Excellent opportunity to photograph many beautiful warblers

DATE 1:   May 19-23 fee $2,300

DATE 2:   May 25-29 fee $2,300

See what it can be like when you are behind the camera during the workshop:

2019 Gallery of workshop participant B Chan:

2018 Testimonials:

– Dennis Malueg:  “Birder, photographer and teacher, Paul Rossi brought all of those talents together as he led his Michigan Upper Peninsula spring 2018 warbler workshop. Having birded together in the Midwest for many years, I jumped at the chance to attend
his inaugural warbler workshop. For the photography instruction side, the
workshop began with a thorough walk-through of proper camera exposure
settings which was much appreciated as we shot in both sun and shade every
day. As for the birding aspect, Paul surely spent days scouting out the
perfect locations with beautiful backgrounds, allowing me to get many
perfect shots.”

Dennis Maleug 2018 workshop gallery:

– Mark Stahl:  “Having birded with Paul a few times and seen his photography for years, I knew he could put us in front of many great subjects. The migrant warbler flocks were incredible, and every location throughout the workshop had beautiful habitat. Learning the proper camera and lens settings before starting was very helpful, and he reviewed images often to make sure I was getting excellent results. His patience and tips before we started to photograph subjects were very helpful.”

Mark Stahl 2018 workshop gallery:

The Eastern Upper Peninsula at and just north of Lake Huron can be spectacular for northern warblers at the time of this trip. 24 species breed in the area and 3 more migrate through at this time. Scarlet Tanager, Indigo Bunting, Baltimore Oriole, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Blue-headed vireo, and many others join them. Many of the 24 species of warblers have a breeding range extending further north. And many individuals stay around the lake shore after crossing Lake Huron to feed on the super abundant midge hatches. The midges feed the incredible population of spiders, which the warblers also love. There is so much food around for warblers that their territories are often shrunken, and tolerance between species is increased. On a 1.5 acre lot where I live we have had 7 species of warblers breed for over 15 years. The past few years there has been a Spruce Budworm outbreak along the lake front and in areas we will visit inland. The outbreak will continue this year. Spruce Budworm specialists such as Cape May and Tennessee Warblers are abundant, and many other species such as Blackburnian, Magnolia, Canada and Black-throated Green Warblers have increased their numbers.

Here is an animation of migrating birds in the western hemisphere:
It clearly shows that Michigan funnels migrating birds (especially northern warblers) through the area of this workshop at the time of the workshop: mid-to-late May.

We will strive for images with excellent composition, not just a bird on a stick, large in the frame. The types of opportunities you will have on this trip can never be found at a migration hot spot such as Magee Marsh or Pt Pelee, where there can be plenty of warblers but you can only hope that a bird might be close enough and land on a unblocked perch with a decent background. At these excellent viewing locations good photographic opportunities are often days apart. But we will have many excellent opportunities most days.

At the time of this trip the aggressive experienced males, which are in their brightest plumage, provide abundant opportunity in their breeding habitat, especially because of all the migrants of the same species around.

We will do some set-ups but it is not necessary in circumstances where naturally good composition perches are abundant. You will learn how to identify and attract birds to these locations, and the behavior of specific species that are comfortable in certain trees and shrubs. Upon registration you will be instructed on how to prepare for warbler photography with your equipment, and your skills.  Honing your hand-to-eye coordination with appropriate practice beforehand will give you more opportunity on this workshop and in the future.

DATE 1:   May 19-23 fee $2,300

DATE 2:   May 25-29 fee $2,300


Fee includes 5 full days in the field, 6 nights lodging – includes kitchen, and image processing demonstrations.  Also, a selection of your best images will be processed and sent to you (tiffs ready to print and jpegs to share) in the mail – in a thumb drive.

Deposit: $600 (non refundable, to be subtracted from the final balance due) I prefer payments and deposits to be made by check. Paypal can also be arranged (send email). The balance of the payment is due May 1, 2020. ($1,700)

Please make checks out to: Paul Rossi / 1181 South Palmerlee Road / Cedarville, Michigan 49719

Once I have received your deposit I will send you your complete registration package by mail.

