Visionary Wild, LLC • 2200 19th St. NW, Ste 806, Washington, DC 20009

E-mail: info@visionarywild.com    •    Tel: 1-202-558-9596 (9am to 6pm, EST).    •    Justin Black’s iPhone: 1-202-302-9030

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

Limit 10 spaces | $5,850* Closed
Expedition November 30 - December 7, 2013 | View other workshops

Costa Rica with Justin Black and Daniel Beltra

Map via Google

Exotic Birds – Poison Dart Frogs –  Monkeys – Waterfalls – Wild Pacific Beach

All of this and more is to be found in one of the most biologically exciting places on Earth – Coast Rica's remote Osa Peninsula – and we'd like to share the best of it with you. Envision original primary rainforest rising up a low ridge from a pristine and entirely undeveloped Pacific beach, stretching as far as the eye can see. Native toucans, scarlet macaws, and four species of New World monkeys cruise through the trees, while dramatic waterfalls roar in the jungle. Numerous species of visually striking frogs inhabit the area, including three species of colorful poison dart frogs, red-eyed tree frogs, masked tree frogs, and massive cane toads in their native habitat. Hundreds of exotic bird species abound. In addition to the toucans and macaws, long-tail hermit hummingbirds, elegant and violaceous trogons, blue-capped manakins, crested caracaras, ibis, various raptors and myriad other species are readily photographed. The forest itself is stunning, with old-growth trees full of character and beautiful graphic compositions just waiting to be discovered.

Click the "read more" tab below right to see the itinerary and photo gallery!

Instructors Daniel Beltrá and Justin Black will share their creative approaches to photographing rainforest fauna and flora, as well as the dramatic landscape. Hands-on in the field, we will cover long-lens and macro wildlife techniques, control of composition and light, fill-flash, control of focal plane and perspective with tilt-shift lenses, panoramic stitching, and other techniques that can be used to great effect in this amazing place.

Read Justin Black's article "Frogs of the Osa" in Outdoor Photographer magazine

Our basecamp, El Remanso eco-lodge, is a uniquely rich and accessible environment to witness and explore the incredible flora and fauna of Central America's rainforests.  The owners are personal friends of the instructors, and the staff make guests feel like family. It’s a peaceful resort where it’s easy to let go of the hassles of travel logistics and fully immerse yourself in exploring and photographing the birds, waterfalls, monkeys and frogs, gorgeous old-growth trees, and the stunning Pacific beach.

The staff at El Remanso take great care of us – providing fresh tropical fruits, a delicious mix of international and local Tico cuisine, not to mention the superb margaritas, caipirinhas, and piña coladas  – all on an inviting and spacious covered dining deck perched at the top of a canyon, at eye-level with the forest canopy.  We'll bring our long lenses to breakfast to photograph monkeys, macaws and toucans feeding in the trees.  The opportunities to explore don’t end with the setting sun. A stroll with our naturalist guides around El Remanso just after dark reveals all manner of nocturnal species.

ITINERARY

Day 1 – (November 30) – Arrive San Jose, Costa Rica; transfer to Hotel Bougainvillea

You will be met at Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) by a trusted driver we have used numerous times before. He will transfer you and your luggage by van to beautiful Hotel Bougainvillea, where the expansive tropical gardens there alone are worth the stay. There, you will meet your fellow workshop participants for the first time. Overnight at Hotel Bougainvillea.

Day 2 – (December 1) – Travel from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez and El Remanso. The workshop begins!

Our driver will meet you and your fellow participants at Hotel Bougainvillea at 6:30am to drive you to the SANSA domestic airline terminal adjacent to the main international airport terminal at SJO. You will be greeted there by an El Remanso representative who will facilitate your check-in for the 50-minute flight on a SANSA Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft to Puerto Jimenez. The flight over the mountains and along the coast is incredibly scenic, and a great opportunity to do some aerial photography. In Puerto Jimenez, Daniel Beltrá, Justin Black, and El Remanso staff will meet you at the airstrip before jumping into 4WD vehicles for the 45-minute drive to El Remano. Upon arrival at El Remanso, we'll do a welcome orientation and introductions, and you'll have time to get settled before lunch. Our first photography session will begin that afternoon.

