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.

Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Bosque Wildlife New Mexico Photo Workshop

Nov 26, 2018 @ 6:30 pm - Nov 30, 2018 @ 6:00 pm

Sandhill Crane in Flight Calling

“Bosque Wildlife” Photo Workshop

 November 26-November 30, 2018

with trip leaders – Sandy Zelasko & Irene Hinke-Sacilotto

Osprey Photo Workshop

Workshop Co-Sponsors:  Osprey Photo Workshops & Tours AND Sandra Lee Photography

Sandy Zelasko Logo


Situated along the Rio Grande River, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge covers more than 57,000 acres and is a major wintering ground for cranes and waterfowl.  Refuge personnel manage the water levels of its wetlands and impoundments to simulate what was once the seasonal flow of water from the Rio Grande before the river was damned and the flow altered. To feed the huge number of birds visiting the refuge each year, nearby fields are planted with corn, winter wheat, millet, and other grains. Loop roads transect the refuge marshes and fields and provide prime sites for wildlife viewing and photography. Species that may be seen include shovelers, buffleheads, pintails, teal and other ducks; bald and golden eagles; kestrels and other hawks; turkey; meadowlarks; quail; roadrunners; coyotes; mule deer; and more. In November, large flocks of snow geese and sandhill cranes will be present. At night to escape predators, the birds flock to the marshes and shallow pools. With dawn, the snow geese and other waterfowl rise in mass from the wetlands and sweep overhead on their way to nearby fields to feed. Each day we will spend the early morning and late afternoon hours at the refuge photographing birds and many other species of wildlife which are present at the sanctuary.

Snow Geese Take Flight with cloudy sky
Snow Geese Take Flight                 


Founded in 1939, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is a wilderness jewel which lies in the Albuquerque Basin near the Rio Grande River approximately 90 miles south of Albuquerque, NM. Some 371 species of birds, 73 species of mammals, 12 species of amphibians, 56 species of reptiles and 23 species of fish have been observed on the refuge.

We will be traveling a 12-mile tour loop divided into South Loop Road and North Loop Road. Along this route is excellent winter viewing of migratory birds, wetland wildlife and much more. Early mornings we will photograph mass “lift offs” of snow geese and sandhill cranes, a spectacle visitors from all over the world come to witness. We’ll visit surrounding cropland to photograph entertaining sandhills as they feed on freshly mown harvests. In addition, we could possibly see roadrunners traversing the hedgerows, kingfishers searching the ponds, javelina navigating corn fields and hawks, eagles and/or falcons make a meal of slow moving geese, songbirds and other unfortunate prey.

Equally as impressive, we could find wild turkeys roaming wooded areas, coyotes hunting for waterfowl, dabblers and divers feeding in the ponds and early morning mule deer. A short hike on the John P. Taylor Jr. Memorial Trail will get us close to feeding fields where we could see kit, red and gray fox or get really lucky and witness an elusive bobcat. Following is a link to a comprehensive list of wildlife on the refuge, https://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/BDA2008_WildlifeList.pdf.     

Sandhill Crane Family in Corn Field
Sandhill Crane Landing


The Bosque Wildlife New Mexico Photo Workshop begins Monday, November 26, 2018 at 6:30 PM and ends Friday, November 30, 2018 at sunset. Photographers of all levels are encouraged to participate. A low student to instructor ratio affords individual attention and flexibility. Maximum 8 participants.

Please plan to arrive and check into your hotel in Socorro, New Mexico in time for the group orientation at 6:30-8:00 PM, November 26, 2018. Orientation will be held at the Best Western Socorro Hotel & Suites, 1100 N California Street, Socorro, New Mexico 87801. 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.

If you are flying in, Albuquerque (ABQ) is the nearest airport to Socorro. From Albuquerque take Interstate 25 approximately 80 miles south to Socorro. Plan your trip to include at least four/five overnight stays in Socorro beginning November 26, 2018 checking out Friday, November 30 or Saturday, December 1 unless you are extending your stay beyond the scope of this workshop. You can reserve and pick up a rental car at the airport in Albuquerque. You are responsible for transportation to Socorro, all travel to Bosque del Apache and travel throughout the refuge each day of the workshop. Bosque del Apache is approximately 18 miles south of Socorro.

