of the lodge’s regular bird species including but not limited to: gray-breasted mountain-toucan, turquoise jay, buff-breasted and hooded-mountain tanagers, and more. Beautiful masked flowerpiercers are also very common, visiting the hummingbird feeders regularly right outside the lodge’s front door. We’ll also continue to focus on capturing perched hummingbirds with natural light as well as learning about the use of supplemental fill flash.

We’ll have mid-day breaks for lunch and, since we’re right there at the lodge, you can download and review images throughout the days at you leisure.

We’ll enjoy dinner together at the lodge and a relaxing evening by the fire. Wine is available at the lodge and the authentic cooking is renowned.

Guango Lodge (B, L, D)

Buff-tailed coronet by Greg Downing

Day 5, January 10
Tandayapa Lodge for Hummingbird Photography

After breakfast, we’ll take some time to get a few final shots around the lodge before making our way to Tandayapa Lodge which will be our base for the next four nights, with flexible visits to other locations nearby that are productive for different species.

You will not feel rushed from Guango having almost three full days there. Guango only has a handful of species to photograph but they are species we will not see elsewhere. Tandayapa and the surrounding area offer so much more that we will focus most of our time there.

A mecca for birders and photographers alike, Tandayapa Lodge is one of the best birding locales in the world, particularly for hummingbird photography. Nestled in the cloud forest, up to 31 species of hummingbirds have been recorded at the lodge feeders. With 14–18 species most days and up to 100 individual hummingbirds present at any moment, this is one of the must-see bird spectacles of the world.

Tandayapa Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 6 January 11
Multi-flash Setups, Hummingbirds, and Other Species

For the next few days there will be a bit of flexibility between hummingbird photography at the lodge’s multi-flash setups and other areas for different species of hummingbirds to mix things up. We recently connected with two places that are fantastic for tanagers and other passerines and they have had fantastic action.

The first full day will start with breakfast and then you will immediately begin photographing hummingbirds at multi-flash setups right on the lodge grounds. We have reserved the space to do this exclusively for our group and have lots of room for our setups. Here, we are offered a different set of hummingbird species from Guango including western emerald, purple-throated woodstar, violet-tailed sylph, booted racket-tail, and many more.

We’ll have a break for lunch at the lodge and will continue with hummingbirds and other birds until it’s time for dinner at the lodge.

Tandayapa Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 7 January 12
It’s Raining Birds! Visit to Local Fruit Feeders

Today you will visit a local family that has set up fruit feeders in their yard; it’s become a sensation among bird photographers and is extremely productive! We have been there when it’s “raining” birds! Some of the possible species here include black-capped tanager, blue-gray tanager, dusky bush-tanager, Ecuadorian thrush, black-striped sparrow, rufous-collared sparrow, golden-naped tanager, crimson-rumped toucanet, red-headed barbet, toucan barbet, and lemon-rumped tanager.

You will get to spend hours here shooting the constant stream of tanagers and other species that visit. We will have a traditional lunch at a local restaurant with a beautiful view of the valley and Rio Blanco.

Andean emerald by Greg Downing

Day 8, January 13
Greg’s Secret Location

After breakfast we will travel to another special place. This is a location Greg discovered more than 15 years ago and it has remained very small and rarely, if ever, visited during other photographic itineraries to Ecuador. Another new feature of this location is a very productive fruit feeder where we can expect to see more tanagers, toucanets, and various other species. We will have a traditional Ecuadorian lunch on location and return to Tandayapa at our leisure.

One species to note here, which we will see nowhere else, is the beautiful and iridescent velvet-purple coronet. Violet-tailed sylph has also been known to be very cooperative here.

Day 9, January 14
Local Bird Photography at Tandayapa Lodge

Today we will spend the morning again photographing the local birds around Tandayapa Lodge. There are extensive hiking trails here for those that wish to explore beyond what is at the feeders. It's also a good day to get those close-up shots of perched hummingbirds. Some days there have been more than 20 species of hummingbirds at the lodge feeders!

After lunch we will head to Quito in time for a farewell dinner and reflection on our productive photography workshop.

Tandayapa Lodge (B, L), Hotel not listed* (D)

Hummingbird in hand, Ecuador by Greg Downing

Day 10, January 15
Departure from Quito, Ecuador

On this day take a private transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Breakfast is included for those departing Ecuador late enough.

