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

E-mail: info@visionarywild.com    •    Tel: 1-202-558-9596 (9am to 5pm, EST).

Justin Black – Managing Director: 1-202-302-9030 • Email: justin@visionarywild.com

Sara Robb – Operations Assistant: sara@visionarywild.com

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

Workshops by Focus: Available Light

Expedition July 5 - 22, 2018
6 spaces | $14,500* Register

When I tell folks that my wife Lena is from Kyrgyzstan, the response is usually, “She’s from Kurdistan?!?” or alternatively, “What? Where is that?” This little-known Silk Road country is, however, home to some of the most awe-inspiring mountain landscapes on the planet, as well as an immensely hospitable culture. Visionary Wild’s first overland expedition there in July 2017 grew out of a lengthy scouting trip that Lena and I made in 2015. This photographic adventure, from the idyllic alpine lake of Song Kul to the glacier-borne basecamp beneath mighty Khan Tengri – one of the world’s most beautiful peaks rising to 23,000ft. – represents what Lena and I consider the finest of the Kyrgyz mountain landscape. We have fallen in love with the Kyrgyz people and their spectacular homeland, and look forward to sharing this wonderful corner of the planet with you! –Justin Black

For lovers of wild mountain landscapes, the Kyrgyz Republic is among the most underrated travel destinations on Earth. The Tien Shan mountains rise higher and wilder than the Rockies, Sierra Nevada, Alps, or Andes, and peaks below 16,000-feet in elevation are barely considered worthy of a name. Along the Chinese border, the Kakshaal-Too range soars to truly Himalayan heights, on the world’s most northern summits over 7,000 meters: Khan Tengri and Jengish Chokusu (known in the Soviet era as Pik Pobeda). The landscape beneath the peaks is sublime: glacier-carved gorges, slopes covered in alpine wildflowers, raging rivers, spruce and fir forests, and high pastures (“jai-loh”) where semi-nomadic Kyrgyz graze small herds of horses, yaks, sheep, and cattle during the short summer.

The sheer scale and beauty of this landscape is phenomenal, but what is almost unimaginable is the fact that it is barely on the tourist radar. The Kyrgyz Republic is an emerging democracy, and the Kyrgyz people take their freedom seriously. Though it is commonly referred to as the “Switzerland of Central Asia,” this complimentary moniker neglects to recognize the nation’s unique qualities. A former Soviet republic with relatively slow economic growth, Kyrgyzstan has been spared excessive development, so what it lacks in infrastructure is made up for with glorious wild nature. The Kyrgyz people are a Turkic nomad culture that boast the longest history of all currently extant groups in Central Asia. Over the last fifteen centuries, their language and culture have survived the Uyghurs, the Chinese, the Mongols, various Khaganates, the Russians, the Soviet era, and the challenges of building a viable democracy while surrounded by less democratic neighbors.

Our adventure begins in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, where participants will be met at the airport and driven to the thoroughly modern Golden Tulip Hotel, offering excellent accommodations in the city center. There, we will welcome you to our introductory orientation and first dinner as a group. Early the next morning, we load up into our four-wheel drive caravan, comprising three highly capable and comfortable Toyota Sequoias to carry our six guests, Visionary Wild photo leaders Justin Black and Jerry Dodrill, as well as our team’s Kyrgyzstan native and Russian-language interpreter, Lena Black, Visionary Wild Director of Operations. Two additional 4WD support vehicles will carry gear, provisions, and camp staff. From there, we set off on our spectacular route through the Tien Shan mountains.

Our itinerary is designed to take advantage of prime light on the landscape morning and evening each day. After dark, clean air and virtual absence of light pollution provide a superb opportunity for nighttime landscapes including the Milky Way. We will also enjoy excellent opportunities for photography of the Kyrgyz people themselves, in the high pastures, at our yurt camps, and at the sprawling and colorful Osh Market in Bishkek. This will be a highly productive and immensely fun photographic adventure that you’ll never forget.

Click “read more” at below right for the full itinerary, inclusions, exclusions, and more photos…

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Kyrgyz Republic
Map via Google
Vision January 8 - 12, 2018
10 spaces | $3,850* Register

 

Refine your vision and harness the aesthetic potential of one of the world’s most geological wonders.

