FirstLight Workshop

Absaroka Ranch Photography & Lightroom Workshop-2018



Absaroka Ranch Workshop   July 2-7, 2018

We’re thrilled to announce a second FirstLight workshop in Dubois, Wyoming this coming summer!

Summer in Wyoming: perfect temperatures during the day, often brisk at night, a breathtaking panorama of stars, wranglers gathering horses in early morning, evening cocktail parties with friends (or, soon to be friends) and wonderful photographic opportunities.  This is what FirstLight will be serving up this July 2-7.  Join FirstLight at the Absaroka Ranch, bordering Yellowstone National Park for the Absaroka Ranch Workshop.   This incredible event will feature photographic opportunities only found in Wyoming. Ranging from stunning vistas with wranglers as a vital component, to sessions in panning, early morning horse runs, the workshop builds up to the Dubois Rodeo where you’ll practice the skills you’ve worked on during the week.  Early morning and late afternoon assignments will be balanced with midday sessions, in which our Adobe guru, Frank Varney, will provide invaluable information on working on your images in Lightroom.  At the end of the week, three prints will be made from each participants favorite images made during this intensive week.

Entrance to the Absaroka Ranch

This workshop is designed to emphasize shooting, workflow, and printing.  We’ll be photographing incredible scenes of wranglers working horses, amazing landscapes and portrait sessions.  These shoots will be during the optimum light of early morning or late afternoon, to achieve the best possible photographic quality.  During the middle part of the day, we’ll critique your photo shoot, providing important feedback to your photography followed by instruction in workflow and optimizing images for output.   At the end of the week, Frank will print your best 3 images. We’ll be using Moab Juniper Baryta Rag, an incredibly beautiful and highly reviewed digital paper.

These critique sessions will be led by Jay Dickman, Pulitzer Prize-winning and National Geographic photographer also founder of FirstLight Workshops. Jay’s co-instructor is Frank Varney, Associate Professor in the Commercial Photography Program at the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design.  Prior to this position, Frank held the Photography Department Chair at the Colorado Institute of Art for 19 years.  FirstLight is one of the only workshops that provide this incredible ratio of instructor to student.

To read Jay or Frank’s bios, please click here

All meals (the food is great; you won’t go away hungry!!) as well as accommodations are included in the price of this signature workshop.  Absaroka Ranch will provide an opening cocktail “meet & greet” party on the day of your arrival, Monday, July 2, as well as evening cocktail parties each day before dinner at the ranch.

***In addition, our sponsor, Olympus, will be providing camera kits of their top-of-the line Micro Four Thirds cameras as well as lenses.  If you’ve beE-M5MarkII-GMT_right_M0818Fishen thinking of “going small & mirrorless,” this is your opportunity to test drive one of these cameras***


Due to the limited amount of rooming available, you will be sharing a room with another FirstLight student.  Each cabin has two rooms with two beds in each room, both rooms share a bath.  This is a good incentive to check with your best-friend photographer about attending the workshop.

This workshop will fill quickly, if you are interested, don’t hesitate to call or email with any questions. Email:   phone: 303 618 1494   To go to our Registration page, please click here


Workshop Schedule:

Monday, July 2, 2018

Arrive Jackson Airport (JAC) in time for 1 1/2 hour drive to Absaroka Ranch. Check-in to the Ranch is between 3pm – 5pm, so you’ll be there in time for our cocktail party, dinner, and opening presentation. We strongly suggest renting a car, as many participants stay on after the workshop to explore this incredible area.  If you choose not to rent a car, transportation can be arranged between Jackson and Absaroka Ranch. We will be glad to provide names of companies that handle this.
You must arrive at the workshop with Adobe Lightroom Classic already installed on your computer.  If using a free download trial version  (fully functional) we suggest downloading that immediately  before the workshop, as the trial version is good for 7 days.


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Sunrise shoot (pre-dawn) at Dubois Badlands Overlook where we’ll photograph wranglers with the incredible backdrop of truly western landscape.

Return to the ranch for breakfast followed by downloading images from the morning,  critique session & projection session


Frank Varney Lightroom tutorial
Setting up your Lightroom catalog:
Understanding and managing your Lightroom catalog to improve speed and organization and prevent disasters
What’s right for you? Lightroom CC or Lightroom Classic? Evaluating the pros and cons of Adobe’s new programs
Importing, Ranking and Selecting Images

Cocktails followed by dinner

Late afternoon panning shoot. Photographing horse and rider at a slow shutter speed can provide a tremendous sense of power and motion to your photograph. We’ll walk you through the technical and aesthetic steps to make a powerful photograph from this session.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Early morning shoot of horses driven over ridge at Absaroka Ranch, then turnout of horses into gorgeous pasture with the Absaroka Mountains as a backdrop


