Natural Costa Rica Photo Workshop

Photographing Nature’s Wonders in Beautiful Costa Rica
Guest Instructors: Tom Till and Greg Basco
June 14-25, 2010

Come to beautiful Costa Rica and join world-famous landscape photographer Tom Till and Jon Fuller of Moab Photo Tours on a photographic tour of the natural beauties of Costa Rica, June 14-25, 2010. Also accompanying the workshop will be local Costa Rican professional photographer and naturalist, Greg Basco. Greg is one of Costa Rica’s best nature photographers, having been published in numerous publications world-wide, including National Geographic Magazine. Hone your photographic skills under the tutelage of Tom, Greg, and Jon as you photograph beautiful Costa Rica, from highland cloud forest to tropical lowland rain forests. This workshop is limited to 12 participants, so you’ll have an instructor/participant ratio of 1:4, allowing you unprecedented personal attention. This workshop is open to photographers of all skill levels. To see Tom Till’s work, go to www.tomtill.com. Greg Basco’s images are at www.deepgreenphotography.com.

Costa Rica is a nature photographer’s paradise. Typical subjects to photograph include tropical birds like toucans and macaws, colorful frogs, monkeys, sloths, iguanas, spectacular tropical flowers and equally colorful hummingbirds, along with an active volcano and gorgeous jungle waterfalls. You will learn how composition, natural light, flash, movement, and color allow you to produce magical images. In addition, you can learn more advanced techniques such as multi-flash hummingbird photography, daylight tele-flash photography, natural-looking daylight fill-flash, macro photography, and long exposure night photography, as well as general landscape and wildlife techniques. If you have a non-photographer spouse or traveling companion who would like to come along, they will still have a great time hiking and watching wildlife while we try to photograph them. There are also many non-photographic activities which can be arranged separately while you take photos. The workshop cost does not cover these alternate activities, however. These activities could include things such as visiting the fantastic hot mineral water spas near the Arenal Volcano, horse-back riding, hiking, rafting, or zip-lining through the forest canopy.

ITINERARY

Day 1, Arrival – San José/Airport
Arrival in Costa Rica. Meet our representative at the Juan Santamaría International Airport and transfer to Hotel Bougainvillea near the capital city of San José, where Tom, Jon, and Greg Basco will be waiting for you. Hotel Bougainvillea is surrounded by a beautiful tropical garden filled with great subjects for macro photography, including orchids, bromeliads, and passionflowers. There is free wireless Internet throughout the property.
Hotel Bougainvillea overnight. (No meals included)

Day 2, Pacific Slope Cloud Forest, Savegre Mountain Hotel

After an early breakfast, we pack up and head to our next destination, the Savegre Mountain Hotel. Nestled in a remote valley high in the oak cloud forest, the area is the best in the country to photograph the resplendent quetzal, one of the world’s most beautiful and photographically sought-after birds. Numerous hummingbird species abound here, including the Volcano, Scintillant, Green Violet-ear, and Magnificent Hummingbirds. We’ll arrive at the Savegre Lodge for lunch with time to roam the hotel grounds in search of the quetzal in the afternoon. Greg will also provide two multiple-flash hummingbird setups (one Canon-based, one generic optical slave-based) in the new Foto Verde Tours-sponsored hummingbird photography area right at the hotel.
Hotel Bougainvillea (B), Savegre Mountain Hotel overnight (L, D)

Day 3, Pacific Slope Cloud Forest, Savegre Mountain Hotel
Today we will dedicate much of the day to locating and photographing the spectacular male resplendent quetzal, hiking the grounds and traversing the road on the valley floor in search of our photographic prey. We will also continue to work with our multiple-flash hummingbird setups. We have all day to divide our time between these two fantastic photo opportunities, and also have time to explore the grounds and surrounding area for some landscape images of the beautiful Savegre River.
Savegre Mountain Hotel overnight (B, L, D)

Day 4, Atlantic Lowland Rainforest, Selva Verde Lodge
After breakfast, we have a change of climate as we travel to the Selva Verde Lodge, located in the lush Atlantic lowlands. We arrive for lunch and then roam the lodge grounds in the afternoon in search of green and black poison frogs, strawberry poison frogs, red-eyed tree frogs, emerald basilisk lizards, and green iguanas that frequent the forest in and around the trails. Capuchin and howler monkeys also inhabit the trees along the trails.
Savegre Mountain Hotel (B), Selva Verde Lodge overnight (L, D)

