Photo Experiences


The Crane Trust offers unparalleled opportunities to capture images of the largest gathering of Sandhill Cranes in the world, a herd of American Bison in their natural habitat, and the wonder and beauty of Platte River meadows and prairies.

Photos by past photography experience participants

Sandhill Crane Photo Workshops and Tours are designed and led by award-winning photographer Cheryl Opperman. These tours provide an immersive experience for avid photographers, using a digital SLR or mirrorless camera with a tripod.

Participants will have numerous opportunities to photograph from custom-built Crane Trust VIP photo blinds on the Platte River, as hundreds of thousands of Sandhill Cranes leave their roost at sunrise and return at sunset. Additionally, there will be opportunities to photograph cranes and other wildlife in fields and wet meadows, and to photograph the Crane Trust bison herd and prairie landscapes on the Crane Trust property.

Crane Trust's riverfront photo blinds are ideally situated for best light and photography conditions, with the closest vantage point possible to cranes on the river. Photo Workshops and Tours are designed for serious photography with telephoto lenses and tripods. All Photo Experiences require participants to carry their own gear over uneven grassland terrain in all conditions and low light for up to a half mile each way. If you have any concerns about these conditions for participation, please contact us before booking.

  • (3 Nights / 4 Days) Includes 6 Photo Blind Sessions (3 sunrise and 3 sunset)
    Designed for all levels of photographer wanting an immersive experience with in-depth instruction.

  • (2 Nights / 3 Days) Includes 4 Photo Blind Sessions (2 sunrise and 2 sunset).
    Designed for advanced amateur or professional photographers who want good river and roost access. Helpful tips, but no formal instruction.

Past Participants Say...
“WOW, what an experience! We had a front row seat to an incredible spectacle of nature. Cheryl is a wonderful professional photographer, great teacher, passionate nature lover, and an even better person. She went above and beyond to make sure each participant learned as much about photography as we could, get the images we hoped for, and had fun doing it. …I strongly suggest taking one of Cheryl’s workshops – you won’t be disappointed.”
- Brent W, 2022 Photo Workshop

"We highly recommend the Sandhill Crane Photo Tour. Cheryl Opperman's attention to detail is over and above expectations. She is professional, positive, organized, informative, and a stellar photographer to boot. The Crane Trust blinds are excellent - designed and set up to capture the cranes at their very best. Every detail was top-notch. The rooms are spacious and comfortable. The food is plentiful and tasty. Half the participants were repeat clients - that says a lot to the quality of the photo tour. We enjoyed it so much that we plan to return next year. Cheryl Opperman and the Crane Trust - simply the best!"
- Greg & Diane R, 2023 Photo Tour

“The Crane Trust Photo Tour with Cheryl Opperman keeps me coming back year after year. Not only is the access to the migration incredible and the blinds positioned for best lighting, but every year is a little different. Coming multiple times has allowed me to better understand sandhill crane behavior and therefore get better images. Cheryl makes sure to help us adapt to conditions and her lessons are great reminders at maximizing time in the blind. I will be back again next year!”
- Christina V , 2022 & 2023 Photo Tours

“I have participated in numerous photo workshops worldwide and academic settings. Cheryl Opperman is by far the best instructor I have experienced. She is clear and concise both in the formal presentations and in the feedback provided. Rather than use a canned presentation, Cheryl took the time to tailor the presentation to photographing cranes. This tailoring was thoughtful and helped everyone capture better photographs. Cheryl’s willingness to share her expertise is a gift.”
– Sharon Fisher, 2017 Crane Trust Workshop Participant

What You'll Need

  • Long telephoto lens in the 400-600mm range with teleconverters for dancing cranes and flight photos
  • Mid-range telephoto zoom that you can handhold for clusters of birds in flight
  • Wide angle lens for scenic views of the river with thousands of cranes
  • Tripod and/or monopod
  • Laptop with image processing software
  • Layered clothing with wind and water protection, very warm boots, gloves, and warm headwear

What to Expect

  • Comfortable lodging
  • Delicious meals, snacks, and beverages (soft drinks, wine & beer)
  • Custom built photo blinds situated for the best light
  • Largest roost in the world at the end of your lens
  • Photography classrooms and instructors on site to help answer your questions
  • Access to thousands of acres of prairie full of wildlife, including the Crane Trust’s large herd of genetically diverse bison
  • Potentially include your favorite photo in Crane Trust's annual commemorative Photo Book

Guidelines & Rules

Please read the following rules and guidelines carefully before registering for a photography experience.

  • Must be over 18 years of age to participate or accompany a participant. Please call with questions regarding availability for minors who are accompanied by an adult.

  • Dress warmly and in layers. March mornings and evenings in Nebraska can be unpredictable and chilly. Blinds have portable heaters. However, bring the warmest boots, coat, gloves and hat you have. Dress for 20 degrees below air temperature. Rain gear may be desirable in wet weather.

  • Access to the photo blinds requires the ability to independently walk up to half a mile over rough outdoor terrain in all weather conditions and in low light.

  • No flash photography.

  • Red light flashlights only.

  • Bring cameras, binoculars or video equipment. 

  • Deposits are non-refundable. Any amounts paid above the deposit will be refunded in full as long as you cancel your reservation before the final payment deadline. After the final payment deadline, NO REFUNDS WILL BE GIVEN. If you are able to find someone to take your place, we do allow substitutions. Given the unpredictable nature of travel, weather and wildlife, the Crane Trust reserves the right to modify the itinerary to give participants the best possible opportunity to photograph and view nature. The Crane Trust also reserves the right to cancel the Experiences due to the lack of minimum attendance requirements and/or safety reasons. In the event the Crane Trust cancels the Experiences, you will receive any amount paid over the non-refundable deposit.

  • The Crane Trust strongly encourages participants to purchase adequate travel insurance. The Crane Trust will not be liable for any other expenses you may incur due to cancellations (such as visas, flights, travel or any other expenses incurred).