Cuba: Incredible Havana and Beyond: A Photographic Adventure: May 27-31 (SOLD OUT)

Sponsored by Key West Art and Historical Society

Optional extension from May 31-June 3

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With relations between the United States and Cuba on the way to normalization, the things that make Cuba so visually rich and culturally interesting are likely to be transformed as an influx of tourists brings development and standardization. All the more reason to get there soon, before Cuba’s character changes.

During our basic journey — four days in Havana and one day in Vinales — we will visit and photograph some of Cuba’s UNESCO World Heritage sites; districts with historic colonial architecture; cobblestone streets and picturesque port areas lined with fisherman and vendors of all kinds; small art studios and cultural shops; open air markets with handicrafts; tobacco and other plantations with typical farming families.

The optional 3-night post-trip extension takes us to two of Cuba’s prime UNESCO World Heritage sites in Cienfuegos, with its French flavor, and Trinidad, one of the most beautiful towns in Cuba. In addition, we will venture into natural areas of great scenic beauty to experience Cuba’s mountains, waterfalls and beaches.

This photographic adventure has been arranged with an agent who has long experience running trips to Cuba and has all the necessary permits and approvals. It will include the full range of Cuba’s people, places and culture with enough time for meaningful photography and many opportunities to interact with local people. To add to our immersion in local culture, we will be staying with Cuban families with appropriate space to offer us comfortable lodging and breakfast. In addition, we’ll meet artists, writers, musicians and dancers.

For full information, click hereTHIS WORKSHOP IS NOW SOLD OUT.

Photographing the Great Gardens of Chicago: July 11-15

Sponsored by the Chicago Botanic Garden

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This intensive 5-day flower and garden workshop offers a unique opportunity to visit and photograph five magnificent gardens in and around Chicago at the height of the summer bloom: the Chicago Botanic Garden; the Bahai Temple gardens in Willamette, IL; the Lurie Garden in Chicago’s Millenium Park; Mettawa Manor, in Mettawa, IL; and Cantigny Park in Wheaton, IL.

Through lectures, daily field sessions and individual consultations, participants at all levels of photographic experience will receive in-depth instruction on the technical and aesthetic aspects of digital flower and garden photography: understanding composition; working with natural light; representing garden design; using selective sharpness; choosing the best lens for your purpose and much more. During daily review sessions, we will emphasize problem solving, improving our images and creative after-capture techniques using todays amazing software applications. As an added bonus, we will have access to the grounds of all gardens at sunrise to capture the special qualities of early morning light.

For more information and to register, click here.

Landscapes of the American West: September 16-26

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If you have a taste for adventure and want an opportunity to photograph at the best locations for capturing the dramatic beauty of the American West, then this amazing 11-day nature and travel photography experience is for you.

We will have four days to explore and capture the incredible formations, vistas and canyons at Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, lodging at the LaQuinta Hotel in Moab, Utah. Then, on our way to Monument Valley National Monument, we will make stops at a number of iconic points, to capture the fascinating formations of Dead Horse Point; Newspaper Rock and Goosenecks of the San Juan. After one night at the San Juan Inn, we will venture into Monument Valley, with a Navajo guide leading us, and spend two nights camping outdoors with full provisions. We take two more days to explore Antelope Valley and Shiprock before heading back to Moab, stopping in Goblin Valley and final visits to Arches and Canyonlands.

The workshop will include on-location, highly-individualized instruction in every aspect of landscape and nature photography. We will also have time for a few review sessions to get feedback on our images, learn how to improve them and experiment with some interesting and creative after-capture techniques.

For more information and to register, contact Allen at 646-519-1751 or email arokach@me.com.

A Weekend of Photography Programs at the Chicago Botanic Garden: October 14-17

Lecture
The Creative Magic of Digital Photography
October 14

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This public lecture and audio-visual presentation will focus on helping you discover all the fascinating creative and technical opportunities that digital photography presents us with – not just in the camera but afterward, using some amazing and simple computer software applications. You’ll see how these techniques will open new doors to your own creativity. For more information and to register, click here.

Workshop
Creative Color Using Digital Technology
October 15-16

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Digital imaging has revolutionized photography and liberated photographers. In this intensive two-day photography workshop, I will guide participants to the limitless possibilities of digital garden and flower photography, finding our subjects in the conservatory and surrounding grounds of the Chicago Botanic Garden. We will concentrate on creating images built around color, shape, line and texture, making strong visual statements using these abstract elements of design. We will also focus on portraying flowers in their garden setting, finding unusual perspectives for close-ups and groupings. While most participants will be working with digital SLR cameras, I will also offer instruction on creative uses of iPhone and iPad technology.

