Favorite Photo Workshops/Tours?

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Abinoone

Well-known member
Supporting Member
What photo tours and workshops have you taken, and which were your favorites? Which did you not enjoy? Why? When and where did you go, and who organized and led it?

Steve's workshops, of course, are very highly rated, and I look forward to taking my first next year. In the meanwhile, it would be interesting to learn of other experiences people may have had.

Thanks!
 

Viseguy

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Came close to doing a workshop with Steve a year back, but it didn't work out for various reasons, but I did pick up a nice 500 PF in preparation for that trip :) . I have been out with David Lloyd and Elliott Neep to India in 2019, and will going with them to Kenya/Masai Mara this August for the great migration. They don't present this as a full-on workshop, but each of them will spend quite a bit of time with each participant, one-on-one. This is an 8 day event.

David Lloyd
 

BillW

Well-known member
Supporting Member
My first photo workshop/trip was to the Galápagos Islands in 2017 with Thom Hogan and Wilderness Travel. 2 weeks in the islands on a large motorized sailboat. Great trip and an other-worldly location. Sold me on photo travel.

I went to the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica with Matt Kloskowski in 2018. A wonderful location with amazing wildlife. Matt ran a good trip. I’d love to go there again, with Matt or with Steve.

I have done two trips so far with Visionary Wild — one to Torres Del Paine National Park in 2019 with Justin Black and Michael Melford. I had a great time and the trip was very well done. I had mostly thought of it as a landscape trip, but it turned out that there was also a lot of interesting wildlife to photograph. I went to the Antarctic Peninsula in Jan/Feb 2020 (before covid largely shut travel down) on a trip lead by Justin, Frans Lanting and Chris Eckstrom. Also a wonderful trip and an amazing location. I am planning to go to Iceland with Justin and Chris Linder in September on a trip that will focus on the interior highlands of Iceland.

I did a trip with Brad Hill to Gwaii Haanas National Park and Reserve in British Columbia in 2019. It was also great — lots of marine mammals, birds and black bears and also beautiful scenery and interesting historical sites. I have had two other trips with Brad in British Columbia cancel/postpone due to covid. I am hoping to do a marine mammals focused trip with him this coming October and the Khutzeymateen grizzly bear sanctuary next May/June, assuming the Canadian border opens up one of these days.

I would recommend any of these trips if the location and subject matter interests you.

I am planning to go to Katmai National Park next month with Art Wolfe to photograph grizzlies bears. I haven’t done the trip yet, but it was highly recommended by someone I know from one of my prior trips who did the trip in 2019 with Art and got amazing photos.

I have learned a lot on these trips from the leaders and my fellow participants. They have been in great locations with timing and logistics well thought out. And I have enjoyed meeting others with similar interests — I regularly keep up with several people I met on these trips.
 

GrandNagus50

Well-known member
Supporting Member
I have been on two trips with Glenn Bartley, one to Costa Rica and the second to southern Ecuador. I signed up with him for the Pantanal July 2020, but clearly that one didn't happen, and in fact, Glenn has postponed the trip until July 2023. Given the hot mess that is Brazil atm, this was a wise decision, it appears.
Glenn is an excellent photographer, of course, and a terrific leader.

I have been on trips recently with Ken Archer (Colorado grouse tour) and Nate Chappell (Galveston migrants), through Trogon Photo Tours. The Colorado trip was a rip-roaring success in every way; the Galveston trip proved slow in terms of passerine migrants in early May, but that was not Nate's fault.

I am signed up to go with Barbara Eddy to Yellowstone next February. I chose her trip partly because the dates were ideal for me, but also I was really impressed with her brochure/itinerary. I know leaders like to get "followers" who go with them on multiple trips, but I actually like to go with different leaders over time, as each one has something unique to teach or model.

I also have been on multiple "birding tours," which are not really set up for sit-with-your-tripod photography, but more for "run and gun." This is ok with me for some venues, e.g., Northern Ohio in spring Migration, southeastern Arizona, Texas coastal migrants/High Island, etc. You cover a lot of ground more quickly, and you rely on your hand-holdable rig.

The success of a trip can hinge sometimes on the group chemistry exuded by the participants. I have been on trips where this was better or worse, and in fact, I have come to see that "people skills" are a fundamentally important requirement for tour leaders. One real pill of a client can unravel a whole excursion. I hope and pray that I never am that "real pill." So far, so good.
 

