Whales, Bears and the Best of Southeast Alaska with Wendy Shattil

The calm waters of southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage teem with captivating wildlife and breathtaking scenery. At this time of year humpback whales congregate in large numbers and may indulge in impressive bubble-net feeding, breaching, tail lobbing and other dramatic behaviors. We’ll travel from Sitka to Juneau, Alaska, aboard the historic wooden boat, the M/V Westward, exploring the land and waters for whales, bears and other wildlife as well as landscapes ancient glaciers with giant icebergs calving off its face. We’ll search for brown bears catching salmon, walk through lush and serene rainforests, explore the diversity of creatures in tide pools and skiff or kayak through the gentle waters, drifting quietly past hanging gardens and waterfalls.

Benefit from Wendy Shattil’s 30+ years of field experience as a professional wildlife and conservation photographer. The remote wilderness we’ll see from our comfortable wandering home evokes a tranquility of the soul. Expect to be stimulated by the quiet solitude and reminded of our place in nature. We’ll do our best to capture these feelings and experiences with our eyes and our cameras and learn the power of our own storytelling through compelling imagery.
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Whatever your skill level, you will learn tips, techniques and strategies to create memorable images. In the comfort of the Westward’s salon we’ll project our images and review the day’s experiences in a friendly group setting. Rather than snapping pictures and hurrying to find the next encounter, we’ll take time to savor each moment. Every scene is constantly changing, each animal is an individual and every behavior has a purpose.

Italian Dolomites & Venice with Dave Hutchison and Shane McDermott

VisionQuest PhotoJourney

This is not your traditional photo tour simply meant to get you to the best locations in the best light. That is a given! We’ve set the bar super high and expect you to come away from this experience feeling completely transformed both as a photographer and as a human being. Regardless if you are a beginner, intermediate or seasoned professional this experience will forever transform the way you approach your photography and open up creative dimensions you’ve never even thought about.

Yes, it is true Shane and I will ensure you have the best light and locations but we also want you to have an experience of a lifetime. The workshop will centre around “Breaking the Four Barriers for Creativity” which in turn will enable you to make the best images possible. When I was in Italy last year and especially when I was in Venice for the last three days, I did not want to leave. I could have stayed another week photographing and exploring that very unique city. Photographing a new location is an excellent way to immerse “yourself”… and capture the essence or what you saw and felt in the moment.

The Italian mountain side hut system is a truly unique experience all by itself. When I first experience the “huts” I had no idea that most of these huts were like mini motels on the sides of mountains. They are equipped with a cafe, restaurant, washrooms, beds with linens (most locations), and very friendly staff (and most speak some English).

Badlands National Park with Tom Croce

Join us in the beautiful Badlands National Park and surrounding Great Plains for 4 days of photographing the buttes and pinnacles of The Badlands National Park and surrounding National Grassland.
We will spend several hours each day, as long as the light allows, shooting the landscapes.
The exact location and subjects will be determined by the weather. Each day’s schedule will vary depending on the weather, but in general we will be photographing all day. This will be hands on learning and all questions and issues will be addressed in the field, but there will be plenty of time for image critique and processing help.
This workshop will require a moderate amount of hiking over rough, uneven terrain. Participants should be comfortable with their ability to negotiate a hike of up to a two miles over rough, uneven and at time steep terrain.

India with Ken Lee

“This is India; the land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendor and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Aladdin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of a thousand nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of tradition…” – Mark Twain, Following the Equator, 1897

In many ways, not much has changed since Mark Twain’s visit over a century ago. India is still a land of contrasts, carved by deep rivers of spirituality and history. In other ways, however, change dominates every aspect of Indian society today. Fully exploring, much less understanding this vast nation in a brief visit is impossible, but we will catch authentic glimpses of the India of yesterday and today throughout our image making adventure. Our itinerary covers the best of the must-see monuments including, the incomparable Taj Mahal, but we veer off the beaten path early and often in search of more genuine visions of Indian life.

