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Winter Ranches Photography Workshop

March 15-17, 2024: SPOTS OPEN!
Cost: 1,475 total ($475 deposit due at sign-up)

Join us on a 3-day winter photography workshop in the small town of Westcliffe, Colorado! We will be shooting beautiful horses running against the snow-capped mountain backdrop – along with old barns, cowboys, and the gorgeous landscape. Located in south-central Colorado, the Wet Mountain Valley may be the state's most beautiful and unspoiled mountain valley. We will spend 2 mornings shooting at the picturesque ranch and 2 evening shooting the surrounding area. Don't miss this unique winter horse photography workshop!

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Experience 

Beginner - Advanced 

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

Endurance 

Moderate

All age levels are welcome on this photography workshop. Light hiking in is involved, but nothing too strenuous.  *Reach out if you have any limitations.

Curriculum

Field & Classroom

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

Group Size

10 people

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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Gorgeous Mountain Backdrop

We will be shooting at an authentic working cattle ranch located in the small town of Westcliffe, Colorado – nestled at the base of the breathtaking Sangre de Cristo Mountain range.

Photo Workshop Schedule

On Friday, we will start the workshop off at 2:30PM at the hotel with an introduction followed by a classroom session on light and composition. The group will be in the field for sunset then have dinner at a local restaurant in Westcliffe after shooting.

 

On Saturday, we will rise before the sun to capture the horses running at the ranch. After breakfast we will have some time off followed by a classroom session on image processing with Lightroom. The group will then head out to shoot for the evening light. Time for dinner after sunset.

 

On Sunday, the ranch will be beckoning us again to shoot the early morning sunrise with cowboys and horses. We will end with a feedback session that will break down 15-20 of your best images and give you new ideas on how to improve. We will finish up around 11AM.

* Exact schedule subject to change based on conditions.

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Authentic Cowboys & Cowgirls

We will spend Saturday and Sunday mornings shooting at the ranch. This means you'll have two opportunities to capture that perfect moment!

Image by Patrick Fore
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Planning Your Trip to Westcliffe, CO

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

 

Hotel: I have reserved a block of rooms at the Lampost Lodge, located just outside the charming town of Westcliffe. 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.

WINTER CONDITIONS: Like every winter destination, there is the possibility of a snowstorm affecting plans. If the workshop is not possible due to inclement weather, we will officially reschedule to the following weekend. Please make travel arrangements with this in mind. We recommend travel insurance. 

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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.

NEW SKILLS IN THE FIELD

AND IN THE CLASSROOM 

We will be out shooting and exploring during 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.

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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.

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 "Dan is an excellent teacher. His class was probably the best educational investment that I have made for my photography." 

What's Included in the Colorado Ranches Photography Workshop: 

Instruction from Dan Ballard • Classroom Courses • Personal Feedback Session • Running of Horses • Authentic Colorado Ranch Experience • Snacks and Water
 Not included: flights, hotel, car and food 
Anchor 1
  • ABOUT BUYING NEW GEAR
    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 GEAR
    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.
  • OUTDOOR GEAR
    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.
  • CLASSROOM
    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.
  • CRITIQUE SESSION
    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.
  • INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOPS
    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.
TESTIMONIALS

“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. I have had several teachers and mentors along the way, but Dan brought these keys points to light better than anyone else.  Dan is honest, down-to-earth, amazingly knowledgable, helpful and generous with his guidance."

"Dan Ballard has a keen eye for great landscape photography and experience in capturing it, HOWEVER, it is his determination to match to the student’s level to share his in-depth knowledge in teaching it to others that was the highlight of the weekend. He was very patient with each student and took interest in each individual’s needs and level of experience."

“I was wholly impressed with Dan on my first western landscape workshop. He has a clear, concise teaching style and was available to each of us throughout the workshop. The one thing that sets Dan apart from others is his selflessness in sharing his knowledge. He wants everyone who participates, from hobbyists to professionals, to get better at their craft.""

"I am a semi-professional photographer from Canada with my work showing in numerous galleries. On every level both Dan and his workshop exceeded my expectations. I left the workshop as a better photographer."

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