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!

 

Limit 5 spaces | $18,500* Closed
Expedition August 2 - 18, 2014 | View other workshops

African Vision with Justin Black and Lou Coetzer

Map via Google

"This was the experience of a lifetime. Visionary Wild provided a terrific photo safari. The educational value of this workshop was unparalleled, and I have participated in many workshops. Justin Black and Lou Coetzer were both terrific in facilitating the photography learning experience and in finding the best locations to maximize the opportunities." –2013 African Vision Safari Participant

Join award-winning wildlife photographers Lou Coetzer and Justin Black for this superlative African safari experience for a small group of five, designed to exceed a passionate photographer's wildest dreams. South African pro Lou Coetzer is simply the best there is at teaching the anticipation of animal behavior, timing, and camera handling skills that empower you to capture successful "decisive moment" wildlife images.

We will visit Africa's very finest wildlife destinations at an ideal time of year: Masai Mara, Kenya during the Great Migration, and Chobe River, Botswana, with mammals and birds concentrated along the river by the dry season.

• Includes loan of big telephotos – 600mm f/4 and 500mm f/4 – so you don't have to travel with them. Full-frame Nikon DSLR bodies available for free loan too!

• The best photo safari vehicle set-up in the business, both on the land and on the water, complete with photographer's chairs featuring fully adjustable 360-degree revolving Wimberley camera mounts. This makes it a breeze to work with big lenses and photograph dynamic wildlife behavior.

This package is designed to deliver a superb overall experience, and includes first-rate lodging, all meals, beverages (including fine wine and beer at dinners), expert guides, photographic instruction, loaner Nikon telephotos and cameras, park entry fees, ground transfers, and in-Africa flights during the itinerary.

Conceived as a unique wildlife photography experience that delivers the best that east and southern Africa have to offer, this experience for a small group of only five passionate photographers focuses on the incredible biodiversity accessible via the Chobe River in Botswana, and the peak of the great migration at Masai Mara. Masai Mara is famous for its August migration of millions of wildebeest, zebras, and Thompson's gazelles, accompanied by an abundance of lion, cheetah, leopard, and other African species. At Chobe, animals congregate along the river in the dry season to drink and feed on the lush greenery on the banks and flood plain. In addition to Chobe’s population of over 50,000 Kalahari elephants, opportunities include hippos (with young at this time of year), Nile crocs, buffalo, waterbuck, kudu, impala, giraffes, fish eagles, lions, hyenas, African wild dog, baboons, and countless bird species.

At both locations we have arranged use of new photo safari vehicles with innovative custom features that deliver an ideal photographic experience. The two 4WD vehicles we will use at Masai Mara seat three photographers each, and the custom-built photo boat at Chobe comfortably accommodates our whole group. Both on land and on the water, each photographer will have his or her own rotating photographer's chair with fully adjustable revolving Wimberley-equiped telephoto lens mount.  Included at no additional cost is loan of Nikon super-telephoto lenses (600mm f/4 and 500mm f/4) and pro camera bodies, so there is no need to carry big glass to Africa.

Click "read more" below right for the itinerary and more information...

Our itinerary makes the most of the incredible photographic opportunities, and offers attentive hands-on photographic instruction and expert guiding throughout:

Day 0: August 1st

Optional early-arrival day for those who wish to rest up and get over jet-lag. Accommodations as per "Day 1."

Day 1: August 2nd

Arrive at O.R. Tambo International Airport. You will be met at the airport and transferred to Chez Coetzer Guest House to rest and de-jetlag after flight.

AV presentation on Masai Mara and Chobe safaris. Dinner and Overnight at Guest House.

Day 2: August 3rd

Early morning breakfast at Guest House before departing for a morning photography session at the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre. There, we will get your wildlife photography skills and camera set-up dialed in before starting the safaris.

Afternoon safari orientation. Traditional South African Braai dinner and overnight at Chez Coetzer.

Day 3: August 4th

Transfer to O.R. Tambo Airport and depart on Air Botswana flight nr. BP214 at 11:30 for Kasane Airport. Quick transfer from Kasane Airport to Chobe Safari Lodge. Afternoon photography session on custom-built photography boats.

Day 4 - 7: August 5th – 8th

6 am meet up at jetty for coffee and rusks, and depart for photography session on Chobe River until 10:00. Return to Lodge for a well-deserved brunch. Thereafter, we'll meet in the classroom for downloading, editing, and constructive critique of images with an eye toward improving your wildlife photography technique and optimizing your camera setup so it works best for you. At 14:30 we return to the Chobe River for an afternoon photography session until 18:00.