Day 5, Atlantic Lowland Rainforest, Selva Verde Lodge

After a free morning to photograph on the lodge grounds we have lunch and then head over to the nearby La Selva Biological Station. We have all afternoon to canvas the trails in search of photographic opportunities. We return to Selva Verde Lodge for dinner and afterward work with flashlights to photograph the famed red-eyed tree frog. This is a new technique developed by photographer Greg Basco to give dramatic lighting for this beautiful frog while at the same time protecting this nocturnal species’ sensitive night vision.
Selva Verde Lodge overnight (B, L, D)

Day 6, Atlantic Lowland Rainforest, Selva Verde Lodge
After an early breakfast, we head to a surprise destination – a nearby farm owned by a local family that is a great place for photographing both the Great Green and Scarlet Macaws. The macaws are free flying but stay close to the farm to roost and feed. The owner also has a Baird’s tapir in a very large enclosure that is great for photography as well as two beautiful jaguars that are great for closeup portraits. We return to Selva Verde Lodge for lunch and then have the afternoon to photograph on the grounds or in the lodge’s primary forest reserve.
Selva Verde Lodge overnight (B, L, D)

Day 7, Northwest Rainforest, Arenal Volcano
After an early breakfast, we travel to the Arenal Volcano area. Arenal is the country’s most active volcano, with continuous emissions of lava and incandescent pyroclastic flows. On clear nights, the views of incandescent avalanches are breathtaking! We will stop en route to photograph green iguanas at a river bridge — a rare opportunity to encounter these reptiles at eye level. After a quick lunch in the town of La Fortuna, we arrive at the Arenal Observatory Lodge in late afternoon and, after check-in, photograph the sunset over Lake Arenal and the Arenal Volcano with stars and pyroclastic flows. The Arenal Observatory Lodge affords some of the area’s best photographic views of the famous Arenal volcano and offers fantastic sunset views over Lake Arenal and the surrounding hills.
Selva Verde Lodge (B), Lava Rocks (L), Arenal Observatory Lodge overnight (D)

Day 8, Northwest Rainforest, Arenal Volcano
We dedicate the morning to photographing Montezuma oropendolas, Passerini’s tanager, green honeycreepers, red-legged honeycreepers, and emerald tanagers at the lodge feeders, which Greg will have set up with attractive perches. Just before lunch, we depart for the Snake Zoo in nearby El Castillo. The Snake Zoo is run by Greg’s friend Victor Quesada, and Victor and his staff will help us to photograph numerous color forms of the amazing eyelash vipers, parrot snakes, vine snakes, and even tree frogs in Victor’s collection. Indeed, Victor has a special collection of animals that he makes available only to Greg and his clients. We will photograph all of these animals on natural stages that we will set up on site. This is a great opportunity to photograph a number of species that are very difficult, even dangerous, to find in the wild. We will enjoy a delicious home-cooked lunch as well as refreshments and coffee throughout the day at Victor’s. We return to the Arenal Observatory Lodge in late afternoon to photograph the sunset and the Arenal Volcano.
Arenal Observatory Lodge overnight (B, D), El Castillo Snake Zoo (L)

Day 9, Atlantic Slope Cloud Forest, Bosque de Paz

After breakfast, we travel to the cloud forests of the northern Central Volcanic Mountain Range and our lodge and photography base for the rest of our trip, Bosque de Paz. Bosque de Paz Ecolodge is located in one of the most biodiverse areas of the country, nestled in a picturesque valley at approximately 4,500 feet above sea level between the Poas Volcano and Juan Castro Blanco National Parks. With its rushing mountain streams, cool air, and orchid and moss-festooned trees, the area is akin to a tropical Colorado. We arrive at Bosque de Paz for lunch. Afterward, we can unpack and do a bit of photography around the lodge’s fruit feeders. In late afternoon, we can usually obtain great portraits of the turkey-like black guan and the large forest rodent, the agouti. Hummingbirds, including the Violet Sabrewing and Green-crowned Brilliant, abound at the lodge feeders. We’ll enjoy a relaxing dinner this evening at the lodge.
Arenal Observatory Lodge (B), Bosque de Paz overnight (L, D)