Wondering where to travel in winter? Bryce Canyon National Park is one of our favorite places to go to view some of the most unique opportunities during this season of snow dustings and low-angled light. Ponderosa pines, fir-spruce forests, slot canyons, horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters, and pink cliffs cover this area. Utah has a wealth of parks to explore and challenge your photographic senses, and Bryce Canyon National Park in among the most rewarding.

This greatest concentration of hoodoos in the world – an unearthly landscape to be sure – was formed over hundreds of millions of years of deposition and erosion. Bryce’s colorful rock spires are oriented perfectly to catch the reflected morning light, resulting in a glowing fairytale landscape providing endless options for creative photography. Join us to capture its splendor.

This outdoor classroom is a highlight of our Vision series, a special program of advanced instruction focusing on refining your personal creative vision, composition, digital workflow and image processing, designed and presented by renowned photographers Jack Dykinga, John Shaw, and Justin Black. All three instructors have photographed Bryce extensively and know its secrets well. We will photograph at a variety of locations in the park during our morning and evening field sessions, with emphasis on the hoodoos and sculpted designs in the canyons.

Packaged with single-occupancy lodging at the Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel (a Best Western Plus property), located ideally near the park entrance, and with all meals, snacks and beverages included, this is a superb workshop scenario. We hope you’ll join us!

 

About Vision Workshops

The creation of a truly great finished photograph is part of a process from initial concept and vision through execution in the field to digital workflow and creation of a high-quality, final master file ready for printing or publication. Vision workshops with John Shaw and Jack Dykinga address the two greatest challenges faced by photographers as they advance. The first of these is the tendency for original creative vision to reach a plateau in development, and the second is a digital workflow in need of streamlining and refinement to make the most of your images.

Click “Read More…” below right to read on…

On Creative Vision:

When we experience images that really move us, we are aware that they have impacted us, though we may not know what it was in the image that made it so powerful. In other words, we know when it works, but can be difficult to quantify. I try to teach the time-honored components of fine photography to build successful compositions…even in ordinary situations. People ask me, “What’s the difference between a pro and an amateur?” My response is, (a) the amateur has better equipment and (b) the professional photographer must create a publishable image every single time. To be successful, the professional must be the practitioner of a disciplined approach to situations that will result in compelling images that inform and move people. This workshop is designed to unleash that creativity in my students. – Jack Dykinga

Jack will focus on advanced seeing and ways to unlock creativity in situations that require conceptual and compositional ingenuity on the part of the photographer. In other words, he’ll answer the questions, “How do I make a great photograph when the subject matter and composition don’t suggest themselves to me, and how do I avoid photographic clichés when the situation offers up  a beautiful composition that is almost too obvious?”

On Workflow:

As photographers have switched to digital, one fact has become apparent:  we are drowning in files.  We’re shooting more images than ever, and digital file sizes are increasing with each new generation of cameras.  Without a smart, logical workflow – and a familiarity with programs such as Lightroom and Photoshop – we will quickly be overwhelmed with data.   – John Shaw

John will focus on teaching a logical, effective workflow that ensures the highest quality for your work, as well an image archive that is stable, consistent, and retrievable over the long term, and that ultimately liberates rather than burdens.  He will cover step by step the process from shooting RAW files in the field to optimizing the final image in Photoshop.

Workflow topics to be covered include:

  • File formats for shooting and for archiving
  • Exposing for digital
  • Downloading for automatic image organization
  • Proper file naming
  • Cataloging of images: Lightroom or other software
  • Keywording and captioning of images
  • The many uses of metadata
  • Processing the raw file
  • Using the tools in Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom’s Develop Module
  • Color spaces for the best results in different media
  • The many faces of Bridge
  • Creating panoramic images
  • Color adjustment strategies
  • Using Photoshop to finalize the image: dodging and burning, adjustment layers and layer masking, controlling luminosity and contrast, sharpening for output
  • Color-managed workflow from input to output

The workshop includes eight field sessions, classroom lectures and ample hands-on instruction, critiques, single-occupancy lodging in deluxe rooms (prorated fee available for double-occupancy or for those who do not require lodging), and all meals and drinks. Justin Black will be present to serve as an instructor and to ensure everything runs smoothly. As always, all three instructors will be present to teach and assist students throughout the workshop.

Field sessions begin the evening of the first day. Each morning and evening, we’ll be out to photograph first light before breakfast, and out for evening light before dinner. During mid-day hours in our classroom at the hotel, Jack and John will make presentations on advanced seeing, composition and creativity, digital workflow, and maximizing image potential. Critique sessions will be held each of the last three days before returning to the field for photography in afternoon and evening light. Friday morning will be the final field session, followed by critique until we adjourn at 3:00 pm.

