Fall Photography Workshop on Lake Superior


During the last week of September, Lake Superior’s north shore explodes into vibrant colors. The maples turn bright red and the birch and aspen turn vibrant yellow. During this Lake Superior fall photography workshop, we’ll explore the north shore, photograph the fall color and make photos that you’ll proudly hang on your walls.

This Fall on Lake Superior photography workshop sets up a fun hands-on learning experience in one of the most beautiful parts of Minnesota. We’ll set up our base at Aspen Lodge in Grand Marais and adventure out to nearby locations. We’ll visit scenic overlooks in the Lutsen area to photograph the maples, we’ll head up the Gunflint Trail to photograph the birch and aspen, and we’ll visit other remote and scenic locations. We’ll even learn how to photograph the night sky with guest instructor, Travis Novitsky. Along the way, you will learn new techniques, improve on old ones and make great photos.



  • September 27 to October 1, 2017

Cost: $750  ($375 nonrefundable deposit. Final payment is due 60 days before the workshop.)


This event is in cooperation with and under a Special Use Permit from the U.S.  Forest Service, Gunflint Ranger District.

SKU: Fall Photo Workshop Category: Tag:



This Lake Superior photography workshop combines classroom time with field-work and a final review. You’ll learn photography techniques for capturing waterfalls. There’s plenty of time for one-on-one instruction with the small group size.

Day 1 (Wednesday): Sunrise to sunset (optional: sunrise)

The photography workshop officially begins at noon with a slideshow and lecture about camera control, composition and the recommended filters. For participants arriving Tuesday night, an optional sunrise session on Lake Superior is available and highly recommended. After the slideshow, we’ll head out to photograph the area while practicing using polarizers and neutral density filters.

Day 2 (Thursday): Sunrise to sunset

We start with a sunrise on Lake Superior near Grand Marais. I demonstrate the use of split ND grad filters. I have several demo filters for you to try, but I suggest that you purchase these filters if you don’t already own them. Learn more about split ND grad filters in my December Newsletter. Then we’ll visit nearby streams to photograph intimate landscapes. We end the day after sunset.

Day 2 (Thursday Night):

Thursday is also our optional night session. After sunset, we’ll meet up and learn to shoot star trails and paint the night with flashlights and other tools. I’ll also bring out a tent, so you can make the classic northwoods night camping shot. Grand Portage photographer Travis Novitsky will join us for the night session. Travis is a fantastic photographer and his night photography is legendary. Even though the night session is optional, I suspect that everyone will want to come to learn night photography from Travis.

Day 3 (Friday): Morning to sunset

We spend the day in the Lutsen area after photographing Cascade River State Park, and then heading down to several scenic overlooks. We’ll end the day after sunset. For those of you that want to catch some sleep after last night’s night shoot, you can sleep in and meet up at noon for the rest of the day.

Day 4 (Saturday): Sunrise to sunset

This is our Gunflint Trail day. We start the day with a sunrise session on Lake Superior, we head up the Gunflint Trail to photograph the fall color reflecting in scenic lakes and from an easy to reach overlook. We’ll skip the sunset to meet up in the classroom for a demonstration of Adobe Lightroom for photo organization and post-processing. Adobe Lightroom is one tool that no photographer should be without, because it does everything we need. For this demonstration, a laptop with Lightroom is recommended, but you can follow along without it. After you head back to your hotel for the evening, you should select five photos you took during the workshop to share with the class on Sunday.

Day 5 (Sunday): Sunrise to noon with an afternoon feedback session

We start on Lake Superior for the sunrise and after breakfast, we meet up for an image review in the classroom. You’ll share your five images with the classroom and receive honest and support feedback and tips on how to process the images.

When is Peak Fall Color on the North Shore?

Fall color on the north shore happens in two stages. The maples peak red, orange and yellow first. Then about a week later, the birch and aspen along Lake Superior peak to yellow. The aspen and birch on the Gunflint Trail usually peak sometime between the two. The maple peak is generally what attracts the most people to the area, because when at peak it’s literally breathtaking.

Since 2003, the earliest that I’ve seen Oberg Mountain peak is September 18th (in 2004), and the latest I’ve seen peak on Oberg Mountain is October 1st (in 2015). Generally, Oberg peaks around the 26th to 28th. Oberg is the indicator for the area. If it’s going, the maples will be peak throughout the area and the birch and aspen will be closing in on peak on the Gunflint and peak the following weekend. The birch and aspen along the lake will just be starting. I’ve run this workshop for nine years and we’ve found color on every year. The hardest year was 2015, because fall colors were running one to two weeks late across the entire state. On the majority, we’ve had peak color.

Required Photography Equipment

Camera: A SLR-style digital camera or a point and shoot that allows you to manually set your shutter speed and aperture is highly recommended. A variety of lenses ranging from 18mm to 200mm. Most of the time, you’ll use something in the 18mm to 70mm range, but the other focal lengths are useful.

Filters: I highly recommend filters (See this newsletter for more info about filters). When you sign up for a workshop, you also qualify for a discount on filters from Singh-Ray.

Other Suggested Equipment: Bring a tripod, your camera’s manual, a USB thumb drive, waterproof camera bag and a laptop computer.

I’ll send out a full equipment list a month before the workshop.

Registration and Cancellation Policies



Additional information

Max Participants



This workshop is for all levels of photographers and works best for photographers using digital cameras

What's Included

Quality small group and one-on-one instruction. Conference room for classroom time. Free continental breakfast. Fun!

What's Not Included

Transportation to Grand Marais and photography locations. Car pooling is highly recommended. Lodging. Meals except for breakfast which is provided by the lodge.

Lodging Partner

Aspen Lodge in Grand Marais, MN is the lodging partner for this workshop. It is on the east side of Grand Marais across the street from a popular restaurant, My Sister’s Place. Aspen Lodge offers views of Artist’s Point, the East Bay and the Coast Guard Station. It has a giant whirlpool spa, a sauna and a pool. It’s within walking distance of downtown. For the workshop, rates are 10% off the regular rack price. The conference room and lobby is on the second floor. When making your reservation, ask for a “Bryan Hansel Photography” room. Call 800-247-6020 to make your room reservations.

Getting There

Grand Marais, Minnesota is 110 miles north of Duluth, Minnesota on Highway 61. Duluth boasts a small international airport. It’s 260 miles north of Minneapolis, Minnesota, which has an international airport that also acts as a regional hub. Grand Marais is 128 kilometers south of Thunder Bay, Ontario on Highway 61. Thunderbay has a small airport. Car rentals are available at the airports.


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