FirstLight Workshop

CM Ranch 2018 Photography & Lightroom Workshop

FirstLight is announcing our CM Ranch 2018 Workshop!  We’ve been hosting workshops in the Dubois area since 2005, and we look forward to continuing  a long-term relationship with one of our favorite places of all.   This will be a limited class size, 10 total.  Participants will arrive Sunday, June 24, in time for our opening dinner, and the workshop will conclude Sunday, July 1, when everyone will depart after breakfast and our final slide show. Great photographic opportunities will be provided Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday morning.  Thursday morning will be the chance to wander the ranch and photograph on your own, or enjoy the multiple amenities available…horseback riding, hiking, fishing.  Each evening, Monday through Friday, there will be a great photographic opportunities, ranging from wranglers working the horses, panning, portraits, grand landscapes, to our final Friday night event, the Dubois Rodeo.  Here, you’ll be able to bring together all the skills you learned during the week, while photographing this iconic western event.  Accessibility is the key for the rodeo, and we are able to shoot anywhere in the grounds.


After our first morning shoot, we’ll gather in the CM “Roundup”, the headquarters for the workshop.  In this morning session, our second instructor and tech-guru, Frank Varney, will provide an overview on downloading images in Lightroom, after which you’ll edit (in our world, edit refers to choosing which photos to keep and which to discard) your photos down to your 10 best for the morning.  Jay or Frank will then go through those images, providing critical feedback on what is right with certain images, as well as what’s not working in certain photos.  This is one of the critical components of this event. Each morning will follow this same scenario: early shoot, followed by breakfast at the dining hall. We’ll then gather at the Roundup for downloading, editing and critique sessions.  A projection session of the “best of” five images from each photographer will occur pre-lunch or immediately after lunch. This is followed by Frank’s Lightroom session in the afternoon.  We’ll meet after dinner to head out for our evening shoots. Below is the schedule, but be aware that this is a “best-intentions” plan, based on the following: weather, good or bad horse moods, good or bad wrangler moods, or other situations in which we feel that a slight change will improve your experience and the workshop.


To read Jay and Frank’s bios, please click here.


Workshop Schedule:

FirstLight CM Ranch Photography & Lightroom Workshop

June 24 ~ July 1, 2018

Day 1 – Sunday, June 24                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Sunset: 9:03 p.m.

          Plan on arriving at Jackson Hole, Wyoming airport (JAC) prior to 1pm to be picked up and transported to the CM Ranch. Part of your workshop fee is transportation from Jackson Hole airport to CM and return.  Other airports of choice include Salt Lake City (SLC) about a 5-hour drive from Dubois, or Denver (DEN) which is about a 7 1/2 hour drive to Dubois.  At 6:00 p.m., participants will gather at the Roundup  (which is also our workshop headquarters for the week) with Jay and Frank as well as your fellow workshop attendees. We will then walk to our welcome dinner at 6:30 p.m; after dinner we will return to the Roundup for the opening presentation.
We encourage you to arrive at the workshop with Adobe Lightroom 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.

Day 2 – Monday, June 25                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sunrise: 5:38 a.m.    Sunset: 9:03 p.m.

          We’ll start the day early and with energy when we photograph the early morning running of horses up a valley, followed by wranglers working horses in corral. Mid-morning will find us in the Roundup, where you’ll be provided with a tutorial on downloading your photos. You will edit your morning shoot (when we refer to editing, we’re talking about the process of going through your photographs, choosing which to keep and which to discard) down to your best 10 photographs. Then Jay or Frank will go through this group of images and provide insights into how to improve on your work, as well as narrowing your selects down to five images. We will then come by and collect your five best photos on a flash drive. Before or after your edit, you may wish to pull up your chair to an editing session with other participants, as this information is so valuable to your photographic growth: the ability to see how other photographers captured the same events as you did. Either just before or lunch, the top five images from each participant will be projected for group critique and discussion.  You will also be provided with the exact time to meet for the late afternoon shoot.

         Frank will provide his first tutorial in Lightroom after this session:

          Setting up your Lightroom Catalog and getting images in and out

  • 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
  • How to publish your work on Facebook and Instagram directly from Lightroom
  • Using Presets to speed up your workflow

         After dinner, we’ll meet to photograph running horses, where we’ll practice our fast action and panning.

Day 3 – Tuesday, June 26                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sunrise 5:37 a.m.        Sunset 9:03 p.m.  

We’ll depart the CM this morning pre-dawn, driving to an extremely dramatic location at which we’ll photograph the rugged landscape with horses and riders. Dramatic scenery is our focus here, as we watch the colors come alive in the rugged terrain looking out towards Ramshorn Peak. We’ll return to the Roundup mid-morning for downloading and editing, followed by lunch and the early afternoon critique session.

Frank will provide his second tutorial in Lightroom after this session:

          Develop Module basics

  • Introduction to Lightroom’s Develop Module, an overview of what all the sliders do and why
  • The eight most important things to understand about your image before making any adjustments in Lightroom

This evening, head into Dubois to take part in the square dancing at the Rustic Pine and/or the local bar scene, OR stay at the CM Ranch and we’ll photograph a large herd of horses being driven up a beautiful valley with a dramatic background in the late afternoon light.

Day 4 – Wednesday, June 27                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Sunrise 5:39 a.m.       Sunset 9:03 p.m.