If you have any questions before registering, send me an e-mail with any inquiries to:


Group Size: 4 participants maximum

From: Cedarville, Michigan

Once the workshops are full you can be put on a waiting list.

Where to Stay:  I will arrange your lodging.  It is covered in the price of this workshop – 6 nights.

Cell service: In Cedarville AT&T is best, but Verizon works in spots. Service is poor to non-existent while we are shooting in some of the forest areas.

Best airport: The city of Pellston has a small airport but it will be expensive to land there, and you must drive another 1.5 hours. Your best option is to fly to Detroit, Michigan and then drive the remaining 5 hours to Cedarville. From Detroit its straight freeway on I-75 to M-134 after the Mackinac Bridge, and east on 134 for 38 miles.

Be prepared for temperatures in the low forties in the early morning, when the birds are most active. It could rarely be in the thirties on some days. Some days temperatures can reach 80 degrees by late afternoon. Dressing in layers is a good idea. We will photograph rain or shine, but not during a downpour. During a light rain using an appropriate towel to cover your lens and camera works well. Your boots could get a little muddy or dirty if we have a recent rain or heavy morning due.

Tentative Schedule:

Arrive the evening before and I will meet you to go over your equipment to make sure it is clean (so auto-focus can operate as good as possible) and make sure you have your camera set-up correctly for this type of photography.   I will determine your results at different ISOs.   In the field you will photograph at particular ISOs for different lighting conditions.

Sunrise is at 6:00am but we won’t have enough light to shoot until around 6:30am at the earliest.  Most days we will need to leave the Hotel around 6am.

There will be in-field instruction and photography during the day. On days with sunny conditions we will start in the field around 6:30 am – 7:00 am. If the day remains sunny we will take a break and return to the hotel at mid-day if we are within 20 minutes of the hotel. Every day you should be prepared with a packed lunch or snacks because the weather can change even if predicted differently, and always bring bottled water. It could become cloudy. On a cloudy day we may start a little later in the morning (when there is enough light) but we will continue throughout the day until evening and finish a little earlier (when light is insufficient). Cloudy days can be the most productive. If it is sunny in the afternoon we will shoot until there is not sufficient light. I will get updates on the weather as possible and make decisions accordingly. We should always be back at the hotel by 9 pm.

More information will be provided once a deposit and contract are received.

Be ready to leave hotel at 6 am.

Participants will need to follow Paul in their own vehicle to the shooting locations. Carpooling is optional. We will get in and out of our cars often: each time I find a cooperative bird and good potential for excellent images. Most locations are within 25 miles of the hotel.

We will photograph mainly from a standing position, behind our tripods. There will be a lot of standing. If you tend to get tired standing often you can bring a folding camping stool. Most of our photography will be from forest roads while we are less than 100 yards from our vehicles. We will sometimes walk to the most photogenic locations with the best light – not more than 200 yards.

My goal is to make you as comfortable as possible during our outings so you can concentrate well on the task at hand. Let me know when you need a bathroom break.

– clothing that is not white or brilliant in color: dull green, brown, black, beige, dark blue – all work well. Long pants, long shirts and sweat shirts that mosquitoes cannot penetrate. There will be some mosquitoes and/or black flies at times.  The Coleman Mosquito Head net (available at Walmart) works well to keep them away- your vision is clear and you can look through the camera viewfinder well.
– hat with small brim – it helps with eye strain to keep sky out of your vision – to limit eye strain on this trip.  Too wide a brim can bump your camera when you put your eye behind it.
– waterproof boots (rubber 12″ boots recommended for certain areas such as bogs)
– gloves to protect you from mosquitoes and/or black flies while you shoot. Test them to make sure you can manipulate camera controls while using them. In case black flies are present (usually a few) bring some rubber bands to make sure they cannot crawl into your wrist area. Long pants should be tucked into your boots.
– good sized water bottle for hydration during outings. Appropriate snacks to eat quickly.