Downloading images, critique, and projection session


Frank Varney Lightroom tutorial
Develop Module Basics:
Introduction to Lightroom’s Develop Module, an overview of what all the sliders do and why

Cocktails followed by dinner

Early evening drive Into Dubois for 4th  of July  at and around Rustic Piine

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Turnout at Absaroka early morning. This has been a very popular event in past workshops at the Absaroka.  Beautiful light, gorgeous horses, and a stunning backdrop provide all the element for powerful photos


Downloading images, critique, and projection session


Frank Varney Lightroom tutorial
Advanced Develop Module Techniques:
Introduction to color management
Using Multiple Images for HDR, and Panoramas

Cocktails followed by dinner

Late afternoon shoot in meadow of horses and wranglers.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Early morning (pre-dawn) departure for CM Ranch and “Boneyard” shoot.  This is an amazing event, we’ve been photographing this for years and never, never tire of the photographic possibilities of this event.

Boneyard run

Back to Absaroka for Breakfast

Downloading images, critique, and projection session


Frank Varney Lightroom tutorial
Publishing and Printing Your Work From Lightroom:
Printing from Lightroom – eight quick and easy things you can do to make better and more accurate prints
Selecting the right paper for your work
Exporting your work directly to Instagram and Facebook from Lightroom

Cocktails followed by dinner

Dubois Rodeo. Your week builds to this event, everything you’ve learned during the week is brought to fruition at this iconic western event. A real rodeo, at which you’ll be able to wander (with safety paramount) the rodeo grounds to capture images of not only the incredible events but pictures “behind the scenes,” an opportunity not found at other rodeos.  We’ll return late in the evening.

Saturday, July 7, 2018


Final slideshow, featuring your images from the week.  Departure mid-morning.


Information and pricing for the Absaroka Workshop

Cost of the workshop is $2,900.00.     Click here to be taken to the registration page

What’s included: 

Workshop fee: 4 full days of instruction and critiquing, with a morning and afternoon shoot each day. Opportunity to use Olympus digital camera equipment.

Printing:  3-13 x 19” print from the  week. You’ll be printing on our favorite digital paper, Moab Juniper Baryta Rag

Accommodations:  5 nights:  Monday, July 2 ~ Saturday, July 7.  You’ll get to room, at no extra charge, with another FirstLight student!! Each cabin has two rooms with two beds in each room, both rooms share a bath.

Meals: FirstLight  provides all your meals, from the opening night, Monday, July 2 – final breakfast, Saturday, July 7. The wonderful food of the Absaroka is another featured highlight of this event.

Cocktail events:  FLW and Absaroka will provide wine and beer at the opening night event, as well as an evening event each of the 4 days of the workshop

What’s NOT included:

Liquor: wine and beer is provided at cocktail events

Transportation:  most attendees of our other events in the Dubois area have rented cars, as they enjoy the photographic possibilities of this incredible area. We’ll be sending detailed driving instructions before the workshop.  If you don’t want to rent a car, we can connect you with a transportation service to get you to the Absaroka from the Jackson Airport and back, at your expense.

Airfare: The closest airport is Jackson, Wyoming (airport code: JAC).  Almost all major carriers fly into Jackson.  Salt Lake City is another choice, please be aware it is about a 5 ½ hour drive from SLC to Dubois.  Denver International Airport is about an 8-hour drive.

Laundry & other amenities:   There is a Laundromat in Dubois, the Absaroka does not provide laundry services


What you’ll need to bring:

  1. Laptop with at least 10GB of space
  2. A latest copy of Adobe Lightroom Classic. If you don’t have this software, it can be downloaded from the Adobe website by clicking here as a fully functioning, free trial. Be aware, this trial version is good for a short period, so if utilizing this offer please download shortly before workshop-you MUST make sure you have allowed the software to function throughout the workshop.
  3. We suggest a minimum of two-8Gb memory cards for your camera. PLEASE confirm or purchase a fast card. A slow card can significantly slow down the shooting process as images get “backed up” while waiting to be written to card. I’d strongly suggest at least a 95Mb write speed. Most cards have write speed noted on body of card.  If uncertain as how to ascertain card speed,  ask your local camera store.
  4. I suggest bringing two camera bodies–to work with both as well as covering the possibility of a camera failing–this is NOT mandatory, but a strong suggestion.  Don’t forget that we will have Olympus cameras to borrow!
  5. Clothing for the week: FirstLight is a very laid-back group, so don’t even think of bringing a sports coat or dress!!  Laundry is not available at the ranch, but a small Laundromat is located in Dubois, if necessary.
  6. Enthusiasm and the openness to push yourself creatively–and plenty of energy!

We hope to see you at the Absaroka Ranch Workshop, please email us at or call 303 618 1494 with any questions.

You can click here to be taken to the Registration page, please be sure and tick the appropriate workshop box.