Day 10, Atlantic Slope Cloud Forest, Bosque de Paz

After an early breakfast today, we head to the nearby Catarata del Toro Waterfall, which is over 300 high, falling into an extinct volcanic crater. It offers beautiful photographic opportunities of the waterfall itself and the surrounding cloud forest. As a special surprise, Greg has negotiated permission to set up our multiple flashes at the feeders around the restaurant at the waterfall. This is a great place to photograph some hummingbird species, such as the Green Thorntail, Coppery-headed Emerald, and White-bellied Mountain Gem, that are less common at Bosque de Paz. We will alternate turns on the hummingbird setups with landscape photography. There are some spectacular tropical foliage shots here of palms and ferns on the cliffs surrounding the waterfall. We’ll enjoy a delicious typical lunch at the waterfall. We return to Bosque de Paz in the evening for a relaxing dinner and time to download our great hummingbird and lancscape images.
Bosque de Paz overnight (B, D), Catarata del Toro (L)

Day 11, Central Valley, Hotel Bougainvillea

After breakfast, we pack up and leave for San José and the Hotel Bougainvillea, which has excellent, free wireless Internet throughout the grounds, as well in the rooms. We will stop for a typical Costa Rican lunch en route in the town of Sarchi, with options for a bit of souvenir shopping and coffee purchasing, or photographing the artisans painting typical Costa Rican ox carts. Throughout the day, Greg Basco will be available to help you with caption info for your select images from the trip. After arriving at the Hotel Bougainvillea, we have a bit of time to relax and then enjoy a farewell dinner at the hotel.
Bosque de Paz (B), lunch en route, Hotel Bougainvillea overnight (D)

Day 12, Departure – San José/Airport

Private transfer to the Juan Santamaría International Airport for your flights home.
Hotel Bougainvillea (B)

THE ITINERARY ABOVE INCLUDES

- Lodging as specified
- Meals as specified (B,L, D)
- Transportation as specified w/private driver in spacious air-conditioned van
- 3 Professional photo/naturalist guides
- Multiple-flash setups for hummingbird photography
- Entrances and fees for all described activities
- Taxes for all specified services
- Biodegradable plastic water bottle for each participant

THE ITINERARY ABOVE DOES NOT INCLUDE

- Airfare
- Airport departure tax (US $26)
- Alcoholic Drinks
- Tips
- Extras, including activities for non-photographers

Price for this 12-day, 11-night photography tour is $3895.00 USD per person, based on double occupancy. A single supplement is $550.00. Participation is limited to only 12 participants. A minimum of 8 participants will be required, or the workshop may be canceled. Trip insurance is strongly recommended in the event that you have to cancel, or in the unlikely event that the workshop is canceled by Moab Photo Tours, LLC. For further information or a registration form, email info@moabphototours.com.

Winter in the Red Rocks Photography Workshop.

Winter Photography in Arches & Canyonlands National Parks
Guest Instructor, Tom Till
Dec 6-12, 2009

Treat yourself to an early Christmas present! Join world-renowned landscape photographer, Tom Till, and Moab Photo Tours owner, Jon Fuller, in this unique opportunity to learn to photograph the natural landscape of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and the surrounding area in winter.

Most people don’t realize that winter light is the best photographic light around Moab, and since it’s the ‘off-season’, you don’t have to fight the crowds for tripod space at iconic photo spots! While we can’t guarantee snow, the possibility of snow on the red rock formations in the parks can offer some beautiful and unique photographic opportunities. Even without snow, the winter light is excellent and can afford the opportunity to make some beautiful landscape images. And, the best thing about winter landscape photography is that the sun comes up after breakfast, and goes down before dinner! No more missing meals while waiting for that prime landscape light like in the summertime!

Both Tom Till and Jon Fuller are long-time Moab residents, and there are no photography guides who know the Moab area better. We’ll spend 5 days shooting the best landscapes Moab has to offer. In addition to the iconic photographic locations in the area, you’ll get to photograph some of Tom’s and Jon’s favorite landscape spots, unknown to most of the photo guides who bring workshops to Moab.

During the mid-day hours, we will have photo critiques and technical discussions to improve your landscape photography skills. We will also discuss digital work flow and post-processing techniques in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, and fine art printing. Tom and Jon are both very patient, friendly instructors, and everything will be done in a very non-critical environment. In addition to helping you learn to be a better photographer, we want you to have fun while doing it. If it isn’t fun, you aren’t doing it right!

Our base of operations for this workshop will be the Gonzo Inn, Moab’s premier lodging, conveniently located just off Main Street in downtown Moab. Workshop fees are based on single occupancy, since all rooms have a single king bed. Suites (some with fireplaces!) are available at additional cost. A discount is available for couples sharing a room.