After freshening up, meet for sundowners and dinner.

Day 8: August 9th

6 am meet up at Jetty for coffee and rusks, and depart for Photography session on Chobe River until 10:00. Return to Lodge for a well deserved brunch. Last image review and critique of Chobe Safari images, followed by some free time to pack bags and/or relax. Transfer to Kasane Airport for Air Botswana flight BP 213 departing at 14:40 for Johannesburg. Arrive in Johannesburg at 17:00 and relax at airport before Kenya Airways flight KQ 765 departing at 00:40 for Nairobi International Airport.

Day 9: August 10th

Arrive at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 05:50. Meet and greet for transfer to Lodge. The meet & greet at Jomo Kenyatta Airport is at 07:30 and road transfer to Wilson airport departs at 08:00. Charter flight from Wilson Airport to Kichwa-Tembo Tented Camp departs at 10:00 and arrives at  at 11:00. You will have a few hours at leisure before the first photography session in our custom-built photography vehicles at 14:30 and arrive back at lodge at 18:00. After freshening up, meet for sundowners and dinner.

Day 10 -  15: August 11th – 16th

6 am meet up at reception area for coffee and rusks, and depart for photography session in the Masai Mara until 10 am. Return to Lodge for a well deserved brunch. Thereafter, we'll gather in the board room for downloading, editing, and critique. At 14:30 we return to the Masai Mara for a afternoon photography session until 18:00.

After freshening up, meet for sundowners and Dinner.

Day 16: August 17th

6 am meet up at reception area for coffee and rusks, and depart for photography session in the Masai Mara Park until 10 am. Return to lodge for a well-deserved brunch. Last debriefing on Masai Mara Safari and relaxing. Meet at reception for transfer to Wilson Airport at 15:15 and arrive at Wilson Airport at 16:00. 40-minute road transfer to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.  Kenya Airways flight KQ 764 departing from Nairobi at 20:35 and arriving in JHB at 23:50. Transfer to Chez Coetzer and overnight.

Day 17: August 18th

Breakfast at Chez Coetzer Guest House and transfer to O.R. Tambo Airport for international outbound flight.

 

The single-occupancy rate for this deluxe all-inclusive package is $18,500. Double-occupancy is $17,750 per person. 25% deposit required upon booking, 25% due February 2nd, 2014, and balance due by April 2nd, 2014.
For more information, please contact Justin at justin@visionarywild.com or 202-302-9030.

Not included: international round-trip flights from your point of origin to Johannesburg, South Africa (currently between $1,700 to $2,300 for economy class from the US), and incidental personal expenses.

TRAVEL NOTE: A visa and yellow fever vaccination are required to enter Kenya. As both Masai Mara and Chobe are low-risk malaria areas, malaria prophylaxis is recommended.

Justin Black

JUSTIN BLACK is a photographer, writer, editor, expedition leader, photo workshops instructor, and an affiliate 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 continuously since signing his first agency contract in 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. His work has also been published by major news outlets in print and online, and has been used in advertising for MasterCard, Nikon, Fujifilm,

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

In 2015 and 2017, Justin was invited to serve as a judge for the Nature's Best Photography Africa competition. He 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. His limited edition fine prints are represented by G2 Gallery in Venice, California, and in Europe by The Art of Wild gallery.

An early career as a travel photographer and image licensing specialist led him to Mountain Light Photography in the San Francisco Bay Area, founded by Galen Rowell – a world-renowned National Geographic photographer, author, and mountaineer – and his wife and business partner, Barbara Cushman Rowell. 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, the Rowells invited Justin to relocate with them to California's scenic Owens Valley as Mountain Light's General Manager. Justin eagerly embraced his new responsibility, along with 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, David Muench, and Jeff Foott. 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.

After ten years with Mountain Light, Justin was recruited to take over the position of Executive Director of ILCP, a non-profit association of the best photographers worldwide working in the field of environmental and cultural 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 Valley (Canada, 2009), Yucatán (Mexico, 2009), and Chesapeake (USA, 2010), as well as a solo project for The Nature Conservancy, documenting the Dragon Run wetland on Virginia's Middle Peninsula. One of Justin's photographs from the Flathead River project appeared as a section opener in the Vancouver Sun newspaper – the first time the threatened watershed received significant coverage in that nationally important media outlet.  The photograph was later selected by the United States Senate for display in the U.S. Capitol Building, as Canada and the USA reached an agreement to protect the Flathead.

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 children Philippe and Alexandra.

