Colorado Wildflowers and Waterfalls Photography Workshops
Join us in the dramatic San Juan mountains in Colorado for the ultimate all-inclusive experience. We will be photographing during peak wildflower season and showing you our favorite locations. This will also be an educational experience with three professional instructors who will show you how to photograph everything from grand landscapes to small scenes. All of this plus luxury lodging, meals, and transportation in Jeeps with experienced drivers.
Note about COVID-19
We want to ensure you feel safe coming to our workshops above all else during these unprecedented times. We have implemented the following protocols to keep everyone safe and slow the spread of the virus. Our workshops will look a bit different until there is an effective vaccine or treatment, but we will still provide the same level of education and fun!
July 26-30, 2021
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Verdant valleys, basins full of wildflowers, endless rugged peaks and stunning hidden waterfalls make the San Juan mountains of Colorado a photographer’s paradise. This area has the state’s highest concentration of 14ers and numerous pristine glacial blue lakes. The monsoonal summer rains create a landscape mix that resembles the Scottish Highlands and the Canadian Rockies. The towering alpine peaks are covered in lush grass over a sea of forest and rocks, creating magical scenes. Join Exploring Exposure and Mountain Wild Tours on an exclusive photography retreat at Red Mountain Alpine Lodge. We’ll spend five days in the heart of the San Juans on Red Mountain Pass photographing our favorite locations and learning post-processing techniques. The private lodge includes meals prepared by a personal chef, space for resting and relaxing between shooting, and quick access to some of the best photography spots. We’ll visit locations all around Silverton, Ouray, and Telluride. We will off-road on the scenic 4WD Alpine Loop, Ouray’s famed Yankee Boy Basin, explore hidden waterfalls and lesser-known basins. Each instructor brings a different focus and instruction on photography techniques. David offers guidance on diverse perspectives and clean light, Jennifer teaches her passion for abstracts, smaller scenes and patterns; and Jason teaches the pursuit of grand scenics and video art.
Luxury Alpine Lodging Included
For this workshop we will provide you the premier alpine experience at the Red Mountain Alpine Lodge which is 20 minutes North of Silverton, CO. We have rented the entire lodge, so it will just be our group sharing the lodge.
The Red Mountain Alpine Lodge is a brand new, premium off-grid timber frame backcountry lodge with amenities galore. The lodge features three private rooms and a large shared loft with privacy walls. Right when you walk in through the large entryway door, you’ll experience the sensation of rustic luxury as you gaze at the amazing exposed posts and beams of the custom timber frame structure. Constructed using 19th Century tools and processes with Douglas Fir timbers, it creates the unmistakable look and feel that are the hallmarks of this type of construction – cozy, rustic and soulful.
The lodge hosts a number of premium amenities and comforts to help you relax after a great day in the mountains so that you can rest and prepare for the next
If you are flying in, we have arranged for a shuttle to pick you up so you do not need to rent a car. The shuttle will transport you from Durango directly to the Alpine Lodge. Once at the lodge, we will be transporting you in Jeep Rubicons to incredible locations all over the San Juan Mountains. We all have many years of experience driving in these mountains and will ensure you arrive safely. The shuttle will return you to Durango at the conclusion of the trip.
Note: If you would like to use the shuttle you will need to arrive in Durango one day prior to the start of the workshop. You will be responsible for arranging a hotel in Durango for this night, and transportation from the airport to your hotel in Durango. The shuttle will be picking you up on the morning of the first day of the workshop to transport you to the Alpine Lodge.
What is Included
What is Not Included
What You Will Learn
In the Field
- How to read a scene to create compelling compositions using shapes, lines, visual mass, texture, and more
- Reading weather and lighting conditions to know when to go out on your own in the right light
- How to use apps to scout out your own locations and plan your next shoot
- When and how to use lenses to bring focus to your subject
- How and when to use a polarizer to make colors pop
- Depth of field and hyperfocal distance to help you create sharp photos
- Achieving maximum sharpness using focus stacking
- Creative use of ND Filters to create motion in clouds and water
- Creating panoramas without using expensive equipment
- How to take correct exposures for bright skies; to be later used for exposure blending
- Identifying the best light and how to expose correctly
Post Processing for Beginners
- Making dull RAW files pop in Lightroom and keeping files organized
- Use of local adjustments for dodging & burning, and many more creative opportunities
- Using white balance to create mood in your images
- Properly sharpen and reduce noise for maximum image quality
- Stitching panoramas easily in Lightroom
- Exposure blending using HDR for natural looking results
Post Processing for Advanced users
- Exposure blending using luminosity masks to create balanced, natural looking images
- Focus stacking using Photoshop and/or Zerene Stacker for maximum depth of field
- Blending different focal lengths to correct for wide angle diminishment
- Creative burning and dodging techniques to bring focus to your subject
- Using the Orton Effect to add glow to your highlights
- Creating drama with Light Bleed
- Using Midtone Contrast to make images pop off the screen
- Sharpening for web and print
Safe, Legal, Responsible.
We are proud members of Nature First Photography. This movement is dedicated to responsible nature photography. At its core are seven principles that we abide by and promote to our clients. We hope you will join the movement!
The Nature First Principles
- Prioritize the well-being of nature over photography.
- Educate yourself about the places you photograph.
- Reflect on the possible impact of your actions.
- Use discretion if sharing locations.