Arrival day is Sunday, 6 December and we will have an orientation get-together that evening. We will shoot both sunrises and sunsets Monday through Friday. Friday night we will have a group dinner at one of Moab’s finest restaurants to end the workshop, included in the workshop fee. Lodging is included in the Workshop fee for Sunday through Friday nights, with departure on Saturday, 12 December.

Cost of this workshop is $1695.00 and includes 6 nights lodging (single occupancy), 5 days of photography, instruction, and the dinner at the end of the workshop. We will be carpooling for transportation to and from the shooting locations. Workshop fees do not include transportation to, and from, Moab from your home, meals (other than specified), alcohol, or incidentals.

To ensure personal attention to each workshop participant, workshop size is limited to 10 participants. To reserve your place in this unique photography workshop, email info@moabphototours.com.

This entry was posted on Sunday, February 22nd, 2009 at 12:26 am and is filed und

Arches Under the Stars Photography Workshop

The Night Landscape in Arches National Park with Tom Till

Nov 10-15, 2009

Join world-renowned landscape photographer, Tom Till, and Moab Photo Tours owner, Jon Fuller, in this unique opportunity to learn to photograph the natural landscape of Arches National Park and the surrounding area by night as well as by day. You will learn the techniques of light painting, and photographing both star points and star trails in the spectacular natural scenery of the Moab area. In addition to the night landscape sessions, you will have the opportunity to photograph Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in prime landscape sunrise and sunset light as well, while learning the techniques used by the pros.

Because we are conducting this workshop in November, sunset is early and allows us to shoot night landscapes and still get to bed at a decent hour. Sunrise is also later, so we’ll be able to get a good night’s sleep and still go out for sunrise landscapes in some of Tom’s and Jon’s favorite locations around Moab. Most people don’t realize that winter light is the best photographic light around Moab, and since it’s the ‘off-season’, you don’t have to fight the crowds for tripod space at iconic photo spots! November weather in Moab is usually quite pleasant and comfortable as well.

Both Tom Till and Jon Fuller are long-time Moab residents, and there are no photography guides who know the Moab area better. In addition to the iconic photographic locations in the area, you’ll get to photograph some of Tom’s and Jon’s favorite landscape spots, unknown to most of the photo guides who bring workshops to Moab.

During the mid-day hours, we will have photo critiques and technical discussions to improve your landscape photography skills. We will also discuss digital work flow and post-processing techniques in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, and fine art printing. Tom and Jon are both very patient, friendly instructors, and everything will be done in a very non-critical environment. In addition to helping you learn to be a better photographer, we want you to have fun while doing it. If it isn’t fun, you aren’t doing it right!

Our base of operations for this workshop will be the Gonzo Inn, Moab’s premier lodging, conveniently located just off Main Street in downtown Moab. Workshop fees are based on single occupancy, since all rooms have a single king bed. Suites (some with fireplaces!) are available at additional cost. A discount is available for couples sharing a room.

Arrival day is Tuesday, 10 November and we will have an orientation get-together that evening. We will shoot both sunrises and sunsets on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and night landscapes on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights. Saturday night we will have a group dinner at one of Moab’s finest restaurants to end the workshop, included in the workshop fee. Lodging is included in the Workshop fee for Tuesday through Saturday nights, with departure on Sunday, 15 November.

Cost of this workshop is $1,470.00 and includes 5 nights lodging (single occupancy), 4 days and 3 night sessions of photography, instruction, and the dinner at the end of the workshop. We will be carpooling for transportation to and from the shooting locations. Workshop fees do not include transportation to, and from, Moab from your home, meals (other than specified), alcohol, or incidentals.

To ensure personal attention to each workshop participant, workshop size is limited to 10 participants. To reserve your place in this unique photography workshop, email info@moabphototours.com.

Cedar Mesa to Monument Valley Photography Workshop

Cedar Mesa to Monument Valley Photography Workshop

Ancient Native American Ruins & Landscapes

With Tom Till and Moab Photo Tours

September 20-27, 2009

Join Moab Photo Tours and world-renowned photographer Tom Till on this 7-day, 7-night photographic exploration of ancient Native American ruins and rock art in the Cedar Mesa region of southeastern Utah, including two full days of shooting in Monument Valley, the Land of the Navajo.

