Upcoming Photo Workshops

I am a pioneer in the field of photo workshops and tours, offering programs since 1979. Each is carefully crafted and well planned. By limiting the number of participants per program (primarily 3-8), I am able to offer personalized instruction.

Workshops are short and last from 1 to 3 days, often offered over a weekend. Photo sessions in the field are followed by image editing and critiques. My preparation for each workshop includes scouting out the photo opportunities at each location.

Photo Tours on the other hand, last from one to three weeks. They are custom designed and cover multiple locations. Sites are chosen for their natural beauty and relatively accessible wildlife. These can include wildlife refuges, eco-friendly ranches, private wildlife sanctuaries, and state and national parks. As per weekend programs, each location is carefully scouted. For international programs, an English speaking local guide accompanies the group. Past tours have included South Florida, South Dakota, NWT, Bryce/Zion/Arces Yellowstone NP, Glacier NP, Iceland, Argentina, Chile, Newfoundland, and the Falkland Islands.

Nature photography is the focus of the majority of programs with attention paid to composition, lighting, exposure, perspective, creativity, and attracting, locating, and photographing wildlife.

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Badlands National Park Spring Escape

Jun 4, 2018 @ 3:30 pm

Praire dog eating yellow flowers

Badlands National Park Spring Escape

With trip leaders – Sandy Zelasko & Irene Hinke-Sacilotto

SOUTH DAKOTA – Photography Workshop 

June 4 -8 2018

Co-Sponsored by Osprey Photo Workshops & Tours AND Sandra Lee Photography


Sandy Zelasko Logo


During this South Dakota photo workshop, we will explore Badlands National Park and locations in the vicinity. On most days, we will be in the field at dawn to take advantage of the early morning light. Likewise, we will end each day’s activities at sunset. When the sun is low in the sky, the light accentuates the relief and texture of the land. Colors are warm and the contrast soft, so details are not hidden by the dark shadows present at noon-time. At dusk and dawn, animals are more active and easily located. We will reserve mid-days for rest, reflection, image transfer, and travel between locations. There will be a variety of photo opportunities, including both scenery and wildlife.

Scene on Loop
Scene along park loop road


Once the site of an ancient sea, the South Dakota Badlands have been transformed over thousands of years into the land you see today. Layers of sediment and ash were eroded away leaving behind multi-colored rocks and boulders balanced on pedestals of stone. Eroded canyons and isolated buttes stand as testament to the power of the wind and rain. At first glance, the land seems sterile, yet close examination reveals a variety of creatures. Agile bighorn scale steep canyon walls. Pronghorn and buffalo graze on the succulent prairie grasses while hawks circle overhead. A loop road travels through the northern portion of the park providing easy access to unusual geologic formations and favorite wildlife haunts.

An active prairie dog town lies along Sage Creek Rim Road. The colony’s occupants are enjoyable to watch and photograph as they groom, nibble on grasses, and romp playfully with their siblings. Now and then a shrill alarm call ripples across the colony warning of a potential intruder — perhaps a badger or coyote in search of a meal.

South of the Sage Creek area in the second unit of the park is Sheep Mountain Table. At the base of the plateau are formations with rocks balanced on limestone pedestals. A rough dirt road climbs to this high, flat plateau which is isolated from the surrounding terrain by deeply cut canyons. On top, the views are spectacular. Dirt roads extend like fingers to a variety of vantage points on the rim of the table. (access is dependent on road conditions at the time)

Wild turkey feeding in the Badlands
Wild Turkey

Description & Itinerary

This Badlands National Park Spring Escape photography workshop begins Monday, June 4, 2018 (Classroom Orientation: 3:30 – 5:00 PM; Field  5:30 – 8:00 PM) and ends June 8, 2018 at noon. Photographers of all levels are encouraged to participate. A low student to instructor ratio affords individual attention and flexibility.

Please plan to arrive and check into your hotel in Wall, South Dakota in time for the group orientation at 3:30-5:00 PM, June 4, 2018. Orientation will be held at the Best Western Plains, 712 Glenn St, Wall, SD 57790 in the breakfast room. The orientation will include participant introductions, discuss safety and ethics, logistics of the trip, your goals for the workshop and a slide show of the area with images from your instructors.

Plan your trip to include at least five overnight stays in Wall, SD beginning June 4, 2017 checking out Friday, June 8 unless you are extending your stay beyond the scope of this workshop. You are responsible for transportation to and from Wall, SD and throughout the park every day. You can reserve and pick up a rental car at the airport in Rapid City, SD if you are flying in for the workshop. Rapid City (RAP) is the nearest airport to Wall and is approximately 55 miles or a one hour drive east on Interstate 90.

Wall, SD has one hometown grocery store, gasoline, lodging, eateries and of course the famous Wall Drug (where you can shop till you drop). Your trip leaders will be staying at the Best Western Plains (mentioned above) and highly recommend you book your stay here also. Mention this workshop and they have a discounted rate set aside for you. Book by calling (not via the internet) 605-279-2145 and referencing the name of this workshop, Badlands National Park Spring Escape.

