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aaaSince 1999, Light Fantastic has been leading photo tours/workshops to some of the most photogenic locations in the world. Our groups are kept small (from 3-12) to provide hands on instruction based upon your individual needs. All locations have been thoroughly scouted in advance and you will be in the best locales at the right time of day to capture the best light. Our tours are planned to coincide with the landscape at its best when the poppies, canola, wild mustard, and wildflowers are in bloom, or when the autumn leaves are changing. And as you can tell from our client's comments, we also have a tremendous amount of fun.

We are often copied, especially in our unique California tour offerings but feel that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. We were the first company to offer a tour to Venice for Carnival and have been addicted ever since.

Due to our trying times a photo getaway can be just what the doctor ordered. Change is in the air due to our early bookings and interest, we are thrilled to resume our European and over seas tours in 2010.

Gale Perry, your photo tour leader (aka Photo Goddess, Greek Goddess, Dune Goddess - depending on the locale) is known for her professionalism, organization, sense of humor and "exterior decorating" meaning she has been known to alter a scene by adding something to make the photo more dynamic, such as the perfectly placed bicycle, the opened umbrella, the pot of flowers or a scattering of leaves, and getting you to the right place at the right time." Nature is never harmed and items are always put back in their proper place. We also have been known create elaborate still lifes when the weather has not cooperated.

Participants come away with an understanding of basic exposure ( depth of field and shutter speed) "rule of thirds", how to meter light properly, proper use of the histogram and its importance, pre-visualization, a strong emphasis on composition and what generally contributes to shooting a compelling, dynamic photograph. We believe controlling the camera instead of it controlling you. Creative techniques such as slow motion, use of filters, Mylar, painterly images, multiple exposures, use of flash, low light and night photography are also explored. You will come home with the types of images that you have always dreamed about. Gale's goal is that each participant learns to see in a new and creative way.

"Photography is my profession and my hobby. I enjoy teaching others and giving back what I have learned."

aaaOur belief is that learning is accomplished by seeing, learning and doing, not sitting in a classroom. Our tours are optimized to be at the right place at the right time. Major portions of our day are not spent editing and critiquing photos. We also do not teach image manipulation. Our philosophy is that if you really want to learn Photoshop well you should pick a local school/class that offers it and study with the same teacher over consecutive weeks allowing time for plenty of practice inbetween. Having short classes with a variety of teachers is not the way to intially learn it as everyone does image editing differently. We spend our time creating images.

Enjoying the festivals, markets, dancing, and culinary delights of the local culture, are also part of our creative journey. Local artisans are visited as they are working in their shops along with private winery tours and tastings.

Our tours are best suited for people who are serious about their photography. Our days can start very early depending how far we are from our sunrise location, and breakfast follows the shoot. We sometimes will shoot most of the day, stopping for meals of course, photograph sunset and have dinner afterwards. Photography is always our first objective. You will be tired by the end of the day but it will be a productive day. I always say that you will forget how early you got up when you come home with great images. I do believe, however, in good meals and a good night's sleep. Our creative juices need to be recharged every day. The energy level of the group is considered especially when jet lag is factored in. .

Your creature comforts are a priority and we stay in very nice hotels where location and proximity to the best photo ops is of primary importance, and dine well whenever possible. We do not do "roughing it" tours and believe when long distances have been traveled that the amenities make a difference. Clients have said it was the best trip that they ever had!

aaaUpon returning from a Light Fantastic Photo Tour, you will have the opportunity to have your creative expression critiqued and your best images showcased on our web site Client Photo Gallery. You will also receive "tour highlights", which is a daily recap of where we were and what we photographed. You are asked to send your images either by e-mail or post and a written photo critique will be provided. Many clients feel that this is one of the most important learning tools of the tour/workshop. We take the time to offer suggestions and ideas after studying your shots. We feel this is more valuable than trying to squeeze this time into the tour and having to rush through your images due to time and group size restraints.

Two favorite quotes: "You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus"...Mark Twain

"Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field"...Peter Adams

Tour Schedule click here

Frequently Asked Questions

Who attends a Light Fantastic Photo Tour?

Photo enthusiasts of all levels enjoy our workshops, from the beginner to the advanced amateur and professional. Although photo instruction is on-going, one need not participate in the process. Any format camera is welcome, whether film or digital but should be an SLR with interchangable lenses. However, you can also take great shots with a point and shoot. One must be familiar with how to operate all of their equipment. We do not recommend buying new gear and bringing it along until you are familiar with its operation.

Many times a spouse or significant other has attended and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Depending on our locale, there are usually a lot of things to see and do for the non-photographer. The age range of our participants is from 24-85. We have many repeat clients taking our tours and even repeating the same tour. A few people are returning for their 7th to 10th tour with us.

What makes Light Fantastic different from other photography workshops?

I believe the most important factor in any workshop is the quality of the instruction and the teaching ability of the instructor. I have heard many disappointing tales from clients who sign up for tours with "big name" pros hoping to learn how to take pictures like they do. What they find is a group of 40 or more, plus staff, and lots of "sit and stare" time in a dark room looking at the pro's slides and little, if any, time spent in the field with them. Although viewing other's work can be fun and somewhat instructional, there is nothing that can compare to one-on-one instruction in the field in a variety of situations. This cannot be accomplished in a large group. Coming from a teaching and training background, I keep the groups small(3-12) expressly for this purpose and to give the highest quality instruction possible. Light Fantastic Photo Tours has been praised for its attention to detail, professionalism, organization and teaching handouts and information.

