3-Day Wildlife Photography Cruise

Join professional wildlife photographer Bart Rulon and Puget Sound Express on a special 3 day wildlife photography cruise focused on whales and other wildlife in and around the San Juan Islands, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca!

This photography workshop is geared toward passionate photographers of any skill level who want to spend the extra time with whales in order to get the best shots.

Our cruise connects you in the best location in the continental United States for for humpback whale and transient killer whale sightings, and we also usually see resident killer whales and minke whales. We can expect to see harbor seals, sea lions, bald eagles and a variety of other wildlife.

This expedition is limited to 8 participants (plus up to 4 non-participating spouses) in order to optimize room for photography, and one on one photo instruction time. Our boat will be the Glacier Spirit, and your captain will be veteran whale watching captain, Pete Hanke – who is an accomplished photographer in his own right.

Our primary focus during this trip will be helping you take ideal shots of whales and other wildlife. With over 46 years of combined whale watching/photography experience between Bart and Pete, you’ll be in the best hands possible to get lined up with the right light for photography and with the most photogenic whales we can find.

“I have been photographing birds for years, but will admit I have been frustrated with my results photographing whales. In this workshop Bart spent a lot of one on one time to help us understand the tricks of photographing from a boat.”Marty Kramer, participant

Perhaps the greatest thing about this trip is that we will have the extra time needed to take advantage of the most ideal wildlife opportunities that become available during each day and we won’t have to leave when things get good!


Our goal with this expedition is to help you become a better photographer. You’ll have plenty of one-on-one time with Bart, so no matter what your particular area of focus (equipment, workflow, exposure, animal behavior, etc) you’ll have extensive opportunity to work on it with one of the nation’s finest wildlife photographers.

If you have specific goals or things you wish to learn, please contact our office – we’ll put you in touch with Bart to make sure your needs are met.

Workshop presentation is individualized for the participants, but topics covered include:

  • Camera and Lens selection
  • Teleconverter use
  • Use of tripods, monopods, window mounts, bean bags and gun stocks
  • Memory card selection
  • Camera settings for wildlife photography – ISO, white balance, shutter speed, aperture, shooting modes (Manual vs Aperture priority vs Shutter priority etc)
  • Shooting in Raw vs Jpeg format
  • Exposure compensation techniques
  • Depth of field
  • Bracketing
  • How to use and read your Histogram
  • Highlight Alert
  • Composition
  • In the field techniques, especially for whale photography and birds in flight
  • Techniques to capture wildlife action
  • How to approach wildlife carefully and successfully
  • Using photo blinds
  • Photography from a kayak
  • Photography from a floating blind
  • Nest photography

We’ll depart from the Victorian Seaport of Port Townsend,  on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. We’ll spend daytime hours onboard the 70-seat Glacier Spirit. This is the most comfortable boat in the entire Pacific NW whale watching fleet. Each photographer will have their own dedicated table and booth for the duration of the trip – and there are easy-to-navigate decks with rails around the entire boat – it’s a perfect boat for photography.

We’ll have breakfast and lunch on-board, and evenings will be spent in the historic seaside community of Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. We will stay at the stunning Earthbox Inn & Spa. Dinner is at your own discretion and preference at one of the many fine establishments in Friday Harbor.

The itinerary is fluid – we want to get you into the best possible situations for wildlife photography. That said, we expect to make it back to Port Townsend by 4pm.

Coming to Port Townsend early, or staying an extra day? Our friends at the Bishop Victorian Hotel & Swan Hotel and Cottages are offering 15% off for workshop participants. Contact the PSE office after registering for the workshop for the discount code.

Bart Rulon

Bart Rulon’s award winning art and photographs have been shown in over 60 museums in North America and abroad, and his work is included in the permanent collections of the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, the Bennington Center for the Arts, and the Massachusetts Audubon Society. Bart has written and illustrated 5 books about his photography and art, published by North Light Books, and he has been a contributing author/artist/photographer in over 10 additional books.

He teaches at the University of Washington and was awarded their “Teaching Excellence Award” in 2009. After overwhelming demand from fellow photographers, Bart started leading wildlife photography tours to some of his favorite spots both local and exotic!

Rulon’s travels have taken him to new places every year including long photography trips to Africa, India, South America, Alaska, and Costa Rica, and he has been all over the contiguous United States and Canada. He’s inspired to share his experiences with the rest of the world through his photography, and art. After a life changing kayak trip in the San Juan Islands where he came across J-pod killer whales, Bart realized that he should also be spending more time with the amazing animals that were right in his backyard! As a result he has spent thousands of days on the water over the last 16 years photographing and studying the whales of the Pacific Northwest. He has a thorough knowledge of the local whales and wildlife and enjoys sharing that with everyone.

Bart moved to Washington State in 1991 after graduating from the University of Kentucky, to start a career as a professional wildlife photographer and artist. He was quickly captivated by the beautiful scenery and wildlife of the Pacific Northwest after spending a couple of summers on Whidbey Island between college semesters.

Rulon’s interest in animals started at a very young age. As a kid Bart would spend most of his days outside investigating all the local animals in the neighborhood pond, in the woods, under rocks, or wherever he went. Weekly fishing trips with his dad and brother were great opportunities to explore. He would spend hours watching Mutual of Omaha’s wild Kingdom, and National Geographic specials on TV as he drew all the exotic animals they featured. Bart was particularly interested in whales and the animals of Africa, and India, especially the wild cats. Little did he know that later in life he would travel to those exotic places, and live in an area where he could see the very same animals in person. These would become some of the most profound moments of his life!

Participant Photos!

Thanks to Kate Sherry & Marty Kramer, for sharing photos from our most recent expedition.



Depart from Port Townsend
Evenings in Friday Harbor,
San Juan Island


May 31-June 2, 2019
September 21-23, 2019


3 days/2 nights


Whale watching


$2450 per person

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