The Ultimate Photography Adventure: Photograph the Total Solar Eclipse in La Serena and the hills of Valparaiso.
Dates: June 30–July 5, 2019
Feel and Experience the Energy of Chile…
Chile is certainly unique. A very “thin” country that stretches about 4,000 miles from north to south, and yet only a few hundred miles wide. With the varied landscape options from the driest place on earth to some of the most gorgeous mountain ranges, there’s so much to point our cameras at.
This workshop tour will focus on two distinct regions of Chile. La Serena, which is just north of Santiago along the coast and Valparaiso, which is just an hour from the capitol. The Total solar eclipse happens in La Serena on July 2.
A note on the eclipse.
During the “Great American Eclipse” that occurred in August of 2017 I envisioned and captured this shot. In my home town of Walla Walla, WA, we achieved about 97% of totality. In La Serena, we’ll achieve 100% totality for just over 2 minutes.
It will happen at 5:39 p.m. local time and the sun will be at about 13 degrees above the horizon. So it’ll be quite different than the one I shot here.
Note: This is a composite shot of the transition of the sun and moon achieving near full totality in Walla Walla, WA. Our goal will be to do the same type of shot with an interesting foreground that we can find there in Chile.
Stuff you gotta know
Lodging: We’ll stay in La Serena. Rooms have booked quickly so I’ve decided to split the accommodations options. Four workshop seats are available that INCLUDE lodging. Two are available that don’t and you’ll have to book these on your own, the perfect option for a couple to join us 🙂 though we’ll still plan on having you ride with us in the van. Please inquire with specific details.
Transportation: I’m renting a van which means the major point to point transportation is covered on the mainland. Local bus fares, Uber and the like are on your own.
Photographic and Travel Expertise: You’ll get about five and a half days of instruction/mentoring by me, Brent Bergherm. We will plan to squeeze in some post production of your images but we must remain flexible due to unforeseen circumstances such as weather. Additionally, since we’ll be pushing it hard early mornings and late into the evenings, brief siestas may also be possible for an afternoon or two.
Small Group: With a limit of nine attendees (six in the van and up to three for the eclipse only) you’re virtually guaranteed some quality time with me and the other attendees. We will get to know each other pretty well given how much time we’ll be spending together.
Physical Requirements: There won’t be a ton of walking when on the mainland. We’ll be driving a lot to scout out our potential locations and then we’ll run to the next spot. In Valparaiso we’ll walk a bit but it shouldn’t be more than two miles a day. There’s a hill to climb in Santiago but we will plan to take the cable car 🙂
Sunday, June 30
Arrival: Please plan to arrive in Santiago by Noon on June 30. We will plan to drive directly to La Serena at about that time. You may certainly show up earlier as you wish, but for the workshop everything starts today. If you’re flying in today I plan to meet you at the airport. If you’re already in town, we’ll just make arrangements to either pick you up at your hotel or other common area. Please do not arrive after noon.
La Serena: It takes about 5 hours to get to La Serena from Santiago. We’ll stop along the way for eating and such. Plan to sleep in the van if you’d like 🙂
Monday, July 1
6:00 a.m. We’ll get started early. Maybe even earlier than this. Our point for today is to go see three top sites that hold promise for the eclipse. We’ll also see a bunch of other sites such as the Japanese garden and other La Serena street scenes.
The “hot spots” are the observatory in Vicuña, El Faro which is a lighthouse on the beach in La Serena and the Cross of the Third Millennium in Coquimbo. There’s also a mosque there that is really awesome for photography, we’ll squeeze that in if we can as well. As time allows we’ll drive even further up the mountain behind the observatory (pictured here) and see what we can find. The center line of the eclipse is just a short distance further up the road.
Tuesday, July 2
This is the day Today’s goal is all about getting into position. We’ll shoot somewhere for sunrise but after breakfast we’ll go to a store to stock up on snacks and head out to wherever we’ve chosen to be for the Eclipse. It happens at 5:39 p.m. local time. We’ll want to be in position at least five hours ahead of that so we can secure a good composition and also capture the transition of the phases every 15 minutes or so.
Thoughts on the exact position: There are two main roads that can take us to the center of the path of totality. La Serena is a few miles south of the centerline. Though I don’t think that will be necessary to be in the absolute center. Our goal will be to find a good foreground subject and shoot that. The southern most item we’ll consider is the Cross of the Third Millennium.
