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1164 Alvira Street
Los Angeles, California 90035
323 377-7565


En Plein Air - The Central Coast of California

– Photography and French Cuisine –

With Dave Wyman and Ken Rockwell and Irene Shibata

Photographs from the 2011 outing are here.

Dates: Thursday through Sunday, April 12-15, 2013

The Trip: "En Plein Air" is the French expression for "in the open air" and is often associated with artists like, who favored painting outdoors. For our photography excursion, we will use our cameras and lenses, rather than a brush and paints, to record and interpret the spectacular landscapes and seascapes, the historic architecture, and the people of the central coast of California.

We will explore and connect with the natural wonders found in abundance along the beautiful California coast, which include some of the most beautiful seascapes and landscapes found anywhere in the world. In the process we'll learn to see and experience the world around us in new ways with our cameras.

Our primary locations in the field will include the the rocky coves at stunning Montana de Oro state park, the southern reaches of famed Big Sur, and the rural landscapes along the back roads of San Luis Obispo county. Subject matter will range from macro subjects to wildlife to impressive seascapes and landscapes, and we'll probably find more than a few human subjects, from the locals who fish the sea for a living, to vintners and ranchers who work the soil for their own livelihoods.

What is special about this trip?Photographers who have joined our photography trips for the past several years know that Irene Shibata has provided us with many exquisite meals. To add to the fun, Irene will provide our group with several French Bistro meals, which she will prepare on-site.  Monet, Renoir, and Pissarro wish they could have eaten as well as we will.

Who is This Trip For: Do you enjoy exploring the natural world? This is your trip. Do you like looking for wild creatures, from spiders to elephant seals? Do you like to watch the setting sun drop into the sea, or look up to see hawk or an egret or a turkey vulture take wing? This trip is for you. Do you like the sound of the surf as it pounds against a cliff, or the hiss of a wave as it rushes from the beach to return to the sea? Do you find serenity in the mountains, or a connection with the earth in pastoral landscapes? Do you like nature and travel photography? Do you revel in the company of fellow photographers? This is the trip for you.

This will, therefore, be the weekend to stretch our creative selves, to learn to see with our inner as well as our outer eyes, to make a connection, on our own creative terms, with the wider world around us.

The Instructors:


Dave Wyman has conducted photography workshops and natural history outings since 1984. He originated and directed the travel photography program at the University of Southern California, and conducted the program's trips throughout California and the Southwest. His articles and photographs have been published in magazines such as Outdoor Photographer, Outside, and Backpacker; his pictorial guidebooks include Backroads of Northern California, Backroads of Southern California, and Yosemite in Photographs. He brings unbridled passion and commitment to his photography and his travels, whether he's peering at a sea anemone in a tide pool, or summiting a mountain.

Ken Rockwell ( is a well-known – some might even claim notorius – web presence. Love him or hate him, he is a force to be reckoned with, as his Ken's voluminous website offers a cornucopia of lens tests, camera reviews, and his clear-sighted, if not occasionally contrarian viewpoints, about the meaning of art and photography. He has the training of an engineer and the soul of an artist and Ken is willing to share his encyclopedic knowledge of photography with all-comers. He has conducted numerous workshops in California's mountains, deserts and coastal regions, in the canyon lands of Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona, and along historic Route 66.

Accommodations: Ken and Dave will stay at the Best Western Case Grande motel (see below)

Trip difficulty: None; conducted at a leisurely photographer's pace. There will be some walking (see below); participants should be able to walk up to two miles over the course of a day.

Cost: $425 Deposit: $100 Full Amount Due: March 25

Cancellations: $100. No refund after April 5, unless another participant takes your place, in which case all but the deposit will be returned.

Who can attend: Anyone; however, participants need to be at least 18 years of age.

What the Will be Provided:

camally What will be provided:

- Trip leaders
- Guided field sessions
- Evening presentations
- Help with car pooling where possible
- Four meals
- Help with carpooling

What You Need To Bring:

- Clothing for warm and cool conditions - items to include: mittens, ski or knit cap for cool mornings, comfortable walking shoes
- Money for meals not provided (we'll be near restaurants at meal times)

Where to stay: Ken and Dave will stay in the town of Arroyo Grande, at the comfortable Best Western Casa Grade motel, just a few minutes from the cottage we're using as Irene's culinary base. You're invited to join us there; it's clean, and reasonably priced. There are, though, many places to stay in the nearby area, from Pismo Beach to San Luis Obispo. If you want help making a reservation at the Best Western, or anywhere else, let Dave know. Also, if you're looking to share a room, let Dave know, and he'll try to match up participants.

