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 Return to Steinbeck Country

Exploring the Literary Landscape of the Central California Coast

Friday through Sunday, August 26-28, 2011


Join Ken Rockwell and Dave Wyman, as we visually explore areas written about by noted American author John Steinbeck, including California's central coast and coastal mountains, and the beautiful Salinas Valley. Our cameras will aim toward  landscapes, seascapes, architecture, and people. This achingly beautiful area of the Golden State is a fertile filed for a full crop of creative photographs, with subjects ranging from the rugged Big Sur coastline and oak-covered mountain slopes, to the Carmel River, with its hidden communities tucked into the back country, from sea and shore birds and sea otters to historic buildings, including Steinbeck's childhood home and the lovely Carmel Mission.

Cost: $350

Transportation: Via private vehicle; trip leader will help, where possible, make carpooling arrangements between those who need rides and those who can offer rides.  

Trip difficulty: None; conducted at a photographer's pace. There will be some walking - primarily on the Monterey Pier and at the Monterey Aquarium - however, much of our photography will be at or near our cars.

Carpooling: We encourage everyone to carpool when and where possible. We'll send around, with your permission, a list of participants as the trip date nears, for those who want to carpool. We also want to carpool once we're in Monterey.

Weather: Expect cool morning and evening temperatures, and mild to warm days. Fog is a possibility, rain unlikely.

Who is this trip for? No matter what level of knowledge we have, this is a trip for those who have a love of photography, and a desire to make photographs throughout the course of a few days, from dawn to sunset, in settings made famous by John Steinbeck, from East of Eden to Cannery Row.

We will photograph around Monterey, in the Coast Range Mountains, and in the rich agricultural lands of the Salinas Valley, all locations Steinbeck lived in and/or wrote about. We may spot and photograph sea lions and sea otters, and sea birds. We will also look for wildflowers, and try to our hands at making portraits of some of the local residents. And we'll finish with a visit to the Monterey Aquarium.

Our purpose will be to visually explore both the natural world, and the world of human history. Perhaps, as Steinbeck did with his writing, we will also explore who we are, expressed through the creative artistry of our photographs.

This will be a hands-on photography tour. We will learn by making photographs, and sharing our ideas and viewpoints with each other; our group will act as a force-multiplier. We won't spend much time looking at computer screens, or talking about advanced post-processing techniques with Photoshop, Aperture or Lightroom. The focus will be on the photography, itself. We do plan on having an early dinner each night, which will allow us to photograph sunsets, and give us some time, before the night becomes too late, to view our own images.

Participants are invited to bring up to 20 of their own digital images for the rest of the group to view. Feel free to bring prints, too.

froggy Trip Leaders:

- Dave Wyman - his photographs of have appeared in Outdoor Photographer, Cross-Country Skier, the California State Parks Guidebook and in his books, Backroads of Northern California, Backroads of Southern California and Yosemite in Photographs. Dave has conducted photography tours since 1982, for the San Diego Natural History Museum, the Sierra Club, the University of Southern California, the Yosemite Conservancy, the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History, and the Los Angeles Zoo. His unbridled passion for travel and photography have led him and the groups he conducts to locations throughout California, the Southwest, Oregon, and Yellowstone. He enjoys photographing landscapes and wildlife, and he likes to establish a report with his human subjects. Dave takes his camera  onto high mountains summits, along rugged coastlines, into the deserts, and along remote roads throughout the western U.S.

 - Ken Rockwell is known internationally for his website, He is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge about photography and cameras. He can answer any question about any point-and-shoot digicam, all film cameras, and the latest digital cameras. He is particularly well versed in the use of Nikon and Canon equipment. His loyal readers - who number in the many thousands each day - enjoy his often iconoclastic and sometimes controversial essays about photography and art, and his detailed reviews of camera gear, both new and old. A Southern California resident much of his life, Ken has explored vast regions of California and the Southwest, including places like Yosemite, Death Valley, the central and souther coasts of California, northern New Mexico, and stretches of historic Route 66. Ken is conversant with a wide variety of camera equipment; he works with both with film and digital images. Visit Ken at
Accommodations: There are many places to stay in and around the beautiful town of Monterey. Dave and Ken will stay a few minutes away from downtown, in a basic, but comfortable and reasonably-priced motel. If you wish, call and we will arrange a room for you at the same motel (we've set a few aside) at which Ken and Dave are staying; let us know if you'd like to share a room, which will of course cut the cost of a room in half - we'll work on matching up participants. If you need help finding accommodations in other locations in Monterey, contact us.