Cedar Mesa has the densest concentration of pre-Columbian ruins in all of the United States. The canyons that crisscross this rugged and beautiful high-desert mesa are lined with ancient Ancestral Pueblan cliff ruins. Many of these ruins make spectacular fine art images, set in alcoves in the sheer cliff walls and along the canyon rims. You will be able to walk among and photograph ruins abandoned more than 800 years ago when the Ancestral Pueblans left this area.

We will also spend two full days photographing in the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, with Navajo guides who will take us to places visitors cannot otherwise go. We will have the opportunity to camp overnight on rugged Hunt’s Mesa and shoot both a sunset and a sunrise from this spectacular viewpoint overlooking Monument Valley.

Tom Till is an expert on Native American rock art and ruins, and while he is best known world-wide as a landscape photographer, Native American ruins and rock art are some of his personal favorite subjects. Tom has photographed some 200 days in Monument Valley alone over his 30+ year career as a landscape photographer, and he knows the area extremely well. Our Navajo Guide for the tour in Monument Valley is Tom Phillips, of Monument Valley Tours, a photographer himself and a very experienced photography guide and guide for the movie industry. Phillips understands what makes a good landscape photograph, and as he says, “I take you to the light.” Check out his website at www.monumentvalley.com.

The workshop covers seven days and nights and includes six days of shooting, lodging, transportation, some meals, park entrance fees, use fees, and guide fees. It also includes instruction in the field and evening photo discussions and critiques with Tom Till and Jon Fuller, owner of Moab Photo Tours, LLC. The workshop will start on Sunday evening, September 20, 2009 with an orientation meeting in Moab, Utah. Rather than waste a good sunrise driving, we will take the opportunity to shoot a sunrise on Monday at one of Moab’s signature sunrise photo locations before proceeding south to Cedar Mesa. Along the way, we’ll make a detour to photograph Newspaper Rock, one of the most famous rock art panels in the world. The next two nights we’ll be staying in Blanding, Utah, and photographing ruins on Cedar Mesa on Monday afternoon, Tuesday, and half-day Wednesday. We’ll then drive to the south end of Cedar Mesa for a picnic lunch at Muley Point, overlooking the Goosenecks of the San Juan River and Monument Valley to the south. After lunch, we’ll descend the famous Moki Dugway into the Valley of the Gods and photograph the buttes and monuments in this scenic valley in the late afternoon light. We’ll then proceed across the San Juan River to Monument Valley, where we’ll be staying in the newest, best-located lodging in the valley, the View Motel.

We will shoot a sunrise with our Navajo guides, and then after a midday break at the lodge, drive up the rugged 4WD track to Hunt’s Mesa, where we’ll shoot sunset and camp for the night. Camping gear and meals on Hunt’s Mesa will be provided by our Navajo outfitters of Monument Valley Tours. We’ll then shoot sunrise before descending from the Mesa and having lunch at the lodge. After the midday break, we go back out with Tom Phillips to explore and photograph Mystery Valley. We’ll spend Friday night at the View Motel and shoot sunrise over the Mittens on Saturday morning before starting back toward Moab. We’ll work our way back to Moab, photographing along the way and arriving there in the afternoon. Saturday evening we’ll have a group dinner at one of Moab’s best restaurants. Lodging is included Saturday night in Moab, and you can depart for home on Sunday or stay around for a few more days to photograph Arches and Canyonlands National Parks on your own.

The cost of this workshop is $2295.00 and includes 6 nights in motels (double occupancy — single supplement $550), 1 night guided camping, transportation from Moab to Cedar Mesa and Monument Valley, two days with Navajo guides in Monument Valley, all park entry fees & BLM use fees on Cedar Mesa, and some meals, including the farewell dinner. Not included are transportation to Moab or your return home, tips for guides, alcohol, and meals not specifically specified as included. If you’d like to take advantage of this outstanding opportunity, please send an email to info@moabphototours.com.

For images of ruins on Cedar Mesa, go to www.moabphototours.com and view the Cedar Mesa Album in the Gallery. For Tom Till’s images of Monument Valley, go to www.tomtill.com and type Monument Valley in the Search Box.

Disclaimer: Access to many of these ruins on Cedar Mesa can only be gained by hiking down steep trails into the canyons. These hikes will take up to an hour each way, some dropping several hundred feet in elevation, and are quite physically demanding. What goes down, must also come back up in order to get home, so you must be in very good health and physical condition to participate in this workshop. You must be able to hike these steep, rough, rocky primitive trails carrying all of your own equipment. The general elevation of Cedar Mesa is between 6000’ and 7000’, so the altitude makes hiking even more difficult. Please do not apply if you have heart or respiratory problems. This area is very remote, with no cell service, so prompt medical emergency services are not readily available. Additionally, the tour in Monument Valley will cover some extremely rough 4-wheel drive tracks. According to Navajo Guide Tom Phillips, people with bad backs should not attempt the drive up to Hunt’s Mesa. This workshop is truly an adventure into some of America’s most wild and rugged country.