Abinoone

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Thread starter
I suppose that I should share too! The very best photo workshops I've ever taken were offered by Road Scholar (believe it or not), taught by renowned pro Jim Clark, at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Jim is a gifted photographer and inspired teacher, and the location is absolutely wonderful. It's so good that I took the same workshop three times! Sadly, because of Covid, the workshops are no longer offered, but I'm hopeful they will resume sometime soon.

I also did another fine Road Scholar photo workshop in the SC Lowcountry, led by photographer Bob Speare. Bob is an excellent teacher and trip leader, and the Lowcountry has plenty of scenic landscapes and wildlife. Although Covid postponed this workshop last year, Bob is offering it again through the LifeTides Institute - a fantastic organization.

This August I head to Yellowstone with Joe Allen and Earth Spirit tours, where we'll spend 10 days observing wolf predation, and whatever else comes along in the Lamar Valley.

Then, in September, I'm off to interior Alaska, Denali, and Prince William Sound for nine days, followed by 5 days at Katmai/Brooks, with Backcountry Journeys. Should be great trips!
 
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Abinoone

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Thread starter
Came close to doing a workshop with Steve a year back, but it didn't work out for various reasons, but I did pick up a nice 500 PF in preparation for that trip :) . I have been out with David Lloyd and Elliott Neep to India in 2019, and will going with them to Kenya/Masai Mara this August for the great migration. They don't present this as a full-on workshop, but each of them will spend quite a bit of time with each participant, one-on-one. This is an 8 day event.

David Lloyd
Wow, nice destinations! Good luck at the Mara. It's on my list...
 

Abinoone

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Thread starter
I have been on two trips with Glenn Bartley, one to Costa Rica and the second to southern Ecuador. I signed up with him for the Pantanal July 2020, but clearly that one didn't happen, and in fact, Glenn has postponed the trip until July 2023. Given the hot mess that is Brazil atm, this was a wise decision, it appears.
Glenn is an excellent photographer, of course, and a terrific leader.

I have been on trips recently with Ken Archer (Colorado grouse tour) and Nate Chappell (Galveston migrants), through Trogon Photo Tours. The Colorado trip was a rip-roaring success in every way; the Galveston trip proved slow in terms of passerine migrants in early May, but that was not Nate's fault.

I am signed up to go with Barbara Eddy to Yellowstone next February. I chose her trip partly because the dates were ideal for me, but also I was really impressed with her brochure/itinerary. I know leaders like to get "followers" who go with them on multiple trips, but I actually like to go with different leaders over time, as each one has something unique to teach or model.

I also have been on multiple "birding tours," which are not really set up for sit-with-your-tripod photography, but more for "run and gun." This is ok with me for some venues, e.g., Northern Ohio in spring Migration, southeastern Arizona, Texas coastal migrants/High Island, etc. You cover a lot of ground more quickly, and you rely on your hand-holdable rig.

The success of a trip can hinge sometimes on the group chemistry exuded by the participants. I have been on trips where this was better or worse, and in fact, I have come to see that "people skills" are a fundamentally important requirement for tour leaders. One real pill of a client can unravel a whole excursion. I hope and pray that I never am that "real pill." So far, so good.
Wow, you get around!
My first photo workshop/trip was to the Galápagos Islands in 2017 with Thom Hogan and Wilderness Travel. 2 weeks in the islands on a large motorized sailboat. Great trip and an other-worldly location. Sold me on photo travel.

I went to the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica with Matt Kloskowski in 2018. A wonderful location with amazing wildlife. Matt ran a good trip. I’d love to go there again, with Matt or with Steve.

I have done two trips so far with Visionary Wild — one to Torres Del Paine National Park in 2019 with Justin Black and Michael Melford. I had a great time and the trip was very well done. I had mostly thought of it as a landscape trip, but it turned out that there was also a lot of interesting wildlife to photograph. I went to the Antarctic Peninsula in Jan/Feb 2020 (before covid largely shut travel down) on a trip lead by Justin, Frans Lanting and Chris Eckstrom. Also a wonderful trip and an amazing location. I am planning to go to Iceland with Justin and Chris Linder in September on a trip that will focus on the interior highlands of Iceland.

I did a trip with Brad Hill to Gwaii Haanas National Park and Reserve in British Columbia in 2019. It was also great — lots of marine mammals, birds and black bears and also beautiful scenery and interesting historical sites. I have had two other trips with Brad in British Columbia cancel/postpone due to covid. I am hoping to do a marine mammals focused trip with him this coming October and the Khutzeymateen grizzly bear sanctuary next May/June, assuming the Canadian border opens up one of these days.

I would recommend any of these trips if the location and subject matter interests you.

