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Dark Wood


Feb 25, 2023  |  Loveland, CO

In this 1-day class, Pro Photographer Dan Ballard will share his philosophy and techniques for creating powerful western images. Taking place in both the classroom and in the field, participants will have a unique opportunity for hands-on learning in a spectacular environment. 


Years of Experience with Sony, Nikon, and Canon Gear. All camera gear types welcome.



Sylvan Dale Ranch

Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, just 1 hour north of Denver. 


Sylvan Dale Ranch is a historic working horse and cattle ranch that has been in operation since the 1920’s. 

They will provide our class with 3  wranglers in authentic western attire, along with a herd of 7 horses. We'll capture them in an open field with a rugged mountain backdrop, plus opportunities for intimate scenes inside the old barn. 

Sylvan Dale Barn | These 2 photos are by Sarah Weiss

Open to Amateurs, Hobbyists, and Emerging Pros. Limited to 25 students.



1.5 hours


What does it take to create a truly powerful image? Dan will share his method for creating movement, energy and drama in a photograph – digging into how certain combinations of elements can influence the eye and mind in a profound way. He will breakdown western photography into a recognizable pattern that can be used as a tool to create great images. 

2 hours


While most editing courses focus on basics or a very technical side of processing – this class is different. Dan will show you how to easily and effectively process your images so that they look great, without spending hours on the computer. Dan will also cover the “why” we do a certain step in terms of the artistic value, while always staying true to the reality of a scene.

2 hours


And the action begins! We will have 3 wranglers and 7 horses to work with solely for photography purposes! Dan will direct them to run, pose, etc. while you will be challenged to find unique angles and vantage points. Throughout the shoot Dan will provide feedback and ideas for the group, from mastering movement in low light to keeping your scene clean and simple. 



12:00 to 1:30pm:   Classroom (COMPOSITION)

1:30 to 1:45pm:   Break | Snacks & Water 

1:45 to 4pm:   Classroom (IMAGE EDITING)

4:00 to 4:15pm:   Break | Prepare Gear 

4:15 to 5:00pm:  Photoshoot (INTIMATES)

5:00 to 6:15pm: Photoshoot (HORSES RUNNING) 

*Exact timing subject to change. 

Date: Feb 25, 2023
Location: Sylvan Dale Ranch
Address: 2939 N Co Rd 31D, Loveland, CO 80538
Time: 12:00pm-6:30pm
Price: $450 

    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.

"I have been shooting for 30 years and one day with Dan has literally changed the way I shoot, select and edit and my photos forever." 

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