Then, in our review sessions, we will explore ways to fine-tune and enhance our images in creative ways using today’s amazing but simple after-capture applications. For more information and to register, click here.

Symposium
How to Make a Living as a Nature Photographer
Oct. 17

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Is it possible to turn your love of flower, garden and nature photography into a viable career path? Yes, provided you have a clear understanding about how to transform your passion into a business.

This one-day symposium will outline the techniques and strategies that will help aspiring professional photographers to start and build their business. Participants will gain valuable insights by hearing about Allen’s own experiences over nearly 40 successful years in the field. Plus Allen will interview local professionals in photography-related fields about their careers.

The workshop will cover topics such as marketing your skills and your work; creating a portfolio; developing clients and getting assignments; pricing your work; working with photo editors and art directors; creating a web presence; legal considerations, and more.

For more information and to register, click here.

Big Bend National Park: October 22-29

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Big Bend National Park encompasses the northernmost swath of the Chihuahuan Desert, a landscape of great environmental diversity and visual contrasts. This 8-day photography workshop will give participants many opportunities to hone their skills in landscape photography as we explore this subtly beautiful national park, plus take excursions to the nearby towns of Marathon, Alpine and Marfa for an in-depth exploration of this ever-changing southwest Texas destination.

Daily outings at sunrise and late afternoon until sunset will enable us to capture each location in the most dramatic light. We will focus on making the most of whatever light and weather conditions we find. We will work on portraying all aspects of the landscape, from grand desert, mountain and river vistas to the canyons, dunes, mesas, and rock formations typical of Big Bend.

We will practice a variety of approaches to composition, such as capturing overviews, vignettes and details; integrating desert plants with the landscape; and looking for abstractions, shapes, lines and textures. Finally, in this remote natural environment, the dark night sky will give us a chance try long exposures for star trails. And those with in interest in wildlife can try their hand at capturing some of the many birds, mammals and reptiles in the park.

In the middle of each day, we’ll have time to hold review sessions to look at each participant’s photographic results, suggest ways to improve them and learn some simple after-capture techniques that can enhance our images.

I invite you to join me on this spectacular photographic journey. For a detailed itinerary and additional information, contact me at 646-519-1751 or email arokach@me.com. To hold your space, your deposit of $350 is due by February 10.

Birds & Landscapes of New Mexico: December 2-9

Sponsored by the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

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This unusual 8-day nature photography workshop takes participants to two distinctive locations in New Mexico to photograph two extraordinary aspects of nature.

We begin outside Albuquerque at the Basque del Apache Wildlife Refuge, which is the winter nesting ground of huge flocks of frisky Snow Geese and elegant Sandhill Cranes, plus other birds and wildlife. We will rise early to experience and photograph these wild birds as they land in their watery feeding grounds, returning again toward sunset to capture their departing flights. We will practice various techniques for photographing these birds in action and in flight, capturing them against the dramatic mesas and foothills in the background. It is truly an awe-inspiring experience to watch and photograph these birds at such close range and in such a stunning setting.

Then we drive to White Sands National Monument for a chance to see and capture the remarkably pure white gypsum sand dunes outside Alamogordo. The sinuous shapes of the dunes and the fascinating textures along their surface are a photographer’s dream to play with in every kind of light. Finally, after reviewing our images, we return to Basque del Apache for another chance to photograph birds.

For more information and to register, click here.

What’s New

Allen Rokach Photography

Dear Fellow Shutterbug,

It’s hard to believe how quickly this year has flown by and how much has happened photographically.

The year began with another amazing travel photography experience in India, a fabulous opportunity to see and photograph this colorful, diverse and fascinating country. Each visit gets a little better as we gain familiarity with each location and develop relationships with various communities. That’s why I will again be offering a travel photography adventure to India in January 2016. Scroll down for more information.

Our visit to Burma/Myanmar was filled with magnificent Buddhist temples and the beautiful people of this newly-opened country. Let me know if you’d be interested in a workshop to this destination.

The spring months brought me back to Texas for another sold-out wildflower workshop. This popular offering will be repeated next April so look for it in the listings below. Then I returned to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden for a fun reunion with friends in Virginia and a fruitful workshop applying digital techniques to the art of flower and garden photography.

The highlight of my spring was my first workshop in Cuba. This is a fascinating country with many economic challenges but warm and friendly people. Our group had many opportunities to photograph in Havana and in towns and villages around the island, even getting into some beautiful stretches of countryside for a glimpse of life in a variety of environments. Having learning from this first exposure, I have organized what promises to be an even better travel photography adventure to Cuba this December. I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity before Cuba goes through changes that will surely come now that its political isolation has ended.

