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Horses & Icons of the Wild West

In Autumn

The cowboy life affirms the words of Winston Churchill: “There’s something about the outside of a horse that’s good for the inside of a man.” From the moment humans first encountered horses, they have been respected and revered as symbols of freedom and power. Indeed, the relationship of man to these noble beasts has done more to change human history than any other domestic animal. And in America, it is the image of the cowboy, along with his gallant horse, that is the foremost icon of the Wild West.

Unparalleled opportunities to photograph horses thundering through clouds of dust and sagebrush, splashing through shallow river beds, and silhouetted against the setting sun are just a fraction of the exceptional photographic potential in our 5-day photo shoot. In addition to the horses, we have outstanding chances to photograph all aspects of cowboy life including model-released cowboys working herds of horses and cattle, during hard-charging action, with backdrops of dramatic red cliffs and golden autumn aspen—and even cowboy portrait sessions! Horses and cowboys keep us busy all day long—it’s the equivalent of two shoots in one! Each day there will be an extraordinary range of subjects to please beginners and amateurs as well as stock and fine arts photographers.

Our setting for this incredible shoot is a magnificent 300,000-acre ranch in Shell, Wyoming. The photogenic vistas of this enormous ranch include the craggy Bighorn Mountains, sagebrush high desert, grassy meadows, slickrock cliffs, polychrome-painted hills, pine-covered slopes, colorful aspen groves and a rushing river. The ranch is home to 1,200 head of cattle, a rugged crew of photogenic cowboys, and some of the finest ranch horses west of the Mississippi.

Our luxurious ranch accommodations, located at the foot of the Bighorn Mountains, consist of a spacious main lodge surrounded by guest cabins. It’s a wonderfully-appointed guest ranch for this remote Wyoming location!

After an exciting day in the field you can relax on your cabin porch, or unwind in the hot tub adjacent to the main lodge. The lower level of the lodge houses a library with a fireplace, a large TV and video equipment, and a pool room. The main floor hosts the dining room and a wood-burning fireplace—and spectacular views of the mountains. The top floor is home to the cocktail loft, where guests gather to share stories, review daily digital images, hear photo lectures and discuss plans for the next day.

Join us on this exclusive shoot to capture the power and majesty of horses, striking images of Wild West buckaroos, and to chronicle the uniquely American flavor of the “Cowboy Way.”

• For more information and photos, read Darrell Gulin's blog from our 2011 trip.

Day 1 (Sep 30)

The Hideout in Shell, Wyoming, can be reached by car from Billings or Cody. The nearest major airport is in Billings, Montana, a 2-1/2-hour drive, while the smaller, regional airport in Cody, Wyoming, is one hour away. Fee-shared ground transportation from Billings and Cody to the ranch is available. Participants should plan to arrive at the ranch by 5 PM. (D)

Days 2–6

We’ve scheduled two incredible horse drives each day of our shoot—utilizing the best light of the morning and evening. Each drive is in a different area of the ranch, and the entire 300,000-acre ranch is at our disposal! We photograph extensive action as horses hurtle through billowing dust, manes and tails flashing in backlit glory. Water scenes are another special feature of this shoot as we utilize a scenic shallow riverbed in some of our phenomenal horse sessions. We won’t forget the human element as we include our cowboys during the horse drives. The cowboys work the horses in groups and individually and are set up in specific locations for the best lighting and angles to create incredible shots! In autumn, the cattle are in the high country pastures and we have an opportunity to photograph authentic cattle work. Between the action, we offer portrait sessions with the cowboys. The tack and saddle room is opened for us and we have our pick of a variety of photogenic props to hang on the fence, as well as plenty of time for detail work, too, so don't forget your macro lens. This is a chance to photograph a wide variety of still-life symbols of the American West. Every evening, our model-released cowboys ride through the sage desert that glows golden in the evening sun. There are plenty of opportunities to shoot tight on hard-charging cowboys as well as to shoot loose, getting the classic shot of the lonely cowboy riding slowly on an endless plain. These skilled riders rope and chase cattle through the meadows, right in front of our cameras! Under a setting sun our cowboys sit by a blazing campfire, resting, talking, lying back on saddles and posed with horses tethered in the background—a shot guaranteed to evoke the romance of the West. (BLD)

Day 7 (Oct 6)

Participants depart after breakfast. Fee-shared ground transportation to Billings, Montana, and Cody, Wyoming, is available. (B)

Tour Details

Sep 30–Oct 6, 2012
$3,895 from The Hideout, Shell, Wyoming

Terms & Conditions

* PLEASE NOTE: Tour fee includes gratuity to ranch staff

"Before a JVO safari, if you have a shot in mind that you want to get; don’t worry, you will. And you get many more shots you didn’t know you had to have."
—L. Clark

"Every day we visited different areas of the ranch and had phenomenal scenery each time. The wranglers are incredible and so willing to work with us."
—C. Coffin

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. P.O. Box 655, Vashon Island, Washington USA 98070
Phone: (206) 463-5383 Fax: (206) 463-5484 Email: info@photosafaris.com
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