Southwest Colorado is a landscape photographer’s dream during early Fall.
Rolling hills are blanketed in bursts of vivid yellow, greens, deep gold, and burnt orange.
Dramatic, rugged mountain peaks rise in every direction – usually with their first dusting of snow.
Winding backroads lead through aspen-filled valleys to picturesque ranch fields scattered with hay bales, serene alpine lakes that reflect the deep blue sky, and waterfalls.
The air is crisp, and sunsets are golden.
Join us on this 5-day photography workshop to capture one of the most breathtaking locations in the world for Fall colors. We will be photographing everything from grand mountain vistas and some of the largest aspen groves in the United States to intimate woodland scenes, picturesque farmlands, and serene alpine locations.
Whether you’re an experienced, amateur, or beginner photographer, you will add to your portfolio with an incredible array of images, learning composition techniques with the assistance of award-winning photo guides.
- A focus on Landscape, Drone, and Golden Hour photography
- Capturing the changing colors of aspen groves against expansive mountain vistas and amongst intimate woodland scenes
- Photographing the glorious Colorado countryside under the golden backdrop of sunrise and sunset
- Exploring one of the largest aspen groves in the United States!
- Capturing the picturesque farms of the San Juan Mountains – timber ranch houses set amongst rolling fields, meandering zig-zag fences, and grazing horses
- Understanding how to create stunning panoramas – from shooting the images in-field to the post-processing workflow
- Learning composition techniques to transform your landscape photos into compelling, creative, and engaging images
- Learning advanced photography techniques to make the most of lighting and locations such as bracketing, focus stacking, and long exposures
- A small workshop so your experience is truly personal, and you get to know your guides and fellow photographers
- 5-day workshop with 4 nights accommodation (double occupancy)
- Award-winning, professional Photo Guides who will provide a combination of instruction, masterclasses and in-field guidance
- Breakfasts at the hotels during the workshop
- Post-processing sessions with Photo Guides
- Access to exclusive discounts on gear from our partners
- Travel to and from Ridgway, Colorado
- Transportation to shooting locations during the workshop (BYO vehicle is required)
- Airport transfers
- Single room supplement ( may be available on request – contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for price)
- Food and beverages (other than breakfast)
- Items of a personal nature including (but not limited to) laundry services, clothing, Wi-Fi, email, or phone charges
- Gratuities for Photo Guides, local guides, and/or drivers
Important Workshop Information
Workshop pricing is based on room sharing in double rooms.
Hotel accommodations will include breakfast.
For an additional cost you may request a single room - please note this is subject to room availability, and at the discretion of Viking International Phototours based on workshop attendee numbers.
As we will be starting the workshop early, we highly recommend you arrive by 5 October.
To arrange accommodation the night prior to the workshop at the same hotel as our workshop base, contact Ridgway Lodge & Star Saloon (www.ridgwaylodgeandstarsaloon.com).
We operate our workshops with the safety of our participants as our highest priority.
During these times of uncertainty, we have adopted practices to reduce close physical contact with people outside of the same household. This includes participants being responsible for providing their own transportation to photo locations during this workshop.
Our base for the workshop will be Ridgway, Colorado.
From here, we will be traveling along a mixture of sealed, gravel, and dirt roads to get to our shooting locations.
We highly recommend that all vehicles have a spare tire along with the necessary tools required to change it in the event of a puncture.
To reach one of our photo locations, a high clearance vehicle will be necessary.
If you don’t have a suitable vehicle, there will be space available to carpool with our Photo Guide.
If you take this option, please note that you will be required to wear a face mask in the vehicle at all times.
Please contact Viking International Phototours at email@example.com before booking this workshop if you have any concerns about your vehicle suitability.
The elevations of the shooting locations during the workshop range from 7,000 to 11,000 feet.
If you will be traveling to Colorado from a significantly lower altitude, it is important to be aware of the danger of Altitude Sickness, which is caused by ascending too rapidly, not allowing the body sufficient time to adjust to reduced oxygen and changes in air pressure. It can typically occur at or above 8,000 feet.
Symptoms that develop at high altitudes should be taken very seriously, as they can develop into a fatal illness.