One wonderful development that occurred this spring, thanks to an introduction by one of the participants on the Cuba trip, is a new collaboration with Foto Care, a provider of equipment to the photographic profession in New York City’s photo district. Foto Care co-sponsored a one-day workshop on photographing roses, which took us to the New York Botanical Garden. I also have been invited to offer a series of lectures, free and open to the public, on travel photography. One presentation took place in July and the next one is scheduled on September 17 from 3-5 pm. Click here for details and to register. (BTW, Foto Care’s owner and his wife will be joining me on the December trip to Cuba!)

I recently returned from a sold-out weekend workshop at Chanticleer Pleasure Garden outside Philadelphia and now have my bags packed to take a vacation to southern Africa with Anne. We return in early September and I’ll be ready to run another series of exciting workshops this fall and beyond.

It’s been a pleasure to see and work with many of you throughout 2015 and I look forward to meeting even more of you in months ahead. You’ll find many great opportunities to hone your photographic skills, develop your creative potential, explore the ever-changing dimensions of digital photography, become more mindful and aware of the wonders around you, and learn with like-minded people who enjoy growing through personal interactions with the worlds of nature, flowers, gardens and cultures. So look below at the workshops I’ve lined up for the coming year.

Whether you are a returning student or a new participant, I hope to see you at one or more of these workshops to learn, have fun together and renew or build our connections.

All the best and hope to see you soon,

Allen Rokach

Upcoming Workshops

Basque del Apache Wildlife Refuge and White Sands National Monument

To view additional images of these destinations, check the “New Shoots” posted to the right.

October 16-18: Creative Perspectives in Digital Flower Photography: a weekend workshop at the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, DC; for details, click here.

October 22-28: The Landscapes of Big Bend National Park: a 6-day photography workshop at Big Bend National Park in south Texas; co-sponsored by the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden; for details, click here.

November 13-21: Birds & Landscapes of New Mexico: an 8-day photography workshop at the Basque del Apache Wildlife Refuge and White Sands National Monument; for details, click here.

December 3-11: Cuba’s People & Places: A Travel Photography Adventure: a 9-day photography workshop that will take us to fascinating locations around Cuba; for details, click here.

January 8-26, 2016: Travel Photography Adventure in India: a 22-day travel photography experience that will take participants to the best locations for images of India’s people and their fascinating culture; for details, click here.

April 7-10: Wildflowers of Texas: a 4-day photography workshop in the countryside around Brenham, Texas; co-sponsored by the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden; for details, click here.

April 25-May 5: Storybook Holland: an 11-day travel photography experience that will take participants to the best locations for capturing Holland’s vast fields of bulbs at the peak of the spring bloom; for details, click here.

Creative Perspectives in Digital Flower Photography: October 16-18

United States Botanic Garden in Washington D.C.

Creative Perspectives in Digital Flower Photography

Digital imaging has revolutionized photography and liberated photographers. In this intensive two-day photography workshop, I will guide participants to the limitless possibilities of digital garden and flower photography, finding our subjects in the conservatory and surrounding grounds of the United States Botanic Garden. We will concentrate on creating images built around color, shape, line and texture, making strong visual statements using these abstract elements of design. We will also focus on portraying flowers in their garden setting, finding unusual perspectives for close-ups and groupings. While most participants will be working with digital SLR cameras, I will also offer instruction on creative uses of iPhone and iPad technology. Then, in our review sessions, we will explore ways to fine-tune and enhance our images in creative ways using today’s amazing but simple after-capture applications. For more information and to register, click here and check back if the workshop is not yet listed.

The Landscapes of Big Bend National Park: October 22-28

Co-sponsored by the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park encompasses the northernmost swath of the Chihuahuan Desert, a landscape of great environmental diversity and visual contrasts. This 6-day photography workshop will give participants many opportunities to hone their skills in landscape photography as we explore this subtly beautiful and ever-changing southwest Texas destination.

Daily outings at sunrise and late afternoon until sunset will enable us to capture each location in the most dramatic light; and we will focus on making the most of whatever light and weather conditions we find. We will work on portraying all aspects of the landscape, from grand desert, mountain and river vistas to the canyons, dunes, mesas, and rock formations typical of Big Bend. We will practice a variety of approaches to composition, such as capturing overviews, vignettes and details; integrating desert plants with the landscape; and looking for abstractions, shapes, lines and textures. Finally, in this remote natural environment, the dark night sky will give us a chance try long exposures for star trails. And those with in interest in wildlife can try their hand at capturing some of the many birds, mammals and reptiles in the park.

