What is Nature's Light Photography Tours and Workshops? Nature's Light Photography Tours and Workshops is a joint-venture between Emil Von Maltitz and Nick van de Wiel. Emil and Nick have been working together since 2008 and have conducted several workshops together or independently ever since. Originally, these were marketed on their own websites www.limephoto.co.za and www.tailormadesafaris.co.za, however, as these attracted mostly commercial clients or general tourists respectively, it was decided to move the photography workshop components on these sites to a separate company. Hence Nature's Light Photography Tours and Workshops was born in 2015. So, although young under it's new name, the workshops and courses have been going since 2008, allowing Emil and Nick to gain considerable experience in teaching and organising those.
Who are you guys anyways? Have you won any prizes? Yes, we both have won some competitions, however, we don't really care much about it. We don't chase 'recognition' or prizes, and merely submit images to some competitions for marketing exposure. We are into photography for the love of the art. As photography for us is an art, it means it is subjective. Beauty is that which makes the heart sing, and is very personal. What is beautiful for the one, may not mean much to the other. We craft our images for the love of creating them, not to try to get another ego boost by winning a subjective competition. More about us you can read on About us, or if you'd like to see some of our images, visit our personal websites on www.emilvonmaltitz.com and www.nickvandewiel.com.
What is your guest - instructor ratio? We offer probably the best guest - instructor ratios available! Our minimum number of participants is usually 3, who would get 1 instructor (Emil or Nick). If we get 4 to 6 participants, both Nick and Emil will be there to teach. Six to 7 participants is usually the maximum we take, and then Nick and Emil usually take a photographic assistant with, essentially bringing the guest - instructor ration back to 2 - 1 or 3 - 1.
Do you cater for beginners and/or advanced photographers? We cater for both, and often even during the same workshop. This is one of the big benefits of our excellent guest - instructor ratio. Often when Emil is discussing advanced composition or Luminosity Masking in PhotoShop with experienced photographers, Nick will sit with the beginners teaching at their level. The 'Drakensberg Mountain Masterclass is our only workshop aimed specifically at more advanced photographers.
Do you offer gear rental at all? Not really. Yes we can rent you a tripod etc. but for camera gear and lenses we forward you to a proper rental company. Drop us an email and we'll be happy to advise you, and facilitate the rental for/with you.
What will I learn? You don’t become a better photographer by buying more and more equipment, better cameras or bigger lenses. That you probably know. Better equipment doesn’t mean better technique! There is no better way to improve your photography skills than to be taught by someone that has more experience than you. And there is certainly no more fun way than to do just that at some of the world’s most iconic landscapes, together with a bunch of like- minded fellows! Moreover, technique and equipment can only get you so far, after that it is ‘creativity’ that will set you apart. Creativity is what allows someone to create captivating images, rather than an ordinary photo of a beautiful landscape. It is hard to learn to be creative yourself, and you don’t learn to think out of the box from an online course. Creativity develops when someone pushes you out of your comfort zone, while giving you practical tips and hints as to what options you have from a compositional point of view. And this is exactly what we do with you in the field. We don't bark out setting so you can replicate an image that we have created in our mind. We wish to inspire you so you go home with great images and better photographic knowledge! Not only do we try to develop your creativity, (pre) visualisation skills and composition whilst in the field, we also spend time in ‘classroom sessions’ where we are able to view images and discuss the philosophy and technique behind the image. At the start of the workshop the tutors will sit with each participant to find out individual wishes and expectations, and to see at what level they are. In between the morning, afternoon and evening/night shoots there will be lectures on topics of the participants’ choice. There will also be guided photo-editing sessions, and we have frequent informal comment & critique presentations where we discuss each other’s photos in a constructive and fun manner.
Can you custom make workshops to my wishes, or conduct current courses/workshops on other dates than those on the website? Yes potentially. However, you will be expected to 'fill the tour' and get the minimum number of participants (usually 3 for one instructor, or 6 if both Nick and Emil are required to teach). Obviously the possibilities also depend on availability of accommodation as well as Nick and Emil's availability. But feel free to drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss the options!
Where can I find your Terms and Conditions? These you can download by clicking on this link.
During workshops & expeditions:
What must I bring? Upon booking, we will send you a detailed list of what to bring, but below we list the essentials in terms of photographic equipment.
A digital SLR camera, Emil and Nick both shoot with Full- Frame cameras, but any interchangeable lens camera will work perfectly on the workshop including, crop-sensor DSLRs, the new breed of mirrorless cameras and Micro Four Thirds cameras. We don’t recommend using compact cameras because of their serious limitations or the 1” sensor cameras which don’t have the same tolerances for landscape photography that M4/3s and larger sensor cameras have.
A good quality tripod, preferably one not made of plastic. (We can help you choose a suitable one if you don’t already have a tripod.)
A wide angle lens (Emil and Nick use wide and ultra-wide angle lenses as a matter of preference).
A telephoto zoom lens, such as a 70-200 or 70-300.
A camera remote (cable release) or intervalometer.
For anyone serious about getting into landscape photography, a filter set consisting out of graduated Neutral Density filters and a polarizer, is indispensable. For long exposures of the ocean we also highly recommend a full neutral density filter such as the Little and Big Stoppers from Lee. We strongly recommend investing in a set before arrival. Let us know if you need help choosing the right set.
A laptop with editing software already loaded. Emil and Nick personally use Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop with Nik plugins.
A backup hard-drive for backing up images (it would terrible to travel to an epic destination with us only to lose all the images if a laptop hard-drive crashes).
Do I have to do anything? Yes please! At most expeditions, we do count on (some of) you to help with driving and some camp chores. Those we do offer to help driving can count on a discount on the workshop price. Camp chores are very limited as we have organised catering pretty much everywhere. Your help with packing and unloading vehicles etc. every now and again will be much appreciated! In our experience, running the logistics of a workshop as a team effort is fun and keeps the spirits high!
Do I get a discount if I bring my own vehicle? Participants on some workshops have the option to bring their own vehicle if they prefer. Please contact us for details. Do note however, that if you are granted permission to bring your own vehicle (which may or may not make you eligible for a discount), all risks associated with bringing your own vehicle will be for your own account. This includes breakdowns, towing fees, hiring alternative transport, theft etc. If a discount has been offered for bringing your own vehicle, you will also be required to arrange and pay for alternative transport during the tour should your vehicle break down.
Can I have a room to myself? Yes, but not always, as not all accommodation venues have enough rooms for all participants to have a private room. If you wish to have a single room. this needs to be indicated at the time of booking, so we can make the necessary arrangements, and will attract a single supplement charge, subject to availability. We will then give you a breakdown of where we managed to secure you a single room, and what the single surcharge is going to be. Note that all our workshops and its prices is based upon sharing accommodation with other participants of the same sex or as couples.
Do all rooms have an ensuite bathroom? No, where possible, we always book rooms with an ensuite bathroom but not all accommodation venues offer that luxury. We choose our accommodation venues based upon their location close to the photographic site, rather than their luxury. Some venues we use are consequently, although always clean, rather rustic.
Is there Internet access and cell phone reception? Sometimes, this all depends on the destination and accommodation venue. Generally internet and cell reception goes from brilliant to non- existent in between destinations or locations.
Can you cater for special dietary requirements? To a limited degree, yes. Please do let us know of any dietary requirement you have and we can see what we can do. Please note that some destinations are relatively far off the beaten track and fresh vegetables or meat substitutes are occasionally hard to get, so if you are vegetarian we can cater for you, but meals might be rather ‘plain’. You are welcome to suggest options during the workshop or before, to ensure we can cater properly for your needs.
Are the destinations safe? Generally yes, otherwise we would not go there. Although crime exists everywhere, we have traveled throughout all destinations extensively and have yet to experience any issues. Still, a basic awareness of your valuables is still required, and we recommend you have a comprehensive travel insurance that also covers your photographic gear.
Should I be concerned about the water or any other health issues? The water is potable almost everywhere we go. Where it isn’t we will provide bottled water for consumption. In terms of health concerns, if you are concerned please consult with your GP or travel doctor. Most destinations are largely disease free and also malaria free (the exception being Botswana). It is still advisable to bring your own personal medications. Antihistamine, pain-killers, insect repellent, sun-tan lotion (NB!), antiseptic cream and plasters are always a good idea.