Days 3 through 7 – (December 2-6) – El Remanso and surroundings

We will spend a full five days making the most of the endless photographic opportunities to be found on El Remanso's 185 acres, as well as at locations nearby. Most instruction will be carried out through hands-on demonstrations and discussion in the field. In the evenings, we will gather to download, edit, go over digital workflow techniques, and constructively critique participant images to ensure that everyone has ample opportunity to learn from the personal visions of participants and instructors alike.

Day 8 – (December 7) – Return to San Jose to catch international flights

After an early breakfast, we will say goodbye to El Remanso and transfer to Puerto Jimenez to catch the morning SANSA flight back to San Jose (landing at SJO at 11:00am) so participants can catch international flights that afternoon.

• Price based on single occupancy: $5,850.   Double occupancy: $5350/person

• Want to bring a non-photographer spouse or friend? We offer a two-person package for one workshop participant and one non-participant guest: $7650.00 (double-occupancy; please contact us directly to arrange this package at info@visionarywild or 202-558-9596)

Included in the program:

  • Photographic instruction throughout by Daniel Beltrá and Justin Black
  • In-country flights: San Jose – Puerto Jimenez – San Jose
  • All ground transfers
  • Six nights lodging
  • All meals and beverages (including wine, beer, cocktails with dinner) at El Remanso
  • One night lodging at Hotel Bougainvillea in San Jose
  • 4WD group transportation to field locations
  • Naturalist guides
  • Group gratuities
* IMPORTANT NOTE: Scheduling International Flights
We have found that is difficult or impossible to fly from the USA to the Osa Peninsula in one day, hence the overnight at Hotel Bougainvillea on November 30th prior to the flight to Puerto Jimenez and El Remanso. The tropical gardens at Hotel Bougainvillea are truly stunning, so those who are able to schedule a mid-day arrival at SJO on 11/30 will be rewarded with an amazing experience and excellent photographic opportunities. Transfer from SJO to Hotel Bougainvillea can be arranged at any time, even for late evening arrivals.  Return flights to the USA on December 7th should be scheduled no earlier than 1:30pm. We are happy to arrange an additional night (or nights) at Hotel Bougainvillea on your outbound leg if you wish.

Justin Black

One of my great joys is helping a photographer move beyond the fundamentals, building on an accumulated visual vocabulary that leads to something new – or at least renewed – as opposed to recycled, that they can truly call their own.

JUSTIN BLACK is a nature photographer, writer, and photo workshops organizer, and an affiliate member of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP). Through both Visionary Wild and Galen Rowell's Mountain Light Photography (1999 – 2009) he has created inspiring and effective educational photographic experiences for thousands of passionate photographers. He is widely recognized as one of the world's leading photo workshops organizers.

A professional photographer since 1995, before founding Visionary Wild he served the ILCP as Executive Director, and for seven years was General Manager and Curator of Mountain Light Gallery.

Justin's photographs have been published by magazines such as National Geographic Adventure, Sierra, Sunset, American Photo, Outdoor Photographer, Rock & Ice, and Nature Conservancy.

Among conservation NGOs that have used his photographs in their campaigns, publications, and annual reports are The Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, Land Trust Alliance, Earth Justice, The Wilderness Society, Conservation International, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, ILCP, and the Wild Foundation.

Justin has also served as an editor and contributor to numerous award-winning photo book projects, including Galen Rowell: A Retrospective; Freshwater: The Essence of Life; The Wealth of Nature: Ecosystem Services, Biodiversity, and Human Well-Being; Our National Parks: America's Natural Heritage; as well as Flying South: A Pilot's Inner Journey by Barbara Rowell. He is represented by the G2 Gallery in Venice, California.

An early career as a travel photographer and image licensing specialist led him to Mountain Light Photography, founded by world-renowned National Geographic photographer, author, and mountaineer Galen Rowell and his wife and business partner, Barbara, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Beginning in May of 1999, Justin managed marketing of the Rowell image collection, assisted Galen on assignments and in his workshop program, and taught seminars on nature photography. In April 2002, Galen and Barbara invited Justin to relocate with them as Mountain Light's General Manager at the present location in California's scenic Owens Valley. Justin agreed and eagerly embraced the sublime Eastern Sierra Nevada landscape as his new home.