In the middle of each day, we’ll have time to hold review sessions to look at each participant’s photographic results, suggest ways to improve them and learn some simple after-capture techniques that can enhance our images.

For more information and to register, click here and check back in case this workshop has not yet been listed. THIS WORKSHOP IS SOLD OUT.

Birds & Landscapes of New Mexico: November 13-21

Basque del Apache Wildlife Refuge and White Sands National Monument

Allen Rokach - white sands

This unusual 8-day nature photography workshop takes participants to two distinctive locations in New Mexico to photograph two extraordinary aspects of nature. We begin outside Albuquerque at the Basque del Apache Wildlife Refuge, which is the winter nesting ground of huge flocks of frisky Snow Geese and elegant Sandhill Cranes, plus other birds and wildlife. We will rise early to experience and photograph these wild birds as they land in their watery feeding grounds, returning again toward sunset to capture their departing flights. We will practice various techniques for photographing these birds in action and in flight, capturing them against the dramatic mesas and foothills in the background. It is truly an awe-inspiring experience to watch and photograph these birds at such close range and in such a stunning setting.

Then we drive to White Sands National Monument for a chance to see and capture the remarkably pure white gypsum sand dunes outside Alamogordo. The sinuous shapes of the dunes and the fascinating textures along their surface are a photographer’s dream to play with in every kind of light. Finally, after reviewing our images, we return to Basque del Apache for another chance to photograph birds. For more information and to register, email Allen at arokach@me.com.

Cuba’s People & Places: A Travel Photography Adventure: Dec. 3-11

Cuba’s People & Places: A Travel Photography Adventure

With the recent normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba, more people than ever will be interested in heading to this heretofore off-limits Caribbean island. All the more reason to get there soon, before its character changes.

This 9-day travel photography workshop has been arranged with an organization that has long experience running “People to People” humanitarian programs in Cuba – and has all the necessary permits and approvals, both from the US Department of State and Cuba. That means we can depend on going there and getting to great locations chosen especially for photographers.

Our journey will take us to Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Vinales and Havana so we can experience the full range of Cuba’s people, places and culture. We will include time at Cuba’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, districts with historic colonial architecture, cobblestone streets and picturesque port areas lined with fisherman and vendors of all kinds. We will visit many small art studios and cultural shops, open air markets with handicrafts, and will have opportunities to interact with local artists, writers, musicians, and dancers. We also will venture into natural areas of great scenic beauty – mountains, waterfalls, plants and beaches – and into the countryside for a glimpse of tobacco and other plantations, where we’ll meet typical Cuban farming families.

For more information, a complete itinerary and to register, email sharkeyfun@aol.com and put “Allen Rokach’s Cuba Travel Photography Adventure” in the subject line. REGISTRATION DEADLINE: SEPTEMBER 30, 2015.

Travel Photography Adventure in South India: January 8-26

Travel Photography Adventure in South India

This unusual travel photography workshop takes participants to South India, one of the world’s most exotic and colorful destinations. I’ve been to India several times and can tell you that it is a photographer’s dream — visually rich and culturally fascinating. South India is home to fabulous Hindu temples, colorful markets, fascinating villages, unspoiled beaches, misty hillside plantations and much more, offering a stunning array of photographic opportunities.

This workshop will pay special attention to the needs of photographers. The group is limited to ten participants. That means you’ll have plenty of individual attention in the field and enough time in each location for serious photography. We’ll have opportunities to respond to the unexpected and even for review sessions every few days along the way. For more information, a complete itinerary and to register, email Allen at arokach@me.com.

Wildflowers of Texas: April 7-10

Co-sponsored by the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Wildflowers of Texas:

I’ll be returning to the Brenham area of Texas, a prime spring wildflowers destination, for this popular 4-day digital photography workshop. We will go to several locations, including private ranches, to find the best places for photographing the eye-popping array of bluebonnets, coreopsis, Indian paintbrush, Texas winecups and other colorful specimens that blanket wide swatches of the landscape here. We’ll be photographing at sunrise and late afternoon to sunset with time in between for instruction on the finer points of digital photography, including after-capture techniques; review sessions; and personal exploration of the charming local towns. This workshop sold out last year so register early. For more information and to register, click here and check back in case the workshop is not yet listed.

Storybook Holland: April 25-May 5

Storybook Holland

It’s been a few years since I last offered this very successful foreign travel photography workshop. So don’t miss this chance to join me as we focus on Holland’s amazing extravaganza of tulips and other bulbs at prime locations in the Dutch countryside. We will also explore several of Holland’s charming and colorful villages.