Ken will be with you each step of the way to help you make the most of these opportunities. We’ll work together in groups and one-to-one to help you better understand your equipment, master new techniques, and expand your creative vision. Ken’s specialty is teaching practical ways to develop your ‘photographer’s eye’, but he’s happy to work with you on any aspect of the image making process.

HOLI FESTIVAL OF COLORS
Holi, India’s Festival of Colors, is a riotous celebration of the arrival of Spring. Enthusiastic revelers ‘play Holi’ with handfuls of colored powders that are thrown, rubbed, and smeared over everything and everyone. Participation is mandatory. Rich, poor, tourist or local, no one is exempt. But it’s all in the spirit of celebration and good fun. In fact, another name for Holi is the Festival of Sharing Love.

No matter what you call it, it’s an amazing spectacle to see and even more so to photograph. Precautions must be taken to protect cameras and lenses, but Holi is an event no photographer should pass up. Our itinerary is crafted so that we experience Holi celebrations in several times and places including a very special version of the festivities known as Lathmar Holi, where the women of one village, armed with sticks, beat back the advances of the men from the neighboring village in a mock reenactment of an ancient legend.

THE MAGNIFICENT TAJ
Known as the World’s Greatest Monument to Love, the story behind the Taj is almost as inspiring as the marble masterpiece itself. This icon deserves the time to be carefully considered with our cameras and we will pay it proper homage with multiple opportunities to photograph the Taj Mahal from various vantage points and in different lighting conditions including sunrise and sunset. You will have your opportunity to make the classic reflecting pool photo, but we will also look for more unique perspectives including some not usually available to tourists.

ANCIENT VARANASI
On the banks of the Ganges River, the holy city of Varanasi is India’s spiritual capital, and one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. It’s also my favorite place to photograph in India. Early morning on the historic stone ghats (terraces) that line the river bank is a magical experience. Mist filtered sunrise light bathes young monks practicing yoga in warmth as the first pilgrims of the day arrive seeking blessings in the waters of Hinduism’s holiest river. But Varanasi has even more to offer. Poignant scenes of everyday life await discovery in its winding streets and markets. Varanasi is also the center of India’s silk weaving industry and much of the work is done in the surrounding villages by hand using traditional equipment and techniques. We will get a taste of rural life in India as we visit with and photograph these master artisans at work. Be prepared to be mobbed by curious children who may have never seen a foreigner.

DELHI
Sprawling Delhi is India’s capital and the beginning and end point of our journey. Nowhere is the clash of old and new more apparent, with its 25 million inhabitants living amidst luxury townhomes, the remnants of colonial rule, and ruins dating back millennia. Here we can find a bit of everything: the serenity and self-reflection of locals practicing meditation and yoga at sunrise in the gardens of Humayun’s Tomb; commerce and chaos in the maze of Old Delhi’s crooked narrow lanes; compassion embodied in a Sikh temple that serves 10,000 free meals daily; tradition and craftsmanship in the Kumhar Gram, a potters colony reputed to be the world’s largest but largely unknown even among locals.

JODHPUR, THE BLUE CITY
Jodhpur exudes an incredibly relaxing vibe that makes you want to do nothing but park yourself on a rooftop terrace with a cool beverage and stare at massive Mehrangarh Fort dominating the skyline. The only problem is that there is so much to explore and photograph here as well. The once ubiquitous blue facades of the old city are slowly disappearing but still make striking backdrops for scenes of everyday life. Early morning is a great time to visit Jaswant Thada, an ornate monument to a former Maharaja carved from white marble. Later, as the sun and temperatures climb, is an ideal time to explore the interior of hilltop Mehrangarh Fort from which fantastically wealthy rulers once surveyed their domain. Bustling Sadar market underneath the old city’s historic clocktower is an experience to remember and photograph. With so much to see, maybe the relaxing will have to wait.

JAISALMER FORT
Wake up to sunrise over beautiful Gadissar lake in the remote outpost of Jaisalmer Fort and then ride into the Thar desert atop a camel for sunset and a star filled night in the sand dunes.

