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Hello, Willie Holdman here with Willie Holdman Photographs. I teamed up with Western River Expeditions to put on this advanced photography workshop. It is a seven day workshop down the Grand Canyon afloat. We'll have some great food, go through huge rapids, and the most important thing, we'll see some beautiful scenery.
If you just floating on the river with a commercial trip it's wonderful, but to actually probit it with a camera and lens with someone who know the canyon intimately turn the whole canyon really interactive experience.
I started taking Willie Holdman classes about a year ago, this is my third one.
Yeah, I was introduced to Willie through a friend of mine and decided that this was something I wanted to do. I actually booked this trip more than 15 months ago.
Willie is my inspiration for photography. Magically, everything just fell into place and here I am living the dream.
One thing this photography workshop allows us to do is spend a little bit more time in the Grand Canyon concentrating on some special areas we'll spend time on different compositions waiting for the light. I'll be there as your personal assistant helping you along.
What I do appreciate about Willie is his commitment and his obvious enthusiasm. He just bubbles over, he is thorough, he is just full of information. When he is talking about photography he is just eloquent.
He is the kind of guy that if he sees that you're struggling with something he says, "hey now how's it going", and give you a chance to ask him the question that you were maybe afraid to ask.
I think I picked up a lot of good pointers along the way.
I've learned a lot from him and love it because he shares my hobby, my passion.
A lot of time when we're in camp we always take special hikes in the evening, you know the golden light the sweet light. We had a chance on this trip to hike up to Hilltop ruin, a couple mile hike. As we got up there the clouds were there and it was kind of stormy a little bit. We waited it out and found our great compositions, S curve in the river. Low and behold the sun came out for us. We had this magical light just dancing across the cliffs we had the S curve in the river. It's kind of special moments like that that make this trip all worthwhile.
In every direction you turn you have, pretty much, a shot that you can compose.
One of the highlights of this trip is Elves Chasm. Simple, short hike it's one of the most beautiful grotto areas in the whole world. Cascading waterfalls, green ferns, clear pools of water. We always time it just right to get that reflective light bouncing around in there. It's an experience like no other.
Boy, when you look at that thing the colors they just jump out at you. To see the clear water coming down the greens and blues.
I think one of my favorite shots was the pool below Elves Chasm. I think it is every bit as beautiful as the other part.
It was gorgeous, I just looked through all my photos from the last two days and I think the waterfalls there and the hike and all of the shots in there are my favorite. The light was perfect, it's a treasure.
My favorite spot was actually the Little Colorado, the blue turquoise water coming into the Colorado River from Little Colorado was just awesome.
Nankoweap granaries - that was pretty special to see that ruin up there and see how ancient it is and how archaeological find it was.
There are several side caves in the Grand Canyon, one of my favorites is Matcat. It is a short hike up there, you're going through little pools of water and narrow canyons about two feet wide. You get this golden light reflecting in the water which ripples, leaving lines which makes it a photographer's paradise.
You had to hike up a very narrow slot canyon and then it even got narrower. Pretty much just one foot in front of the other climbing up through little waterfalls. Even if you weren't doing photography, it's fantastic to just see the stuff.
As we're coming down about halfway through the Grand Canyon there's an area called Deer Creek Falls, it's amazing. The waterfall is about 200 feet high. You can just feel the power and force of it. There are a lot of red Monkey Flowers around it, great for photography. So thats another key spot that we're going to stop at.
You know, I have absolutely loved Havasu today. The blue in the water and the beauty of the canyon coming down with that water was just amazing.
As we're camping here in the Grand Canyon, you're going to have a chance to sleep on your cot in your sleeping bag under an open sky. There is nothing like the stars at night here in the Grand Canyon. We'll be able to do some night photography, the Milky Way, the moon is out so we'll get some moon shots. It's amazing what we can capture at night here in the Grand Canyon.
Day four, night photography with the Milky Way that spot was just perfectly set out. You kind of had a 360 view of the sky, so any direction you turned was gorgeous but around 5 a.m. the Milky Way was just across our campsite it was absolutely gorgeous.
One of the great things about going on a photography workshop is not only do you learn from the leader but you learn from each other, help each other out. Sometimes explaining what you are doing to one of your fellow workshop participants help you understand better what you're doing as well.
I've been in other photography groups, but what was great about this one was that everyone was coaching everybody else, giving tips when needed. It was an A plus and a really fine experience.
On top of getting pointers on photography you get to experience the grandeur of the Grand Canyon.
Western River did a great job. I loved being with the people, I loved the camaraderie that we had.
I am really impressed with our guides. Their expertise, the way they maneuver the boat and the food is great. Just wonderful, everybody gets along.
Before the trip we mentioned we were coming down here to do this. People always said, "Well who are you going with?" and we said a group called Western River. They said, "oh, they're the best" and I'm totally convinced of that.
I can't say enough about how well the trip went and how well Western River treated us. And how well organized Willie's workshop was. The people we went with ended up being good friends, people that you say, "where have you been all my life?".
The guides that we had were amazing, they made you feel comfortable. They made you feel like you were in good hands and that you were safe. I think everything was just fabulous.
You know, we sat around the campfire last night reminisced about our trip and one by one about the Colorado and the Havasu and I couldn't put my finger on one, but I did mention that it was just a dream destination. Just being here was probably the highlight of my trip. I've got the Willie virus. I'm going to be a very big advocate for the Willie Holdman photography experience.
Ever since I saw the grandness of the Grand Canyon it was my dream just to go camp at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Whitewater rafting through the Grand Canyon would just be an add on, and also photography is my passion and hobby so those three pieces coming together is like a dream come true all in one.
It is very difficult to describe what you feel here and what you leave here, it is very hard. It is an amazing place. It's a fulfilling spirit in terms of the heart and the soul.
It absolutely surpassed what we ever thought.
It's been a great trip.
The organization of Western River Expeditions has been, for me, exceptional. The guides are amazing. The opportunity with Willie was a total home run. Five stars all the way.
You know obviously it was a photography adventure but the crew on this has just been absolutely wonderful.
If you haven't been here you should come. If you have, you should come back.
Well, for me it was overwhelming, fulfilling, and a once in a lifetime experience.
It made me appreciate this great creation that God has given us. It is absolutely phenomenal. It is beautiful, it is something I would recommend to anybody to do this.
Well, first if this is something that you dream, don't just dream it, live it.
So if you want to join us on the workshop, visit my website at willieholdman.com. We would love to have you along. I guarantee you will come back with some great images. You will have an experience of a lifetime.
Quotes used in the video:
"He who postpones the hour of living is like the rustic who waits for the river to run out before he crosses." Horace
"We have an unknown distance yet to run, an unknown river to explore. What falls there are, we know not; what rocks beset the channel, we know not; what walls ride over the river, we know not. Ah, well! we may conjecture many things." John Wesley Powell
"What makes a river so restful to people is that is doesn't have any doubt - it is sure to get where it is going, and it doesn't want to go anywhere else." Hal Boyle
Western River Expeditions offers several departures each year designated as "Photography Workshops." Ask about these dates as they fill quickly. This video features one of our annual photo workshops offered by Willie Holdman.