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Colorado Western Ranches Photography Workshop

 1,475 total ($475 deposit due at registration)
MAY 3-5 2024: FULL

Join me on a 3-day photography workshop to capture beautiful western scenes! We will capture horses running against the mountain backdrop at sunrise along with old barns, cowboys, homesteads, natural grasses and more. Located in south-central Colorado, the Wet Mountain Valley may be the state's most beautiful and unspoiled mountain valley. In April and May it will be lush green with meandering streams. Two mornings will include shooting during sunrise at the picturesque ranch, a 4,000-acre working cattle ranch owned and operated by third generation family rancher. Don't miss this unique horse photography workshop!


Experience Level

Beginner - Advanced 


Easy - Moderate


Field & Classroom

Group Size

7-10 people

Both beginners & experienced photographers will benefit from this workshop. I will work closely with you to address  strengths and weaknesses. All can expect to be challenged.

All age levels are welcome on this photography workshop. Light hiking in is involved, but nothing too strenuous. We’ll drive to each location then walk to the best position. *Reach out if you have any limitations.

We will be in the field shooting for sunrise and sunset with classroom time & breaks during the day. Learn composition techniques, how to shoot fast- moving scenes in low-light, image editing & more

I prefer to keep workshops small, ensuring that each person will have ample time for one-on-one instruction. This photography workshop is limited to 10 people. 

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 Unique Locations • Individual Instruction • Creative Editing • Personal Feedback Session

Colorado Horse Photography Workshop


In this photography workshop, Dan will share methods for capturing the rapid movement of running horses, while focusing on the composition of the cowboys and landscape. This will include composing on the move, setting up your camera, lighting conditions, safety, how to approach ranchers for permission to shoot on their land and editing western images. He will always be with the group providing thoughts, advice and real time critique as the light changes.

Majestic Mountain Backdrop Included

Rare do you find the opportunity to shoot a herd of horses running AND the perfect mountain backdrop.  

Years of Experience with Sony, Nikon, and Canon Gear 


We will be out shooting sunrise and sunset to ensure we find the best conditions. During daytime hours we will have classroom time where we will focus on photography concepts and techniques. 

Colorado Horse Ranches Photography Works

Image Composition 

Learning how to compose an image is one of the most important elements of photography and probably one of the hardest to master. Starting with this class and continuing throughout the workshop, I will teach you simple and actionable skills that will help you find amazing compositions in any environment.


Creative Editing

We will go through my editing process from beginning to end using a combination of mostly Lightroom with some fairly easy but extremely powerful Photoshop to finish it off. My editing method is very artistic and effective for beginners and advanced users alike. It is always one of the highlights of the workshop.

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Portfolio Feedback

Getting honest and constructive feedback about your images is extremely hard to find. At the end of every workshop I will dig into 15-20 of your best shots to give you insightful critique on how to improve. While these sessions are honest, I guarantee you will go away inspired with new ideas and thoughts on making great images.

Photography Workshop Schedule

On Friday, we begin at 3:00PM with an introduction, followed by a classroom session on light and composition. We will then head out to shoot a rustic old barn with the mountain backdrop during sunset. After peak light, we return to hotel and go over camera settings to prepare for the morning horse shoot. Time for dinner after. 


On Saturday, we will spend the early morning capturing the cowboys and horses running at the ranch. Light breakfast & coffee provided at the ranch house. There will be a break after, followed by a mid-day classroom session on image processing with Lightroom. We will head back out to shoot another gorgeous old barn for sunset. Time for dinner after.


On Sunday, we will be back at the ranch to shoot sunrise with cowboys and horses. Light breakfast & coffee provided at the ranch house. Return to hotel with a short break to check-out. We will end the workshop with a feedback session that will break down 15-20 of your best images and give you new ideas on how to improve. Wrap up around 11AM.

Planning Your Trip: Hotel & Transportation

Please note that transportation and accommodations are NOT included and is up to each individual participant.


Hotel: We have reserved a block of rooms at the Lampost Lodge, located just outside in the small town of Westcliffe, Colorado. After sign-up you will receive an email with information about confirming your stay. 

Car:  We will be carpooling during the workshop to each location. If you won't have your personal vehicle, I highly recommend renting a vehicle so you can also explore on your own before/after the workshop. Driving conditions will consist mainly of paved roads, so a standard car should be sufficient. 

Flights: The Colorado Springs airport is the closest and is about a 2 hour drive from Westcliffe. You can also fly into the Denver airport which is a 2.5 hour drive. 