The class size is limited to a small group of ten to ensure that everyone gets the time and attention they need, both in the field and the classroom.

Basecamp is the Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel. Group meals provide an informal setting to socialize and address specific interests that may not be covered during lectures and classroom discussion.

We supply materials in advance of the session to get newcomers up to speed with basics having to do with digital camera set-up and techniques, essential equipment recommendations, and other guidelines to ensure that everyone is ready to make the most of the experience.

Lodging, all meals, and beverages are included in the package.

Please click the “Register” button at the top of the page or contact us directly to reserve your space. A deposit of 50% is required at time of booking, with balance payable 60 days prior to workshop start date.

The workshop begins at 1pm on Monday, January 8th, and ends by 3pm on Friday, January 12th, 2018.

Note: Visionary Wild, LLC operates this workshop under a permit issued by the National Park Service at Bryce Canyon National Park.

Bryce in Winter
Map via Google
Creative Core September 25 - 29, 2017
10 spaces | $3,395* Register

The Potomac Highlands region of West Virginia’s Allegheny Mountains is one of the most scenic areas of the central Appalachians, at its best when brilliant autumn colors adorn the landscape. We invite you to join us for this exciting photo workshop, timed to operate during the peak of fall foliage among mountains densely covered in yellow birch, red maple, black cherry trees, spruce, and eastern hemlock trees. Color is everywhere at this time of year, framing the five-story waterfall and blowing in the mountain breezes.

In addition to visiting the iconic Blackwater Falls itself, we will take advantage of the best seasonal conditions in the surrounding mountain and valley landscapes, including excursions to Dolly Sods Wilderness and Canaan Valley, the highest large valley east of the Mississippi.

National Geographic photographer Michael Melford and renowned landscape photographer Justin Black will lead this workshop. Both have photographed extensively in the area, and are very familiar with an array of potential locations. Working one-on-one with participants, Michael and Justin aim to improve your photographic vision and composition skills, understanding of how to use changing qualities of light and weather to your advantage, and ability to effectively control exposure. They will also focus on creative exposure techniques to create mood, essential gear and creative tools, fundamentals of digital workflow, digital exposure blending and panoramic stitching, and lots of photography in the field followed by constructive group critiques.

Click the “read more…” tab below right for more information and to see the photo gallery!

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Blackwater Falls
Map via Google
Vision January 12 - 16, 2015
10 spaces | $3,890* Register

Pastel pinks and blues reflect from the sky at dawn and dusk, painting gypsum dunes that roll elegantly across the landscape. The tapestry of light and shadow, form and texture tempts the creative mind. Yuccas punctuate the landscape, rising in striking graphic isolation against the sand and sky. This is New Mexico’s White Sands National Monument, home of the world’s largest gypsum dune field, covering 275 square miles, set in a high desert basin with a dramatic mountain backdrop. This will be our outdoor classroom for this Vision series workshop, a special program of advanced instruction designed and presented by world-renowned photographers Jack Dykinga and John Shaw. Jack is recognized as one of the greatest practitioners and teachers in the history of landscape photography, and John is a natural photographic educator who is relied upon by some of the most successful photographers in the business to keep them current on digital workflow practices and Photoshop techniques. The combination is a uniquely effective and enjoyable experience.

Our fieldwork during this workshop will emphasize the search for elegant, carefully crafted compositions while anticipating the flow of light over the landscape each morning and evening. Opportunities abound, from classic near-far compositions that use yuccas to anchor foreground design, to abstracts harnessing the tones, curves and colors of the dunes, to broad panoramics and macro subjects.

The creation of a great finished photograph is part of a process from initial concept and vision through execution in the field to digital workflow and creation of a high-quality, final master file ready for printing or publication. Vision workshops with John Shaw and Jack Dykinga address the two greatest challenges faced by photographers as they advance. The first of these is the tendency for original creative vision to reach a plateau in development, and the second is a digital workflow in need of streamlining and refinement to make the most of your images.

A SPECIAL GIFT TO PARTICIPANTS: Each participant in this workshops is entitled to have two free fine exhibition prints up to 20″x30″ in size made by the master printmakers at West Coast Imaging of Oakhurst, California, one of the very best digital fine art photography labs in the world. These print packages include all the expert digital prep work of your original image file, based on your wishes and input as the artist, to make the best possible print. This special offer is cumulative, so you get two prints for each workshop you take.