2009 Needles / Canyonlands Back-country Photo Workshop

2009 Needles / Canyonlands Backcountry Photo Workshop with Moab Photo Tours

4-7 May 2009

Special Guest Instructor Tom Till

The Moab Photo Tours 2009 Needles / Canyonlands Back-country Workshop will be 4 days/3 nights, Monday-Thursday, May 4-7, 2009. The Needles is a beautiful but very rugged and relatively inaccessible section of Canyonlands National Park, characterized by many red sandstone spires which give the area it’s name, along with arches and Native American rock art. It is accessible only by serious 4WD or by long hikes. Our Workshop will provide that serious 4WD access. It should also be prime wildflower/cactus blossom time then as well at this time of year. We’ll be approaching a full moon during the Workshop, so we should have some sunsets with the moon in the image. Additionally, we can do some moon-lit night landscapes with light painting. World famous landscape photographer, Tom Till, will be our guest instructor along with Moab Photo Tours owner, Jon Fuller, on this workshop. You can see some of Tom’s outstanding photography at www.tomtill.com.

Day 1: The current proposed itinerary has us leaving Moab by 8am on the first day. We’ll head out for the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, which takes about 1.5 hours to initially reach, stopping to photograph Newspaper Rock (a famous petroglyph panel) on the way in. We will spend the rest of the day exploring remote Lavender Canyon, with its arches, prehistoric ruins, and beautiful varnish-patterned walls. We’ll spend the first night in one of the group campgrounds near the entrance to the park.

Day 2: For sunrise, we’ll photograph the Six Shooters Peaks before going into the main section of the Needles District. We’ll go in over the infamous Elephant Hill 4WD trail into to the Devil’s Kitchen and shoot sunset there. We camp at the Devil’s Kitchen, and shoot sunrise there the next morning.

Day 3: After the sunrise shoot and breakfast, we load up and move on toward the Chesler Park area, stopping to photograph Indian rock art pictographs on the way. Before lunch we’ll hike up the narrow Joint Trail into Chesler Park. If possible, we will come out of the park through the south and into Beef Basin, photographing Indian ruins on the way out and camp the last night at the Big Pocket Overlook on Cathedral Point. Sunrise at the Big Pocket Overlook is a spectacular image. If the south road out of the park is impassable, and it often is, then we would come back out over Elephant Hill, and drive to Cathedral Point from the other direction.

Day 4: We’ll be back late afternoon of the fourth day. I’m counting on getting at least 3 sunrises and 3 sunsets, with some night photography thrown in while we’re camping. All in all it should be a great trip. The outfitter will provide three 4WD vehicles with experienced 4WD drivers, (who will also be our cooks), and the sleeping bags and tents, etc. This is primitive camping, with pit toilets (outhouses) available at most of our camp sites, but no showers. The old outfitter’s trick is to bring Wet Wipes with which to take a spit bath every evening. It works great and takes the worry out of being close!

Cost for the Needles Backcountry Workshop is $1595 per person, and includes 4WD transportation from Moab, through the Needles and back to Moab, park entrance fees, camping gear, and all meals from departure until return. It also includes personalized photography instruction. Gratuities for the driver/outfitter guides (which is usually 10-15% and makes up a major part of their income) are not included in the cost of the workshop. The workshop fee also does not cover the cost of transportation to and from Moab nor any lodging or meals before or after the workshop.

Additionally, the Moab Photography Symposium is also being held on April 30-May 3 in Moab immediately prior to the Needles Backcountry Workshop, and is a great event to attend to maximize your visit while here. The final cost for this symposium has not yet been published by the organizer, but will probably be in the $100 range for the four days, with extra charges for some individual workshops. The website for the 2008 symposium is www.moabphotosym.com. The updated website for the 2009 Symposium should be up before too long, but no firm date from the organizer for that yet.

We have room for a total of 9 photographers in the Needles Workshop, with myself and Tom Till as other photo guide to accompany us, in addition to our three driver/outfitter guides. For images of last year’s Needles Workshop, go to www.moabphototours.com/ and go to the Workshop Album on the Gallery Page. If you are interested in this workshop, contact me by email at jon@moabphototours.com to reserve a spot.