We'll send a list of participants around to help match up potential roommates who decide not to stay with Ken and Dave.

Meals: There will be a picnic dinner for the group the first evening, poolside at Dave and Ken's motel. We'll always be near places to purchase food at other meal times. Participants may bring their own food and there are local markets as well as a variety of restaurants from which to choose. Just in case: bring snacks and water with you; days are long, and given the sometimes serendipitous nature of this trip, meal times may be postponed. Our plan to to eat a late breakfast and an early dinner, and squeeze a somewhat elastic lunch time inbetween.

Itinerary: Meet on Friday by mid-afternoon at the National Steinbeck Center, where we'll learn about the autho and  also photograph a couple of locations in town associated with Steinbeck. Then we'll continue into the town of Monterey, and re-group for a final field session on the northern edge of Big Sur. On Saturday, we'll meet for an early morning session in Monterey, photographing at two of the picturesque piers in town, before breakfast. Then we'll travel to the Carmel Mission, before heading up the almost achingly beautiful Carmel Valley. We'll stop for lunch as we cross the mountains back into the Salinas Valley, and then finish the day with a sunset session in Pacific Grove. On Sunday, we'll photograph at the Monterey Aquariu,m and then say goodbye.
jelly What you need to Bring:

- A sense of adventure
- Clothes for cool and warm conditions
- Shoes (tennis shoes or boots or any comfortable walking shoes; consider bringing along an extra pair of shoes, just in case)
- Money for for meals (except our first dinner) and entry fees (Carmel Mission: $6.50, adults, $4 for seniors; Aquarium: $30 for adults, $28, seniors)
- Camera gear (see below)
- Optional: bring along up to a dozen slides and/or digital images, scanned onto a CD, on a thumb drive, or in your laptop, and/or up to a dozen prints, to share with the group   

What is Provided by Image Quest:

- Trip leaders
- Group dinner
- A variety of field sessions
- Photographic instruction
- Presentations by the instructors
- Help with accommodations (participants are invited to stay at the same motel as the instructors, contact Dave)
- Entry to the Steinbeck Center

Camera Equipment: a basic digital or 35mm camera will work well. Don't feel the need to purchase special equipment. However, for those with more gear, bring it along - this is the time to use it. A good accessory: a tripod (along with a remote or wired shutter release) will allow photography early and late in the day. Good filters, particularly for those with film, would include an 81B (to warm up images made in the shade) and a graduated neutral density filter (digital photography has made this filter somewhat obsolete). All photographers might want to bring along a polarizing filter.

Medium format photographers are welcome, too. Remember: the larger/heavier the camera, and the more complicated the camera, the less time there will be to discover and make creative images. The instructors will probably bring along both film and digital cameras. Images from the instructors and participants will be shown during the workshop during the evenings, if time and stamina permits.

For print (negative) film, Fuji's basic Fujicolor films are excellent. A good ISO/ASA film speed rating for print film is 200 to 400. For transparencies (slides), the instructors prefer Fujichrome's stable of slide films, and the Kodak Ektachromes work well, too.

Memory and power: Bring enough CF or SD cards to contain several hundred photographs. Cameras will be working all day, so sufficient battery power is important. Don't forget a battery charger.   

To register: Send payment to Image Quest, 1164 Alvira Street, Los Angeles, California, 90035. Or use and a credit card (check with Dave before doing so, and let him know if you would like help using paypal).

We'll send back a receipt and any additional documentation, including directions to our accommodations, that you need. Cancellation fee: $75.00


Back to IQTours / The Image Quest Home Page 
Questions or comments and/or requests for information about specific trips:
Phone: 323 377-7565