Southwest Utah with Michael DeYoung

Capture some of the most inspiring and colorful scenery in Southwestern Utah (Including Zion National Park and Grand Staircase National Monument) during this week long tour featuring both iconic and lesser known, but just as majestic, locations that afford the best photographic views and experiences found in the region.

This adventure is designed to stimulate creativity with maximum engagement in target rich locations with lots of personal instruction and guidance.

Autumn in Romania with Daniel J. And Tanya Cox

Romania—it’s a land of intricately painted monasteries and the home of Dracula. It’s Belle Époque buildings and the Arc de Triumph in Bucharest. It’s pastoral countryside, Balkan cuisine, and the Carpathian Mountains. The brilliant fall foliage is the perfect backdrop for a wealth of castles, fortified churches, and centuries-old houses. Go back in time to the little villages in the countryside where horse and buggies are still a way of life.

Join us as we explore the many facets of Romania on this autumn excursion. We’ll follow Dracula’s trail and explore Romania’s history, culture, and scenic beauty.

Colorado Fall Colors with David and Jennifer Kingham

Colorado scenery is already a photographer’s dream, but add in the yellow, orange and red of the quaking aspens, you have a set up for scenes that are amazing to photograph. Fall in Colorado is one of the most exciting times during the year. The colors are changing, the mountain peaks usually get their first bit of snow, and the air is crisp. We will take you to some of Colorado’s most scenic areas to photograph, focusing on everything from the colors, to grand scenes and more intimate scenes. This is one of the most scenic areas in Colorado, commonly referred to as “the Switzerland of America.” We will be photographing sunsets and sunrises, along with other mountain and fall color scenes. We will show you how to capture this landscape of color in the various lighting conditions that mountains provide. We will visit some popular areas, along with some areas off the beaten path away from the crowds that we have explored and discovered ourselves over the years. Come along to photograph and experience the most colorful time of year in Colorado with us!

Colorado Fall with Dave Hutchison and Shane McDermott

VisionQuest Photography – Colorado Fall Colors

Join us this fall in Colorado for a magical foray into backcountry color and creativity. We’ll take you straight into the heart Colorado’s most spectacular scenery and into autumn’s transitional energy of release. We’ll use autumn’s energy and invitation of release to let go of creative blocks and allow new ways of seeing to emerge through the beauty of this season.

Expect to come away with glorious new images that fully reflect the astonishing beauty of all that you’ll see and feel in falls fleeting splendor. You’ll learn to effortlessly integrate new technical and artistic abilities into the fullness of your experience and creative intent.

This tour highlights two of the most remarkable fall color locations in Colorado. The San Juan National Forest and the Gunnison National Forest are both legendary locations for fall color photography.

For the first 3 days, we will head to Crested Butte and the Gunnison National Forest. From here, we have quick access to Gothic Peak, East River, Ohio Valley and the Kebler Pass area which offers dozens of wonderful locations. For the last 2 days, we will be situated out of Ridgway, Co which is a tremendous hub that allows us so many options for both sunrise, sunset, midday and starlight shooting. Some of our locations will include County roads 5.7.9, Owl Creek Pass, Last Dollar Road, Chimney Rock and many lesser known locations in the Mount Sneffels Wilderness area.

Although we will be visiting many beautiful locations, creative and artistic growth will be the priority and focus of this workshop.

Vancouver Island Coast with Dave Hutchison

The Port Renfrew area on Vancouver Island, BC Canada provides an excellent venue for a 4 day photography workshop. I will guide you through the “how to’s” to create images using long exposures, long lenses for landscapes, nightscapes, seascapes, forests, waterfalls and wildlife (when available). I have been to Port Renfrew over 25 times and have a very good knowledge of the area. We will create images in areas such as Botanical Beach (Botany Bay), Avatar Grove, Fairy Lake, Sombrio Beach (and canyon), Parkinson Beach, and few more.

I will also introduce you to “The Four Barriers of Creativity” developed by my workshop partner Shane McDermott. This particular workshop is lead by myself with only 6 participants ensuring ample one on one time.

