Water and Forest
29th-30th April 2017

During two days, we will photograph two of the most difficult but rewarding natural elements:  water and forest. Impressive waterfalls, the lush green colours of spring and mysterious lakes which reflect the colours of the sunrise and sunset are some of the highlights of this workshop. Join the award-winning fine art photographer Rafael Rojas and his partner Anca Minican on this exclusive photographic workshop in the area of the Hérisson River and the seven lakes in the French Jura Mountains. This is indeed one of our favourite workshop locations, a perfect opportunity to personally connect with this magnificent landscape.

 

The philosophy of our weekend workshops


Our workshops are designed for all those who are interested in nature and landscape photography and who want to improve and evolve as a photographer and an artist, while getting to know some of the most photogenic places around Switzerland along with some other fellow photographers. 

During our workshops we will discuss all topics related to photography in natural settings that serve as inspiration and a playground for the practice of photography, covering a wide range of different environments, subjects, seasons and weather conditions. As the best way to learn is by doing, we alternate shooting sessions with personalized advice on a variety of subjects: Technical aspects, composition, knowledge of light, how to develop an artistic eye and a personal photographic vision, being in the right place at the right time, maximizing results on-site, how to post-produce images, the photographic workflow, etc..

Our weekend workshops are designed for photographers of all levels. As the number of participants is very small, we can tailor the teaching to cater for the particular expectations and needs of each participant. In fact, Rafael will hardly take his camera out of the bag, spending all his time with the participants so that they can capitalize on this learning experience.

Weekend workshop courses are a great solution for those who wish to accelerate their learning. As our weekend courses are held for 2 days or more, they offer the opportunity of shooting during the magic hours of sunrise and sunset, and so benefit from a wider variety of weather and light. Furthermore, as the night is spent in the field, we can also enjoy the twilight hours and even spend some time practicing night photography. These courses can also provide the opportunity of more thoroughly exploring some areas of natural outstanding beauty, sometimes off the beaten track, that could not be reached with a half day workshop.

During our weekend courses, with the help of a projector and laptop we also have time to discuss aspects related to post-processing and study the whole workflow of how to work with our images from the shooting until the printing. We will also hold a mini critique feedback session on-site where some of the participants’ photographs will be commented and post-processed. A few days after the end of each workshop, we will also create an online video session of around 1.5 hours, in which we will provide anonymously constructive critique and feedback of some of the images taken by all students. Some post-processing techniques will also be suggested by means of the Adobe Lightroom software.

Our 2 day workshops include half board accommodation in charming places ideally situated to get the most out of our shooting sessions, or in mountain huts where the amenities are compensated by memorable experiences amongst the peaks!

 

The place: Hérisson waterfalls and the region of the seven lakes


The region of Franche Comté and the 7 lakes offers some of the best opportunities for nature photography in France and around Switzerland. Located at only 1.5 hours from Lausanne, this place sees the merging of two tributaries which have their source in the lakes of Bonlieu and IIlay, giving birth to the river Hérisson. The Hérisson River surges through the forest, creating an amazing series of 31 waterfalls, sculpted in the limestone and framed by the beech trees. 

The waterfalls, such as the Eventeil (65 m), the Grand Saut (60 m), the Gour Bleu, le Saut de la Forge and the Saut Girard (35 m) make spectacular subjects for the photographer and this heavily wooded region provides a paradise for making in depth photographs of the forest. This is a place where water, rocks, spring foliage and the mossy tree trunks combine to form a perfect palette to enhance creativity and connect with nature. In spring, when the valley is dressed in bright green and the Hérisson River awakens, a visit to this region becomes particularly magical and opportunities increase for the photographer.

During the course we will have the opportunity to photograph some great lake scenery from the shores of some of the 7 lakes that adorn the region. Here we will plan for some of our sunrise and sunset photographic sessions; in the 1820s the author Charles Nodier was seduced by this place and it became baptized as "Little Scotland". Surrounded by limestone walls or encircled by meadows or forests, each of the seven lakes has its own color, light and singular character that reminds us of faraway places such as Scotland or Canada. 