Do the tour leaders take photos themselves? Yes they do. However, the emphasis is on teaching and guiding you throughout the workshop. Our experience has taught us that most participants enjoy teaching sessions interspersed with ‘try-out-alone’ time, where they put the taught techniques into practice. Moreover, landscape photography is all about seeing the beauty in the land, which for each individual is different, and then to be creative with it. To have a teacher talking you through every step along the way in the field will hinder the development of your creativity, as you are not ‘pushed’ to try things for yourself. Hence, our teachers will be there when you need them in the field, give tips and directions, regularly checking on each individual participant to see if they need advise, but don’t be surprised if you see them taking photos themselves in between helping other participants. Also, there are usually three dedicated instructors on the workshop and a maximum of seven participants, so you are guaranteed to get assistance with your photography when you need it!
How fit do I have to be? Relatively fit. Physical difficulty for most of tours is rated as moderate. Generally speaking, if you can walk about 15 km on semi-uneven terrain, you will be okay everywhere we go. Yes, some locations require a bit of climbing at altitude, others ploughing through soft sand in the heat, but you can always take your time and go at your own pace.
Fitness is not limited to physical ability though, don't forget the mental part. Our workshops are not holidays, and often require you to rise very early, and sometimes go to bed late if we do star trails etc. Obviously it is up to you if you want to choose not to partake in a particular shoot, but in our experience, most photographers that join us want to make the most of their time with us. This is great of course, but it also means that they go home absolutely exhausted (and so do we haha). We feel the exhaustion is most definitely worth it. Yet, do yourself a favour and make sure you don't have to go straight back to work, and schedule a few days of rest after your expedition with us!
Price and Payment
Why so expensive? Admittedly, the workshop prices are for many a lot of money. However, it is not expensive if you look at other similar photography workshops. Our accommodation during the workshops is usually a mix of basic rustic through to upmarket and comfortable self-catering. Add the vehicles, fuel, food and the salaries and transport for instructors as well as their food and accommodation during the tour, and it is easy to see why the basic costs of running the tour are in fact quite high. Trust us, the money is much better spend on a workshop with us, than on a new lens or camera.
Why so affordable? We indeed feel the tour is very competitively priced. Just Google “photographic workshop Africa” and see what prices you get, and what you get for those prices. Cheaper options are few, and they invariably use cheap accommodation that may not be the best location for your photo shoot, or exclude transport for example. We are confident in our best value for money approach, where we don’t cut on quality, offer a pretty much all-inclusive tour at a fair price. Given that the tour leaders are South Africans and that South African salaries and taxes are considerably lower than their European counterparts, we are able to pass this saving on as a rather more competitive price.
How do I pay you, and when? Our Terms and Conditions state that we expect a non-refundable deposit of 30% at the time of booking. The remaining 70% is due six weeks before the starting date of the tour. You can pay us in various ways: By Credit Card, EFT, Paypal or Exchange for Free. Each options incurs different charges, which will be for your account. Contact us for the payment options and we'll gladly provide you with full details.
What are your cancellation fees? We charge the following cancellation fees, in addition to any reservation costs owed:
In the case of cancellation up to the 42nd calendar day (exclusive) before the day of departure: the deposit;
In the case of cancellation from the 42nd calendar day (inclusive) until the day of departure: 90% of the travel sum;
In the case of cancellation on the day of departure or later: the full travel sum.
I can't participate anymore, can I have someone else take over my booking and thus substitute myself? Yes, as per our Terms & Conditions: The traveller can be substituted by another person, in good time before commencement of the travel package. This is subject to the following conditions:
The other person complies with all the conditions to which the contract is subject (i.e. your replacement must be of the same sex (so the rooming list can be maintained) and if you were traveling in your own car, your substitution will have to provide a similar vehicle under the same conditions); and
The request is submitted no later than seven calendar days before departure, or in good time such that the necessary actions and formalities can still be carried out; and
The terms and conditions of the service providers involved in the fulfilment do not preclude such substitution.
The booking party, the traveller and the person substituting for the traveller are jointly and severally liable vis-à-vis the travel organiser for payment of the as yet unpaid part of the travel sum, the amendment fee and communication costs and any additional costs resulting from the substitution.