Saddle up and ride to a dramatic breakfast spot, below the cliffs of the Dubois “Badlands.” If not “saddle-inclined”  transportation via CM vehicles will be offered to the same destination, where we’ll all be able to photograph the immense and breathtaking vistas. All camera equipment will be transported to the site, so you can ride without the hassle of carrying gear.  Breakfast will be provided outdoors this morning. Return to the Roundup in the late morning for downloading and editing, followed by lunch and the early afternoon critique session.

Frank will provide day three of his Lightroom tutorial:

          Advanced Develop Module techniques

  • Using Lightroom’s local adjustment tools such as the Adjustment Brush and the Gradient and Radial filters to fine-tune you photographs
  • Using the Spot/Healing Tool to quickly remove digital artifacts and sensor dust

 Dinner will be followed by our evening portrait session, where we’ll have great opportunities to photograph the wrangler lifestyle. Jay and Frank will be on hand to help out, providing insights to capturing the iconic western portrait.

Day 5 – Thursday, June 28                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sunrise:  5:40 a.m.       Sunset 9:03 p.m.

Get our early on your own to photograph the CM, or enjoy the amenities of the Ranch this morning. Return to the Roundup mid-morning for downloading and editing, followed by lunch

Frank will provide day four of his Lightroom tutorial:

          Using Lightroom to combine multiple images

  • Hands on demonstration of how to create Panorama and HDR images in Lightroom
  • Using Lightroom with Photoshop; how and why to send files send files to Photoshop and bring the back to Lightroom

This evening, after dinner, we’ll head out in CM vehicles, to a very dramatic location, with the Badlands as our background  which will include photographing cowboys riding in the rugged landscape.


Day 6 – Friday, June 29                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sunrise:  5:40 a.m.       Sunset 9:03 p.m.  

We’ll head out very early for an opportunity to photograph cowboys driving a herd of horses in the morning light.  Return to the Roundup mid-morning for downloading and editing, followed by lunch and the early afternoon critique session

Frank will provide day five of his Lightroom tutorial:

          Making better Black and White photos with Lightroom

  • Converting your files into spectacular black and white photographs with Lightroom
  • Toning files in Lightroom

After dinner we’ll drive in CM vehicles to the Dubois Rodeo.  We’ll arrive early, so you’ll have great access to the cowboys and cowgirls as they prepare for this wonderful event.  The last vehicle will depart the rodeo at 9:30 p.m. to return to the CM Ranch.

Day 7 – Saturday, June 30                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sunrise: 5:41 a.m.     Sunset: 9:03 p.m.

After breakfast, we’ll meet at the Roundup to download the rodeo, edit and critique that session.

Frank will conclude his Lightroom tutorials after lunch:

          Printing 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

We’ll host a final Q&A session after Frank’s presentation. Around 5:30, we’ll meet at the dining hall, to be transported to another site on the CM property, for the final cookout.  Bring your cameras!!

Day 8 – Sunday, July 1                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sunrise: 5:41 a.m.

After breakfast, we’lll meet at the Roundup to see the World Premier of the FirstLight CM Ranch Workshop slideshow!  You’ll receive a link to a copy of this presentation 2-3 weeks after the conclusion of the workshop.
Check-out from CM is by 10:30 a.m. Following that, those departing on flights home will be provided transportation back to the Jackson Hole Airport.


Cost for the CM Workshop

the cost of the workshop is $ 4,300.00  You can click on this link to be taken to the registration page

What’s Included:

Workshop fee: 6 days of instruction and critiquing, with a morning (except Thursday and Saturday) and afternoon shoot each day.. Opportunity to use Olympus digital camera equipment.

Pickup at Jackson Hole Airport and drop-off   If Jackson Hole (JAC airport code)is your airport of choice, you will be picked up at the airport by a vehicle from CM as well as delivering you back to JAC on Sunday, July 2 for your departure.

Accommodations:  7 nights, Sunday, June 24 ~ Sunday, July 1, 2018. You’ll get to room, at no extra charge, with another FirstLight student!! Due to ranch housing, we cannot offer single rooms.

Meals: FirstLight provides all your meals, from the opening night, Sunday, June 24 – final breakfast, Sunday, July 1. You’ll enjoy wonderful meals during this workshop.

Cocktail events:  The ranch will provide a cocktail party, Monday evening, June 25.  For the rest of the days it’s BYOB: you will have the opportunity to stop in Dubois at a liquor store on the way in from the airport if you’d like to bring your choice of spirits.

Gratuities:  FirstLight pays all standard gratuities to the ranch

What’s NOT included:

Liquor: Wine and beer is provided at Monday night cocktail party. You will have the opportunity to stop in Dubois on Sunday after being picked up at airport at a liquor store if you’d like to bring wine, beer or liquor.

TransportationYour airfare to Jackson, or airport of choice

AirportsThe 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:   The CM does provide laundry services, wash and dry at a reasonable cost-$7.50 per load.



What you’ll need to bring:

  1. Laptop with at least 10GB of space
  2. A latest copy of Lightroom, if you don’t have this software, it can be downloaded from the Adobe website as a fully functioning, 30-day free trial.  If working with a trial version, you MUST make sure you have allowed the software to function throughout the workshop. We will be using Lightroom Classic for this workshop, NOT Lightroom CC!!
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. Enthusiasm and the openness to push yourself creatively–and plenty of energy!


In conjunction with our great sponsor,