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!


Limit 7 spaces | $3,950* Closed
Creative Core September 14 - 18, 2015 | View other workshops

Sonoma Coast with Jeff Foott and Jerry Dodrill

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Characterized by the ebb and flow of tides and fog, California’s sleepy Sonoma Coast features light, atmospherics, and landscape as fine as the region’s famous pinot noir. Dramatic headlands, sea stacks, and beaches are sculpted by the Pacific waves and the action of tectonic plates along the San Andreas Fault. The rugged beauty here offers unending opportunities for passionate photographers. This advanced workshop is geared for photographers who are fairly comfortable with the fundamentals of photography and digital workflow, and who seek higher-level mentorship.

Instructors Jeff Foott and Jerry Dodrill will lead eight field sessions to explore remote coves, sea arches and tidepools, coastal ridges and steep canyons filled with redwood forest. They will share insights that will help you to refine your creative vision, composition skills, and field techniques, understand the practical implications of human visual cognition, explore ways to use the element of time to expand your creative horizons, and help find ways to add greater purpose and meaning to your photography.

Our basecamp at historic Timber Cove Inn, located on a headland with dramatic views of sea stacks and surf, serves as an excellent position from which we will set off for a range of photographic objectives from Bodega Bay’s bluffs and sand dunes to the Russian River, Fort Ross, and the sculpted tufoni sandstone formations and wind-sculpted bishop pines at Salt Point. We will visit mysterious Bowling Ball Beach and the historic Point Arena lighthouse. Special features of this workshop include a field session in a scenic ridge-top old-vine Zinfandel vineyard, and a private wine tasting dinner with a local wine maker.

Acclaimed outdoor photographer Jerry Dodrill has spent the last fifteen years living and photographing along the Sonoma coast, chasing light and storms, and seeking out the exceptional opportunities offered by this little-photographed landscape. The Sonoma Coast is a photographer's dream come true in contrast to the restricted access and crowds of more heavily trafficked destinations further south. The subject matter and freedom to explore the coastline is exceptional, and photographers are able to pursue their creativity without distraction.


Jeff Foott

Having had the good fortune to work and play in nature most of my early life, it became obvious to me I had to spend my life outside. After working as a National Park Ranger, a mountain climbing guide, ski patrolman and a few other lesser jobs, I went back to school in marine biology – doing research on sea otters – which at the time were in trouble.

I had come to love these creatures and set out naively thinking that if I could only portray to the public how they survived the ocean storms, raised their young and the danger of extinction they faced, then the otters would be saved. This was my entry into photography.

I first took still pictures for lectures and magazine articles, and then started a film about this unique creature. The film was eventually shown in over 100 countries to an estimated 100 million people. I had found a platform to speak from. Forty-five films later, for National Geographic, Discovery, PBS, BBC, etc., I am still working to portray what we have in the natural world and its importance to our spiritual direction in a time where the calm of nature is less reflected in our beings than at any other time in the history of man.

Along the way, I added art to the biology. My last film for The Living Eden series, Patagonia, was a finalist for an Emmy for cinematography. I have continued to shoot still pictures, now often focusing on the simple beauty and design of nature. I have changed mediums from large format 4x5 to shooting digital. I have never lost touch with the original motivation of using the photography medium to show people the wonder and beauty of nature, and making a plea for sanity in dealing with our natural environment. Pristine natural environments provide optimum opportunity for each of us to experience the calm and wholeness of our being, which is really our natural state. While searching for photographs, I rely on what touches my center, and then with logic and camera I make the effort to pass on to the viewer the original feeling that drew me to the scene. – Jeff Foott


Jeff has been widely published in the U.S. and internationally.  National Geographic magazine, National Geographic Traveler, Audubon, National Wildlife magazine, Nature's Best, Outdoor Photographer, Sierra Club calendars, Audubon calendars are a few of the publications that use his work. He is an Associate of the International League of Conservation Photographers and has donated his time and photographic talent to the ILCP Borderlands and Patagonia Rapid Assessment Visual Expeditions (RAVEs).

Video: Jeff's project to fight the pine bark beetle invasion

Video: Jeff gets an amusing endorsement deal! (circa 1982)

Jerry Dodrill

Jerry Dodrill is an award-winning landscape and adventure photographer who in the early years of his career was a protégé of the legendary Galen Rowell. An unrelenting passion for photography and outdoor adventures made it clear that Jerry was not destined for a desk job. An avid climber for twenty years, he feels equally at home in a rocky bivouac or a soft bed. In college, pre-med classes gave way to studies in fine art and weekends spent scaling Yosemite's granite walls. Photography was at first a byproduct of his adventures but quickly became his artistic medium of choice as he captured each experience with a concise aesthetic and quality of light revealing his inspiration.

Jerry's adventures have led him around the globe. He has climbed all the major walls in Yosemite Valley, at crags across the West, close to a hundred summits in the Sierra, and peaks in Bolivia, Argentina, Kyrgyzstan, and China. His full embrace of the many disciplines of climbing have led to many adventures and tales best told late at night around a raging campfire.

