Finland Wild Wolves of the Taiga Forest Workshop Report 2022

In early October 2022, I ran my wildlife workshop in northern Finland for Wolves, Bears, and Wolverines – Wild Wolves of the Taiga Forest. This is a workshop I have been running for some years now and is something I always eagerly look forward to. Put simply, Finland has rapidly become one of my all-time favorite destinations for Wildlife photography. It offers a fantastic variety of wildlife in a stunning setting in late Autumn and Winter. I believe it is currently the best and most reliable place in the world to photograph wild wolves.

As per previous years, we based ourselves about two and a half hours drive north of the small town of Kajaani and roughly an hour sideways of the small municipality of Kuhmo. Thanks to the post-pandemic flight schedules and FinnAir canceling all flights to Kajaani, we were forced to fly into Kuopio this year; which meant a drive of about three and a half hours (instead of the usual two and a half). The particular area of no man’s land where our hides are located is ordinarily inaccessible to the general public, but with permission from the military police, we were able to enter and use this area for our photography. No hunting is allowed in no-mans land, and as such, this area has become somewhat of a haven for wildlife. Wolves, bears, and Wolverine can all be found regularly in this area.

Day one of this workshop saw us straight into the action with both Wolves and Bears turning up at the hide within just a few minutes of us entering. In recent years the Wolves seem to have become more accepting of the hides and are now approaching quite quickly and often very close – within just a few meters. As above, I believe this area of Finland is now ‘the’ premiere place in the world to reliably photograph wild wolves.

There are roughly a dozen permanent hides set up in the area we based ourselves, and we utilized a good deal of them for our time in Finland. One of the key advantages of multiple hides is the ability to change the background and create a more varied portfolio of work. There have been several improvements to the hides in recent times and many of them now sport ground-level ports for shooting at eye level with the wildlife – a big improvement.

Telephoto lenses are ideal for this workshop, and most photographs are made between 400 and 600mm. Wolves are generally shy and move very quickly, so there is some benefit to telephoto zoom lenses. I shot almost exclusively with a 600mm F4 prime lens with a 1.4 TC, and most of the participants were using either 600mm or 400mm lenses. Lenses such as the 200-400 and 100-400, or 100-500 can also be used effectively for this workshop. Smaller form crop sensors that provide extended reach can also be very effective.

Although the Wolverine remained elusive during our time in Finland, we did see and photograph several different brown bears throughout the trip. The bears are preparing to hibernate this time of year, and late October is the last chance to photograph them before their long nap and the Spring thaw. They are fat, and lethargic, and move much more slowly than the Wolves.

We also saw and photographed both White-tail and Golden Eagles and many smaller bird species, including Eurasian and Siberian Jays and many of the Tits. Ravens, pied crows, and Eurasian magpies were also seen in abundance. 

I am already looking forward to returning in September next year for my next Finland Autumn workshop for Wolves, and Bears, and with a little luck, the Wolverine will also make an appearance. Full details of the trip are available on my website HERE (some places already spoken for – please contact me for details). For 2023 there will also be an optional extension for both Golden Eagle and Eagle Owl at a separate nearby location. More to come on this in a future post.

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