A meeting space is also reserved for daily images reviews and critiques, as well as, live photo editing lessons from images I have taken during the workshop. This has proven to be a very valuable offering for participants.

The West Coast Trail Lodge will be our base for the 4 days, 3 nights workshop. All other details are listed on my web site.

The Fantastic Four Corners, Part II

On the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, Mt. Hayden stands in solitary splendor against a backdrop of eroded ridges that seem to stretch forever.

On the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, Mt. Hayden stands in solitary splendor against a backdrop of eroded ridges that seem to stretch forever.

Story & photos by Jerry Ginsberg

Previously, we discussed the northern half of the Four Corners region. That included the most worthwhile photo highlights found in Utah and Colorado. The other half of the Grand Circle tour includes New Mexico and Arizona.

To close the loop (ouch!) on this route let’s now explore those great states of the desert Southwest. Both admitted to the Union in 1912, these two seem almost identical in size and shape, but possess very different topography and the singular scenery that exerts its powerful magnetism on us.

Continuing in the clockwise circle that brought us through Utah and Colorado, let’s cross into northern New Mexico.

While lightly visited, fascinating Pecos National Historic Park provides a great insight into ancient Native American life.

New Mexico

Traveling roughly from north to south, we can arrange a logical route something like this:

Not far south of Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve is Taos, New Mexico. The tiny town of Taos has two time honored photo icons, both made famous by none other than legendary Ansel Adams. His seminal images of the San Francisco de Asis church in Ranchos de Taos and the centuries old Taos Pueblo leave us today with just our own comparatively poor efforts.

The Taos Pueblo has been continuously occupied for centuries with its original construction possibly dating back as far as a thousand years. Try to enter the pueblo as early in the morning as possible for the best light. Check the website for visiting hours, fees and any photography restrictions.

New Mexico also contains several early Native American sites that are now units of     the National Park System. Perhaps the best of these are surrounding the state’s capital Santa Fe.

Among them are:

Chaco Culture National Historic Park is certainly the biggest of the many surviving sites. This special place offers many great structures along a short loop road. Famed Pueblo Benito has some terrific classic compositions. Don’t miss Chetro Ketl and Casa Rinconada as well. Early morning light can work very well in Chaco. If you are not camping onsite, I suggest arriving at least an hour before sunrise to be in position early for the best light. Check for gate opening hours and allow at least 20-30 minutes to drive to Chaco from the paved highway.

Aztec Ruins National Monument is a small, but well preserved and very interesting site with a variety of original and reconstructed buildings. Although administered jointly with Chaco, Aztec Ruins is farther north and hard against the Colorado state line.

Bandelier National Monument is a fascinating place that offers many photo opportunities. Starting from the visitor center are trails running uphill along both sides of the canyon. Taking the trail opposite the photogenic niche at the top and packing a long lens will enable you to capture the best composition. Late afternoon light is the most favorable.

Pecos National Historic Park is a fascinating gem of a well preserved Native American site. Paved walkways make it easy. Late light can be good; make sure to check closing hours.

New Mexico’s historic capital Santa Fe was founded over four centuries ago under the Spanish colonial regime. The Palace of the Governors, once the Capitol, is the highlight of the town’s welcoming central plaza. Several charming streets radiate from here. Don’t miss the Loretto chapel, small, but a real gem.

Albuquerque is New Mexico’s largest city, if not the easiest one to spell. While the center of this modern city doesn’t offer much in the way of photography, its edges do have a few interesting areas.

  • Old Town Albuquerque is historic and colorful.
  • The annual Albuquerque balloon festival is held each October. It’s exciting and challenging to photograph this dramatic event. Trying to maintain separation between the brightly colored balloons is fun, but not always easy.
Just minutes from the heart of downtown Albuquerque thousands of centuries-old petroglyphs record a long vanished civilization.

Just minutes from the heart of downtown Albuquerque thousands of centuries-old petroglyphs record a long vanished civilization.

