Colombia MF/LF Photo Tour

Discussion in 'Workshops & Lectures' started by Peter Rockstroh01, Oct 27, 2018.

  1. Peter Rockstroh01

    Peter Rockstroh01 Subscriber
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    Apr 20, 2015
    Bogota, Colombia
    Multi Format
    During the past four years I have been organizing photo tours and workshops in Colombia, focusing mainly on landscape, wildlife and specialties (orchids, hummingbirds, a.o.), for local photographers.

    Now I developed a program specifically for PHOTRIO members, based on as much and as little I know of this group, from my intermittent participation over the past 10 or so years.

    If there are at least eight members participating, I can organize an exclusive PHOTRIO group, which I´m sure, everyone will enjoy. It would give me great pleasure to get to know the faces behind the pseudonyms and photos, and share the beauty of this country with them for a few days.

    Of course, part of the proceeds of this tour will go to


    A Tour at a different pace

    ¿What is a MF/LF Tour? Theoretically it is a tour organized for photographers working with Medium Format and Large Format (sheet film) cameras. In practice, it is a tour organized not only for photographers working with larger formats, but all those working at the pace of these formats.

    When you ask photographers where they would like to go to photograph a country, its people, landscape and nature, few think of Colombia as a first choice. Even Colombian photographers chose other countries for great part of the past thirty-something years.

    But the last 10 years have brought some major changes to this country. Many areas that couldn´t be visited in the past are now open to tourism, the infrastructure for visitors is growing and one of the slogans of the National Tourism Institute states: ¨The biggest risk is wanting to stay¨. I took that risk and I´m enjoying it.

    With that in mind, I started picking locations for photographers carrying large and heavy gear, honoring Edward Weston´s phrase: “ If it is more than 500 yards from the car, it´s not photogenic¨. Of course you can hike to get the perfect shot, but this tour was conceived thinking of those who can´t or won´t schlepp a ton of glass and steel for miles.
    They won´t have to. At least not on this tour.

    I assembled a ten day program, starting in Bogotá and outskirts, and then flying west across the Andes and down into the coffee belt. The route and schedule were chosen to spend more time photographing and less time sitting in a bus.

    This tour will give participants the opportunity to see Andean highlands, tropical landscapes, lakes, rivers and mountain ranges, old coffee farms and quaint little towns. For a more intimate close-up with nature we´ll see part of Colombia´s amazing biodiversity, its strange and lush vegetation, as well as the amazing wildlife.

    In the coffee region we´ll visit a few small towns and plantations, as part of this region is under scenic beauty protection, and a lot of the area´s coffee production displays manicured hedges and tastefull roadside gardening.

    When I travel, I like developing the day´s catch of Black&White negatives in the evening, just to make sure I got what I wanted. Sometimes it is possible to return and repeat that special image you´d like to improve. I included two days, one in Bogotá and one in Armenia, to do exactly that, or just to chill and enjoy the day.

    For this trip I carry a changing bag and a changing tent for filmholders up to 12¨ X 16¨, one rotary processor for 8¨x10¨ sheet film, several tanks for 35 mm, 120 and 4x5, as well as several developers and fixers.

    Developing your negatives during the trip has two main advantages: first, you´ll know by the end of the day if your images have the exposure and contrast you wanted, or if you need to tweak it; second, you won´t run any risks, carrying exposed but undeveloped negatives through X-Rays on your trip back.


    Day 0: Arrival in Bogotá. I pick you up at the airport, where you´ll be transferred to your hotel.
    Dinner with the group.

    Day 1: For a first taste of Colombian wildlife, we´ll visit a Hummingbird garden in the outskirts of Bogotá, where you´ll be able to photograph these fearless jewels up close and personal. This will also give you the opportunity to get used to the altitude, and, depending where you come from, adjust from jetlag.

    Day 2: To save time, breakfast will be at 06:00, on the bus to Chingaza National Park, where we´ll spend the day. This park covers nearly 80,000 Hectare of prime Páramo habitat, and you´ll have the opportunity to enjoy the landscape that inspired Arthur Conan Doyle´s The Lost World (used a century and a half later for the Jurassic Park sequel of the same name).

    Day 3: We depart early to the town of Armenia, a roughly one hour flight, where we are picked up by our driver. There we will visit the Botanical Garden, a spectacular piece of rainforest with a large collection of tropical and subtropical plants in a fantastic setting.

    Day 4: Quindío and the coffee circle. A day of cruising old farms and learning about traditional coffee culture. This area is famous for the beauty of its farms and the quality of its coffee.

    Day 5: We leave early to the Cocora Valley, home to Colombia´s national tree: … a palm, the world`s largest palm, Ceroxylon quindioense, in a setting that is quite unique. Lunch at Cocora. Afternoon in the towns of Salento and Circasia

    Day 6: Parque Los Nevados. We´ll drive up to 5,000 m (15,000 ft), near the snow-capped peaks of this National Park, to enjoy the landscapes carved during the last ice age and the vegetation that covers these mountains since then.

    Day 7: Otun-Quimbaya Sanctuary. The Otun river runs down the Andes and at this wildlife sanctuary it flows through the megadiverse pre-montane Andean forest. Giant anthurium and begonias grow here in wild profusion on an old quinine farm. A fantastic place for close-ups, orchids and wildlife and an amazing trail system through montane jungle.

    Day 8: Chill out and enjoy the day, catch up on e-mails or get up late. The bus and driver are available for those that want to return to one of the places of your choice (you´ll have to decide on the place or route), and a cab driver for those who´d like to take more images in the places nearby. Flight back to Bogotá in the evening.

    Day 9: Chill out and enjoy the day in Bogotá. Visit the Gold Museum and the Botero Gallery. Car and driver available for those who´d like to visit another National Park this day.
    Dinner with the group.
    Day 10: Return home (or apply for a Visa and stay as long as you want)

    The trip is planned for february 15th – 25th, 2019, when great part of the nothern hemisphere is experiencing the worst part of winter. Down here the skies will be blue, and the weather like late spring, early summer. Perfect for any kind of film …

    If you would like to participate, please send me a PM for price information or any question you might have.
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