Note that if bugs are very bad in a certain location we will move to another location. There is always plenty of opportunity in less buggy areas.

Ticks are possible, so you should bring a hand mirror to help see yourself at the end of the day before going to bed.

This workshop is for photographers with knowledge of how to use their equipment.


Digital SLR with matching lens. You should have an effective focal length of 600mm or greater, when combining the digital crop factor of your camera with your tele-extenders (1.4x or 2x). And auto focus must be maintained when the tele-extender is used.

Note: An extension tube may be necessary to make sure you can focus close enough so the bird is big enough in the frame.  Usually a 12mm extension tube is sufficient – the longer extension tubes can hinder auto-focusing speed.

Tripod sufficient for your equipment.

A ball-head or Whimberly-type head.

Flash equipment to use for fill flash is not necessary but an advantage in certain circumstances. Plus Better Beamer if desired.

Extra memory cards

laptop computer to download images

Memory card reader for laptop (plus an extra back-up one)

Hard drive(s) to back up images daily

Extra camera battery and charger

Rain gear in case it rains.

Notepad and pen if you want to take notes during my Photoshop demonstrations


I am experienced and passionate about teaching the skills of bird photography because I have made them a part of my daily life in Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula.  I have lived there year round  for 12 years, and photographed there for over 19 years. I know all of the songs of all of the birds, all of the habitats they utilize, where they can be found.   I have excellent hearing and identify all birds instantly by song and sight.  The video shows the results of this knowledge:

You will learn to combine cooperative birds with elements of their habitat which offer good composition in good light. I live  in the area where you will be photographing and I daily check habitats and the progression of spring, with respect to birds. You have access to the specially prepared areas of the private peninsula where I live, which is a spring migrant hot spot.  I  prepare for workshops by finding very cooperative individual birds beforehand.  Special bonus opportunities such as local Common Loon, Osprey, Ruffed grouse, etc are always a possibility.  You will be the beneficiary of this opportunity and knowledge. And receive personalized attention and instruction. I have a bachelors degree in biology (with emphasis in animal physiology). I am aware of the well-being of all subjects and their environment and proceed accordingly.

Join me for this unique experience.

Likely Species on this workshop – species in bold…have normally been the most cooperative.   A good number of the other species usually have been cooperative:

1)  Species followed by the # 1 are more likely May 19-23;  also more likely at this date range are migrant flocks with potential for Bay-breasted Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler and Philadelphia Vireo.  Females and first year birds of all species are also more likely.

2)  Species followed by the # 2 are more likely May 25-29.

NOTE: Species in bold with no number are highly likely during both date ranges (DATE 1 and DATE 2)

Common Loon
Sandhill Crane
American Bittern   1
Upland Sandpiper
Broad-winged Hawk  1
Bald Eagle
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 
Hermit Thrush   1
Swainson’s Thrush   2
Scarlet Tanager   2
Indigo Bunting   2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet   1
Golden-crowned Kinglet   1
Brown Creeper   1
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo   1
Magnolia Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Cape May Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Pine Warbler   1
Golden-winged Warbler   2
Wilson’s Warbler   2
American Redstart
Black-and-white Warbler
Nashville Warbler   1
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Northern Parula
Blackburnian Warbler
Tennessee Warbler  2
Canada Warbler   2
Mourning Warbler   2
Kirtland’s Warbler   2
Conneticut Warbler   2
Yellow Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Palm Warbler
Ovenbird   1
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Evening Grosbeak
Song Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow
Lincoln’s Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Pine Siskin   1
Purple Finch   1
Red-Breasted Nuthatch   1
Sedge Wren
LeConte’s Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Wood Thrush
Pileated Woodpecker
Black-backed Woodpecker
Winter Wren   1
Ruffed Grouse
Warbling Vireo
Least Flycatcher
Barred Owl

Below are a few more of my favorite songbird images from the time period of mid-to-late May in the area of the workshop.

There is a bog with some orchids less than 5 miles from Cedarville and other wildflowers in the area at the times of the workshops and after.

See some of the flowers here: