Learn how to be a straight shooter

Special to The Times

You've always been that tourist with the camera glued to your face, but lately, after deleting one too many blown shots, you've been wondering how to take better photos. Stop telling people how much better it looked in person, and start checking out some places to improve your skills.


Where: Spring Creek Ranch

Jackson Hole, Wyo.

(800) 443-6139

or (307) 733-8833,

www.springcreekranch.com. (Look in the activity guide.)

Why here?: The ranch's "Wildlife Photography and Video Workshop" takes you into photogenic Grand Teton National Park, home to bison, elk and wolves and deer amid spectacular foliage and breathtaking mountain views. Dawn departures take advantage of Wyoming's "magic hour," when light is optimal.

Who teaches?: Professional wildlife photographer and cinematographer Jeff Hogan, who has contributed to National Geographic and ABC.

Details: Trips generally take place in fall and winter (the next one is Jan. 10-14), and cost $1,200 per person, based on double occupancy; $1,350 for singles. (Jackson Hole's Four Seasons ski resort also offers multi-day photography workshops.)


Where: National Geographic Expeditions: On Assignment in Santa Fe

Santa Fe, N.M.

(888) 966-8687

or (866) 797-4686


Why here?: Santa Fe-area spectacles such as Ghost Ranch, Chama Valley, Cerro Pedernal and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains have inspired artists, including Georgia O'Keeffe. You'll also have the chance to shoot the art district of Canyon Road, plus a re-created Old West town.

Who teaches?: National Geographic photographers, like Joel Sartore, a Pulitzer finalist who focuses on endangered species, or Nevada Wier, who specializes in photographing people and cultures.

Details: $2,950 per person, double occupancy; $3,250 for a single at historic Hotel St. Francis. Price includes tuition, local transportation and some meals. National Geographic runs about five such trips per year, usually from spring to fall. Workshops are limited to 25.


Where: Calistoga Ranch

Calistoga, Calif.

(707) 254-2800, www.calistogaranch.com

Why here?: The ranch's twice-weekly, 50-minute "Photographer's Eye" class capitalizes on Napa Valley's vineyards, flora (think redwoods and ferns) and seasonal creeks and waterfalls.

Who teaches?: Tiffany MacNeil, who studied photography at University of Texas, Austin. She focuses on composition, framing and viewpoint.

Details: The class is complimentary with a hotel stay. Rates at Calistoga Ranch are $475-$3,000 per night.


Where: Princess Cruises: Photo Safari by Land & Sea (Juneau)

Juneau, Alaska

(800) 774-6237,


Why here?: Why, marine life, of course. Depending on season, you'll likely snap spawning salmon, migratory birds, humpback whales, glaciers, wildflowers, eagles or bears.

Who teaches?: One of six skilled guides, including David McMaster, who created Juneau Naturally, a gallery featuring wildlife images from around the area.

Details: To add this 4 1/2 -hour shore excursion to a cruise, it's $170 per person (group size is limited to 14, so book early). Cruise prices to Alaska vary from about $399 to $3,199, not including airfare to the embarkation port. (Regent Seven Seas Cruises offers a similar outing in Juneau.)



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