I am planning to go to Katmai National Park next month with Art Wolfe to photograph grizzlies bears. I haven’t done the trip yet, but it was highly recommended by someone I know from one of my prior trips who did the trip in 2019 with Art and got amazing photos.

I have learned a lot on these trips from the leaders and my fellow participants. They have been in great locations with timing and logistics well thought out. And I have enjoyed meeting others with similar interests — I regularly keep up with several people I met on these trips.
Wow, you get around! Your trips all sound fantastic. Osa's a fantastic location - hope to go back sometime soon. Antarctica and the Galapagos both are on my destination list. Your Katmai trip with Art should be excellent - he's such an amazing photographer.
 

Viseguy

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Wow, nice destinations! Good luck at the Mara. It's on my list...
Yeah, thanks, hoping for the best after all this 2020 crap. I have done the Galapagos as well, and would highly recommend it. Otherworldly would be my best description. We did a trip on The Grace Yacht, a boat formally owned by Princess grace and a boat that participated in the Dunkirk evacuations. Bit of history there. 10-11 cabins, great food and great guides.

the grace
 

Abinoone

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Thread starter
Yeah, thanks, hoping for the best after all this 2020 crap. I have done the Galapagos as well, and would highly recommend it. Otherworldly would be my best description. We did a trip on The Grace Yacht, a boat formally owned by Princess grace and a boat that participated in the Dunkirk evacuations. Bit of history there. 10-11 cabins, great food and great guides.

the grace
Being a life-long sailor myself, I would LOVE the Grace Yacht!

Addendum: good Lord, just looked it up - what an amazing yacht! Fancy smanchy for sure, but not ridiculously expensive.
 
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eaj101

Well-known member
Haven't done a lot (yet) but I've had positive experiences with Joe Van Os (Yellowstone in winter and Denali) and Art Wolfe (Eastern Sierra and Olympics). Jeff Sullivan (author of the photo guidebook to Southern California) was great for Death Valley, Nevada, and the Eastern Sierra. Michael Frye for Yosemite, Mono Lake, and the Owens Valley. On my bucket list is chasing lightning over the Grand Canyon with Gary Hart and supercell storm clouds with somebody (?).
 

GrandNagus50

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Wow, you get around!
Context is everything. I am at "that certain age" when it's time to travel while I still can. This is the time after retirement when many of us have sufficient resources (house paid for, kids independent; these things help) and time, AND our health is good and we are reasonably mobile, knock on wood. I don't think this is news to most people reading this.
We know full well that these photo expeditions are dominated by folks 60-75 years old.

Road Scholar was mentioned; its entire purpose is to provide good quality, affordable travel for people over sixty. During the past five years I also have been to Brazil, England, and Austria with Road Scholar, to Galapagos with Ecoventura, Trinidad/Tobago with Caligo/Naturalist Journeys (independent birding venture), and to east Africa with Tanzania Expeditions (African company). These are not, strictly speaking, bird photography trips, but I pack some lightweight gear and get what photos I can. In the Galapagos, and in Kenya and Tanzania, this was a lot, of course, and Trinidad and Tobago were terrific, as well (so awful that Asa Wright has closed permanently). We are heading back to England in September and then to Costa Rica in January with Naturalist Journeys (independent birding venture). Gotta go, go, go while I still can!
 

DougC

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Hector Astorga leads many different workshops worldwide. Excellent teacher and guide and a very nice fellow. Laguna Seca ranch in south Texas is also a great place. I’ve only had one bad experience in south Texas over the last 20 years. Rather than name the person here I will gladly answer in a private conversation.
 

Abinoone

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Thread starter
Context is everything. I am at "that certain age" when it's time to travel while I still can. This is the time after retirement when many of us have sufficient resources (house paid for, kids independent; these things help) and time, AND our health is good and we are reasonably mobile, knock on wood. I don't think this is news to most people reading this.
We know full well that these photo expeditions are dominated by folks 60-75 years old.