Thoughts on Weather: Let’s face it. We cannot predict the weather. However, we will do our best to keep an eye on things and change up our plans as needed. The observatory is way up in the mountains so if it’s cloudy in La Serena it’ll likely be clear up there. We can go further as well, all the way to the Argentine border if needed. This is why we are dedicating all day to “getting into position” for the eclipse!
After the Eclipse: The sun will set soon after the eclipse is totally finished. We will have an optional star trails shoot in the mountains near Vicuña (kind of like the pic to the left here, but access to the observatory is not guaranteed at this time). The sun sets before 6:00 p.m. so we won’t need to stay out too terribly late.
Wednesday-Saturday, July 3–6
8:00 a.m. For those who want to sleep in we’ll do so until about 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday. We’ll grab a breakfast and head south for Valparaiso. It’s a fantastic colorful city on the coast about an hour away from Santiago.
Wednesday afternoon, evening. We will explore the wonderful highlights of this hilly city and a few of the funiculars as well (see photo to the left).
Thursday: We’ll get up for sunrise again and shoot in the city during the early morning. The mid day is filled with options. I’m leaning towards doing some post processing work on our images. If you bring your computer you’ll be able to edit them. We’ll find more things to shoot to so we’ll keep this day open. Thursday evening will find us out and about again riding more funiculars and finding great street photography subjects.
Friday: We’ll leave fairly early after breakfast and drive to Santiago. We’ll spend the rest of the day exploring San Cristobal hill and we’ll end everything with sunset over the city.
Saturday: It’s all over. We can do breakfast together, depending on when you wish to depart. I’ll drive you to the airport as needed, but the place we are staying at has an airport shuttle.
What you'll learn
Composition: I love to encourage you to experiment and this gives us something to talk about. It’s good to analyze images and understand what works and what doesn’t. We’ll do this both as we’re shooting, and afterwards.
Nature: We’ll find plenty of landscape and nature scenes to photograph.
City/Street photography: We’ll be visiting historic city centers and other historic sites. There’s bound to be a bunch of people around and we’ll celebrate that fact, and we’ll work to get shots without people as well.
Telling a story: You’ll find me asking you something like “what does this image say?” to you or “what do you want it to say?” to your viewer. Maybe certain images aren’t that strong and don’t live well by themselves, but they work great in a series. Creating a body of work that only you can tell will be our focus. My job is to help you decide what you want to say with your images if you haven’t figured that out already, and then how to best execute that.
Camera stuff: I’ve been shooting professionally for over 20 years. No matter your camera brand I’ll be able to help you maximize your use of that little machine. If you feel really confident in your abilities, please email me ahead of time and we’ll explore ways that I can provide the challenge you’ll need to get the most out of this experience. I have experience with Canon and Nikon cameras the most, but if you shoot Sony, Fuji, Pentax, Olympus or any other, we’ll be fine. I might just have to spend a few extra seconds getting used to the different button layout or menu system 🙂
Shooting and post-processing: My go-to motto is to “get it right in camera,” as much as possible. With that said, I do try to keep post processing to a minimum, but sometimes you just have to go all out. We’ll be talking about the scene as we are shooting and I’ll help you understand how to shoot a scene according to what your end goal is. This may slow us down a bit. And to me, that’s just fine. I’d rather get it right, as much as possible, and focus on the meaning and purpose of the image over a “spray and pray” approach. We’ll then have opportunities to look at some of what you created and we’ll do everything from light weight editing in Lightroom to pushing the heavyweight adjustments that requires Photoshop. I’ve been teaching this stuff for 11 years, however, I’m sure all of us will have opportunities to learn from everyone else as well. That’s one of the great benefits of a workshop!
What's not included
Food & Drink: Meals, snacks, drinks, they’re all on your own. Bottled water is plentiful and can range in price from very affordable to downright expensive. It just depends on where you are. We’ll certainly go to some restaurants, but since we’ll be shooting so much we’ll often “forget” to eat. So we’ll need to be prepared and keep some calories with us. Grocery stores and markets or bakeries are everywhere. Please plan for enough cash on hand to provide for all your own food and drinks.
Entrance Fees: No entrance fees are included.