 

Approximated Schedule


Saturday 29th April

- 10:00   Meeting at Bonlieu, Franche Comté, France. The exact meeting place will be communicated before the workshop.
- 10:30 - 12: 30 First photographic session in the waterfalls of the Hérisson river 
- 13:00 - 13:45  Picnic by the river
- Afternoon:       Photographic session along Hérisson river
- 18:00 - 19:00  Dinner at the hotel
- 19:30 - 21:30 Photographic session in the lake of Bonlieu
- 22:30             End of our first day

Sunday 30th April

- 05:45             Meeting at the entry of the hotel
- 06:00 - 08:00  Dawn and sunrise photographic session
- 08:30 - 09:30  Breakfast at the Hotel
- 09:30 - 11:00  Tutorial presentation about postprocessing by means of Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop 
- 11:30 - 13:00  Photographic session in the lower waterfalls of the Hérisson
- 13:30 - 14:30  Outdoor picnic by the river
- 14:30 - 16:00  Photographic session
- 16:00   Workshop end and fare-well!

A few days after the workshop

Online video of 1.5 hours where we will analyze photographs taken by the participants during the workshop, giving feedback and constructive criticism. You will also see what your workshop colleagues photographed.

 

Included and excluded


 Included:

- Photographic Tuition with the professional Fine Art photographer Rafael Rojas

- Support and assistance on the field by Anca Minican

- Night at a charming hotel 

- Saturday dinner and Sunday breakfast

- On-line feedback video with images review after the workshop

Excluded:

- Transport (car pooling suggested)

- Picnics for Saturday and Sunday lunches

- Drinks at the hotel

- Accident and Health insurance valid for France

 

Other details


Photography Level

All photographic levels, from beginners to advanced photographers are welcome. 

Exertion Level

Easy to Normal. We will walk along a path following the river. Maximum elevation of 170 m and maximum distance to walk of 4 km.

Price

550 CHF (Swiss Francs) VAT incl.

Single Occupancy Supplement

Due to the logistical limitations in terms of accommodation, no Single Occupancy option is available for this workshop

Payment details

Full payment to secure your place at the time of booking.

Cancellation Fees

Should you need to cancel this workshop, the following fees apply:

- 31 days or more before the departure date: No cancellation fees

- 30 days or less before the departure date:100% cancellation fee

Number of People

Very small group limited from 4 (minimum) to 6 (maximum). This number includes photographers and non-photographing partners / companions.

Logistics and Transportation

To provide more affordable prices and a bigger flexibility, transportation is at your expense. However, car-sharing amongst the participants will be organized. If you cannot  find a transportation mean, let us know please.

Non photographing spouses / partners

Non-photographing spouses and partners are welcome on this workshop. Even though the dinner conversations will certainly revolve around photography, all locations visited will allow non-photographing partners and spouses to discover and fully enjoy the beauty of the landscape. They can also stay at the lovely hotels or mountain huts we normally select for our workshops. Same rates apply.

Languages

The official languages for our workshops are French and/or English. If you speak any of those languages, that will be enough! We will use one of those languages or the two of them for our general tutorials. Then, as most of the teaching takes place on an individual basis, we will use whichever language the participant prefers. A certain international composition of the group might be expected, with all the fun and wonderful implications that brings!

 

Special Conditions


Health

It is a condition of booking that you disclose any medical conditions you might have including allergies or special nutritional requirements. This is essential as it may affect both your own and other people’s enjoyment of the workshop and will allow us to understand the implications in relation to the particular trip. 

Insurances

All participants must be in possession of Health and Accident Insurance (with repatriation cover) valid in the place and date where and when the workshop will take place. 

 

To bring with you!


Photographic Gear: 

- Camera

- Lenses (wide angle, normal, tele... whatever you have!)

- Tripod (compulsory!)

- Filters: Polarizer (highly recommended) Neutral density, Graduated neutral density (bring them if you have them)

- Batteries and charger


Non Photographic Gear:

- Comfortable boots-shoes for trekking, with a good gripping sole (we might walk over slightly slippery rocks) 

- Warm clothing! 3 layers recommended: thermal underwear + fleece jacket or down jacket + hard shell (wind-rain shell) 

- Picnics for saturday and sunday lunch. We will eat outdoors by the river

- 1.5 l bottle of water

- Headtorch recommended

- Great mood and will to learn!!