Road Scholar was mentioned; its entire purpose is to provide good quality, affordable travel for people over sixty. During the past five years I also have been to Brazil, England, and Austria with Road Scholar, to Galapagos with Ecoventura, Trinidad/Tobago with Caligo/Naturalist Journeys (independent birding venture), and to east Africa with Tanzania Expeditions (African company). These are not, strictly speaking, bird photography trips, but I pack some lightweight gear and get what photos I can. In the Galapagos, and in Kenya and Tanzania, this was a lot, of course, and Trinidad and Tobago were terrific, as well (so awful that Asa Wright has closed permanently). We are heading back to England in September and then to Costa Rica in January with Naturalist Journeys (independent birding venture). Gotta go, go, go while I still can!
Yeah, your status and motivation are much the same as my own - since retiring 10 years ago, I've been on the go, at least until last year - Italy (twice), Costa Rica, and multiple trips to Florida, VA, SC, and out west (AZ, UT, NM, CA) to the national parks. Not all were photo tours - some just simple hiking adventures. As the old saying goes, 60s are the go-go years, 70s the slow-go years, and 80s the no-go years. Happy trails!
 

Abinoone

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Thread starter
Haven't done a lot (yet) but I've had positive experiences with Joe Van Os (Yellowstone in winter and Denali) and Art Wolfe (Eastern Sierra and Olympics). Jeff Sullivan (author of the photo guidebook to Southern California) was great for Death Valley, Nevada, and the Eastern Sierra. Michael Frye for Yosemite, Mono Lake, and the Owens Valley. On my bucket list is chasing lightning over the Grand Canyon with Gary Hart and supercell storm clouds with somebody (?).
Backcountry Journeys has a nice trip to AZ during the monsoon season - you might want to check it out. https://backcountryjourneys.com/photography-tours-workshops/southwest-monsoon-grand-canyon-country/
 

Glen

Member
Supporting Member
What photo tours and workshops have you taken, and which were your favorites? Which did you not enjoy? Why? When and where did you go, and who organized and led it?

Steve's workshops, of course, are very highly rated, and I look forward to taking my first next year. In the meanwhile, it would be interesting to learn of other experiences people may have had.

Thanks!
Very informative thread. Thanks
 

GrandNagus50

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Yeah, your status and motivation are much the same as my own - since retiring 10 years ago, I've been on the go, at least until last year - Italy (twice), Costa Rica, and multiple trips to Florida, VA, SC, and out west (AZ, UT, NM, CA) to the national parks. Not all were photo tours - some just simple hiking adventures. As the old saying goes, 60s are the go-go years, 70s the slow-go years, and 80s the no-go years. Happy trails!
I have been on trips, both photo-centered and not, where there were people in their eighties, and some of them have been in amazing condition. This inspires me to keep trying to stave off the inevitable ravages of aging as best I can. COVID was a real setback; I felt like I aged ten years during those first six months, and at the moment it seems like my "new normal" is discernibly slower and more pain-ridden than previously. The struggle continues. Meanwhile, I have noted on some of my trips (Road Scholar, most notably) a few people who apparently were up against that wall of not being able to fully participate any longer. During a very pleasant but occasionally demanding "riverboat on the Amazon" trip out of Manaus, there was a very charming and intelligent eighty-something woman who kept falling. She was never really injured, and she made sly remarks and seemed a good sport about her misfortune. But it really became clear that she really should not have come on this trip, it was too physically arduous for her. I bet that even six months previous to this it would not have been. This is a sad thing to see, and to look into the future and imagine for myself. Hey, time to get to the gym :).
 

GrandNagus50

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Hector Astorga leads many different workshops worldwide. Excellent teacher and guide and a very nice fellow. Laguna Seca ranch in south Texas is also a great place. I’ve only had one bad experience in south Texas over the last 20 years. Rather than name the person here I will gladly answer in a private conversation.
Hector leads a series of four photo workshops each May at Santa Clara Ranch, where he is the manager. They fill up way in advance. May is HOT in south Texas, but that is the very reason why the crepuscular photo opportunities at ranch waterholes are optimal at that time.
 
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Butlerkid

Well-known member
Supporting Member
I've made many photo-dedicated trips, some led by others and many planned by myself. I start by picking a destination, then find an experienced and highly recommended tour leader for that location. Of the trips I taken led by others, Adam Jones is a superb photographer (sponsored by Canon), experienced tour leader (on his own and for the likes of Van Os, etc.) and a great guy to be around. He leads trips in the USA, Africa and locations around the world. I took his 10 day trip to Tanzania last year - March 1-19. (Yep...came home just before airlines cancelled flights.) I've photographed at Laguna Seca and also took Hector Astorga's trip to Kenya in 2017. It was the first trip he ever led. Of course, our own Steve Perry is superb and I'd happily travel with him again!

Juan Carlos Vindas, a native Costa Rican, offers phenomenal trips in Costa Rica covering a wide range of locations.

One piece of advice, be very, very careful about taking the very first trip offered by someone. A great photographer does not necessarily make a great trip leader. They are generally still learning how to structure the trip, establish the best local contacts and logistics, and lead a great trip.
 

