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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West Virginia Mountains Fall 2022

Oct 7 @ 7:00 pm - Oct 9 @ 2:00 pm


West Virginia Mountains Fall 2022

(Blackwater Falls, Canaan Valley, Dolly Sods)

7-9 October 2022

This workshop focuses on one of my favorite fall photo destinations, the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia where I previously have conducted a number of photo workshops in the past. The workshop includes Canaan Valley, Blackwater Falls State Park, and other scenic areas nearby.  Because of the high elevation in this region, fall arrives in early October when leaves on the mountainside turn from green to a mix of warm colors.  Beaver, muskrats, bear, and other animals are active and visible  as they gather food and prepare for the winter. It is the perfect time to visit West Virginia.

TENTATIVE SCHEDULE (Subject to change based on conditions at the time, safety, & weather)

Friday:  7 Oct 2022

Orientation (7:00-8:30 PM) @ Blackwater Falls Lodge, Davis Room.

Saturday, 8 Oct

              Sunrise to 10:00 AM:  Photography at Blackwater Falls State Park (Pendleton Lake, Overlook, Lindy Point, etc.)

              10:00 AM – 12:00 PM (lunch, preliminary editing)

               1200 -130 PM (image review)

               1:30 PM – sunset (photography – Canaan Valley, Dolly Sods, etc.)

Sunday, 9 Oct:

           Sunrise to 10:00 AM (photography – Canaan Valley and Blackwater Falls)

           10 AM – noon  (lunch, editing)

           Noon until 2:00 PM (image review)

            2:00 PM (end of workshop)

Blackwater Canyon view from Pendleton Point.

Blackwater Falls State Park


The workshop package includes 2 nights at Blackwater Falls Lodge in the heart of Blackwater Falls State Park.  The lodge has recently been renovated but still retains its mid-century 2o th charm. The view of the Blackwater Canyon from the back patio is eye-catching with weathered rock faces and colorful hillsides. It is ideally located with easy access to trails, waterfalls, and overlooks of the Blackwater Canyon.

Photo Opportunities

Blackwater Falls State Park is located in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia and is easily accessible to people living in the eastern U.S.  The centerpiece of the park is Blackwater Falls, where the Blackwater River slowly meandering through Canaan Valley, tumbles over boulders and plunges 62 feet into Blackwater Canyon.  Walkways, stairs and, platforms provide a variety of viewpoints from which to photograph the falls.

Close to the hotel is the trail to Elakala Falls where a series of four waterfalls along Shays Run descend into the Blackwater Canyon.  A bridge provides a view of the falls from the top.   The descent to the base of the upper falls presents photographers with a unique view of the falls but can be a bit difficult.  On my last trip, I concentrated my efforts on photographing the streaming water above the falls capturing close-up images of floating leaves, bubbles and foam, and swirling patterns from the water in circular pools.

Dead leaf
Dead leaf floating in stream.

A short drive from the lodge is Pendleton Point Overlook with views up and down Blackwater Canyon.  A trail from the parking lot leads to Pendleton Lake where on still days, autumn colors from the surrounding trees reflect in the lake’s surface. Often on cool mornings, fog rises from the lake’s surface and wetlands creating a sense mystery as it rises to reveal hidden trees, vegetation, and mountains.  

Spider web drenched with water droplets at dawn in a field near Pendleton Lake.
Patterns in decaying leaves









Tree reflections.

My favorite overlook of  Blackwater Canyon is Lindy Point that can be accessed by a narrow road adjacent to the cross-country ski center in the park. A small parking lot on the right provides access to the trail head.  A relativity easy .4 mile trail leads to a wooden platform and rock ledges that provide panoramic views of  the 3000-foot canyon walls.

Lindy Point Blackwater Falls State Park with fall color.
White-tailed Deer buck with antlers.

Canaan Valley State Park

Approximately 7 miles from Blackwater Falls State Park is Canaan Valley State Park.  This 6000-acre property has over 18 miles trails through woods, meadows, marshes, and along the Blackwater River that meanders its way through the park.  It is home to a variety of wildlife including deer, bear, raccoons, beaver, skunks, herons, muskrats, waterfowl and on rare occasions, a bobcat.  At 3200 feet above sea level, Canaan Valley is cooler than the surrounding countryside so fall color comes earlier than in the rest of the state.  If lucky, visitors will witness a colorful landscape with crimson maples, burnt-orange oaks and golden aspen.  In October, overnight temperatures can dip below freezing resulting in a delicate coating of frost clinging to grasses, fall flowers, and other vegetation.  

It is rutting season for White-tailed Deer causing them to be more visible than earlier in the year.  Bucks are their most handsome with sharpened antlers and heavy winter coats.   Migrating Canada Geese and other waterfowl are quite vocal and can be spotted as they fly overhead on their way to feed in the wetlands.

If we are lucky, the chair lift concession open during skiing season is operating and can take us to Bald Knob Trail which ascends to 4300 feet for a panoramic view of Canaan Valley.

White-Tailed Deer Drinking in Blackwater River.

Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Between the state parks is Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge.   With 8,500 acres, this is the largest wetland complex in the state of West Virginia.  Carpeting the valley floor is a patchwork of habitats, including bogs, shrub swamps and wet meadows.  In the past when exploring the refuge I have come across a beaver lodge and  signs of muskrats and other wildlife.  Of ecologically importance, these wetlands absorb water like a sponge slowing its flow during rain storms and reduce downstream flooding. During times of drought, they slowly release water to sustain vegetation during the dry season while they filter sediment and remove pollutants. These wetlands sustain an array of animals including beaver, muskrat, black bear, and wading birds as well as amphibians, dragonflies, and other insects. The grasslands provide habitat for bird species such as bobolinks, savannah sparrows, eastern meadowlarks. The forest provides nesting habitat for brown thrashers, Eastern towhees, and American woodcocks plus a feeding area for fledglings and migratory birds.

Canaan Valley wetlands.
Wet Colorful Leaves

Dolly Sods Wilderness

The Dolly Sods is a located in the Allegheny Mountains of eastern West Virginia and is part of the Monongahela National Forest.  Elevations range from 2,500 to over 4,700 feet.  The rugged terrain was shaped by logging and fires in years past plus the harsh climate. It is home to more than a dozen rare plant and animal species. At the higher elevations, the scene more resembles the arctic than West Virginia.  Several gravel roads lead to the top of Dolly’s plateau connecting with a road that travels along the ridge-line providing access to sweeping vistas of distant mountains. As the road climbs higher, the landscape becomes populated by one-sided stunted trees,  lichen-covered boulders, sphagnum bogs, heath barrens, and low-growing shrubs.   In early October, the leaves of blueberry and cranberry bushes turn red and glow when backlit by the setting sun.  

At the Eastern end of the road, on the crest of the Allegheny Front, is an area referred to as Bear Rocks.  A wall of huge, irregularly shaped boulders ascends the mountain side.  From high vantage points on clear days, one can see as far as Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

Fall color.  Red leaves from blueberry bushes at sundown.
Bear Rocks at Eastern end of Dolly Sods.

General Info:

This workshop is designed for those with a basic knowledge of the operation of a 35 mm SLR digital camera or mirrorless camera with an interest in improving their photographic skills and optimize the use of their camera.  After Friday evening’s orientation (7:00-8:30 PM), activities will begin at dawn on Saturday to take advantage of the warm early morning light & heightened animal activity.  Mid-days will be reserved for basic photo editing and image review. In the afternoon, we will return to the field, photographing until sunset. Sunday activities will again begin at dawn, followed by a mid-day/early afternoon image editing and review session.  The workshop officially ends at 2 PM on Sunday, October 9th.

PRICE: $ 905    (based on double occupancy); $ 165 (additional single supplement charge) 

DEPOSIT: 50% of total due at registration.  FINAL PAYMENT due 07 Sept 2022.  Price includes accommodations for 2 nights at the lodge at Blackwater Falls State Park and is based on double-occupancy.  Also includes park fees, the orientation meeting, PowerPoint presentation and instruction, one-on-one assistance in the field, and image critiques.  Assumes a basic understanding of camera operation and terms such as shutter speed and F-stop. Info on what to bring to the workshop will be provided at a later date along with health & liability forms.

The class size limited to 8 people for one-on-one instruction.  My focus is on participants, so I do not photograph during the workshop.

The itinerary is subject to change and reflects observations from my pre-workshop scouting trip.  It is flexible and will be altered dependent on the weather conditions, safety issues, availability and location of subjects, and participant interests. Hiking is limited but some trails may be rocky or wet so consider wearing boots with firm ankle support.  You can refrain from activity that you feel is too difficult or dangerous and pursue an alternate path. Since temperatures vary from freezing to low 70s plan to dress in layers. Bring rain gear for yourself and photo equipment.

For more details about Osprey Photo Workshops & Tours, see www.ospreyphoto.com .  If you have any questions or concerns contact Irene Hinke-Sacilotto at isacilotto@aol.com or Office (410) 679-2873 or Mobile (410) 960-5871  

Cancellation Policy

Notifications of cancellation must be in writing.

The following charges apply per person at the time I receive your written notification of cancellation:

  • Cancel up to 121 days prior to departure date – full refund.
  • 120 to 61 days prior to departure, $125 administrative fee charged. ($35 admin fee for weekend workshops.)
  • 60 to 46 days prior to departure, 50% of workshop or tour cost.
  • 45 days or less prior to departure – NO REFUND

Medical circumstances or emergencies do not constitute grounds for exception to the cancellation policy. Therefore, trip cancellation & interruption insurance is HIGHLY recommended. Travelers Insurance Company and others provide such policies at a reasonable rate. In the unlikely event that the trip is canceled due to insufficient enrollment, your money will be refunded in full, with the exception of expenses you personally incurred while preparing for the trip.


Oct 7 @ 7:00 pm
Oct 9 @ 2:00 pm
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Osprey Photo Workshops & Tours


Blackwater Falls West Virginia