Rafael Rojas

Rafael Rojas is a fine art photographer specialized in large format landscape and nature photography. Following a career as an engineer, researcher and university lecturer he made a dramatic change by becoming a professional photographer of nature and landscape, his true passion and vocation. Today, he travels the planet always in search of those fleeting moments when light and land combine to create sheer magic and inspire the soul.

His work has been awarded in the most prestigious international photography competitions, including First Prize several times in the International Photography Awards (USA), Px3 Prix de Photographie de Paris (France), Nature’s Best (USA), International Conservation Awards (USA), European Nature Photographer of the Year GDT (Germany), MML International (Spain), Trierenberg Super Circuit (Austria), Panoramic Photographer of the Year Awards (Australia), etc.

His fine art prints, which form part of numerous private collections belonging to individuals and corporations, are often exhibited at international level, in private galleries and museums such as the Smithsonian in Washington and the Burke Museum in Seattle, USA. His photographs are also frequently used by various companies and institutions and are often published for editorial use in magazines including National Geographic Travel, Terre Sauvage, etc.

One of the main activities of Rafael Rojas is teaching and lecturing about Nature Photography, which he carries out during his photographic Workshops and Photo Trips. This allows him to share and pass on to others his passion and knowledge about nature and photography by means of photographic tuition in locations where natural inspiration is at hand. Rafael uses his former experience in teaching at the university, his contagious passion and a deep experience and knowledge of the natural environment to assure optimal learning and unforgettable memories for all his clients. He is the author of his own line of instructive books about photography which he publishes and distributes from his website in different languages as eBooks.

Rafael is a member of the select nature photography groups “Bouts de Planète” (France) and “Portfolio Natural” (Spain). He was one of the founders and directors of the company WHYTAKE.NET - The Global Community of Nature PhotographersTM.

He works with a panoramic 617 medium format film camera, a Hasselblad 6x6 and a whole Nikon digital system, always set on the sturdiest tripod available. He speaks Spanish, English, French and Romanian...

 

Anca Minican

Anca Minican, the partner of Rafael Rojas, provides a very special touch to all our photographic workshops and trips. Trained as an architect and interior designer, she is a true lover of nature and the wilderness and always accompanies Rafael on his photographic expeditions all over the planet.

Her broad experience in the corporate world, her professionalism and her methodical and serious approach make her a valuable asset for the organization, on-site logistics and the support to customers during our workshops and photographic trips. She also plays a key role in the team building and knows how to create an amicable environment with a personal touch as all our clients can testify!

Anca was one of the founders and directors of the company WHYTAKE.NET - The Global Community of Nature PhotographersTM. She is also co-editor of the whole range of Rafael Rojas Photography books, ensures the representation of our Limited Edition Fine Art prints and manages the photographic library of Rafael Rojas Photography. To summarize, nothing would work without her!

She speaks English, French, Spanish, Romanian and quite some Italian...

 

Why are all workshops held in Switzerland?
Our workshops are highly intensive learning experiences and that is why most of them focus on half a day, a full weekend or three days at the most. For this reason, we normally focus on the area we live in, which is in fact one of the great paradises for landscape photography: Switzerland. We also hold workshops in the Jura, nearby in France. Otherwise, we also organize longer photographic trips in other places all over the world.

Which are the languages used during your workshops?
Please refer to the details of each workshop to know about the official languages catered. Normally, our workshops are held either in French and/or English. We normally use one or two languages for the general explanations and critique sessions (French and English).

However, as the number of participants is quite small, we do tailor the teaching to cater for the particular language of our participants, and speak with them either in English, French or Spanish.

We are used to dealing with international groups in our workshops and it is normal to have four or five nationalities represented in the group. Trust us, that is one of the strong points of our workshops and a highly enriching experience!

Does Rafael also take photographs during the workshops?
During our workshops, Rafael is normally focused on the learning experience of his clients, and for that reason he rarely takes his camera out of the bag. He may do so to explain certain aspects, or to demonstrate with some particular examples how he normally looks for his compositions and creates his photographs. Workshops are highly intensive learning programmes, and therefore all the time is put to the service of our clients, with one-to-one tuition.