Four months later, Galen and Barbara perished in the crash of a chartered plane, leaving behind a tremendous creative and visionary vacuum. Justin went to work, building on the impressive Rowell legacy to reinvigorate Mountain Light by establishing a seasonal series of guest photographer exhibitions, expanding the image collection, and relaunching the highly acclaimed photo workshop program through collaboration with Galen's leading professional peers, including Frans Lanting, Pat O'Hara, Jack Dykinga, John Shaw, and David Muench. In May 2008, Justin's successful efforts were recognized by both Sunset and American Photo magazines, as each magazine featured editorial recommendations of his workshop program at Mountain Light. As of May 2013 Mountain Light website continued to display positive workshop client testimonials contributed exclusively under Justin's watch.

After ten years with Mountain Light, Justin was recruited for the position of Executive Director of ILCP, a non-profit association of the best photographers worldwide working in the field of environmental conservation. At ILCP, Justin oversaw an explosion of productivity in expeditions, publishing, multimedia production, and the achievement of successful conservation outcomes. He contributed photographic coverage to ILCP's Rapid Assessment Visual Expeditions (RAVE) program, including Flathead (Canada, 2009), Yucatán (Mexico, 2009), and Chesapeake (USA, 2010), as well as a solo project documenting the Dragon Run watershed on Virginia's Middle Peninsula for The Nature Conservancy. One of Justin's photographs of the Flathead River appeared as a section opener in the Vancouver Sun newspaper – the first time the threats facing the watershed had any prominent coverage in that regionally important media outlet.  The photograph was later selected by the U.S. Senate for display in the Capitol Building.

Justin left his position at ILCP in late 2010 to establish Visionary Wild, building on his successful leadership of the Mountain Light workshop program and applying expertise gained at ILCP to provide superlative workshops and expeditions for passionate photographers seeking to advance to the next level of creativity, quality, purpose, and meaning in their work. His own work continues to evolve in new directions, driven by the ongoing search for extraordinary qualities in our world's dynamic landscapes.

Justin lives in Washington, DC, with his brilliant wife, Lena (Visionary Wild's Director of Operations), and their son Philippe.

Justin Black's limited editions portfolio

Justin's Outdoor Photographer Profile

Bringing focus and meaning to your photography

The Top 40 Nature Photos Project

 

Justin’s Camera Bag

After using an array of 35mm, medium format, and 4x5 film cameras for most of his career, Justin has switched fully to Nikon digital SLRs and Nikkor lenses. His current gear includes:

 

Camera Bodies:

2x Nikon D810

 

Lenses (all Nikkor)

18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 G AF-S ED

24-70mm f/2.8 G AF-S ED

70-200mm f/4.0 G AF-S ED VR

200-400mm f/4.0 G AF-S ED VR

24mm f/3.5 PC-E tilt-shift

35mm f/2.8 PC shift

45mm f/2.8 PC-E tilt-shift

85mm f/2.8 PC-E tilt-shift

85mm f/1.8 AF-D

105mm f/1.8 AI-S

200mm f/4 AF-D Micro-Nikkor

500mm f/4 AF-S VR

TC-14EII teleconverter

TC-20EIII teleconverter

 

Flash

Nikon SB-900

Nikon SB-700

Assorted Nikon TTL flash cables

Lumiquest soft boxes

Rogue Flashbender

Rosco gels

 

Filters

Nikon Circular Polarizer II

Singh-Ray Vari-ND

Tiffen WW IRND neutral density filters

 

Tripods

Really Right Stuff TVC-24L with leveling base and Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead

Gitzo 1028 with RRS BH-25 ballhead

 

Photo Packs

MindShift Rotation 180 Pro

Mindshift Rotation 180 Panorama

Think Tank Photo (TTP) Streetwalker Harddrive

TTP Streetwalker Pro

TTP Airport Addicted V2.0

TTP Airport Acceleration

TTP Airport Antidote V2.0

TTP Urban Disguise 50 V2.0

TTP Speed Racer V2.0

Daniel Beltra

My work allows me to bear witness to the challenges our environment faces and help celebrate its triumphs.

Born in Madrid, Spain, Daniel Beltrá is a photographer based in Seattle, Washington. Over the past two decades, Daniel's work has taken him to all seven continents, including several expeditions to the Brazilian Amazon, the Arctic, the Southern Oceans and the Patagonian ice fields. For his work on the Gulf Oil Spill, in 2011 he received the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award, the Lucie Award for the International Photographer of the Year – Deeper Perspective, and was chosen as one of the six finalists for Critical Mass for Photolucida. In 2009, Beltrá received the prestigious Prince’s Rainforest Project award granted by Prince Charles, and was recognized by ABC News as its "Person of the Week" for his conservation photography.

