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 10 spaces | $2,250* Closed
Creative Core March 11 - 15, 2013 | View other workshops

Valley of Fire with Jeff Foott and Justin Black

Map via Google

Nevada's Valley of Fire derives its name from the firelight glow of red sandstone formations reflecting the sun's magic-hour rays. Swirling "wave" formations, majestic arches, wind-eroded pocket caves, water-polished slot canyons, layered beehives, hoodoos, and layered ridges catching sunset like flickering flames are among the incredible array of landforms here. The color of the rock ranges from oranges, yellows, and pinks to magenta and blue.  Mesozoic petrified trees and cryptic petroglyphs left behind by ancient cultures are found at several sites around the park. It's the southwest in microcosm, conveniently located just an hour from Las Vegas.

This workshop is a camping trip limited to a small group of ten. Our base camp right in the middle of the landscape will allow us to focus on photography in the field, making the most of the potential of the place. Instructors Jeff Foott and Justin Black will lead the group on photo excursions to capture the best morning and evening light. During mid-day hours, the group will head into slot canyons and other sheltered areas to photograph in the warm glow reflected from the colorful stone. Jeff and Justin will guide participants through the process of conceiving, planning, and creating inspired photographs among the wind-chiseled, swirling formations.

There will be plenty of time in the field for personalized instruction, discussion, and Q&A. Back in camp each evening, we will gather to review and critique the day's images on our laptops. Those who are interested can even take advantage of the clear desert air to photograph by moonlight.

Click "read more" below right for the image gallery and Jeff Foott's thoughts on Valley of Fire:

Jaw-dropping moments are something I've had more than my fair share of during my long career as a nature photographer and cinematographer. In Nepal, I once had a wild tiger unexpectedly leap from camouflaged cover no more than twelve feet away from me. In Botswana, an angry mother elephant nearly flipped my open Land Rover with her tusks. And, I'm sure I've experienced whichever emotion it is that arises beyond "elation," when the full moon began to rise unexpectedly into the perfect place in my composition as I photographed the warm afterglow of dusk on the red rock of Utah's Castle Rock Spire.

But one year, suffering from spring fever, I decided to explore Valley of Fire. I had driven past the park countless times, uninspired by the dull brown rock visible along the highway. Valley of Fire is one of the first places to warm up in the spring, though, so off I went.  As I ventured into the main part of the park for the first time, the sculpted and faceted multi-colored sandstone landscape before me surpassed my wildest expectations. Over the next few days, I hiked most of the main drainages looking for color and design. Some of the best was within a hundred yards of the road, some a mile or two back, but exquisite compositions were everywhere. It was reminiscent of Coyote Buttes in some spots, complete with its own “wave” except many times more colorful. As if the beautiful rock designs were not enough, big horn sheep and ancient petroglyphs are commonplace. For a place that appears from the road to be an underwhelming state park, Valley of Fire reveals itself as one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful landscapes I've ever seen. –Jeff Foott


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)

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



  • More than a dozen photography sessions with guiding and instruction by Jeff Foott and Justin Black throughout.
  • Emphasis on refining composition and stimulating creativity
  • Working the scene through changing conditions and light
  • Understanding and using various qualities of light to best effect
  • Control of digital exposure and dynamic range
  • Embracing the Time Factor – long exposures, motion blur, time-lapse, and multiple exposures
  • Stitching for high resolution and panoramas
  • Focal plane and perspective control and use of tilt-shift lenses
  • Digital workflow for the photographer in the field
  • Photography at night, including time-lapse and star trails
  • Our camp is strategically positioned to access a range of awe-inspiring landscape opportunities within easy driving and hiking range
  • Excellent catering by our camp staff
  • The great outdoors, crisp desert air, camaraderie, and a lot of fun!

Accommodations & Travel

Our basecamp is perfectly located to maximize our photographic opportunities. Available amenities include hot showers and modern restrooms, a camp headquarters RV that we will use for recharging camera batteries and laptops, and catering by backcountry chef Tracy Terzian. The camp will accommodate tents or pickup campers, and an RV campground is nearby. We will happily arrange tents, sleeping bags, and comfortable sleeping pads for those who need them.

airplane iconcar iconfoot iconweather icon
Las Vegas (LAS) McCarran International is the closest airport, offering an excellent array of flights. Valley of Fire is a little over an hour's drive from Las Vegas. Directions can be found here: . Within Valley of Fire State Park, we will carpool to locations and trailheads. Hikes will be easy, ranging from a few feet to up to a mile or so each way. Temperatures in March range from a high around 70ºF to a low around 50ºF. The chance of precipitation is small, though March may deliver some clouds to complete landscape compositions.