However during our photo trips, with more days available, we adopt a less intensive approach, allowing our participants to immerse themselves with plenty of time out in the field on their own. Of course, participants will still get a lot of hands on tuition from Rafael during the photographic sessions, but they will also have the possibility of seeing how Rafael works, how he visualizes, composes and creates his photographs in the field. Some of his photographs taken during the trip will also be used as examples during the lectures and critique sessions held during the trip. In a way, during our photo trips you will also learn by seeing how Rafael normally works on his own photographs and later on uses them for discussion and analysis.

Are all professional photographers able to teach?
Well, that is certainly a good question and the truth is that during the last few years the number of photographers organising workshops has exploded having identified this niche as a lucrative commercial activity. However, teaching requires very different skills than those needed to become a good photographer. You can certainly be a great photographer, but in order to pass on that experience to others you must also have a strong vocation for teaching. Excellent pedagogy, a well structured way of explaining theory and the ability to combine that with practice, sociability and enthusiasm, the capability of adapting the tuition to the level and expectations of the student and a high degree of satisfaction in seeing other people learn are some of the common aspects shared by great teachers.

Before becoming a full time fine art photographer, Rafael Rojas was a university lecturer for many years, and before that he taught science to young students for more than a decade. In a way, Rafael was a teacher well before he became a photographer.

Are these workshops for those who just want to learn how to use their new brand camera?
Yes, but not only that. In fact, we will try to help you understand quickly how to use your brand new camera, so that we can focus on what we really enjoy: Using photography in a creative way for the sake of personal expression. If you are only interested in getting to know how to use your new toy to snap a few photos of your family, these may not be the right courses for you!

Participants of all levels, from total beginners to semi-professionals attend our workshops, so you may participate even if you have never taken a photograph before. However, although we will deal with the technical aspects of photography, during our workshops we will also focus on aspects such as personal expression and the use of photography to portray a message, emotions and feelings, and how to use composition, visual design, natural light, post-processing, etc to increase that emotional content.

To summarise, our workshops are not just about photography, but about creative nature and landscape photography used for personal expression.

Which is the difference between the 1/2 day workshops and the full weekend workshops?
Our weekend or 3 day workshops are the best solution for those who wish to accelerate their learning. As our weekend courses are held for 2 days or more, we have the ability to shoot during the magic hours of sunrise and sunset, and enjoy a wider variety of weather and light. Furthermore, as we spend the night in the field, we can also enjoy the twilight hours and even spend some time practicing night photography. For our weekend workshops, as we have more time, we hold a critique session normally on the second day of our weekend workshops with the help of a projector and laptop, where we comment and analyze a number of the photographs which have been taken, so taking advantage to also tackle post-processing aspects using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.

Lastly, these courses can also provide the opportunity of more thoroughly exploring some areas of natural outstanding beauty, sometimes off the beaten track, which could not be reached with a half day workshop.

A few days after the end of our workshop, a 90 minute video is prepared and sent to all participants providing constructive feedback of some of the images taken by the group members.

On the other hand, our 1/2 day workshops, which last around five hours, are the perfect solution for those who wish to concentrate on improving their photography and do not have the time or energy to spend several days on a longer workshop. Although their time is highly reduced compared to our longer workshops, they will still allow participants to learn quite a lot in a compact time period, and can serve as a very pleasant introduction to our longer workshops and photographic trips. A 50 minute video is also prepared several weeks after our 1/2 day workshops where we provide constructive feedback of some of the images taken by the participants.

Is feedback on the participants' photographs a component of your workshops?
Yes, feedback is one of the most important elements of our workshops. We provide our participants with constructive criticism and feedback at three different times during the workshop. During the workshop itself we always talk with each of the students while we are in the field, providing them with feedback about the photographs they are taking at that time. We also organize a critique session normally on the second day of our weekend workshops with the help of a projector and laptop, where we comment and analyze a number of the photographs which have been taken, so taking advantage of this moment to also tackle post-processing aspects using Adobe Lightroom. During the few weeks following each of our workshops (1/2 day or weekend), we also create a feedback video with images submitted by our participants, where we provide anonymous constructive critique about composition, use of light, post-processing, etc. This is something that our students particularly appreciate; it is very useful to help maximize the learning.

