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 intermediate and advanced photographers, using a digital SLR or mirrorless camera.

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 the river at first light and return to the river at sunset. Additionally, there will be opportunities to photograph cranes and other wildlife on nearby land, and to photograph the Crane Trust bison herd and prairie landscapes on the Crane Trust property.

Past Participants Say...

"Greg and I highly recommend the Sandhill Crane Photo Tour. Cheryl Opperman's attention to detail on all aspects of the tour are over and above expectations. She is professional, positive, organized, informative, and a stellar photographer to boot. The Nebraska 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

“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

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, warm boots, gloves, and warm headwear

What to Expect

  • Lodging
  • Delicious meals and beverages (soft drinks, wine & beer)
  • Custom built photo blinds
  • Largest roost in the world at the end of your lens
  • Photo Workshop classrooms at headquarters and instructors on site day and night to help answer your questions
  • Access to thousands of acres of historic prairie full of wildlife, including the Crane Trust’s large herd of genetically pure bison
  • Potentially display your favorite photo at the Crane Trust’s Hornady Art Gallery

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. Early-spring 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.
  • 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).