Includes

  • All accommodations
  • All meals as indicated above
  • All ground transportation
  • Full-time professional local birding guide whom Greg has worked with personally for more than 10 years
  • All airport transfers
  • Entrance fees to all reserves
  • All photo instruction
  • Use of multi-flash setups

Does Not Include

  • Airfare to Mariscal Sucre International Airport
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Travel insurance (recommended)
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Gratuities for birding guide (at your discretion)
  • Non-mealtime snacks, soft drinks, or bottled water
  • Souvenirs

Red-headed barbet by Greg Downing

Dates and Cost

Dates

Main Trip, 8 people maximum

  • January 6–15, 2020 (1 opening)
  • January 6–15, 2021 (8 openings)

Cost Per Person (USD)

  • Trip: $5,995 (2020); $6,495 (2021)
  • Deposit: $1,000
  • Single Supplement: $400

Trip Details

Dates

Main Trip, 8 people maximum

  • January 6–15, 2020 (1 opening)
  • January 6–15, 2021 (8 openings)

Cost Per Person (USD)

  • Trip: $5,995 (2020); $6,495 (2021)
  • Deposit: $1,000
  • Single Supplement: $400

Single Supplements

Single supplement fees reflect our actual cost and are subject to availability. If you're a single traveler and we're unable to place you with a roommate, we will need to place you in a single room and charge a single supplement.

Travel Ratings

Easy: No hiking needed for 90% of what we are shooting. There are hiking trails to explore but they are a side activity and you can pace yourself.
Beginner to Advanced: All photographers can learn and gain something from this trip.
Workshop
$500 Discount for Non-photographers (no use of hummingbird set ups but otherwise included in all activities).

Leaders and Guides

Greg Downing

Greg has been traveling the world teaching professional and amateur photographers for more than 15 years hosting his instructional workshops and...Continue reading

Photo Gallery

Hummingbird in hand, Ecuador © Greg Downing
White-booted racket tail © Greg Downing
Western emerald © Greg Downing
Western emerald on branch © Greg Downing
Violet-tailed sylph © Greg Downing
Violet-tailed sylph with yellow flower © Greg Downing
Velvet-purple coronet © Greg Downing
Velvet-purple coronet wing action © Greg Downing
Velvet-purple coronet with pink flower © Greg Downing
Velvet-purple coronet on flower perch © Greg Downing
Velvet-purple coronet with bright flowers © Greg Downing
Velvet-purple coronet on branch © Greg Downing
Velvet purple and buff-tailed coronets © Greg Downing
Toucan barbet on branch © Greg Downing
Silver-throated tanager © Greg Downing
Rufous-tailed hummingbird © Greg Downing
Rufous-tailed hummingbird with flowers © Greg Downing
Rufous-tailed hummingbird in flight © Greg Downing
Red-headed barbet © Greg Downing
Red-headed barbet female © Greg Downing
Purple-throated woodstar female © Greg Downing
Purple-throated woodstar female with red flower © Greg Downing
Long-tailed sylph female © Greg Downing
Long-tailed hermit © Greg Downing
Golden tanager © Greg Downing
Flame-faced tanager © Greg Downing
Fawn-breasted brilliant © Greg Downing
Fawn-crested brilliant on pink flower © Greg Downing
Chestnut-breasted antpitta © Greg Downing
Chestnut-breasted coronet © Greg Downing
Buff-tailed coronet on branch © Greg Downing
Buff-tailed coronet with yellow flower © Greg Downing
Buff-tailed coronet with red flower © Greg Downing
Buff-tailed coronet with purple flowers © Greg Downing
Buff-tailed coronet with purple flower © Greg Downing
Buff-tailed coronet profile © Greg Downing
Buff-tailed coronet with pink flowers © Greg Downing
Buff-tailed coronet on flower perch © Greg Downing
Buff-tailed coronet © Greg Downing
Booted racket tail © Greg Downing
Blue-winged mountain tanager © Greg Downing
Andean emerald © Greg Downing

Registration

To register for this trip fill out and submit your registration form. A non-refundable deposit (above) is required to reserve your spot. See the About Our Trips page for cancellation/refund policies and other important information.

Want to talk first?

Call 1-888-667-0559 or 410-239-8025, Monday–Friday, 8:30 AM–4:30 PM Eastern Time. You can also send an email to editors@naturescapes.net.

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