Can I bring a companion with me to your workshops?
Yes. However, because the accommodation and logistical options we choose for our workshops are very limited in terms of number of people and due to the responsibility that we assume for accompanying non photographer persons, the normal and full rate of the workshop will still apply to them. So, basically, they will be considered as workshop participants. Therefore, you will need to complete the workshop booking by booking a place for your companion as well as for you.

I do not have any photographic equipment. Do you have some available for rent?
We do not rent any equipment as we should need to cater for many different requirements; however we can suggest some addresses where you will be able to rent a camera, lens or tripod. If you have any queries concerning what to purchase prior to a workshop or a photo-trip, just let us know and we will be very glad to help.

Are workshops really suitable for photographers of all levels?
Yes. Our average groups have total beginners rubbing shoulders with semi-professionals. Please bear in mind that, besides some general sessions and explanations, all the tuition takes place on a one-to-one basis. Therefore we are able to adapt the learning to the personal level, skills and even language of each participant! That being said, in photography, we are all relative beginners, since its mastery is something we never fully achieve...fortunately!

Can you cater for special diets?
Yes, our accommodation partners can cater for most diets. Please advise us of your preferences at the time of booking on your booking form. 


If I have a medical condition will this prevent me from joining a workshop?
It is a condition of booking that you disclose any medical conditions. This is essential, as it may affect both your own and other people's enjoyment of the workshop and will allow us to understand the implications relative to the particular workshop.

What sort of photographic equipment do I need to bring?
The choice of the equipment to bring depends very much on your experience, your budget and your style of photography. There are a few general points that should be mentioned though. Most photographers tend to bring too much equipment, leading to extremely heavy bags which then become a burden more than a tool useful to experience and photograph the places we visit. Never bring equipment you are not familiar with on a workshop or photo trip, and limit your equipment to what you will need in the majority of situations. Typically, any camera you normally use and a couple of zooms such as a 24-70 and a telephoto 70-200 are more than enough for the vast majority of situations. Of course, this is not a rule, since many photographers have a preference for primes, love macro, or use panoramic film cameras, for example!

Do I need to be very fit to participate?
You certainly do not need to be a superman or superwoman, but as a general guide you should be able to walk or hike with your camera equipment for a few hours each day. Please refer to the details of a particular Workshop or Photo Trip to learn the exact level of physical exertion you may expect.

What if I shoot film, can I join one of your workshops?
Yes, there is no problem at all. However, we may not use your photographs during the critique sessions as we cannot see them until they are developed! That being said, you will be able to benefit from the reviews of photographs from other participants. What we are able to do though is to offer film users a review/ feedback video, to be made during the several weeks following the workshop after you have sent us a few samples of your recently developed and scanned work.

Can the workshop turn into a competition to see who creates the best photograph?
No. Our whole philosophy is one of humility and self confidence, of forgetting about the hunt for photographic trophies, and about the need to focus on an individualÂ’s personal vision. That is why the environment and mood we foster in our groups is deeply embedded in these beliefs. In all the workshops and photo trips we have organised during the last few years, we have never seen bitter competition arise between the members of our groups. If one day that should happen, you can be sure we will be the first to make it disappear. Photography should not be a contest, since we are all different, none better or worse.

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Water and Forest

  • Place: Jura, France
  • Date: 29th-30th April 2017
  • Price: 550 CHF
  • Number of Places: 6
  • Language: EN, FR
fully booked

workshop highlights

    Learn how to photograph the convoluted complexity of the forest

    Fine tune your photographic eye in the search for intimate compositions  

    Water, water, water... lakes, rivers, waterfalls. There are few elements as magical as water for the landscape photographer 

    Discover this area, one of the natural jewels of France, at the threshold of Switzerland

    Constructive Feedback video (1.5 hours) of participants' photographs, sent after the worskhop 

difficulty level: Easy-Medium
photography level: All