Dust-N-Light Workshop 2017

horse photography workshop

July 26-30, 2017

Horses and wranglers surrounded by majestic rolling hills

Learn how to use natural light to create dramatic images.

The Spirit-N-Light workshops are designed to teach photographers how to create stunning images, using dramatic natural lighting, an element that can be the difference between a mere snap shot and a great shot.  Focusing intensely on one element, along with exciting subjects in an inspiring environment, can have a great impact on learning your craft and elevating your photography. This is the perfect workshop to help you prepare for a trip to an exotic destination!

Nestled in a valley, surrounded by majestic rolling hills, this workshop takes place on a true working ranch. The light at the ranch this time of year is magical. The wranglers will run the horses through the stunning landscape, creating loads of photographic opportunities for action shots, clouds of dust, water spraying, and silhouettes at sunset. Although there will be a concentrated focus on dramatic lighting, we will also work on creating interesting compositions and pan blurs, as well as learn how to creatively use shutter speeds to exaggerate movement. Practicing and learning these techniques in advance will give you a huge advantage in capturing award winning images in exotic locations.


In mid-morning or early afternoon, when the light is harsh, we will work on portraits. I will show you the natural lighting tricks I developed that allow me to create incredible images, even in the toughest lighting situations. This will allow you to maximize every minute in the field and take advantage of more photographic opportunities when traveling through a remote location.

There will be an image review, which will commence in the afternoon of the first full day, to understand what is working and what you may need to adjust to improve your images over the next several shoots. During the warmth of midday, in the cool lodge, while you are plopped down on the comfy, leather couches with a cold drink, I will give multiple slide show presentations, discussing the techniques we will be practicing, including some post-production recommendations. Throughout the workshop, there will be continuous discussions on how and why light makes a difference. The summer workshop is a day longer than the spring workshop, allowing more time for reviews and an evening down at the lake ending with some light painting.

To maximize our time in the field, we will be staying on the ranch in a log cabin lodge, built by the owner’s bare hands. After an exciting shoot, you can relax on the porch or plop onto the leather couches in the main lounge area. The lounge area has shelves filled with books, a stone fireplace, tables to sit and review images, and this is where we will meet for lectures and to share stories.

This workshop is all-inclusive. From the time you arrive on Wednesday afternoon until we part on Sunday, you will not have to pay for anything. All accommodations, meals, snacks, beer, wine, soda, water, wrangler fees, gratuities, model releases, ranch fees, instruction, and critique are included. We will meet at the ranch by 3:00 pm on Wednesday, July 26 and depart on Sunday, July 30 before noon.

The ranch is an easy 3- to 4-hour drive, depending on traffic, from Los Angeles or San Francisco, California. The closest small airport is San Louis Obispo County Regional Airport (http://www.sloairport.com), which is about an hours drive to the ranch. We will all carpool on the ranch during the workshop, but it is your own responsibility to get yourself to the ranch.

Portrait of cowgirl

 Is this workshop for you?

This workshop is for all levels of photographers, who want to take their photography to the next level by learning about the incredible power of natural light. However, participants must know how to use their cameras in aperture, shutter priority, or manual modes. Participants should know how to alter basic camera settings such as: aperture, shutter, ISO, and exposure value. You should also know how to download your images, process the basic images files, and share them to a jump drive. If you have any concerns, please contact me at info@PiperMackayPhotography.com

What past participants had to say about the workshop…….

“Piper really knows how to make walking through a field of cow pies at six in the morning fun and exciting. Her energy and instruction during the workshop made it enjoyable and enlightening.  I have a much greater appreciation for light and motion now, and even managed to capture some of that magic in my shots.”  Dan Trimble

“Piper’s enthusiasm for the subject is very contagious!  She inspired us to try new things even though we are experienced photographers, and worked tirelessly to make sure we came home with a wide variety of images.” Lillian Roberts – USA

  1.  A fabulous experience!!!! Great opportunity to learn about the beauty of rim light.
  2.   I decided to go to this workshop in preparation for the trip to Africa with Piper in August.  It was deninatly the right  decision.  Now I know how to use  my camera to be able to catch the dramatic effect of the light on the horses crossing the water.  Undoubtedly, this will pay off as we photograph the wildebeests crossing the Masai Mara during the Great Migration.  – Muriel McClellan

If you are looking to move your photography to a different level, the Spirit-N-Light workshop is for you.  The variety of location shoots was amazing. Reflections, horses galloping through water, portraits, panning, rim light – we had a chance to practice it all in a relaxed setting. Piper knew what she was doing and it showed. She waited for the light – whether it was hitting a hill at just the right moment or having the sun rise in a valley – we got to experience firsthand what she was talking about. There truly is a spirit in light and I believe all of the participants’ workshop photos reflect that. Piper has designed a memorable learning experience topped off by wonderful hospitality shown by the ranch, fabulous food and bringing together a great group to shoot with. I highly recommend it – Laurie Thomson – Ontario

Cowboys riding their horses through the water


The cost of this all-inclusive workshop is $2,195.00, based on double occupancy.

Most rooms have a loft, so there is one bed in the loft and another on the main level.

Single Accommodations are limited. If available, there is a single supplement fee payable of $595.00.

If you request shared accommodation on your registration form, we will do our best to match you with a roommate. However, if we are unable to match a solo guest with another guest of the same gender, then the single supplement will subsequently be charged.

This workshop is “all inclusive.” From the time you arrive on Wednesday afternoon until we part on Sunday, you will not have to pay for anything. All accommodation, meals, wrangler fees, model releases, ranch fees, transportation while on the ranch, instruction, and critique, are included. We will meet at the ranch by 3:00pm on Wednesday, July 26 and depart on Sunday, July 30 by noon.

Sign -up and Depoist

  1.  CLICK THE LINK TO  Fill out and e-sign the registration form (Ecosign)
  2. Make your deposit of $795.00.00 by using the pay button below (Paypal)


Images from past participants

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DSC_3226 Running Free © Laurie RubinA