This 2009 Workshop is sold out. Last year’s workshop sold out in only three days. If you would like to reserve a space for the 2010 Workshop, contact me at jon@moabphototours.com.

Great 2008! What’s New for 2009?

2008 was a great year for Moab Photo Tours. We added many new clients this year, got to work with many returning clients again, and helped lots of people get some really great images of this area. Feedback from a number of this year’s clients indicated that they had won various photo competitions with images made on our tours. We were also able to help a number of people advance their photo skills to the next level as well. I personally had a full-page image published in the Showcase section of the May issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine, in addition to other publication credits through the year.

Chris Conrad, who was originally on the website as a guide, has moved on to other things, and we wish Chris well in his new endeavors. Replacing him is Dan Norris, a long-time Moab photographer and owner of Canyon Color Graphics. Dan has been published extensively and is a great instructor and guide. Dan functions primarily as my back-up when I am unable to do a tour, or on those occasions when we have more than one group wanting tours the same day. Dan also assisted me for our Moab Photo Tours Needles Back-country Photo Workshop in May 2008. Dan has been a good friend for the 16 years I’ve lived in Moab, and we’ve shot together a lot over the years. he is an outstanding photographer.

Moab Photo Tours is also expanding its reach outside the Moab area. I was able to take some tours down to the Cedar Mesa area, south of Moab, to photograph some very photogenic ancient native American ruins. You can see images of some of these ruins in the Cedar Mesa Album in the Gallery on the website. In November, I traveled to Panama and Costa Rica for a 3-week photo scouting trip to explore the possibility of taking photo tours to these two countries. Since I once lived in Panama for 3 years, I was already quite familiar with the area. I have done quite a bit of travel and photography throughout Latin America over the years, and love the photo opportunities to be had south of our borders. I had a great trip, coming home with 3200+ images to edit, and making some good contacts in the travel industry in both places. Panama and Costa Rica, while being neighbors, are quite different photographically. Costa Rica is primarily spectacular nature photography, while Panama has not only great rain forest photography similar to Costa Rica’s, but also old Spanish ruins, very photogenic indigenous tribes, French colonial architecture, and the Panama Canal itself. Keep an eye on future blog entries for details on these trips. I will be adding Albums in the Gallery for both these locations in the (near?) future.

Also upcoming for 2009 will be the addition of a Shopping Cart on the website. This will allow anyone to order a print of any image of mine that they see on the website. This applies only to my images, and not images in the Clients Gallery. (The images in the Clients Gallery do not belong to me, and I do not physically possess file sizes large enough to make prints even for the photographers who do own these images.)

We will be repeating the Needles/Canyonlands Back-country Workshop in May this year, expanding it to 4 days instead of three. We will have a surprise announcement concerning that workshop soon, so stay tuned. More on this upcoming workshop in a future blog. If you are interested in this workshop, please email me at info@moabphototours.com as soon as possible and I’ll send you more information. We actually only have two spaces still available, and the advertising in Outdoor Photographer has not even come out yet.

Stay tuned for more information. Best wishes for 2009, and Happy Shooting!

Summer in Moab

Spring was very busy for Moab Photo Tours, and the Needles Workshop in May was a great success. We had great weather for photography and everyone had a good, photographically productive time. By chance, we camped one night next to my friend and world-renowned landscape photographer, Tom Till, so some of the workshop participants got to shoot along-side Tom for a sunset and sunrise the next morning. Some photos from the workshop have been posted in the Workshop Gallery, with more coming.

The summer has been hot, as usual, but we are now going into the ‘monsoon’ season. (In an area that only gets about 12″ of rain per year, monsoon is a relative term.) What that means is that we have big fluffy clouds that build up into thunderheads in the afternoons on many days and give us the opportunity to get some great stormy sky photos with lightning, rainbows, and forbidding skies. One of my ‘approaching lightning storm’ shots from last summer was a full page in the Showcase Section of the May 2008 issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine.

Moab Photo Tours has been issued a permit now from the Bureau of Land Management for tours to the Cedar Mesa area, which has the largest concentration of pre-Columbian Native-American ruins in the U.S. Some of these cliff ruins make really spectacular photographs. See the new Cedar Mesa Gallery on the my website. Most of these ruins are not easily accessible and require some hiking, so keep that in mind. It is also very hot on Cedar Mesa in the summer, so spring and fall are the best times to visit there. I am also working on permits for the Escalante/Grand Staircase area and will keep you posted on this area for possible tours.

