June sees the Tyrol’s alpine meadows in their full glory, with a spectacular show of wild flowers and an array of butterflies and other insects – in short, the perfect time for macro photography.
We explore the many and varied meadows to discover gems such as the delicate burnt orchid hidden amongst the grasses, and along the way encounter many exciting and beautiful insects that flourish on the alpine slopes. In the locations we visit there is a good chance of finding the iconic Apollo butterfly. Moving higher up the slopes, the colourful meadows give way to swathes of vibrant alpenrose and high alpine species such as dwarf snowbell and trumpet gentian. A friendly, family-run hotel provides the perfect base for our week of photography and fresh mountain air.
The tour has been designed to maximise the opportunities for macro photography. Wildlife photographers Alex Hyde and Nick Garbutt, along with a renowned local guide, will take you through everything you need to know to photograph the region’s fascinating plants and wildlife.
Alex Hyde has established himself as an expert in macro photography, and has taught at the University of Nottingham and at London’s Wild Photos photography festival. By understanding the behaviour of his subjects, he is able to capture intimate portraits of spiders, insects and other invertebrates in their natural habitats. An award-winning photographer and author with a background in zoology, Nick Garbutt has photographed wildlife all around the world and has led tours for the past 18 years.
Day1: Fly to Innsbruck, transfer to Fisser Höfe, Western Tyrol
Our transfer to Fisser Höfe will take around one to two hours. After checking in, there will be a welcome presentation from the tutors and an introduction to the week’s itinerary.
Days2-7: Exploring and photographing in the Western Tyrol
The day-to-day schedule and activities remain flexible to take account of changeable local conditions. The following examples give you a flavour of what might be on offer at various times throughout the week:
In the early morning, you may find yourself using the gorgeous early morning light to photograph sunrise over the mountain tops, or meadow flowers and butterflies when they are often covered in dewdrops.
Later in the day, when the sun is high, you may find yourself visiting the Urgtal valley to photograph alpine plants such as alpenrose in a dramatic mountain landscape; using a cable car to gain access to alpine plants that grow at high altitudes, such as alpine snowbell (Soldanella pursilla) and mountain houseleek (Sempervivum montanum), that are specially adapted to life on the mountain tops; learning how to photograph orchids such as the burnt orchid (Neotinea ustulata); developing your macro work in the pine forests; or learning field studio techniques to produce white background images of flowers and insects.
The afternoon or evening are perfect for activities such as seeking out resting butterflies in the alpine meadows; photographing flower meadows in dramatic evening light; or trapping moths in order to photograph them.
Photographic highlights include: alpine meadows in full bloom; orchids and other plants including sundews; a huge array of butterflies and other insects; marmots beside their burrows; dramatic mountain landscapes.
Typical techniques covered during the week include: the basics of macro photography; optimising natural light with reflectors and diffusers; working with off-camera flash; creating creative macro compositions; creating white background images with a mobile field studio; digital workflow for macro photography with Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.
Day8: Transfer to Innsbruck & fly back to the UK
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 8 daysfrom £2,195 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 8 daysfrom £1,995 pp
Often working with moving creatures smaller than a grain of rice, Alex has established himself as an expert in macro photography.
By understanding the behaviour of his subjects, he is able to capture intimate portraits of spiders, insects and other invertebrates in their natural habitats. Although his photography takes him all around the world, the Austrian Alps are a particularly special place for Alex and he returns annually to these favoured haunts to photograph the incredible insect and plant life.
An experienced tutor, Alex regularly delivers workshops and seminars on macro photography and has taught at venues such as the University of Nottingham and the Wild Photo photography festival in London. Alex supplies major international agencies and his photographs appear worldwide in newspapers, books and magazines including The Times, The Daily Telegraph, BBC Wildlife and New Scientist.
An award-winning photographer and author, with a background in zoology, Nick has forged a career by combining these skills with leading tours and lecturing.
Nick has written and photographed several critically acclaimed books, including: ‘100 Animals to See Before They Die’, ‘Mammals of Madagascar: A Complete Guide’, ‘Wild Borneo’, and ‘Chameleons’. He is a regular contributor to international magazines such as National Geographic, BBC Wildlife, Africa Geographic and Geographical.
Nick has twice been a winner in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition. In 2000, he won the prestigious Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Wildlife. His photographs appear widely in books, calendars and other publications worldwide. He is a Special Lecturer on the MSc course in the Wildlife Photography and Imaging at Nottingham University, where he studied.
The sunny village of Fiss stands in a lovely elevated position looking out over the upper valley of the River Inn, set against a backdrop of high mountains. The area is a well-developed ski resort in winter, while in summer serves as a base for walking and nature holidays.
Where: West Tyrol
Ideal for viewing: Apollo butterfly, black veined white butterfly, goldenrod crab spider, spotted longhorn beetle, Alpine marmot
Excellent for: Wildlife photography, Photography tours with Nick Garbutt
This friendly, family-run, chalet-style hotel is located on a sunny plateau in Fisser Höfe, next to the village of Fiss in the West Tyrol. Comfortable, clean and bright, apartment-style rooms all have an en suite bathroom and balcony, and the restaurant serves delicious Tyrolean-style food in a relaxed atmosphere.