Incidental Transportation: I am including major point to point transportation in the workshop fee through a van/car rental. Uber rides, taxis, bus rides and the like are not included and will have to be covered by you. Also, transfers to/from the airport are not guaranteed. While I’ll plan to greet you at the airport for pickup, maybe we’ll have to arrange for you to meet somewhere else.
Insurance: Please secure your own travel insurance. Also ensure that your medical insurance is valid overseas. Please expect me to ask you to verify your insurance coverage. Both medical and standard travel insurance. What if I have to cancel the trip for some reason? That would stink, but there will be some fees that simply can’t be recouped (such as your airfare) and travel insurance will keep that from being a big issue.
Airfare and other “getting there” transportation: You’ll have to fly or otherwise transport yourself to Santiago, Chile for the start of the workshop. That’s where the workshop ends, so that makes it rather convenient. I’ll be happy to provide advice and guidance if at all possible to make your life easier.
Miscellaneous: If it’s not on the “included” list above, assume it’s not included in the workshop fee.
Last updated 12-21-18
What's to bring and etc.
Money: ATMs are widely available in all the spots we’ll be heading to. These are the best options for getting cash. But what happens if your card goes bad? Or is lost? Bringing an emergency stash of cash is a good idea. But please be smart about it and carry it dispersed throughout your various pockets and places where cash can hide. Also, please bring at least two bank cards. One time when I was away one of my debit cards worked in the ATM and the other didn’t, and they’re both from the same bank! It was very frustrating and the bank couldn’t figure it out.
Camera Gear: I usually risk it and only bring one camera on my travels. Two is just too burdensome. Bring the gear you think you’ll need, minus one or two pieces if at all possible. I recommend limiting yourself in your gear selection for two main reasons. 1). You can challenge yourself creatively by forcing yourself to make good images with the gear you have with you. 2). We need to be as light and mobile as possible. Carrying more and more gear will be counter intuitive to that notion. Be sure to bring your tripod though 🙂
Pack Light: I’ll be limiting myself to one Tenba DNA 13 messenger bag (or equivalent sized bag) for all my camera gear. My clothes and computer are limited to one carry-on sized bag or day-sized backpack. That’s it. I hope you’ll consider this a good example. If you bring more gear it may simply not fit in the van!
Please, DO Pack Light: I need you (and your fellow travelers need you to as well) to pack really light. Limit yourself to one carry-on size piece of luggage and your camera bag. And that’s it. We are only there a week. And we’ll have the opportunity to wash clothes in our rooms. I will literally be bringing one pair of pants, one pair of shorts, three shirts, the necessary unmentionables and that’s about it. Other than that, it’s camera and computer stuff. I’ll bring three lenses, one body and my MacBook Pro 15″ computer with external HDs. If you need help packing light, please let me know. We’ll chat via Skype or something like that.
Medications and safety/health: Chile is a fairly modern country, but you’ll still need your own medications. Please familiarize yourself with any of the alerts and warnings posted here at travel.state.gov. As of this writing there are none for Chile. For U.S. Citizens, you can learn some important information here, also on the travel.state.gov website for Chile.
For your information (readings): If you’d like to read up on Chile, I recommend the following book: Travels in a Thin Country by Sarah Wheeler. Of course you can’t go wrong with Lonely Planet’s guidebooks. But really, they’re probably only really valuable if you plan to do some additional traveling on your own.
Weather: It’ll be winter and as such the weather is rather unpredictable. However, La Serena is in one of the driest areas on earth. So while we expect to see some fog in the morning hours it usually burns off by mid day. Expect a wide range of temps since we’ll be along the coast and potentially heading into the mountains as well.
Anything else: If you have other questions please do let me know. I’ll get them in here as I’m sure others will have them as well. Don’t be shy! 🙂
More Money Matters: Chile has their own Peso for currency.
Last updated: 12-21-18
Limit 4 students.
Regular rate: $1,900. Save $100 if you make full payment by January 8, 2019.
This option is for those that want to have me make the arrangements for lodging. In La Serena we’ll be staying in a three-bedroom vacation apartment that sleeps 5. I’ll sleep on the floor as needed 🙂 We have a similar arrangement for Valparaiso and Santiago.
DOES NOT include lodging
Limit 2 students.
Regular rate: $1,650. Save $100 if you make full payment by January 8, 2019.
