The 2016 Nature Workshop in Pictures

The Nature Workshop in Pictures

   September 25 – September 30, 2016 | Jackson Hole, WY      

Few places are better to capture the natural world in a photograph than Jackson Hole, WY, and for one week eager students and expert instructors met with one goal in mind: learn a lot and capture great photos. With instructors including expert nature photographers, National Geographic photographers, nature photography editors, and much more, students were exposed to an incredibly wide range of expertise.

With ample classroom instruction, portfolio reviews and networking opportunities, and of course, a wide array of on-location sunrise, daytime and nighttime shoots, students at the Summit Nature Workshop received a world-class education experience. However, without Nikon’s generosity, sponsorship and support, this workshop would not be what it is today  – the best nature and wildlife workshop in the nation.

2016 Nature Workshop Faculty

Learn more about our talented faculty at our Instructor Page.

Rich Clarkson - Workshop Founder

Rich Clarkson

Workshop Founder

The organizer of Photography at the Summit. His Denver-based company packages books, uses new technology to manage photographic and publishing ventures for such diverse groups as the Denver Broncos football team and Colorado Rockies baseball team, and serves as consultant to a variety of companies, publishers and foundations.


Tom Mangelsen

Workshop Instructor

Tom Mangelsen has traveled throughout the natural world for nearly 40 years photographing the Earth’s last great wild places. He is a critically acclaimed photographer whose honors include being named Conservation Photographer of the Year by Nature’s Best Photography and one of the 100 Most Important People in Photography by American Photo magazine. His award-winning limited edition prints have been collected by thousands around the world through his MANGELSEN–Images of Nature Galleries.

Dave Black - Summit Lighting Workshop

Dave Black

Workshop Faculty

A Nikon Ambassador, Dave is an incredible sports photographer and an absolute master of lighting in photography. He's photographed 12 Olympic games and shot the campaign for the new Nikon SB5000 speed lights, in addition to doing work for Newsweek, ESPN, Time, Sports Illustrated and the Wall Street Journal, among others.

William Albert Allard - Photography at the Summit

William Albert Allard

Workshop Faculty

One of the National Geographic’s most prolific and talented photographers, Allard’s artistry has resulted in some of the Geographic’s most memorable stories and individual pictures. Full of vigor, Allard’s critiques are classics and his no-mince-words approach embraces insightful and useful advice.

Jodi Cobb - Summit Photography Workshop

Jodi Cobb

Workshop Faculty

Some of the National Geographic’s most unusual stories have been done by this photographer who brings a unique and artistic approach to her work over many years on the magazine staff. Her book, “Geisha,” written and photographed in Japan was widely acclaimed for its beauty and insight. Most recently, she photographed a very different and tough story about human bondage in its many forms from slavery to trade in children. She is a a veteran of many Photography at the Summits.

Michael Forsberg - Summit Photography Workshops

Michael Forsberg

Workshop Faculty

Mike is a senior fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers who has focused his career on North America's Great Plains, its prairie wildlife, and watersheds. His work has appeared in National Geographic and Outdoor Photographer, and his books on On Ancient Wings and Great Plains - America's Lingering Wild have been turned into documentary films for PBS. Mike is co-founder of the Platte Basin Timelapse Project, and currently serves as faculty with the University of Nebraska.

Melissa Groo

Melissa Groo

Workshop Faculty

Melissa is the wildlife photography columnist for Outdoor Photographer magazine and a contributing editor to Audubon magazine. She chairs NANPA’s Ethics Committee, and writes and speaks frequently on issues of ethics and conservation in wildlife photography. Melissa’s photographs have been published in numerous books and magazines, including Smithsonian, Audubon, Birdwatching, National Wildlife, Living Bird, Nature’s Best, Montana Outdoors, and New York State Conservationist Magazine.

Wes Pitts

Wes Pitts

Workshop Faculty

Wes Pitts is the editor of Outdoor Photographer magazine and the editorial director for Madavor Media’s Creative Division, which also publishes Digital Photo and Digital Photo Pro magazines. Wes has been with OP and its sister publications since 1998, working in a variety of editorial roles. He has a passion for collaborating with photographers and writers to share compelling stories about the art of photography and employing the medium to create awareness and inspire conservation of wild places. Wes is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a degree in photography.

Charlie Hamilton James photographed at the National Geographic studio

Charlie Hamilton James

Workshop Faculty

Charlie Hamilton James is a National Geographic Magazine photographer specialising in wildlife and conservation photojournalism. His wildlife photography is technically complex and often involves specially invented and engineered equipment. As a conservation photojournalist he has covered issues across Africa and South America. His photography was showcased by 2014 BBC 2 television series 'I Bought a Rainforest' which followed Charlie as he travelled across the Amazon photographing the complex issues of people and wildlife.

