Wild Central Australia Photography Workshop: June 2016


Thank you for your interest in our Wild Central Australia Photography Workshop.  David Stowe, Henry Cook and I are very excited about this event; it really is a unique beast. Unlike ordinary nature photography tours, we want to offer a workshop which is as much about experiencing the special species of the Red Centre as it is about terrific photography. We have structured the itinerary to strike the right balance between the locations, the light, the birds and mammals activity patterns and your comfort. As a result we don’t have formal structured tutorial sessions, instead the species, sites and circumstances will take the lead and the learning experiences will flow naturally.

I hope you can join us on this exceptional birding and wildlife photography adventure.

Mark Carter,

Alice Springs December 2015



Tuesday 21st June

Day 1

3-6pm Meet at hotel and transfer to workshop location

PM Workshop: Bowers and Pardalotes

In this introductory session we concentrate on an accessible site with very friendly (but still wild) birds and mammals. The emphasis is on getting to know each other, our wildlife and our gear.

7pm       Welcome Dinner.


Wednesday 22nd June

Day 2

AM Workshop: Alice Springs woodland

After an early breakfast we head out to a premium Alice Springs wildlife site. We visit grassland and woodland habitats seeking species such as Redthroat, Splendid Fairy-wren, Little Buttonquail, Euro and Crested Bellbird. Emphasis will be on fieldcraft, stalking and shooting ‘ad hoc’.


PM Workshop 1: After the field.

So we took a lot of photos- now what? A brief session with David Stowe and Henry Cook on their post-field workflows and processing followed by a group reviewand feedback on images taken so far.

PM Workshop 2: Up Close and Personal

Alice Springs Desert Park is one of the world’s leading bioparks where nature and captivity blend seamlessly to create a powerful immersive experience. Your guide Mark Carter is a former employee of the Park and knows its secrets intimately. We enjoy special behind the scenes access with many opportunities to get closer to rare and elusive species: get those macro lenses ready! We stay at the park until dusk to make the most of the “golden hour” in these amazing surroundings.


Thursday 23rd June

Day 3

AM Workshop: Spinifex Birding

Some of the hardest but most rewarding species in central Australia are old-growth Spinifex specialists. We travel to one of the best Spinifex habitats in the region and spend the morning tracking down and photographing birds like Rufous-crowed Emu-wren and Spinifexbird. Depending on the exact site, other species likely to be in the area could include Dusky Grasswren, Budgies, Cockateil, Banded Whiteface and Cinnamon Quail-thrush.


PM Workshop 1: Reptiles

A session with captive reptiles practicing macro techniques, lighting and more.

PM Workshop 2: Red Mountains, Green Riverbank

Explore riverbanks and rugged range country in search of everything from insects and flowers to Thornbills and Robins. We time this to conclude with a stakeout at a Black-footed Rock Wallaby colony to capture them emerging from their daytime slumber.


Al fresco BBQ (supplied)


Evening Workshop: Nocturnal Waterhole 

Night photography is an art in itself. This introductory session at a waterhole in the ranges will concentrate on the basics of flash, settings and technique while seeking Barn Owls, White-sided Mastiff Bats and Black-footed Rock Wallabies.


Friday 24th June

Day 4

AM Workshop: Planning and Patience- Using Hides.

We split into small groups and spend the morning at pre-prepared temporary bird photography hides targeting specific species.


PM Workshop 1: Post field image processing.

Getting going with Lightroom and Photoshop software, followed by a constructive review of our images so far.

PM Workshop 2: Water and Light

We explore the famous Alice Springs Water Treatment Facility. With a list of over 200 species this artificial wetland is a must for any birding trip to the Northern Territory. Waterfowl, waders, Crakes and species like Orange Chat and White-winged Fairy-wren are on our agenda. The light and landscape at this site are nothing short of magical. With strong light, sweeping backgrounds and superb birds in large numbers this is a bird photography paradise.


Saturday 25th June

Day 5

AM Workshop: The West MacDonnell Ranges

An early start gets us into the mountains in time for the best light of the day. Emphasis today will be on getting intimate with some of the denizens of the red mountains and gorges; Dusky Grasswrens, Spinifex Pigeons, Golden-backed Honeyeater and Painted Finch.


PM Workshop: Hero Species

We keep this session flexible to allow us a chance to go for any species in the region which have so far eluded us: Chiming Wedgebill? Banded Whiteface? Grey Honeyeater? Lets go see them!

Evening Workshop: Waterhole Stakeout and Nocturnal Photography part 2

Emphasis is on Bourkes Parrot and Nightjars.

Final Dinner and review of images.


Sunday 26th June

Day 6

AM Workshop: River Raptors

In June raptors are busy staking out claims to nesting sites for the coming spring. We spend the morning in the thick of the action among the River Redgums at a location locals know as “Raptor Alley”. 

12 noon- official end of workshop. For those staying on for a further night in Alice an informal visit to the Desert Park will be organised if there is sufficient demand.




All itinerary details subject to change to reflect unanticipated conditions and capitalise on opportunities; floods, fires, Budgie swarms and vagrant species- we will craft the workshop to make it best and safest experience it can be.

This itinerary is designed around participants of average health and mobility with ability to safely traverse uneven ‘off path’ ground and be active in areas where allergens such as ants, bees and pollen may occur.


Hosts: David Stowe, Henry Cook and Mark Carter

Project leader: Mark Carter

Maximum Group Size: 9

Cost: $5080 per person. No single supplement.

Booking Security Deposit: $500.


Price inclusive of;

Accommodation: Hilton Doubletree Alice Springs for 5 nights (21st-26th).

Welcome Dinner 21st,

BBQ dinner 23rd,

Final Dinner 25th

All transport during the workshop


Exclusive of;

All other meals unless specified,

Drinks with meals,

Personal equipment,

Personal expenses,

Travel insurance,


Recommended Equipment List

DSLR body

Telephoto Lens (300mm or higher)

Wide-angle lens

Macro lens



Lots of memory cards for your camera!

Note- camera equipment is available for hire during the workshop for those who do not own these items already. Contact Mark Carter at mark@desertlife.com.au for details

A laptop loaded with Lightroom and Photoshop software. If you don’t own this then download the free “one month” trial version shortly before the workshop.

LED head torch

Warm clothing (its cold at night in June!)

Boots or similar footwear.


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I want to book on this photography workshop