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 Conservation Photography Projects

 

Justin’s Camera Bag

After using an array of 4x5, medium format, and 35mm film cameras in the first two decades of his career, Justin fully embraced digital cameras in 2010. His current gear includes Nikon DSLRs and Fujifilm mirrorless systems.

 

Fujifilm Medium Format Mirrorless:

GFX 50S camera

23mm f/4 GF Fujinon

32-64 f/4 GF Fujinon

120mm f/4 GF Fujinon

 

Fujifilm APS-C Mirrorless:

X-Pro2 Cameras (x2)

14mm f/2.8 XF Fujinon

23mm f/2 XF Fujinon

35mm f/1.4 XF Fujinon

50mm f/2 XF Fujinon

18-55mm f/2.8-4 XF Fujinon

55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 XF Fujinon

 

Nikon DSLR:

Nikon D810 cameras (x2)

24mm f/3.5 PC-E tilt-shift Nikkor

45mm f/2.8 PC-E tilt-shift Nikkor

85mm f/2.8 PC-E tilt-shift Nikkor

24mm f/1.4 Sigma Art

35mm f/1.4 Sigma Art

50mm f/1.4 Sigma Art

85mm f/1.8 G AF-S ED Nikkor

200mm f/4 AF-D Micro-Nikkor

500mm f/4 AF-S Nikkor

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

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

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

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

Nikon TC-14EII teleconverter

Nikon TC-20EIII teleconverter

Nikon SB-900 flash

Nikon SB-700 flash

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 or Arca-Swiss D4 geared head

Gitzo 1028 with RRS BH-25 ballhead

 

Photo Packs

MindShift Rotation 180 Pro

Mindshift Rotation 180 Horizon

Mindshift FirstLight 30L

Think Tank Photo (TTP) Streetwalker Harddrive

TTP Streetwalker Pro

TTP Airport Addicted V2.0

TTP Airport Acceleration

TTP Urban Disguise 50 V2.0

 

Lou Coetzer

Understanding animal behaviour enabled me to predict with reasonable accuracy "what’s going to happen next," which I discovered was a wonderful asset when photography became part of my life 40 or so odd years ago.

Lou Coetzer is an award-winning professional wildlife and sports photographer and safari leader from Johannesburg, South Africa. His photographic adventure began four decades ago as a student at the then Helpmekaar Boys High School in Johannesburg. These early years in the black and white darkroom and his involvement in sports and sport photography remain major influences in his wildlife photography today.

Before becoming a full-time sports photographer, Lou was involved with The Photographic Society of South Africa for many years. As a member of PSSA, Lou won numerous National and International awards in various fields such as Wildlife, Sports, Landscape and Portraiture. In the years following his entry into the sports photography field, Lou received numerous awards in the prestigious Allied Bank South African Sport Photographer of the Year competition

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These were the days of Apartheid when South Africa was still in relative economic isolation, and a sustainable career as a sports photographer was major challenge. "If Madiba and F.W. De Klerk had gotten together one year earlier I would probably today still be a sport photographer!" says Lou. He moved to other photographic interests in the early 90's, achieving international recognition for his portrait work along the way, but it was in his love of wildlife that he found his ultimate calling.

Lou’s years of experience as a sports photographer and portraitist are revealed in his constant search for exquisitely lit wildlife subjects in high-action against clean backgrounds. "I'll be honest: only when the action is not happening will I start looking for the graphic image."

In 2010, Lou was honored by Nature’s Best magazine for his outstanding photography, and he has been recognized repeatedly for his skill at capturing animal behavior. His photographs have been published and exhibited internationally, including in the USA at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. Lou was also the chief photographic moderator for The African Photographic Awards 2010.

"I’ve been going into the African bush to experience the animals in the wild from a very young age, and I learned early on to pay close attention and learn from wildlife behaviour. This understanding helped me to predict with reasonable accuracy "what’s going to happen next," which I discovered was a wonderful asset when photography became part of my life 40 or so odd years ago.

I have an insatiable appetite for detail, and out of that grew my love for nature’s intimate stories. As I write this, I’m at Etosha National Park in Namibia, and over the last few days I’ve had the privilege to photograph lions unsuccessfully hunting Giraffe, Kudu, Cape Turtle Dove and even little Red Billed Queleas! I can truthfully say, though, that the highlight of the week was the way the Helmeted Guinea Fowl out foxed the Tawny Eagles this morning just to have the favour returned by a Male African Shelduck this afternoon. Africa's magic is often revealed by the unexpected and not necessarily by the so-called “Big Five,” or can we rather say the “Big Seven” and include the Hippo and Nile Crocodile.