Preventative measures taken before and during your time in Colorado can reduce the chance of getting altitude sickness:
- Let your body acclimatise and gradually get used to higher elevations - avoid rapid ascents from sea level, and ascend by no more than 1,000 feet per day
- Don't travel to places above 8,000 feet on your first night – consider arriving at least 2 days before the workshop commences, and spend your first night in Denver (5,280 feet) before continuing your journey to the San Juan Mountains area
- Know how to identify the first signs of altitude sickness, including a headache that is not relieved by over-the-counter pain medicine, shortness of breath with little exertion, fatigue, sleep disruptions, dizziness/light-headedness, frequent urination, nausea/vomiting, reduced performance/co-ordination, and decreased appetite
- Schedule plenty of rest during the first 48 hours after arriving at a place of high altitude - avoid strenuous activity before your body has had time to adjust to the lower oxygen levels
- Drink at least 3 liters of water each day before and during your stay – the dry mountain air can dehydrate quickly, increasing the effects of altitude
- Increase your intake of carbohydrates, and make sure you have plenty of snacks with you during the workshop
- Avoid alcohol, tobacco, or medications that can slow your breathing such as sleeping pills
- Some prescription medications can help with acclimatization
- If you develop early signs of altitude sickness, immediately stop ascending, move to a lower elevation and inform your Photo Guide.
Note that some people may be at increased risk of getting altitude sickness, including:
- Those with medical issues affecting the lungs, heart, circulation, or with High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE),
- People who have a previous history of altitude sickness,
- Those with obesity.
We have planned the workshop with the altitudes in mind, ensuring that:
- While we will be exploring locations up to 11,000 feet (and driving through areas that are higher still), we will be returning to lower elevations of around 7,000 feet to sleep each night
- There will be no strenuous hiking involved – most of our shooting locations will be within a moderate distance to where we park.
While these measures will help to minimize the chance of altitude sickness, we still recommend consulting with your doctor before the workshop. We will also require participants to sign a Release of Liability Waiver before the workshop commences.
At the start of Fall, the San Juan Mountains area experiences intermittent and sudden weather changes throughout the day. Days can range from clear, blue skies to heavy rain/wind. There is also potential for early snow.
In the mornings, temperatures can drop below freezing.
Ensure you are adequately prepared with appropriate clothing – base layers, insulating layers, a winter jacket, gloves, warm hat/beanie, and sturdy footwear/hiking shoes. Sunscreen, lip balm, and sunglasses are also necessities.
Landscape photography is not without risk. Wind, rain, snow, mud and the terrain are real dangers when photographing on location. You will be expected to follow instructions to ensure you are kept safe and out of harm’s way.
You must also advise Viking International Phototours in advance and in writing at firstname.lastname@example.org of any illness, injury or pre-existing medical conditions that might reasonably be expected to affect your attendance and participation during the workshop.
The itinerary for our workshop is subject to change at the discretion of our Photo Guides depending on the weather, which can be highly unpredictable. We will check the weather forecasts and road conditions and plan our day to optimize shooting conditions. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to visit all the locations on the itinerary.
Fall colors typically start in the San Juan Mountains mid to late-September when the days start to shorten, lasting for up to three weeks. However, there are many variables that can affect this, for example, the temperatures and precipitation levels in the preceding months.
While the workshop has been carefully planned to maximize the chances of fall colors, we cannot guarantee that this will be the case.
Our base for the workshop will be Ridgway, Colorado.
Be sure to check local road reports and be prepared for inclement weather on your journey to Ridgway.
Arriving to Ridgway by Air/Rental Vehicle
The closest airport is Montrose Regional Airport (MTJ), located 30 miles (46km) from Ridgway.
Flights arrive daily from Denver International Airport, as well as from other major US airports (including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Houston) – check Flight Schedule/Flight Information at www.flymontrose.com for details of connecting airports.
Car rental agencies are available at the airport.
Please note that the airports in Grand Junction, Telluride, Durango and Gunnison are also easily accessible for Ridgway.
Please be aware that cell/mobile reception is extremely intermittent throughout the San Juan Mountains area and you can expect to be offline for long periods at a time.
In the event of an emergency, our Guides are First-Aid, CPR, AED trained and certified by the American Red Cross, and will carry an emergency beacon.
There are drone-friendly places in Colorado, so if you own a drone, you are welcome to bring it along to the workshop.
Please note that you are solely responsible for your equipment, and are expected to adhere to all rules and regulations as specified by the Federal Aviation Administration (which can be accessed here) and any other applicable state-specific regulations.
Viking International Phototours and our Photo Guides will not be liable for any injury or damage caused to equipment, environment, or people caused by you operating your drone during our workshop.
Please refer to the Booking Terms and Conditions.
Booking with Viking International Phototours indicates acceptance of the Booking Terms and Conditions as outlined.