You’ll be amazed by the acres of beautifully planted bulbs at the Keukenhof Gardens and a countryside blanketed with tulip fields. You’ll be delighted by the canals of Giethoorn and the iconic windmills around the town of Lekkerkirk. Visits to wonderful private gardens will complete your rare photo experience.

Our trip is geared to the needs and interests of photographers. Our group is limited to ten participants so you will get personal attention and one-on-one assistance throughout the workshop, whether you need advice on choosing the right lens, using the right settings, making the most of available light, adjusting to various kinds of weather or creating exciting compositions with color, texture and lines. Along the way, we will make time for review sessions to learn from each other’s images and develop our skills using easy after-capture techniques. I invite you to join me on this spectacular photographic journey.

For a detailed itinerary and additional information, please email Allen at arokach@me.com.

What’s New

What's New

Dear Fellow Shutterbug,

Photographically, it’s been an amazing year and it looks like next year will be even better.

I was thrilled to do spring photography workshops at the United States Botanic Garden in Washington D.C., then the wildflowers of Texas, followed by fabulous orchids and spring bulbs at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, all capped off by a very successful new 5-day workshop called “Great Gardens of the Mid-Atlantic Region,” which took participants to Chanticleer, Winterthur, Longwood Gardens, and Mount Cuba.

Over the summer, Anne and I had a terrific – and challenging — month-long visit to Alaska exploring all the national parks, even such remote ones as Kobuk Valley, Gates of the Arctic and Wrangell-St. Elias. I’m still editing the thousands of images I shot. I’ll let you know when I’ve posted them in “New Shoots.” I returned to another favorite destination, the Chanticleer Pleasure Garden, for a weekend workshop on ‘Digital Photography as Art.” Then Anne and I headed to Trinidad & Tobago to scout those islands for an upcoming travel photography workshop (see below).

In autumn, I returned to Chicago and Dallas to focus on fall color and business techniques, followed by a presentation in Orlando to the Association of Professional Landscape Designers.

Now I’ve got my bags packed to take a group of adventurous photographers on a travel photography experience in India, a fabulous opportunity to see and photograph this colorful, diverse and fascinating country. Right after India, Anne and I will be going on a tour of Myanmar (Burma) and will see if this makes a good destination for future travel photography workshops. (If such a trip would interest you, let me know.)

It’s been a pleasure to see and work with many of you throughout 2014 and I look forward to meeting even more of you in 2015. You’ll find many great opportunities to hone your photographic skills, develop your creative potential, explore the ever-changing dimensions of digital photography, become more mindful and aware of the wonders around you, and learn with like-minded people who enjoy growing through personal interactions with the worlds of nature, flowers, gardens and cultures. So look below at the workshops I’ve lined up for the coming year.

Whether you are a returning student or a new participant, I hope to see you at one or more of these workshops to learn, have fun together and renew or build our connections.

All the best and hope to see you soon,

Allen Rokach

Upcoming Workshops

Upcoming Workshops

January 8-26: Travel Photography Adventure in South India.

April 9-12: Wildflowers of Texas; a 4-day photography workshop in Brenham, Texas; co-sponsored by the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.

May 2-3: The Art of Digital Photography; a weekend workshop at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia.

May 23-31: Cuba’s People & Places: A Travel Photography Adventure; a 9-day photography workshop that will take us to fascinating locations around Cuba. UPDATE: The May workshop is now closed. We are taking registrations for the November-December workshop. For details, click here.

July 24-26: Creative Perspectives in Digital Flower Photography; a weekend workshop at Chanticleer Pleasure Garden near Philadelphia, PA; for details, click here.

October 16-18: Creative Perspectives in Digital Flower Photography; a weekend workshop at the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, DC; for details, click here.

October 22-28: The Landscapes of Big Bend National Park; a 6-day photography workshop at Big Bend National Park in south Texas; co-sponsored by the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden; for details, click here.

November 13-21: Birds & Landscapes of New Mexico; an 8-day photography workshop at the Basque del Apache Wildlife Refuge and White Sands National Monument; for details, click here.

November 29-December 7: Cuba’s People & Places: A Travel Photography Adventure; a 9-day photography workshop that will take us to fascinating locations around Cuba; for details, click here.

On the Drawing Board

January 6-26, 2016: Travel Photography Adventure in India; a 22-day travel photography experience that will take participants to the best locations for images of India’s people and their fascinating culture. Stay tuned for details.