On the city’s western edge you’ll find often overlooked Petroglyph National Monument. This treasure trove of ancient Native American rock art is best photographed in the soft, warm rays of early morning light.

South of Albuquerque between Socorro and Alamogordo lies the sprawling Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, famed for its bird life and great bird photography. Thousands of sandhill cranes and snow geese often spend the winter here.

Early morning light gives a soft quality to the sparkling white gypsum dunes of White Sands National Monument near Alamogordo, NM. Watch out for missiles buzzing by.

A bit further on, just past Alamogordo, we find White Sands, perhaps my very favorite national monument. Here the great natural gypsum deposit has been formed by time and the elements into a seemingly endless expanse of rippled dunes.

  • As with most all such dune photography, images made when the sun is very close to the horizon will allow us to capture the contrast within the ripples. Once the sun rises for about 30-40 minutes, most of that important contrast is lost.
  • With some luck, you might be able to recruit a NPS ranger to admit you before dawn – for a fee. This will enable you to capture the best light. Scout your location/s the day before. (Hint – The further away from the unpaved gypsum track that you roam, the fewer the footprints in the sands.

Out last stop in the far south of New Mexico close to Texas is possibly the jewel of this desert state and its only national park, Carlsbad Caverns. Descending into the caves via the original natural entrance or the quick elevator ride from the visitor center offers a few choices. Either wander around the Big Room on your own with the ability to use your tripod in the very low light or buy tickets for one or more of the ranger guided tours on which you will be restricted to handheld shooting at slow shutter speeds.

My favorite spot along the South Rim in Grand Canyon National Park, Powell Point shows its very best colors just before sunset.

My favorite spot along the South Rim in Grand Canyon National Park, Powell Point shows its very best colors just before sunset.

Arizona

Eventually crossing into the fourth and last state of the Grand Circle, Arizona opens up yet another whole world of natural wonders. Our forty-eighth state includes three spectacular national parks and several national monuments. Premier among these is one of the great wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon. We can enjoy this grandest of all canyons from at least three very different viewpoints.

  • The popular and sometimes crowded South Rim with its long road accessing many wonderful viewpoints (my favorite is Powell Point) and entry to trails below the rim.
  • The corresponding and much more laid back North Rim with its very different configuration and views is about a thousand feet higher and measurably cooler. The only paved road to the North Rim is generally closed from mid-October to early May. Don’t miss Point Imperial (sunrise & morning), Cape Royal (late afternoon & early evening) and Bright Angel Point (both early and late light).

Also on the North Rim is the singular and very remote Toroweep Point. Contact me for details if this is on your bucket list.

But the very best way to understand and appreciate the Grand Canyon is via Door #3; a rafting trip down the Colorado River! This is, truly, the never-to-be-forgotten adventure of a lifetime. Days of alternating calm waters and turbulent rapids, putting in at such unique landmarks as Nankoweep and Elves Chasm will leave you with terrific memories and hopefully, many outstanding images.

Perhaps the most complete Anasazi granary anywhere rises several hundred feet above the Colorado River deep inside the Grand Canyon.

Perhaps the most complete Anasazi granary anywhere rises several hundred feet above the Colorado River deep inside the Grand Canyon.

Arizona’s two other national parks are Saguaro with its two separate sections chock full of elegant cacti flanking both sides of sprawling Tucson and fascinating Petrified Forest with its wide variety of fossilized trees and long extinct creatures near Holbrook. That small town is worth a stop just to see the nostalgic Wigwam Motel along historic Route 66.

This singular monolith, sacred to the Navajo people, stands at the far end of Canyon de Chelley National Monument, enveloped by the Navajo Nation. This view is from the rim road, open to all vehicles and accessible on your own.

This singular monolith, sacred to the Navajo people, stands at the far end of Canyon de Chelley National Monument, enveloped by the Navajo Nation. This view is from the rim road, open to all vehicles and accessible on your own.