Whether on my own or with a safari group, I am adamant about choosing destinations and scenarios in nature that make for successful photography. It’s easy to get addicted to the clean blue water and sky backgrounds of the Chobe River in northern Botswana, but I also have a deeply ingrained respect and affection for Africa's animals that must struggle to survive in its desert and arid areas like Etosha.

My wife Veronica and I have been pursuing nature photography seriously for many years, and we started leading photo safaris in 2004 on a limited scale, but it was only after launching our first photographic boat on the Chobe River in 2009 that we became real “Safari Rats.” Since then, we’ve led over seventy specialized wildlife photographic safaris to African destinations, and several to Alaska as well!

–Lou Coetzer

Highlights

  • Unbeatable combination of wildlife density and diversity, locations, seasonal conditions, photo and safari equipment, excellent lodging, expert guiding and photographic instruction
  • Custom photo boat at Chobe with revolving Wimberley camera mounts on swivel chair bases offer photo opportunities not to be found in any other type of safari vehicle
  • New customized 4WD safari vehicles at Masai Mara, with custom Wimberley-equipped photographer's chairs and only three photographers to a vehicle
  • Locations on the Chobe River and Masai Mara during the peak of migration that provide some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities anywhere
  • Experienced leaders to put you in the right place at the right time to capture peak-action animal behavior in the best light
  • Professional-grade supertelephoto lenses and camera bodies to enable participants to capture the best photos possible – provided at no extra cost!
  • Small group of five participants with the attentive support of two professional photographer instructors, naturalist guides, and experienced safari drivers
  • We will be unrushed at each location, to let you get to know the place and make the most of the opportunities
  • First-rate lodging and dining included throughout
  • Six in-Africa flights and all ground transfers included
   

Accommodations & Travel

  • Chobe: Chobe Safari Lodge, excellent accommodations and welcoming staff just steps away from our boat on the Chobe River.
  • Masai Mara: Kichwa Tembo, a first-rate luxury tented camp, overlooking the plains of Masai Mara and the Sabaringo River, located on a private concession leased from Maasai owners.
  • Pretoria: While in the Johannesburg area after arrival and before departure, our guests will be lodged at one of two superb guest houses –  Chez Coetzer and The Nobleman – located close to one another in Erasmuskloof, an upscale suburb of the capital, Pretoria.
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A visa and yellow fever vaccination are required for entry to Kenya. Fly into Johannesburg, South Africa to be met for ground transfer to our guesthouse the first night. Six in-Africa flights are included. All ground transfers, transportation, and excursions using newly customized 4WD photo-safari vehicles at Masai Mara are included. A best-in-class customized photo boat will be our shooting platform at Chobe N.P. This is the dry season, so rain is unlikely. Expect a mix of sunny and partly cloudy conditions with occasional overcast. At Chobe, plan for afternoon highs between 65ºF - 80ºF, and early morning lows 32ºF – 55ºF. At Masai Mara, plan for highs 75ºF - 90ºF, and lows 55ºF - 70ºF
outcomes

Testimonials

Feedback from the 2013 African Vision safari:

The Africa trip was one of the best I have been on. I learned so much. The facilities were top-notch, vehicles and boats were specially equipped for photographers, and to top it off the dining was excellent! Thank you for putting together an interesting, educational, and fun trip for all of us. I have recommended this trip so I hope you will continue to offer it.”

–Ruth K., 2013 African Vision Safari Participant

 

I highly recommend Visionary Wild for any serious photographer who wants to upgrade skills while having fun in an enriched environment with others who share that same passion. Justin's attention to detail and ongoing support both in the planning stages and during the expedition was wonderful and fairly unique.
–Kathy C., 2013 African Vision participant
Over the years I have been fortunate to pursue my passion for wildlife photography in North, Central and South America and sharing the experiance with others on my return.   However, this safari has without question taken my interest in wildlife photography to a whole new level.  Along with Lou Coetzer's excellent instruction, the planning and photographic support of Justin Black, Visionary Wild, my long time friend and mentor, were invaluable. And then there is the secret sauce; the custom vehicles and boat!!  Any serious photographer interested in shooting wildlife in Africa simply owes it to themselves.

My only, and I mean only, suggestion regarding improving the experience would be to install a cappuccino machine on the boat.  Coffee machine or not I look forward to visiting again next year.

My sincere thanks for a journey I will never forget!

–David C., 2013 African Vision participant