Click the “read more” button below right to continue…

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White Sands
Map via Google
Expedition June 22 - July 3, 2013
10 spaces | $10,250* Register

Magical places with towering red sand dunes, ancient withered, desiccated forests, and storm-ravaged coastline make Namibia unique.  Rare desert lions, gemsbok, elephants, and giraffes inhabit the area, with the colorful Himba people carving out a life in this arid region.

In all my travels, I have never seen such amazing and colorful dune formations.  The colors ran from black to garnet to peach and red colored…sometimes bathed in coastal fog.  The Namib Desert has a timeless quality that calls to me. –Jack Dykinga

Experience the haunting beauty of Namibia – Africa’s desert gem – with renowned landscape photographers Jack Dykinga and Justin Black. We will explore the striking quiver tree forests and geological formations, a ghost town abandoned to drifting sands, the rugged beauty of the coast, culminating with three days of intensive photography among the elegant forms of the thousand-foot red dunes of Sossusvlei. With warm tints of apricot, orange, red and maroon, these dunes offer abstract beauty unseen anywhere else in the world. This special place is also home to the ancient sun-blackened skeletons of camel thorn trees at the white clay “dead marsh” of Deadvlei.

A string of colonial port towns dot the coast, trapped between the South Atlantic and the dunes. Lüderitz, on the edge of the diamond-rich Sperrgebiet area, is a fascinating relic of Germany’s late 19th-century imperial aspirations. Nearby is the otherworldly and sand-bound abandoned mining town of Kolmanskop, where dunes have invaded the abandoned buildings. The photographic potential of this place is astonishing. Further north, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay bracket the southern end of the Skeleton Coast. Both possess a welcoming resort town atmosphere, with ample photographic opportunities along the coast.

Awe-inspiring and unrestrictive, this diverse geography leaves an impact you won’t soon forget.

Our itinerary has been designed to take maximum advantage of the best landscape photography opportunities that Namibia has to offer. In addition to attentive photographic instruction throughout by Dykinga and Black, our group of up to ten photographers will be led by two excellent local guides. This trip includes excellent lodging, in-Africa flights (Johannesburg–Windhoek–Johannesburg), transfers and group ground transportation from start to finish, and all meals, snacks, and beverages.

Namibia is a very safe and welcoming country, and a tourist visa is not necessary for citizens of the USA and most developed nations.

We hope you will join us! To sign up, click the “REGISTER” link above right.

Click “read more” at below right to continue to the itinerary and image gallery…

read more…

Namibia
Map via Google
Vision January 13 - 17, 2014
10 spaces | $3,890* Register

Pastel pinks and blues reflect from the sky at dawn and dusk, painting gypsum dunes that roll elegantly across the landscape. The tapestry of light and shadow, form and texture inspires the creative mind. Yuccas punctuate the landscape, rising in striking graphic isolation against the sand and sky. This is New Mexico’s White Sands National Monument, home of the world’s largest gypsum dune field, covering 275 square miles, set in a high desert basin with a dramatic mountain backdrop. This will be our outdoor classroom for this Vision series workshop, a special program of advanced instruction designed and presented by world-renowned photographers Jack Dykinga and John Shaw. Jack is recognized as one of the greatest practitioners and teachers in the history of landscape photography, and John is a natural photographic educator who is relied upon by some of the most successful photographers in the business to keep them current on digital workflow practices and Photoshop techniques. The combination is a uniquely effective and enjoyable experience.

Our fieldwork during this workshop will emphasize the search for elegant, carefully crafted compositions while anticipating the flow of light over the landscape each morning and evening. Opportunities abound, from classic near-far compositions that use yuccas to anchor foreground design, to abstracts harnessing the tones, curves and colors of the dunes, to broad panoramics and macro subjects.

The creation of a truly great finished photograph is part of a process from initial concept and vision through execution in the field to digital workflow and creation of a high-quality, final master file ready for printing or publication. Vision workshops with John Shaw and Jack Dykinga address the two greatest challenges faced by photographers as they advance. The first of these is the tendency for original creative vision to reach a plateau in development, and the second is a digital workflow in need of streamlining and refinement to make the most of your images.

Click the “read more” button below right to continue…

read more…

White Sands
Map via Google