Authentic Ranch Experience

The Ranch is located in Westcliffe, Colorado at the base of the breathtaking Sangre de Cristo Mountain range. Dan works directly with the owner and ranch hands to coordinate photoshoots during the best light. Thanks to years of experience directing hoses and setting up scenes, Dan is able to lead the group in capturing incredible moments with ease.  These scenes are typically challenging to create on your own, due to the nature of western photography.

As a family-owned and operated working cattle ranch, the property sits on 4,000-acres of conservation easement through the San Isabel Land Protection Trust. It has been family owned and operated since Bill Parker purchased it in 1968, and it is their intention to keep it as a working cattle ranch in perpetuity. It was recognized early on the importance of stewarding the grass and the ranch continues to follow these guidelines today.

What's Included in the Colorado Ranches Photography Workshop: 

Instruction from Dan Ballard • Classroom Courses • Personal Feedback Session • Running of Horses • Auenthic Colorado Ranch Experience • Snacks and Water
 Not included: flights, hotel, car and food 

"Dan’s workshop was the best I have ever taken! It answered all my questions and then some. I so appreciated his patience with me and learning how to use my camera settings properly. I think I finally got it. It was so helpful having the cameras set for shooting the next day. Most of all, Dan was so patient, kind and giving with the whole group. We were all cohesive and had a really fun time with each other."

"I enjoyed [the workshop] a great deal and learned a lot. I feel that I improved both my photography skills and my editing skills. The post-processing techniques that you showed us in Lightroom for the intimate landscapes we were shooting were a real “game changer” for me and I’m looking forward to trying them on my photos. I love it when I come away from a workshop so excited about photography and trying new things!"

    I always tell my students that you DO NOT need expensive gear to create excellent images. Great gear does make a difference in terms of technical quality, durability, ease of use and other factors and I advise using quality products, but creating a powerful, creative image is all about the photographer and the light. While I do recommend shooting with the best gear you can afford, keep in mind this is not the most important factor.
    Camera: (preferably a DSLR or a mirrorless with the ability to shoot raw) Lenses: My ideal setup for full frame is a16-35mm, 50mm, 70-200 or 300mm. If you own a 24-70 or equivalent that is fine. As long as you have something fairly wide and a telephoto. For DX or APS-C users, any combination of lenses that gets you from at least 18mm to 200mm. Preferably from 10mm to 200mm but if you don’t already own a wide angle don’t stress. Other: A sturdy outdoor tripod is a must! Also, plenty of digital memory, extra batteries & battery charger,
 lens cleaning cloth, camera bag that allows you to easily get to your gear. You may want to consider bringing a back up camera as well. Filters: The only filter that I consider a must have is a circular polarizer. While I don't use it often — when you need it you have to have it. There can also be situations where a 10 stop neutral density or variable ND (variable neutral density) can be very useful. This is definitely not something that is mandatory but could be useful on the workshop or shooting in general. I prefer the screw on circular polarizers and ND filters. I also carry a 3 stop soft graduated neutral density filter, and although I rarely use it these days — it can come in handy. If you don't already know what this is or how to use it, don't stress about bringing one. I prefer hand holding 4x6 inch grad ND filters.
    We will shoot rain or shine. A rainjacket is a must and a small travel umbrella is highly recomended. Layered clothing is super important for changing temperatures — early morning can be cold with afternoons getting very warm. Consider thin gloves, a hat, sturdy footwear and sunglasses. Also helpful to have is a flashlight, sunscreen, lip balm and bug spray. For more challenging or strenuous workshops, it is helpful but not mandatory to bring waterproof boots or gators. I don't personally usually use a camera cover (I prefer an umbrella) this is something you may want to bring along.
    Please bring a laptop computer with a card reader for the classroom portion of the workshop. It would be best to have Adobe Lightroom software installed. We will also spend a small amount of time with Adobe Photoshop if you want to have this installed as well to follow along. I use the Creative Cloud and purchasing the Lightroom/Photoshop package which is only $9.99 a month. If you use and prefer another editing program that is not a problem at all. You will still pick up a ton of new thoughts and ideas — much of the editing is focused on the artistic side of image processing. Also, if you don't have a laptop — don't stress. You will still benefit from the ideas shared in the courses. You are welcome to borrow a laptop or share with another student. If you prefer to take written notes, it is a good idea to bring along pen and paper.
    We will be critiquing images taken prior to the workshop, please inlcude a section of 15-20 of your favorite images you would like feedback on. We may also have a chance to critique some images taken during the workshop.
    You must have travel insurance for an international workshop. I recommend bringing quite a few snacks with you. Granola bars, jerky, nuts, etc. Be sure to see what kind of plug adaptor you will need for electronics. If you are signing up from outside of the US, please be aware of VISA requirements for the country of travel.
Have questions? Feel free to reach out.
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