Jerry holds degrees in fine art and photography, which in 1997 led him to work for acclaimed photographer Galen Rowell at Mountain Light in Berkeley. There, he managed Galen's gallery space and workshops, an amazing experience (akin to a photographer's bootcamp).

Since 2000, he has been pursuing his own adventures and photography career. Jerry's immense talent and creative eye have been well recognized through international awards and exhibition in fine galleries, such as the Ansel Adams in Yosemite, Mountain Light, Mumm Napa Valley, and the Banff Center for Mountain Culture. Through his numerous workshops for Mountain Light Gallery, Visionary Wild, and Sierra Nevada College, and college-level teaching at Pacific Union College in Napa Valley, he has proven himself as a highly engaging and effective photography teacher and workshops leader.

After running his own gallery on California's North Coast for five years, he now resides in the Sonoma County town of Sebastopol, California, focusing on commercial and editorial assignment photography, exhibitions of his work, and sharing his vision and expertise with others. Jerry's work has been featured in many ad campaigns, books, and publications and is represented by Aurora Photos. Editorial and commercial clients include The North Face, Vanity Fair, Sunset, Men's Journal, Outside, Alpinist, Rock & Ice, and Climbing magazines. Expert in Photoshop and digital color management, Jerry is regularly sought out as a color pre-press manager for high-end photo books, and as a fine digital printmaker. He was also recently recruited as a design consultant for the exciting new outdoors-oriented photo pack company MindShift Gear, a spin-off from Think Tank Photo.

Visit Jerry's website

Visit Jerry's blog

Jerry Dodrill portrait: © Grant Ordelheide.


  • Two top instructors and a small group limited to ten participants
  • Splendid weather for photography on the coast
  • Eight field photography sessions
  • Constructive group critique sessions
  • Includes excellent single-occupancy lodging, overlooking Timber Cove.
  • Fine dining, including Sonoma County wines with dinners, plus a tasting dinner with a local winemaker.
  • All participants will be entitled to have two free 20"x30" prints made of their own work, by the master printmakers of West Coast Imaging
Topics to be covered will include:
  • The Evocative Image – Creating compositions that evoke emotion, and stimulate imagination and impression
  • The Path to Composition – photographer as visual route-finder
  • Working the Scene – the active process of refining compositions in changing conditions
  • Embracing the Time Factor – super-long exposures, motion blur, time-lapse, and multiple exposures
  • Photography with Purpose – using personal projects to focus your creative vision
  • Best practices for optimum sharpness
  • Stitching for high resolution and panoramas

Accommodations & Travel

Perched in quiet isolation on a headland overlooking the Pacific, Timber Cove Inn is our base for the duration of our workshop. Its location provides easy access to our field locations. This package includes four nights of single-occupancy lodging overlooking Timber Cove itself, all meals, and adult beverages with dinner. Prorated fees are available for double occupancy and for those who do not require lodging. A variety of excellent area restaurants serve great California cuisine, local seafood, and fine Sonoma Coast wines.

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For those traveling by air, Sonoma/Santa Rosa (STS) airport is 42 miles away (about a one-hour drive). Oakland (OAK) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) are both a little over 100 miles away (a 2.25 hour drive depending on Bay Area traffic). Field sessions along the Sonoma Coast will be by group carpool, to locations up to an hour from Timber Cove. We will access field locations via relatively short walks and hikes on mixed terrain that is sometimes rugged, as well as coastal headlands, tidal pools, and wet rocks that may be slippery. Typical September weather along the Sonoma Coast involves early morning marine fog which burns off by mid day, with highs around 68ºF and lows around 48ºF near the water, with highs up to the low 80s inland. The topography of the coastal mountains makes it easy to work above or on the edge of the fog. the


This advanced workshop offers the next step for those who feel they are photographing competently, with a good grasp on the technical fundamentals of digital cameras, exposure, and a functioning digital workflow, but who are ready to focus on more specialized development. The small group size and two gifted instructors will ensure that everyone receives one-on-one time to address their particular interests, challenges, and priorities.

In addition to a warm welcome, great amenities, an expertly managed itinerary, and superb locations, you can expect highly engaging, insightful, and effective instruction from Jeff and Jerry, both of whom have earned stellar reputations among their workshop students over the years. Jeff is a life-long nature lover and visual storyteller, which led  him a long and successful career as a preeminent nature cinematographer and still photographer. Jerry had the good fortune to be mentored by the legendary photographer Galen Rowell, and has gone on to become highly respected or his work by amateur fans and professional peers alike. Add to that their upbeat good humor and thoughtful care for the needs of their clients, and you've got a truly winning combination.

We will meet at Timber Cover Inn on the afternoon of September 14th, and after an orientation session and check-in, we will head out for our first field photography session. We will adjourn following the final critique and discussion at around 3pm on September 18th.