Some of the often overlooked highlights of the Grand Canyon State are:

  • Canyon de Chelley National Monument is reached through the Navajo Reservation town of Chinle. Definitely worth a couple of days, this expansive red rock landmark is actually part of the Navajo Nation with limited access granted to the National Park Service. Drive both forks of the rim road and hike the permitted trails, especially the one to White House Ruin, best in mid-late afternoon light. Touristy group tours are available, but are not well suited to photography.
  • Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site near Genado is a very well preserved 19th century outpost worth a brief visit, especially for history buffs. While the owner’s home has become a museum, the store itself still operates as a genuine trading post.

Inside Upper Antelope Canyon (the Corkscrew) daylight penetrates only briefly.

The popular town of Page, AZ is the jumping off point for excursions on Lake Powell and just a stone’s throw from the Utah state line. Page is slot canyon central. Right on the edge of town you’ll find both Upper (the “Corkscrew”) and Lower Antelope Canyons. Once upon a time, these wonderful sculptures in sandstone were visited mostly by a small group of hardy professional photographers. On my first visit here many years ago, we had to lower the packs and tripods down on ropes and venture into the semi-dark unknown. It was all very catch-as-catch-can. Those early images created here within the Earth have introduced the uniquely exotic and sensuous rock forms to the world. The inevitable result is that both locations have now become well organized and commercialized tourist enterprises operated by local Navajo on whose lands these very special cracks in the Earth’s top layer are found. Shinnying down a rope has been replaced by walking on a custom made flight of steel stairs and tricked-out pick-ups quickly ferry tourists through miles of sand where once only a few hardy hikers trod. That said, it’s still worth the effort to search out singular compositions in these special places.  You can only visit Antelope Canyon with an authorized Navajo guide or tour.  Special photography groups are offered–book well in advance!

While visiting Page, take the very short drive out to the Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado River. Make sure to bring your widest lens. A 16mm (on full frame) should be about right. There’s a per-vehicle fee to park and visit the overlook.

From Page, it’s a straight shot to drive back to Las Vegas airport.

More

But being so close, it’s tempting to drive north from Page across the Glen Canyon Dam back into Utah. From here, it’s not far through the tiny hamlet of Bad Water to Alstom Point with its sweeping view overlooking Gunfight Butte and Lake Powell. Further on up Rt. 89, is the turnoff into House Rock Road toward the less visited and still fairly wild Buckskin Gulch slot canyon, access to Paria Canyon and one of the most special places in all the Southwest, Coyote Buttes and the now famous Wave (permit required).

See? I told you it was a great big circle!

After hiking for a couple of miles, arriving at last at the entrance of the legendary Wave is likely to create a rush of adrenaline causing you to take off your pack and shoot immediately.

After hiking for a couple of miles, arriving at last at the entrance of the legendary Wave
is likely to create a rush of adrenaline causing you to take off your pack and shoot immediately.

Logistics

Most of the locations above offer a wide variety of lodging and dining options. Towns at or near these photo-worthy sites are very tourist friendly. The Grand Canyon is the only one of the national parks of New Mexico and Arizona with lodging inside its boundaries. Reserve early!

With very few exceptions, the places mentioned above can be successfully toured with a standard passenger car. Make sure that your tires are in good shape.

For some spots on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon such as Toroweep and Point Sublime, a high clearance vehicle is recommended.

It is unlikely that you will be allowed to enter the unpaved route through Canyon de Chelley itself with your own vehicle. If you are, do not attempt it without a good SUV equipped with 4 wheel drive, high clearance and off-road tires.

 

Jerry Ginsberg is a widely published photographer whose landscape, Nature and travel images have graced the covers pages of hundreds of books, magazines and travel catalogs. He is the only person to have photographed each and every one of America’s National Parks with medium format cameras. He has been awarded Artist Residencies in several National Parks and his works have been exhibited from coast to coast and have received numerous awards in competition. Jerry’s photographic archive spans virtually all of both North and South America.

More of Ginsberg’s images are on display at www.JerryGinsberg.com

Or email him at jerry@jerryginsberg.com