Winter in Moab

This has been an unusual winter in Moab, with much more snowfall than usual, and colder temperatures as well. It has given us the opportunity to get some spectacular winter shots of snow on the red rocks of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Some sections of the Colorado River were completely frozen over, making for some really beautiful images of the red canyon walls reflecting in the ice. There were also frozen waterfalls to photograph as well as smaller ice patterns along the edges of creeks and in the desert potholes in the slickrock. Temperatures are now warming back up into the high 40′s and 50′s, though we can get some storms even as late as March or April. The snow won’t last long then if it snows, so you’ve got to be ready to go as soon as the storm breaks to get good snow on the rocks then. All this moisture should make for a great spring wildflower bloom.

Cataract Canyon 5-day Raft Trip & Photo Workshop

Moab Photo Tours is sponsoring a 5-day photo workshop down the wild and scenic Colorado River through Cataract Canyon. This canyon contains some of the best rapids on the entire Colorado River, as well as spectacular and beautiful desert canyon scenery. See and photograph ancient Native American rock art and ruins, as well fantastic scenery and desert wildlife.

This is a camping workshop in the wilderness with all the gear and food provided by an experienced river-rafting outfitting company. This is a rare opportunity to enjoy a wilderness rafting experience at a photographer’s pace, while learning new skills and techniques amidst some of the most beautiful scenery in all the world.

The trip can take a maximum of 12 photographers, along with 2 workshop instructors. Workshop dates are 10-14 June 2008. Total cost for the 5-day workshop is $1595 per person. For more detailed information or to make a reservation, email us at info@moabphototours.com.

Images are on the website gallery under Workshops. These images were made on a previous photo workshop trip down Cataract Canyon. Join us for this rare opportunity. Where we’re going, there are no motels, no cell phone coverage, and no email. Any Blackberries discovered will be summarily buried on the beach! ;-)

Fall Has Come to Moab

I must admit I’ve been a little lax in keeping the Blog up to date. The fact that I’ve been extremely busy the past few months may have had something to do with it. The late summer ‘monsoon season’ came and went, giving us some awesome thunderstorms and incredible skies. Unfortunately, it also rained or clouded-out a few sessions. But, such is life when you have those spectacular clouds. I developed a simple technique for capturing daytime lightning with some degree of success (10 frames with lightning in 30 attempts — not bad), and we got some fantastic sunset-with-lightning photos for my photographers.

Temperatures have cooled off to the 70′s-80′s now, and we’ve had some snow on the La Sal Mountain tops. With the monsoon rains came a fall wildflower bloom, which is still going on. The Moonflowers (Sacred Datura), Purple Asters, Pallid Evening Primrose, and the Prairie Sunflower have all been blooming well. Some of the Cliffroses are also making a small fall bloom, as are some of the Prince’s Plumes. The bright yellow Rabbit Brush is also blooming along all the roadsides.

I haven’t seen any of the colorful Collared Lizards in the past few weeks, so I think the lower night-time temps are putting them down for the season. Watch for them next April or May. The Pronghorn antelope are going into the rut now, and the bucks are herding their harems of does around now, and we’ve gotten some good shots of them lately. Hopefully the Desert Bighorn Sheep will start moving around more now as well. They have been pretty scarce this summer.

I need to put in a plug for coming to Moab to photograph in the late fall and winter. The low-angle winter light actually makes for the best photographic light around here all year. Also, many of the iconic Moab shots, i.e., Delicate Arch, Turret Arch throught the North Window, and Mesa Arch, photograph much better in the winter half of the year. The sun’s angle in the summer produces some unwanted shadows in some of these shots, and these disappear after the fall equinox. Couple this better light with much smaller crowds after Thanksgiving, half-price motels, and the sun rising after breakfast and setting before dinner, and you have perfect photo conditions in Moab. Our winters are generally sunny and mild, with the average daytime high in December/January of 48 degrees, so it’s possible to shoot here in the winter without freezing parts of your anatomy off. Having said that, the occasional little dumping of snow on the red rocks that we get here sometimes makes for some really beautiful and not-often-photographed scenes. And you often have them all to yourself. I’ve actually been to Delicate Arch at sunset, and Mesa Arch at sunrise, in the winter, with no one else there. Try to pull that one off anytime during the rest of the year. Just something to think about.