Socorro has a grocery store, gasoline, lodging, eateries and a Walmart. Your trip leaders will be staying at the Best Western Socorro Hotel & Suites (mentioned above) and we highly recommend you book your stay here also. (Alternative lodging options are listed under RESOURCES below.)

Widgeon Flapping after bathing
Wigeon Flapping

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, personal errands, a nap, image review 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.

A typical day will go something like this: Meet before civil twilight (this time of year that will be approximately 6:30 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 on 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 5:30 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 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 a 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.

Snow geese multiple exposure
Snow Geese, Multiple Exposure

Places high on our list to photograph are:

  • North & South Crane Ponds
  • Flight Deck if conditions are favorable
  • John P. Taylor Jr. Memorial Trail
  • Marsh Overlook Trail
  • Willow & Coyote Decks
  • Farm Deck and surrounding fields
  • Visitor Center-quail & more
  • Bernardo Wildlife Area
  • Historic San Antonio                                                                              

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 mule deer, elk, javelina, pronghorn antelope, coyotes, shore birds, cranes, geese and many other species. We hope to 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 Wildlife Refuge System. Nov/Dec are perfect months to see spectacular wildlife behavior. We will be extra careful not to disturb our subjects while getting you in position for the best photography.    

Sandhill Cranes flying from field
Sandhill Cranes At Dusk


PRICE: $1195 per person, five days – Open to 8 participants (Minimum of 4 participants necessary at the quoted price. Note: In the event the minimum participant number is not met, a small group supplement of $295 will be added to the price above for each person.)

Start date: November 26, 2018, 630 PM         End date: November 30, 2018, sunset

Deposit: $300 to hold a spot in this workshop. Balance is due by October 29, 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.  See Sandy’s website www.investinnature.org


Morning "Blast Off"
Morning “Blast Off”

What is included:

  • Two instructors/trip leaders, Sandy Zelasko and Irene Hinke-Sacilotto.
  • Field sessions, instruction and image critiques when our schedule permits.
  • 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.
  • Bosque del Apache entry fees. Please bring your America the Beautiful pass, senior pass, Bosque pass or Federal Duck Stamp that will cover your entry fee. You may purchase any of these passes at the Visitor Center. Vehicle $5 per day without pass at entrance booth.
  • 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.
  • Cancellations made between 74-46 days prior to workshop, forfeit deposit.
  • Cancellations made 45 days from the start of the workshop are non-refundable.                  
Mule Deer Buck with rim lighting
Mule Deer Buck
American Kestrel Perched on Branch
American Kestrel
Quail fight
Gambrel Quail


To help plan your trip, visit the Bosque del Apache NWR website at https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Bosque_del_Apache/. Workshop dates were selected so that participants may have an opportunity to explore additional attractions in and around the refuge. Below are a few helpful links for planning your trip.

Lodging (partial list):

Additional attractions in the Socorro, New Mexico area:

Suggested packing:

  • Bring a laptop with photo editing software.

If you have questions, please feel free to reach out to either instructor. Sandy can be reached at 760-749-2174 or slzphoto@sbcglobal.net and Irene can be reached at 410-679-2873 or isacilotto@aol.com. Thanks!


Wood Duck swimming
Wood Duck
Snow Geese Landing slow motion
Snow Geese Landing
Sandhill cranes flying at sunset
Sandhill Cranes at Dusk
Snow geese lift off from pond
Snow Geese Lifting from Pond


Full moon with Sandhill Cranes
Full Moon Flight
Sandhill Crane Landing on pond
Sandhill Crane Landing


Nov 26, 2018 @ 6:30 pm
Nov 30, 2018 @ 6:00 pm
Event Categories:
, ,
Event Tags:
, , , , ,


Irene Sacilotto


Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, NM
1001 Highway 1
San Antonio, NM 87832 United States
+ Google Map


Verified by MonsterInsights