Camera Equipment: If the truth be told, a basic digitial or 35mm camera point-and-shoot camera will work well for most of the locations on this outing. For those with more equipment, this is the trip to bring it along - super wide angle lenses, telephotos, filters, and medium format cameras.     

- Bring along a tripod and you will be able to make blur-free images during our early morning and late afternoon field sessions. If you want to purchase one, and have questions about what to look for, contact Dave (see below). We may have a tripod or two extra to loan out, and some photo shops will rent tripods.

- Digital Memory: Make sure to have enough storage on CF or SD cards.

- Battery power: bring enough to last through a day.

Film Considerations: Bring any sort of film. If you use print film, film speeds from ISO 200 to 400 will allow you to more easily hold your camera, without incurring blur from camera shake.


- Both Fuji and Kodak have excellent print films. Fuji has its premium Reala as well as its basic Fujicolor, and Kodak has its Kodacolor films.

- Slide films: Currently, Fujichrome films offer the best color saturation combined with very fine grain, and are the instructors' choice. Another excellent choice would be the Kodak Ektachrome films.

Weather: Expect warm sunshine, but be prepared for fog and mist. Inclement or cool weather will not cancel the trip, inasmuch as "bad" weather can produce some of the best pictures.

Basic Itinerary: Thursday is the travel day. Meet at the Best Western with Ken and Dave (Irene will be up at our hideaway cabin making dinner). We'll head up to our cabin, about ten minutes from town, enjoy a talk by Ken and some appetizers, and then make a drive into the wonderful town of San Luis Obispo to photograph the famous Farmers Market (which must be expereienced to be believed). On Friday, we'll have an early morning photo session before brunch with Irene. The rest of the day will see us at Morro Bay State Park and traveling up and over the Coast Range Mountains, with dinner provided by Irene. Saturday, after a get-together and breakfast with Irene, we'll head north, to Cambria and San Simeon, we'll enjoy a picnic lunch, we'll look for elephant seals along the rugged coastline, and we'll head up into the coast range mountains. We'll finish the day back at dinner with Irene. On Sunday, after a final breakfast with Irene, we'll photograph nearby vineyards and the mountain vistas, before heading ending the trip by noon.

Note: Want to share some of your own images with the group, on any subject? Bring up to a couple dozen digital images (on a CD, thumb drive, or your laptop), and/or as many prints as you wish. We'll view them during our downtimes at the cabin.    

Spring Light: At this time of year, the sun isn't particularly high in the sky for much of the day, which means we will have some good light for making photographs much of the time that we are out.

The Slant: While this is more of a tour than a class, we will learn much over the course of our travels; Ken and Dave have some basic tips and some advanced techniques to share with the group. While we'll have a chance to look at photos in the evenings, most of our days will be spent in a hands-on enterprise, at our variety of field locations, rather than spending time looking at our photographs on computer monitors during daylight hours. And of course, there are those bistro meals.

What About Walking? This trip includes some walking. We won't walk very far at any one stretch, and much of our photography will be next to our cars. However, we will walk to a number of locations, and the weight of a tripod, lenses and camera bodies can add up. Participants should be in reasonably good shape, able to amble for up to a couple of miles over the course of the day (although we will probabably walk far less than this).

Ken – and Dave to a similar extent – are minimalists in their approaches to carrying camera gear; while they might bring a variety of camera bodies and lenses, they don't carry that much, varying what they want/need at any particular field location.

Transportation: By private auto; the trip leader will help arrange carpooling for participants to San Luis where possible and we'd like everyone to carpool once we are all on site.

Payment: Send a check or money order by good old fashioned U.S. snail mail to: Image Quest Tours, 1164 Alvira Street, Los Angeles, California, 90035.

Although we prefer payment via the mail, you can also easily use your credit card, via (check with Dave first).

When you send payment: you'll receive via email a receipt and any additional information, such as maps and directions to our accommodations in San Simeon, thoughts about photography and the Central Coast of California, and a liability form. An instructor will touch base with you by phone and/or e-mail prior to the departure date and, where possible, help arrange for carpooling for participants.  

Where is San Luis Obispo? It's north of Los Angeles and south of San Francisco, west of the town of Paso Robles. Contact Dave for any questions about travel to or help with making travel arrangements.

If you have questions, call the instructor, Dave Wyman, at 323 377-7565, or send e-mail to:    

Dave's Blog

Dave's Galleries


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