This option is for those that want to make their own arrangements for lodging. We’ll still plan on you riding with us in the van but if anyone wants to rent their own car they are welcome to do that as well.
Limit 3 students.
Regular rate: $650. Save $50 if you make payment by January 8, 2019.
This option is for those that only want to join us for the eclipse shooting starting June 30 and ending with the astro shoot on Tuesday night. You’ll have to provide your own transportation and lodging.
Before and After
I’ll create a private Facebook group for communication and photo sharing and review. You’re encouraged to post images after the shoot for review by me and others that have attended. I’ll plan to leave the group open for several months after the tour but we’ll hope to see all review requests submitted within six weeks after the workshop. After that you’re still encouraged to submit images for review, I may not get to them in a timely fashion though 🙂
As we get closer to the workshop I’ll be posting some blog items about shooting the eclipse and I’ll email you all about filters and such. Plan to bring a wide angle lens for the “regular” shots and a telephoto lens to really zoom in and get the transition going. I’ll likely be able to provide some solar filters, but a 10 stop by Breakthrough Photography is really your best option. It’s what I used for my Whitman Mission shot and I really like the quality it provides compared to the solar filters.
- La Serena: We’re staying in a vacation rental apartment. It sleeps five and has three bedrooms. We’ll plan for same genders to be in the same rooms. If you’re a couple and desire to share a room we may be able to accommodate. Please inquire.
- Valparaiso: We’ll have an apartment really close to public transportation. It also has free WiFi.
- Santiago: We’ll stay within walking distance of our planned place to shoot, San Cristobal Hill. There’s tons of restaurants nearby as well.
last updated: 12-21-18
As needed, I’ll be happy to clean your camera for you on site. I won’t bring everything with me, but I should be able to get most things cleaned (even your sensor) as needed.
There’s just a few stipulations/restrictions that apply to this workshop. They are…
- Workshop fees are non-refundable unless I’m able to find a replacement in time. I will refund your workshop fees minus a cancellation fee of $150 if a replacement is found. Should you need to cancel and we do find a replacement, I’ll handle everything. I’ll charge them the participation fee and refund you the appropriate amount. I need to do it this way because as I switch up rooms and the like additional costs may be involved which I will have to pass on to the new attendee. If you pay the deposit but are unable to make the final payment, let’s work together to find a replacement for you.
- Workshop fees only cover instruction, lodging, and major transportation as mentioned above. Other costs such as minor transportation, entrance fees, transfer fees, airfare or other fees to get to Chile are not covered in the workshop fee.
- Food, drinks and other incidental items are not included.
- I reserve the right to cancel the workshop and fully refund any fees paid due to unforeseen circumstances. Please be sure you buy insurance. My total liability will only be refunding the fees paid less costs incurred that are non-refundable by me. Unforeseen circumstances include but are not limited to a death in the family, war, act of terror, extreme weather or other natural disaster or other serious issue.
- Registration Deadline: I need a minimum of three attendees signed up by March 31, 2019, or we risk cancellation. I’ll be in communication with anyone who’s paid fees by the deadline should we run in to this issue. By this point I won’t have paid any non-refundable deposits, so you would expect a full refund.
- Release of Liability. You’ll be asked to sign a form onsite. But also, by purchasing you agree to release me and my heirs, relatives, business associates and others from any liability for any personal injury, death, loss of valuables and safety risks, or any other malady that may strike due to your involvement in this workshop. You agree that you’re aware of the risks international travel presents and you’re taking these risks upon yourself. You agree to be fully financially independent should disaster strike and that I’ll be asking and verifying that you have insurance, both medical and travel. Attendees are not vetted before the journey. We will get to know each other via a Facebook group beforehand, but that’s not a substitute for true vetting and getting to really know a person. You understand the risks involved and while I will do all I can to aid and assist with issues that may arise, you agree to hold me and my aforementioned associates harmless due to any interpersonal interactions with fellow attendees and/or anyone we encounter along the way. If you are unwilling to agree to any of these terms listed here please don’t sign up for the workshop.
- I reserve the right to add to and/or modify or subtract anything on this description page as necessary and without warning. I will notify you if there’s a need to make a change and you’ve already made payment.
- If we have fewer people than 6 sign up, I will rent a smaller vehicle as necessary.
Last updated 9-16-18