Bioluminescence on the Sonoma Coast, by Jerry Dodrill


For years I’ve heard unbelievable stories about people’s surreal night time experiences in the ocean with glowing plankton blooms, but until recently I’d never seen it myself. The tip off came from Ellen Cruz, a friend from Bodega Bay who sent a note about an experience she’d just had on the Sonoma County coast:

…the ocean was illuminated as if under a black light…so awesome, cannot describe in words…no need to drop acid on this one…every white particle of wave was iridescent, florescent, glowing like you can’t believe…step on the sand and your footprint glows and sparkles… there were banks of waves coming in, white caps in the distance just glowed, and when the waves connected it was elongated strips of fluorescent green stripes across the water… whew…

This strange oceanic occurrence is likely the root of ghost stories told by early sailors who saw the mysterious green fire in the water but failed to comprehend what they were seeing. Documented as far back as 500 B.C., most bioluminescent light occurs in tiny plants called dinoflagellates which live in the sea and gain energy from the photosynthesis of sunlight. In darkness they emit a blue light in response to movement within the water. The intensity of the light peaks about two hours after dark and is simply amazing to watch. During the day they turn red and can be the source of the neurotoxin that poisons shell fish during Red Tides.

After receiving Ellen’s note, and being somewhat fascinated by natural optical phenomena, my mind immediately began pre-visualizing how I could make an interesting photograph. I often try to imagine best-case situations that might occur in nature. The trick is to carefully consider the conditions which would be necessary for a scenario to occur and then consciously reverse engineer it and attempt to put yourself on location at just the right time while being prepared to capture the moment. Something magical often ends up happening, even if it is somewhat different than what you had imagined.

As I pondered the complexity of making an evocative image of the psychedelic tides I felt that the images would look very alien if there wasn’t an earthly land form with which the viewer can easily identify. I started piecing together two ideas that I thought I could achieve in the same night. I’d seen the first sliver of a moon the night before, just after sunset, and knew that the next day it would be about fifty minutes higher in the sky. So I wanted to first make an image of the crescent moon setting at twilight above the breakers and Arched Rock near Jenner. The second image I was visualizing was a long exposure at the cusp of night where I would have just enough light to see the arch, and enough darkness for the dinoflagellates to show up in the water.

I checked the weather satellite which showed crystal clear skies, then double checked the angle of the moon relative to the arch by using a very useful software for such things called The Photographer’s Ephemeris. All the elements seemed to align and it looked like a promising evening.

I pulled up at Goat Rock Beach in Sonoma Coast State Park right about sunset, (which-oops!- is when the Park closes), geared up in rubber boots and wind gear and headed south down Blind Beach in gorgeous light that I would normally have been shooting. This time I was on a mission for something more mysterious than a sunset but at one point I did stop and made a few exposures of boney rocks protruding from the sand with crazy beams of light coming over the horizon. This was an early and unexpected bonus shot. As the light diminished I came to where the convergence of the setting moon and the sea arch were just perfect.

The first set of images were exactly what I expected. In years past I’d made similar images here with the full moon setting at sunrise into the Earth’s shadow. What I didn’t expect this time is that my camera’s sensor was picking up the Milky Way directly above the Arch! This added a layer of intrigue to the image that was far beyond what I’d imagined. Soon the starry night was fully visible to the naked eye.

If the moon had been larger or higher I believe its light would have polluted the clear, cold night sky and blown out the reflection in the water. But it was just slight enough that the relative contrast between the starlight and reflections fell into a range which could be handled if I was careful. But it was the bioluminescence that was most incredible. Each waved rolled in looking like a million neon glow sticks had been dumped into them. The blue-green light shot across the breakers as they crashed, the more wave energy released, the more light emitted. The backwash on the beach left momentary trails of light which resembled a million little galaxies.

I was in “the zone” watching wave sets, adjusting exposures as it got darker and darker, moving south down the beach as the moon traversed to the north, trying to keep my juxtaposition with Arched Rock in alignment. It was a bit ridiculous to realize a shot like this had come together: crescent moon shining through the arch under the Milky Way with the glowing ocean. Then as if in a nod to affirm all was okay in the universe, I watched in awe as a brilliant shooting star streaked across the sky above the arch while I had the shutter open. All the while I was very aware that I should not have parked my car in the heavily patrolled parking lot.

The moon was finally setting so I packed and hiked across the beach toward the car, arriving just as two park rangers stepped out of their cruiser with spot lights on. “Hello!” I called out of the darkness in attempt to not get myself Tazed as I stepped into the blinding beams with a big tripod on my shoulder. I received the full lecture from them (the park closes at sunset…we don’t want to have to come looking for you…) and apologized sheepishly. They wanted to know what I was doing out there. Still buzzing from an incredible experience, I pulled out the camera and offered to show them. The three of us huddled in the wind with our heads close to the back of my Nikon’s LCD and looked through the entire image set frame by frame while dispatch ran my plates and ID. The officers have one of the best office views in the state out their front windshield and were excited to see my photographic interpretation of what they see every day. As it turns out we share mutual friends and a deep connection for preserving California’s wild coast. I didn’t get a ticket that night. Instead I walked away with a couple of new friends, some images with which I’m really happy, and the good info on where to park the car for my next outing.

-Jerry Dodrill

Sebastopol, CA

Visionary Wild instructor Jerry Dodrill will co-lead two workshops on the California coast with Jeff Foott in 2015, among the northern Redwood Coast in June and on the Sonoma Coast in September. We hope you can join us.

More info:


Sonoma Coast State Park: