Do I need a briefing?
Briefing is mandatory for all photographers with no previous experience on photographing Black Grouse from a photography hide. The briefing, carried out by a professional guide, includes valuable photography tips: how to work in the hide, how to use the heater, how to interpret the behavior of the birds, how to check the backgrounds, etc. This information will significantly improve first-time results.
Do I have the hide for myself?
Our hides are for 1 or 2 people, so there may be another photographer in the hide. If you want a private hide, or a photography session for your group only, it’s available at an additional cost.
What is the difference between a sitting–level and a sleeping–level hide?
Our sleeping–level hides are designed to give an angle of view as close as possible to the level of the birds, during snowy and snow-free seasons alike. The working position in the sleeping–level hide can sometimes become strenuous or tiring. Observing the birds is also more challenging than at sitting level, but when successful, the images are more spectacular due to the more advantageous photographing angle. Sitting–level hides can be almost ground–level during the snowy season when the birds lekking on the snow are higher than the hide that sits in the snow, especially in early spring when snow can be almost a metre deep. The working position in the sitting–level hide is more comfortable. If you specifically want a sleeping-level or a sitting–level hide, let us know in advance, we will try our best to accommodate your wishes.
What time of the year can you photograph?
The Black Grouse lek photography is divided into an autumn season (15 September to 31 October) and a spring season (20 March to 31 May). Start of the lekking varies a little from year to year. During the spring season, birds can be photographed in the snow until late April, early May, depending on the year. Towards the end of April the first females will join the lek to observe the displaying males, and in the second week of May there is a so-called Female Week; this is when the dominant Black Grouse male mates with the females. Black Grouses will come to the lek site also in autumn, when it’s possible to shoot against the fall-coloured trees in the background until late September, early October.
How long does one photography session last?
One session lasts 3 to 5 hours depending on the season. Arrival at the hide is always one hour before sunrise. During the session, do not come out of the hide, as movement outside the hides will frighten the birds away. In spring, the photography session is usually over around 8 am, and after the birds have left it’s time to leave the hides. The autumn lek may last longer, especially on frosty mornings in late October.
What kind of clothing do I need for the photography hide?
In the spring, nights can be cold, so we recommend warm winter clothes such as wool socks, gloves, a hat and thermal layers, with winter boots and jacket. Likewise, in October, you should prepare for the cold mornings with warm clothes. It is possible to heat the hides with gel heaters. If you do not have your own, we have warm boots and winter overalls that you can rent.
What is the distance to the birds, and what kind of lens and equipment do I need to take with me?
The hides are 20 to 30 metres from the centre of the lek. However, the birds can move over a fairly wide area, and at their closest, be running between the hides.
We recommend 100-400mm / 150-600mm zoom lenses or 300-600mm telephoto lenses + extenders (optional). For pictures of birds in the landscape, it’s possible to use shorter lenses, for example 70-200mm.