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

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

Justin Black – Managing Director: 1-202-302-9030 • Email:

Jennifer Woolley – Director of Operations • Email:

We look forward to hearing from you!


2 of 6 spaces left | $6,695* Register
Expedition December 10 - 17, 2018 | View other workshops

Costa Rica with Justin Black

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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, two- and three-toed sloths, 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 and vegetation full of character and beautiful graphic designs just waiting to be discovered.

Expedition leader Justin Black will share his 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.

Our base camp is El Remanso, a top-rated eco-lodge, which offers a uniquely rich and accessible environment to witness and explore the incredible flora and fauna of Central America's rainforests.  The owners are our personal friends, 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 a delicious mix of international and local Tico cuisine, fresh tropical fruits, 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.

Click "read more" at below right for the full itinerary

This program is all-inclusive: Single-occupancy lodging (double-occupancy available at a reduced rate), all ground transfers, round-trip air charter from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez, all meals, adult beverages with dinner, daily naturalist guiding, 4WD ground transportation to field sessions off the El Remanso conservancy, and all group gratuities.


December 10 – San Jose, Costa Rica

You will be met at Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) by a trusted English-speaking driver we have used numerous times before. He will transfer you and your luggage by van to beautiful Hotel Bougainvillea – the lush tropical gardens are worth the stay on their own. There, you will meet Justin and the other guests and share a welcome dinner together. Overnight at Hotel Bougainvillea (D)

December 11 – San Jose – Osa Peninsula

Our driver will meet us at Hotel Bougainvillea at 6:30am to drive us to the SANSA charter airline terminal adjacent to the main international airport terminal at SJO. There, we will facilitate your check-in for the 50-minute flight on a modern thirteen-seat Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft to Puerto Jimenez. The flight over the mountains and along the coast is incredibly scenic – a great opportunity to do some aerial photography. In Puerto Jimenez, El Remanso staff will meet us at the airstrip before jumping into 4WD Land Rovers for the 45-minute scenic drive to El Remano. Upon arrival at El Remanso, we'll enjoy a welcome orientation and staff introductions, and you'll have time to get settled in before lunch. We begin photographing that afternoon, followed by dinner and overnight at El Remanso (B,L,D)

December 12-16 – Osa Peninsula

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. Overnight at El Remanso (B,L,D)

December 17 – Osa Peninsula – San Jose

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: $6,695.00.   Double occupancy: $6,095/person

• Would a non-photographer spouse or friend like to join you? We offer a two-person package for one workshop participant and one non-participant guest: $9,995.00 total for two (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 Justin Black
  • In-country flights: San Jose – Puerto Jimenez – San Jose
  • All ground transfers
  • Seven nights lodging – One night lodging at Hotel Bougainvillea in San Jose, six nights at El Remanso
  • All meals and beverages (including wine, beer, cocktails with dinner) at El Remanso
  • 4WD group transportation to field locations
  • Expert naturalist guides
  • Group gratuities
* IMPORTANT NOTE: Scheduling International Flights
We have found that flying from the USA to the Osa Peninsula in one day is difficult or impossible, which is why we schedule a restful night at Hotel Bougainvillea on the first night of our itinerary, 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 an arrival by mid-day at SJO on 12/10 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 out of San Jose on December 17th 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

JUSTIN BLACK is a photographer, writer, editor, expedition leader, photo workshops instructor, a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Writers (ILCW), and a former executive director of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP). Since 2011 with Visionary Wild and for ten years at Galen Rowell's Mountain Light Photography, 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 when he signed his first picture agency contract, 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 others. His work has also been published by major news outlets in print and online, and has been used in advertising for brands such as MasterCard, Patagonia, Nikon, and 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 2017, he entered the world of motion pictures as an Executive Producer on the award-winning documentary film, Headhunt Revisited: With Brush, Canvas, and Camera, produced and directed by Michele Westmorland. Justin was invited to serve as a judge for the 2015 and 2017 Nature's Best Photography Africa competitions. He has also been 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 available through his portfolio website at

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, 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


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


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


Filters and Light Modifiers

Nikon Circular Polarizer II

Singh-Ray Vari-ND

Tiffen WW IRND neutral density filters

Photoflex reflectors and diffusers

Lumiquest soft boxes

Rogue Flashbender

Rosco gels



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 Backlight 36L

MindShift Backlight 26L

Mindshift FirstLight 30L

MindShift Rotation 180 Pro

Mindshift Rotation 180 Horizon

Mindshift Rotation 180 Panorama

ThinkTank Airport Addicted V2.0

ThinkTank Urban Disguise 50 V2.0



  • Explore this private rainforest preserve, featuring primary old-growth forest, waterfalls, and wild Pacific beach
  • Exotic native birds, New World monkeys, colorful frogs, and other tropical wildlife
  • Your photo instructor and experienced local naturalist guides ensure excellent participant support and an incredibly rich learning experience.
  • Group size limited to only six participating photographers.
  • 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 4WD ground transportation to field sessions to areas beyond the El Remanso conservancy, and 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 a 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. Thanks to 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, and it has been consistently ranked of one of the very finest eco-lodges in Costa Rica and Latin America ever since.

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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 range from very easy to moderate. 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 very 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.


Jeff and I both agreed that our Costa Rica workshop with you was perfect! we loved every minute-the teaching, the setting, the eco-lodge, conversation and people. We hope to to have a chance to have another adventure with you soon.
– Arlene K., Costa Rica participant
Steve and I both truly enjoyed our El Remanso experience with you.  What a wonderful place!  And each time we attend one of your workshops, I learn more about photography! Thanks so much for everything.  Hope to see you again at a future workshop.
– Lynn A.,  Costa Rica participant