Bill Pekala - Summit Photography Workshops

Bill Pekala

Workshop Faculty

Bill Pekala has been an active professional photographer since he graduated from high school and went to work for the Lexington Herald Leader, Lexington, Ky. He went on to free lance work for a while before joining Nikon in 1974 as a Nikon School of Photography instructor and Pro-Market Technical Representative. Bill took the reigns of Nikon Professional Services in 1981 and worked his way up to General Manager of NPS for the America’s. Bill Retired in Jan of 2014 after 39+ years with Nikon.

Bob Smith - Summit Photography Workshops

Bob Smith

Workshop Faculty

Bob Smith is our IT specialist and technical guru, but he is also an incredible photographer. Bob teaches classes about digital workflow, computer hardware, and monitor calibration during the workshop - giving students a well-rounded platform of technical information for them to build upon. Aside from technical info, Bob provides great feedback in portfolio reviews and image critiques.

Allen Murabayashi - Summit Photography Workshops

Allen Murabayashi

Workshop Faculty

Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and Co-founder of PhotoShelter, the worldwide leader in photography portfolio websites, photo sales, marketing and archiving tools for photographers. Allen previously served as a founding employee and Senior Vice President of Engineering at

Ron Taniwaki - Summit Photography Workshops

Ron Taniwaki

Workshop Faculty

Ron Taniwaki is our Nikon Professional Services rep camera genius. In addition to loaning out Nikon gear to the students of the workshop, Ron provides technical assistance and teaches a class about ideal camera settings at the onset of the workshop. Any time a student has a question about their camera, Ron is the one who will absolutely be able to answer.

Follow along for Behind-the-Scenes and Student-Taken Photos
from On-Location Shoots and Classroom Activities.


Landscape and Fly Fishing

Whether it’s the beautiful colors of the sunrise kissing the top of the nearby peaks, the reflection of the mountain range in the calm lake, or the occasional fog that comes rolling in, this location yields several different opportunities to make a great photograph. Additionally, when a fly fisher is added to the mix, the composition is bumped up a notch.

Instructors Michael Forsberg and Melissa Groo led groups to photograph on-location, while Dave Black led a group to a nearby location to photograph a fly fisherwoman. For Michael and Melissa’s groups, the journey to and from the location proved to be just as photographic as the destination. Students captured incredible images of elk, pronghorn and even spiders and spiderwebs, all while going to or from the location. Dave’s group used lighting equipment to light up to fly fisherwoman to create a stunning image of a lit subject with sun-kissed mountains in the background.

Student Photos


One of the most photographed locations in the nation and the world, this location is an incredibly beautiful landscape that includes Mount Moran reflecting over the Snake River. While it can be photographed from several locations and angles, many of the iconic photographs feature the oxbow bend, the area where the Snake River curves sharply around the bank.

Tom Mangelsen, as well as Bob Smith, Michael Forsberg and Melissa Groo, led groups down to this location to capture the classic landscape. Tom, who has more experience photographing in the Grand Teton and Yellowstone area than just about anyone, is able to provide students great advice on where to shoot from to capture something stunning and unique. When the sun is rising and hitting the mountains and time is very limited, these experienced instructors are critical in helping students set exposures and settings correctly to capture the perfect shot.

Student Photos

Nighttime Photography

(Light Painting, Startrails)

The Jackson Hole area isn’t just beautiful for sunrises and wildlife! At night, the stars come bursting out of the sky and when combined with a barn or church in the foreground, something truly special can be created. Star trails are very time-sensitive and require particular camera settings and post-processing knowledge to pull off, but with the advancements in today’s cameras they are becoming easier and easier to capture. Meanwhile, light painting is tricky because what seems as easy as taking a 20 or 30-second exposure and lighting up the subject becomes incredibly difficult when trying to decide what light to use, where to use it, and how much to use.

Bill Pekala, a timelapse and startrail photography expert, leads groups to different locations with a barn or church in the foreground to capture startrails and photos of the Milky Way. Dave Black, the master of lighting and light painting, leads groups to do light paintings of the barns and churches. Light painting outside creates a stunning image that often combines the Milky Way with a fun, natural subject like a mountain, arch, or in our case, a barn.

Student Photos

Landscape and Wildlife

In addition to the landscape and nighttime locations, students got to photograph at several different locations of their choosing throughout the area. In many cases, students had ample time to go capture incredible photos outside of the instructor-led location shoots. During the image critique sessions, many of the instructors were pleasantly surprised at some of the images students were able to go capture on their own.

The Grand Teton area is home to a wide range of animal and plant life. Students captured images of bison, elk, owls, foxes, and more, while also taking advantage of gorgeous weather and the absolutely beautiful Fall colors.

Student Photos



Workshop HQ

National Museum
of Wildlife Art

For many years, the Summit Nature Workshop has been held at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, WY. Not only is the museum venue and staff accommodating and supportive of the workshops, the venue promotes creativity and an artistic approach. Another convenience of hosting the workshop at the museum is that our classroom is just feet away from the auditorium we use for presentations and image critiques. Additionally, our workshop vendors have their own room in the museum near the classroom, and students can walk over and purchase, loan and learn about the latest gear in photography.