GrandNagus50

Well-known member
Supporting Member
The truth (spoken in grumbles and whispers among amateur photographers) is that some "great photographers" make simply dreadful trip leaders. It's a matter of whether they are able to make the trip about the clients rather than about placing their own greatness on display. Glenn Bartley is an example of a first-rate photographer who makes his trips all about the clients' needs. He will bring out his own camera occasionally to snap a few shots, but basically, he is attending full-time to the people who paid to accompany him.
 

DougC

Well-known member
Supporting Member
The truth (spoken in grumbles and whispers among amateur photographers) is that some "great photographers" make simply dreadful trip leaders. It's a matter of whether they are able to make the trip about the clients rather than about placing their own greatness on display. Glenn Bartley is an example of a first-rate photographer who makes his trips all about the clients' needs. He will bring out his own camera occasionally to snap a few shots, but basically, he is attending full-time to the people who paid to accompany him.
Couldn’t agree more! When your “leader” is photographing, he’s not teaching.
 

Ghostcrab

New member
For many years I was underwater photography centered and craved the workshops of Alex Mustard from the UK. Some were given in the Caribbean and were usually 1-2 weeks
superb instruction with gear and techniques, we always had a large dedicated boat for the workshops and they were very intensive. His most exciting workshops were to
Palau, the Philippines, Indonesia, Fiji, etc, and fo many, our hotel was a large liveaboard dive boat. Several years ago I was grounded from diving by ENT due to I imagine age related changes in my sinuses that were causing problems.

I always did wildlife and general photography on land so it was a natural to join Steve in the Osa peninsula in Costa Rica, which was great for both myself and my wife whose
also a photographer. We further stretched photo workshops to Europe on workshops with Joe McNally to Tuscany, Vienna-Prague, Scotland and got shoved into an introduction
to people photography (I really prefer nature). We then went on a Nikon sponsored workshop to Patagonia and Easter Islands with Katsu Tanaka and it was beyond all my expectations. Group size was limited 8 participants, Hotel accommodations were excellent and it was intense analogous to boot-camp. Since it was Nikon sponsored, he did
have a decent amount of spare Nikon equipment for people to try or if something didn't work the way it should.

We went with Katsu on several other workshops including the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu in Peru where we photographed some incredible scenery much of it above 15K feet ( not easy with a tripod, backpack, 2 camera bodies & lenses + water quite a workout). We did Tokyo & Kyoto Japan for the Fall colors unreal. Our last trip to the Atacama
desert and Altiplano in Chili and then the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia. Unfortunately our trip was cut short by a day when we returned from an early am shoot we were told to pack
and leave immediately because the border was closing due to covid it was March 11th. we got out quickly but it was a fantastic trip.

You do need to be in pretty good physical shape no matter your age
 

tjphxaz

Member
I did Steve’s Costa Rica workshop in 2018 and hope to do his Africa workshop someday.
For the Soutwestern USA, some other regions, macro, critters, post processing, etc.; check the offerings from Arizona Highways Photoscapes https://ahps.org/
The workshop leaders are terrific. These workshops also have special access to places, especially on Indian lands, that are difficult to get to on your own such as the slot canyons, White Pocket, Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelley, and Coal Mine Canyon.
 

MikePapple

Active member
I have a Yukon, Canada rafting trip in August. Rapids, bald eagles, Dall sheep, bears, glaciers, canyons. I will bring a travel tripod for landscape panos, and handholding for the critters.

I am also thinking about a trip next February to Norway. Winter landscapes and northern lights.
 
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GrandNagus50

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Couldn’t agree more! When your “leader” is photographing, he’s not teaching.
On the other hand. . . on a recent trip I was on (will not name trip destination, company, or leader) the leader photographed quite a bit, and was kind of defensive about it, saying "this is how I make my living," etc. This guy was a good leader overall, so his taking his own photos did not seem that big a deal. The real issue is whether the leader communicates that his photography and his overall existence have priority over the group because, "Do you know who I am?"
 

jhorsch

Member
We recently returned from a trip to Santa Clara ranch in S Texas with Hector Astorga. He's great and we'll travel with him again. Have also had great experiences with Chesseman's - Botswana/Zambia/Rwanda (Tom Murphy), Yellowstone winter (twice with Tom), Alaska Arctic (Hugh Rose). Also did a trip with Hugh (not through Cheeseman's) to Prince William Sound (on boat) and Lake Clark (Coastal Brown bears). Recommend all highly.
 
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