It is a top quality experience and we laugh a lot. We also create photo opportunities by setting up shots, use of models and going beyond the obvious shot. Our locales are also thoroughly scouted in advance for the best photo opportunities. I do not take anyone somewhere that I have not been to before. There have been a few occasions where clients have joined me for a special "scouting" tour knowing that our locale will be thoroughly researched before we set out.

I am an advanced amateur, what will I gain from the tour?

I do not take clients to places where I haven't been or scouted in advance for the best photo opportunities. You will visit the most photogenic locations at their best possible light whenever possible. All arrangements are taken care of for you. You also enjoy the camaraderie of a group of like-minded photo enthusiasts and make some new friends. As we all know, the life of a photographer can be a lonely one. We always learn from one another, especially in the digital world.

Is there a regimented schedule?

Although we work with an itinerary, it is always subject to change when a new photo opportunity or wonderful weather and lighting conditions present themselves. The energy level of the group is always taken into consideration, especially when jet lag is a factor.

How would you describe a typical day?

Our day typically starts off with an early morning/sunrise shoot. We then return to home base for breakfast or stop along our way. We always try to avail ourselves of the best light at the beginning and end of the day. After sunset, we often shoot dusk (night) photography. During the day, less emphasis is placed on landscapes and more time is spent in towns, villages, markets or doing set up shots indoors if the weather is not cooperating. Participants are welcome to stay with the group or wander off on their own, as long as we meet back at our base (or vehicle) at a designated time.

Partaking in the local events of a particular culture is always a highlight of any tour. We are always on the look out for local artisans, festivals, markets, fairs, dances and street performances. After a long day, we have time to rest and freshen up and perhaps have a pre-dinner cocktail. Dinner is typically a group affair at a local restaurant or at our lodgings if included, or you may choose to dine on your own. We often discuss what we learned, tried and experienced throughout the day. The telling of some great stories or jokes is mandatory. I believe in having a lot of fun and a good night's sleep but you are welcome to avail yourself of the local nightlife.

"I have a lot more fun on your tours and I think it has a lot to do with the fact that you're one of the few workshop instructors who actually cares about the group dynamics after the pictures are taken. That really adds to the experience." V. Aronson, CA

Will I have the opportunity to have my work critiqued?

Participants are asked to bring examples of their work to share and have critiqued (space allowing in your luggage). For local people and tours, I have a session and pot luck dinner after the tour at my home with a slide show and print discussion. For participants who do not live close by, I ask to have work sent to me and I provide a detailed written critique of your images. I highly encourage sending your work as it is another learning tool for you and as it also gives me the opportunity to showcase your best images on the Client Photo Gallery. I do not recommend getting film processed on tour because the quality can be very inconsistent and foreign processing has actually damaged slides and negatives. In my opinion, it is not worth the risk.

"I really appreciate the detail to which you critique your student's work. This is just one of the things that makes your workshops really special. Can't wait until the next one." S. Scheele, CO

"Your critique has been exceptionally inspiring and educational." SF by Night, J. Sakane, CA

What are the accommodations like?

Accommodations are picked for their comfort and proximity to our shooting locale(s). Since we work hard each day, your comfort is extremely important. Lodging is chosen for its amenities, location and whenever possible, a restaurant close by or on the premises. Our lodgings range from Bed and Breakfast Inns, Chateaux, 3 to 5 Star and "A" class hotels, to country lodges and high end motels.

What are the means of transportation?

On trips abroad and locally, where transportation is included, we travel by van or air-conditioned bus with an English speaking driver who is very knowledgeable with the area. I have been using the same professional driver/guides in Greece and Italy for many years. The vehicle provided is always large enough to comfortably hold the group, their luggage, and camera gear. On some tours, we may also travel by hydro-foil, boat, ferry, airplane and train.

How is payment and registration handled?

A specified deposit is required at the time of registration to hold a place for you on our workshops. We ask that you register as soon as possible for a tour to assure a spot and to prevent cancellation of the tour due to late sign ups. The balance of payment is due 120 days before overseas tour and 60 days for U. S. tours.

If cancellation occurs within 90 days of tour date, a $100 charge will apply. From 60-90 days cancellation before tour date, a $200 charge will apply. From 59 days or less, $300 plus any costs charged by tour operators providing service (ie: hotels, airlines etc.) will apply, unless the space can be filled within 30 days of the tour.

For tours of 3-4 days or less, full payment is due upon registration. A 7 day cancellation notice is require for 3-4 day tours or the cost of accommodations will be deducted from the refund. A 3 day cancellation is required for one day tours or payment will be forfeited. If the tour is cancelled due to inclement weather, the fee will be applied to another tour.

Please check with us before booking airline reservations to ensure that we have the minimum attendance necessary. In the unlikely event of a tour cancellation by Light Fantastic, you will receive a full refund. Light Fantastic is not responsible for non-refundable airline tickets. For European travel, the tour cost is dependent on the fluctuation of the Euro against the dollar. This may result in additional charge at time of travel or during the tour if there is a significant increase. I strongly recommend taking out travel insurance to protect your investment and your belongings.

Before departure, you will receive detailed information on what to bring, suggested camera gear and film recommendations and detailed "How To" literature. You will also be asked to fill out a "customer profile" so that we can get to know you a little better before the tour and to let us know of any special requirements that you might have. If you have any questions, or to register for a tour, please contact us.

"Gale is one of those rare people that enjoys teaching photography. She is knowledgeable, experienced, compassionate, organized, low key but still motivates, has the learner's interests as top priority, and is people oriented. With those attributes, how can one not learn?" W. Wisecup, MD .

Tour Schedule click here