Indoor Classes

Light Painting – Indoor

Dave Black brings groups into the auditorium of the National Museum of Wildlife Art, our workshop headquarters, and has them light paint different setups of props. Students get to choose between a setup of  climbing ropes and carabiners , ballet shoes and flowers, fishing equipment, or an old revolver, ammo and western garb.

Student Photos

Portfolio Reviews

At every Summit Workshop, students have the opportunity for their portfolio to be reviewed by several of the greatest editors and photographers in the industry. This year’s Nature Workshop was certainly no different, as students were able to get instant feedback from the likes of Tom Mangelsen, Jodi Cobb, Wes Pitts, Melissa Groo, and many more instructors. Through portfolio reviews, students are able to expose their work to some of the nation’s top hirers and top talents — which in many cases leads to new opportunities for students in their careers.

Instructor Presentations

Outside of taking pictures and learning shooting techniques, students learn a great deal at the instructor presentations. All of our instructors have had incredible careers in photography, and they all have different experiences to share and stories to tell. Some instructors talk about their whole life as a photographer, some choose to talk about specific projects they’re working on, and some choose to talk about photography itself. But one thing remains constant throughout all of the instructor presentations, and that is a passion for photography and inspiring new photographers.

Final Banquet

The final banquet is a fun night for everyone. After a long week of classroom instruction and photographing on-location, both students and instructors have a final night to socialize, have dinner, and reflect on the great week. Additionally, instructors pick the students who they believe were the most determined to learn, network and improve their photography — and those students walk away with prizes!

Student Testimonials

The Nature and Wildlife Workshop provides for an amazing destination photography experience. Jackson Hole provides innumerable opportunities for capturing amazing images but, without excellent guidance and leadership, navigating millions of acres of protected lands to do so can become overwhelming. Clarkson Creative and the team at The Summit Photography Workshops provide participants with access to an incredible faculty, an exceptionally dedicated staff, and an education experience second to none. This won’t be my last workshop with this amazing organization.

-Dylan Pearcy, San Antonio, TX

The Summit Nature Workshop is the best photography workshop out there. The talent of the instructors can only be matched by the level of care and compassion they provide to each student who attends. It is no wonder I keep coming back year after year.

-Jennifer Leigh Warner, San Jose, CA

This was my second Workshop and I'm so glad I attended. Throughout the entire week, there was a rich menu of informative presentations from which to choose, and each was incredibly valuable to my growth not only as a photographer, but in other areas of my life as well. I came away, as most of us did, with the feeling that we'd been part of something big, warm and wonderful. I now have more tools than ever before to make better images, and I saw my image production and quality improve even as the week progressed. I'm fired up again!

-Linda Barnes, Prosper, TX

This is the gold standard of workshops.

-Alton Marsh, Frederick, MD

Extraordinary number of world-class nature photographers surrounded by stunning landscape and abundant wildlife made this an exceptional week of learning.

-William Folsom, Fort Mill, SC

First Workshop and uncertain what to expect. As the week unfolded, Summit's workshop schedule began to make sense. Truly an outstanding staff and faculty. Visiting instructors were a wonderful blend of disciplines entailing the breath of the photographic experience. The Teton setting is spectacular. A gem of nature. Another Summit experience is in my future. Highly Recommend.

-Bill Jorgens, Wilsonville, OR

I'm back at work but still thinking about my incredible experience in Wyoming. It's the perfect location to be inspired and we were there at such a magical time. I had an amazing week learning from some of the most talented photographers and other experts in the business. The passion that these photographers have for the work that they do is so contagious! After talking one on one with some of them, it's become clear now what I need to do. I've already started turning over stones to make a project I had swirling around in my head happen. I discovered a lot about myself and what I need to be doing with my photography. I need to use it to make a difference in the things that I'm most passionate about. Thank you Summit Series for Photography Workshops for the opportunity.

-Karin Saucedo, Allen, TX

The Nature Summit was informative, exciting and exhilarating; I loved every minute of each photo opportunity! The landscape was superb!

-Timothy Wilson, Alexandria, VA

Thank You Everyone!

The 2016 Nature Workshop was such a fun and memorable experience! We’re thrilled to see all of the friendships that were made during the week, and we’re proud of the students for the incredible images they captured!

We’d like to thank the students for seeking a higher level of photography instruction and attending the workshop, and we’d also like to thank our distinguished faculty for continuing to be great educators and great friends.

We’d also like to give a special thanks to Julio Aguilar and Bob Smith for assisting the workshop staff. Additionally, we’d like to thank all of the students who provided behind-the-scenes images of the workshop.

To Learn More about the Nature Workshop and to Sign Up for the 2017 Nature Workshop:

Visit our Nature Workshop Page.

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