Other highlights include the inaugural “Global Vision Award” from the Pictures of the Year International in 2008. In 2007 and 2006 he received awards for his work in the Amazon from World Press Photo. Daniel’s work has been published by the most prominent international publications including The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, Le Monde, and El Pais, amongst many others. Daniel Beltrá is a fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers.
Two months of photographing the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill led to a major exhibit titled "SPILL," which premiered in August 2010, toured around the globe in 2011 and will continue touring through 2012

Video: ABC News Person of the Week
Video: The Prince of Wales announces Daniel as the Prince's Rainforests Project winner
Seattle Times profile

Video: Daniel's presentation at the Annenberg Space for Photography (video in 11 parts)

Video: Plum TV, Beltrá interview at his Aspen, Colorado exhibit
Video: Beltrá interview on rainforest deforestation
Video: CBC News, Beltrá interview
Video: Daniel talks about his Focus on the Rainforest exhibit at Kew Gardens, London
Aspen Peak Magazine story on Daniel's Aspen, Colorado exhibit
Aspen Times story on Daniel's exhibit: ICE, in Aspen, Colorado
Daniel's Gulf oil spill coverage with audio commentary, The Guardian newspaper, UK

Visit Daniel's website

Highlights

  • Explore this private rainforest preserve, featuring primary old-growth forest, waterfalls, and wild Pacific beach
  • Exotic native birds, frogs, New World primates, and other tropical wildlife
  • Two photo instructors and experienced local naturalist guides ensure excellent participant support and an incredibly rich learning experience.
  • Small group size and low ratio of participants to instructors.
  • Superb and ecologically responsible and sustainable accommodations at El Remanso Lodge.
  • Package includes single-occupancy lodging, all meals, beverages, daily naturalist guiding, round-trip in-country air charter from San Jose, Costa Rica to Puerto Jimenez, 4WD ground transfers from Puerto Jimenez to El Remanso, group ground transportation to field sessions off the El Remanso conservancy, and all group gratuities.

Accommodations & Travel

One night at Hotel Bougainvillea near San Jose, Costa Rica, and six nights at El Remanso Lodge. A part of the Osa Peninsula National Refuge, El Remanso is owner-operated by gracious and enthusiastic hosts Daniel Gehring and Adriana Domenech Momeñe. The small-scale character of the lodge enables a highly personalized service, and they are proud that most of their guests are enthusiastically referred to El Remanso by friends and family who have stayed there themselves.

The property includes an extensive trail system, which lets you discover the magic of a primary rainforest and observe the abundant wildlife surrounding the lodge. Within an easy fifteen-minute walk from the lodge, one can explore secluded waterfalls, take a stroll on a deserted beach with tide pools and a lagoon, or look for colorful poison dart frogs next to creeks deep in rainforest canyons. Or, simply relax on the wooden deck of the restaurant while watching toucans, macaws, and monkeys in the surrounding trees!

El Remanso has been a pioneer in sustainable practices in the Osa Peninsula since its creation in 1999. The lodge was one of the first in Costa Rica to provide its electricity exclusively by its own micro-hydro system. Over 90% of all waste is recycled or composted, waste waters are treated on site, and the lodge participates in local reforestation programs on the Osa Peninsula. El Remanso also has close ties with the community and provides work for more than 25 local staff all year around.

Thanks to all these efforts, in 2011 the Costa Rican Tourism Board awarded the lodge with the highest rating of the Certification For Sustainable Tourism (CST – level 5) in the lodge’s first certification process.

airplane iconcar iconfoot iconweather icon
Included are round-trip SANSA charter flight from San Jose (SJO) Costa Rica to Puerto Jimenez; 4WD ground transfers from Puerto Jimenez to El Remanso and ground transportation during field sessions off the El Remanso property. Walks at our field locations are relatively short and easy. The most strenuous walk is the 15 to 20 minute uphill hike from the beach to the lodge on a well maintained trail. Some outings will include wading in shallow creeks, traversing rough terrain, and the occasional (and optional) easy scramble over a fallen log or rock formation. This is the beginning of the dry season on the Osa Peninsula, but occasional rain showers are likely (it is a coastal rain forest, after all). Temperatures typically range between 68ºF – 85ºF