- Know and follow rules and regulations.
- Always follow Leave No Trace principles and strive to leave places better than you found them.
- Actively promote and educate others about these principles
Concerned about your safety.
We understand how important your safety is when we’re in remote locations. This is why David and Jennifer are both certified Wilderness First Responders, we are prepared for any situation large or small. We also carry satellite communication devices should we need rescue assistance in remote areas.
We always run our workshops on the up and up. For this workshop Exploring Exposure operates under a Special Use Permit on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, Gunnison and San Juan National Forests. We are also an equal opportunity service provider.
We encourage you to find your unique style of creativity with focused training based on your style and skill level. You will experience a rigorous learning experience in the field and the classroom to take your photography to the next level.
Our passion is seeing you grow in your photographic journey. We put your interests ahead of our own. Early on in the workshop, we will not photograph at all. Our focus is your learning experience, and we will not run off to chase the light and leave you behind. As the workshop progresses, we will take a few photos in a limited manner. This is so you can see how we approach a scene, demonstrate techniques, and create comradery with the group. Our focus will always remain with YOU.
We understand everyone comes to workshops at different points in their photography journeys. We will be there to guide and help you, whether you are a beginner or advanced shooter. There is always something to learn about photography, and we will do our best to help you find your creative vision.
Above all, we want this to be a fun experience for you. With our small group size, we get to know our clients very well, and we feel like they are part of our extended family. We do this for the love of photography, and there is nothing that gives us greater joy than seeing our clients grow and find their artistic vision.
Almost anyone can do this workshop, but you should be aware of a few things before signing up.
- Many of the locations we will drive right up to, there will be beautiful flowers and views from the side of the road.
- The absolute best views at many of these locations require that you venture off the road for a short distance to find the best flowers. These spots are on somewhat steep hillsides that are not dangerous per se, but you do need to be sure-footed if you want these views.
- One of the waterfalls does require a short hike (1/2 mile roundtrip) with somewhat rugged terrain and a water crossing. Because we have many leaders on this workshop, it is no problem for us to split the group up on this hike. If you don’t want to do this hike, we can take you and anyone else to another location that isn’t as strenuous, but still fantastic.
- Altitude sickness is the biggest concern if you have experienced it in the past. Most people never have an issue with it, but it is something to be aware of, and it is ideal to arrive several days early to acclimate if possible.
We will be at extremely high elevations above 12,000 feet at times and sleeping at 11,000 feet. This workshop is not recommended if you get altitude sickness easily or if you are scared of heights, as many of the roads we are driving have steep drop offs and are not for the faint of heart.
- Option 1 (Recommended, and required to take the shuttle) – Fly to the Durango airport and take the included shuttle (1.5 hour drive) Note: you must arrive July 26th and stay a night in Durango, the shuttle will pick you up the morning of July 27th.
- Option 2 – Fly to Denver International Airport and rent a car to make the 7 hour drive
- Option 3 – Fly to the Montrose Airport and rent a car to make the 1.5 hour drive. Airlines that frequent this airport vary but service through Denver is available year-round through United
Are spouses/partners welcome?
Yes, but seating is limited. If they come out on location you will have to provide your own transportation, or pay the full price for another seat.
Will I have cell signal during the Workshop?
Cell signal is extremely intermittent in most of the locations we will visit, you should not expect to be connected all the time, at certain locations you may be offline for long periods, enjoy the silence. The lodge does provide wifi but expect it to be slow.
Will the instructors take photos during the Workshop?
The instructors will take a few photos in a limited manner, this is so you can see how we approach a scene, create comradery with the group, and to show you the same type of images you will be taking for our post-processing session. Our focus will always remain with you.
Will weather cancel the Workshop?
Dramatic weather is when the best photographs are created! Unless there are very dangerous conditions the weather will not stop us, in fact it will encourage us! No rain checks will be given for any weather related circumstances.
- If you cancel 90 days prior to the workshop we will refund your initial payment minus a $100 fee.
- 90 days before the start of the workshop, we will refund your initial payment only if we can fill your spot.
- The full balance is due 60 days before the workshop. There will be no refunds on the full amount owed. We will attempt to fill your spot, if filled there will be a $100 administrative fee charged and the rest of your payment will be refunded.
There are NO EXCEPTIONS TO THIS POLICY, even for medical emergencies. All cancellation requests must be in writing and received either by US mail or E-mail. We encourage participants to purchase refundable airline tickets and trip cancellation insurance. We strongly recommend trip insurance to protect you in the event of an unexpected situation that prevents you from attending the workshop. We recommend Travelguard or World Nomads.
We reserve the right to cancel any workshop if the minimum student enrollment is not met. In the event we cancel a workshop, participants will be given the option to reschedule to a later date or receive a full refund. we are not, however, liable for expenses incurred such as airfare or accommodations, and for this reason we also recommend the purchase of trip insurance.
Private Colorado Workshops
If you are looking for a private guide to show you around Colorado, look no further. As Colorado natives we have spent our lives exploring all Colorado has to offer. We can be your private tour guide or we can turn your experience into a full workshop training you on composition, vision, post-processing with Lightroom and Photoshop, all without the group.
Below are the locations we know intimately and would be more than happy to show you our favorite spots.
- Crested Butte
- San Juans Mountains (Telluride, Ouray, and Ridgway)
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Pawnee Grasslands
- Great Sand Dunes National Park