Prairie Dancers - Sharp-tailed Grouse Photography Workshop


Join award winning wildlife photographer and photojournalist Dick Kettlewell at the Lame Johnny Ranch for a two-day photographic workshop, capturing the images of spring as it comes to the prairies and the fabled Black Hills of western South Dakota.                                                                                                                                                                              


"I’ve just returned from the “Prairie Dancer” Workshop and couldn’t be more pleased with the photographs I ended up with. In my opinion, just having the opportunity to watch the mating ritual of the Sharptail Grouse was worth the trip, not to mention having the opportunity to photograph the activity. Dick Kettlewell went above and beyond with his efforts to insure that we were in the right place at the right time, sharing his knowledge and helping to insure that I was prepared at the right moments for capturing optimal photos. Dick’s knowledge of the area and additional prairie species lent itself to affording me some of the best wildlife action photo’s that I have taken in quite some time. To say that I am thrilled about the photos I took this past weekend is an understatement."

-Dave S., Oklahoma

  • Loads of photography time and instruction.
  • Photograph the spring courtship antics and display of one of the most striking birds found anywhere on the North American prairies -- the sharp-tail grouse.
  • Tons of additional photography opportunities with a variety of prairie wildlife and landscapes.

Black Hills Photography Workshop Pictures

March - May, 2015 - Lame Johnny Ranch, South Dakota


Spring does not come quick on the prairies of the Dakotas, being frequently interrupted and often drawn out by a persistent winter. There's not much to see at first, or so it might seem -- just winter without snow. But already much is afoot even in the dried and withered grasses of the previous summer….the forging and emergence of new life. 

You will begin your day about an hour before dawn by hiking with Dick to a photo blind where you will spend the first several hours of the day photographing the spring courtship antics and display of one of the most striking birds found anywhere on the North American prairies -- the sharp-tail grouse. As the day continues, so will your trek across the grasslands for photo opportunities with wild turkey toms fanning their huge tail feathers as they strut and attempt to impress the hens during another highly visual springtime courtship display.

Throughout the day, Dick will provide hands on instruction carefully tailored to the needs of each individual participant. Other activities will include creative instruction on finding and shooting spring landscapes, songbird photography at feeders of natural designs and shooting from a blind set up at a prairie drinking hole.


About Us - OPW offers you the best in outdoor adventure and nature photography workshops, helping you improve your photography and make great images in a fun and relaxed setting. We believe in a laid back atmosphere where we can have a good time, while making sure you get the photo instruction you need, and the photos you dream of. Please review the details for this workshop below and feel free to email or call us with any questions. 

Photograph Grouse Grouse Photo Workshop Prairie Birds Photography Workshop

Location - Lame Johnny Ranch sits at the edge of the southeastern Black Hills about 40 miles south of Rapid City, SD with boundaries common to South Dakota's Custer State Park and Wind Cave National Park.

Dates - The workshop is two days and will be offered from March thru May 2015. If registering online, please specify a primary and alternate set of dates in the box below and we will confirm availability upon your registration.  You may also call Nicole at (813) 956-8702 to register and confirm dates.

  • March - May 2015


Photography Skill Level - Any, Beginner to Pro

Activity Level - Low. While there will not be a great deal of walking, as we will be very close to our subjects, you will spend long periods outdoors in photo blinds.

Price -  $550 for the two-day workshop.  Price does not include lodging, gratuities, meals, or transportation to and from the ranch.  We will provide refreshments such as water, coffee, soft drinks, etc.

Class Size - The maximum number of participants for each date is three. This restriction is due mainly to the amount of space available in the blinds on the sharp-tail grouse lek, but also to ensure that as much time as possible is given to each participant.

About Your Instructor - Dick Kettlewell has been a professional photographer for 28 years, having worked both as a photojournalist and a nature photographer while earning numerous awards.

As a photojournalist he spent many years on daily newspaper staffs including the Albuquerque Journal and the Rapid City Journal during which he was primarily a sports photographer, covering sporting events from high school level to professional.  He has also completed various contract and freelance assignments over the years for numerous major newspapers including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post.

While with the Rapid City Journal, he produced a photo column for that paper's outdoor page entitled "Spring Creek Chronicles" which featured images and stories about the region's wildlife and landscapes.  This column was also the recipient of many journalistic awards for both photography and writing.

In addition to publishing his images in other well known publications such as the Smithsonian Magazine, the Discovery Magazine, the Natural History Magazine, etc.; Kettlewell has also published two books about the wildlife and landscapes of the region entitled Black Hills Impressions and South Dakota Wildlife Impressions. Both are produced by Far Country Press and are available in major book stores such as Borders and on the Amazon network.

Bison Photo TourSharptail Grouse Photography ClassPrairie Lansdcapes and Wildlife Photography Workshop


4:00 AM -- Meet at the Lame Johnny Ranch. From there we will proceed to the photo blind situated on the sharp-tail grouse lek or booming ground. The hike is about 3/4 of a mile, but is not a very strenuous one. It is important that we be in the blind about 45 minutes to an hour before sunrise.

Sunrise to approx 10:00 AM -- Photograph sharp-tail grouse during courtship display.

10:00 AM -- Return to house for refreshments, bathroom break, etc.

11:00 AM to 1:00 PM -- Download, critique & discuss images shot during the morning.

1:30 PM to Sundown -- There are several options for the afternoon from which participants can choose any or all:

  • Shoot from a well camouflaged blind set up at a drinking hole in the midst of a group of cottonwood trees. Be it whitetail deer, mule deer, bison, turkeys or whatever – sooner or later, they will end up here.
  • Using and adjusting the placement of a pop-up blind, you can photograph birds at one of several feeders set up at various spots about the ranch. These feeders are made and decorated with natural materials, providing natural perches for the birds.
  • March and April also mark the peak period for the spring courtship display of the wild turkeys. In an effort to habituate these interesting birds to a certain extent, we do throw out cracked corn in specific places on which they feed with the result of many hens and a growing number of toms coming near and even up to the front yard of the house. There are several spots with good backgrounds where the  toms regularly display, with the last three hours of the day being one of the optimum times.
  • Too many times we have heard somebody go on about  "how boring the prairie is".  Of course they're usually just driving through on the interstate and seeing little else but truck stops! Just spend the last 2-3 hours of the afternoon trekking across the grasslands with Dick and you will have some images that can dispel any thoughts of "how boring the prairie is".

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