Tired of your ho-hum travel photos? Then go on tour with a pro. Photo tours help you see your surroundings through expert eyes. They're also about timing: synched to the best weather, light and subjects. Here are four we found.
ALASKA: This tour around Lake Clark National Park promises bear sightings, and thanks to a precision-timed itinerary, they're prolific: brown bears walking, sleeping and feeding on salmon. Led by Alaska resident and professional snapper Ron Niebrugge, the tour takes care of transport (on trailers pulled by quad bikes) and houses guests in a remote beachfront lodge. Says Niebrugge: "You won't have anything to worry about except taking pictures." More details at wildnatureimages.com.
BHUTAN: You'll go gaga over the sight of the Gangtey Valley's rare black-necked cranes or Buddhist nuns in a morning puja ceremony. But this tour led by travel-photography veteran Roger Nelson makes you work for its money shot: the iconic Taktsang Monastery, clinging to a cliff and reached only after a tough climb. Nelson's company, Global Travel Photography, also makes trips to elsewhere in Asia. See globaltravelphoto.com.
ICELAND: Summer there fulfills every photographer's fantasy, promising light for 21 of the day's 24 hours. Experienced shooter and designer Martin Sammtleben leads tours taking in fjords, waterfalls and fishing villages. For details, go to responsibletravel.com, search for special-interest tours and click "photography."
AUSTRALIA: The solution to photographing the outback's vast spaces? Two weeks' travel on private aircraft, with tuition by award-winning lensman Ewen Bell. You'll shoot the arid landscape of South Australia's Breakaways Reserve in the morning light, then jump on a plane to photograph a far-flung cattle station in the afternoon's glow. Bell promises short hops (two hours or less), some luxury lodging and a glass or two of decent Aussie wine to end each day. See ewenbell.com/tours.
Got an awful travel gripe? The Avenger may be able to sort it out for you.