Your instructors have an exciting workshop planned for you however, note that this itinerary will be flexible in response to weather, lighting, availability of animals, client safety and/or desires of the group. Midday hours are set aside for lunch, on your own or with the group, for personal errands, a nap, review images, or you can continue shooting. Your instructors will be available and welcome your questions although they will need time to eat, rest, and review upcoming activities.

Sandstone patterns at end of day
Sandstone Patterns

A typical day will go something like this: Meet before civil twilight (this time of year that will be approximately 4:30 AM depending on where we will start the day), to photograph sunrise, scenery, and wildlife in the area. Depending on what we find we may stay in a location several hours before moving to the next scheduled spot. We will break for lunch (picnic or back to town) and then resume photographing in the afternoon until twilight (approximately 9:00 PM).

There is no night photography scheduled for this workshop but you may wish to include this opportunity in a dark sky region.

Make sure to plan your breakfasts to go and to have snacks, water and lunches available in the event we stay longer at a location than anticipated. Your hosts will have water, granola and fruit available while in the field but we suggest planning carefully by purchasing food for lunch on days we will not have access to a store or restaurant. Please let us know if you have food allergies or a medical condition that might conflict with our snack choice. We will do our best to accommodate your needs.

Mule deer with two fawns

Places high on our list to photograph are:

  • Pinnacles Overlook
  • Robert’s Prairie Dog Town
  • Sage Creek Area
  • Badlands Loop Road
  • Cedar Pass Area
  • Door, Notch, Window and Fossil Exhibit Trails
  • Buffalo Gap National Grasslands
  • Sage Creek Rim Road
  • The town of Scenic
  • Sheep Mountain Table (Stronghold Unit, if roads permit)
Badlands formations
Storm over Badlands

This workshop is designed for the nature photographer. We will spend time in the areas with the best photographic possibilities and lighting. Conditions in the field will vary. There will be a small amount of hiking on boardwalks, over rocky areas but mostly on level, well-worn paths. We will search for wildlife such as bighorn sheep, prairie dog, pronghorn antelope, bison, mule deer, birds, flora and more We should encounter all of the above and will concentrate on getting the best possible images while adhering to responsible wildlife guidelines set forth by the National Park Service. June is a perfect month to see newly born animals and we will be extra careful not to disturb our subjects.


PRICE: $1095 per person, Open to 8 participants

Start date: June 4, 2018, 3:30 PM            End date: June 8, 2018, noon

(Minimum of 4 participants necessary at the quoted price. In the event there are only 3 participants, a small group supplement of $250 will be added to the price above for each person.)

Deposit: $300 to hold a spot in this workshop. Balance is due by May 4, 2018. Make your payment out to Sandra Lee Photography and mail to 15864 Severino Lane, Valley Center, CA 92082 or call 760-749-2174 to process your credit card. Visa, MasterCard, check and money order are all acceptable forms of payment.

Bison at sunset
Bison at sunset

What is included:

  • Two instructors/trip leaders, Sandy Zelasko and Irene Hinke-Sacilotto
  • Field sessions, instruction, image critiques, ending slide show with samples of images taken during the workshop.
  • Free morning or afternoon for personal pursuits (for photography, image processing, rest, etc.)
  • Combined 30+ years of instructional experience
  • Snacks and water during the day

Not included:

  • Lodging, airfare, transportation and meals. Participants are urged to ride-share to shooting locations.
  • Badlands NP entry fees. Please bring your America the Beautiful pass or senior pass that will cover your entry fee. Vehicle $20, valid for 7 days, Individual $10 pp 16 and older, valid for 7 days. If you ride-share, one pass will cover four passengers in one vehicle.
  • Trip insurance. You are encouraged to purchase trip insurance in case of an unforeseen emergency which requires you to cancel.

Cancellation policy:

  • Cancellations 75 days prior to workshop, full refund, less $50 processing fee, March 21st
  • Cancellations made between 74 and 46 days prior to workshop, forfeit deposit, March 22nd-April 19th
  • Cancellations made 45 days from the start of the workshop are non-refundable, April 20th
Shifting light with layers of badlands
Shifting Light


To help plan your trip, visit the Badlands National Park website at https://www.nps.gov/badl/index.htm Workshop dates were selected so that participants may have an opportunity to explore additional attractions in and around the Black Hills of South Dakota. Below are a few helpful links for planning your trip.

Lodging (partial list):

Additional attractions in the Black Hills region:

Playing baby bighorn sheep
Young bighorn sheep at play

Suggested packing:

  • Bring a laptop with photo editing software and flash/thumb drive for image transfer. We may have time to review post processing techniques.
For field items you may have forgotten or are not available in your area, there is a Cabela’s store in Rapid City, on 3231 East Mall Drive, that carries a wide range of clothing and other accessories that might be useful during the workshop and for you other photography in the field.  Also you can order items prior to the trip at http://www.cabelas.com
Playful prairie dogs
Young prairie dogs playing

If you have questions, please feel free to give either instructor a call. Sandy can be reached at 760-749-2174 and Irene can be reached at 410-679-2873.



Jun 4, 2018
3:30 pm
Event Categories:


Osprey Photo Workshops & Tours


Badlands National Park
25216 Ben Reifel Road
Interior, SD 57750 United States
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