Mountaineer Photo Excursions: Blog en-us (C) Mountaineer Photo Excursions (Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Tue, 25 Jul 2023 22:00:00 GMT Tue, 25 Jul 2023 22:00:00 GMT Mountaineer Photo Excursions: Blog 120 69 A Busy Year So Far! A Busy Year – So Far!  
Wow!  I just realized that this is my first blog entry for 2023!  It has been busy, even though I haven’t written much about this year’s activities.  
We started off this year with a series of photography classes in Charleston, WV.  Our first one was “Your Digital Camera,” a good kickoff for folks who may have received a new adjustable camera for Christmas.  Over the next few months, we followed up with “Winter Photography – Get Off The Couch;” “Digital Photography Techniques,” a three-evening class offering an improved understanding of the camera’s controls, how lenses work, photo critiques, composition, and more; “Introduction to Film Photography;” “Beyond the Rule of Thirds – Advanced Photo Composition;” “Crash Course on iPhone Photography;” “Introduction to Close-Up/Macro Photography;” and wrapping up in July with our “Flash Photography and How To Use It,” which was two nights and included a full evening of hands-on practice with various flash units.  We are hoping to offer some of these classes as Zoom classes later this fall and during the winter, so please check back on our website “Classes” page.  
Our workshop schedule was a little lighter in the first half of 2023, with a spring offering of our “Waterfall Workshop at Ricketts Glen, PA.”  Our primary venue was Ricketts Glen State Park and a hike down into the canyon where we photographed several of the Park’s 21 named waterfalls.  
We have recently returned from our “Southern Shores of Maryland,” which we visited several years ago.  Locations during this workshop included Historical St. Mary’s City, the first capitol of Maryland; the Calvert Marine Museum; Goldpetal Farms Sunflower Maze, and several additional venues.  
In early September, we will work with Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley, WV, once again to offer our week-long “Digital Photography Workshop.”  We’ve been teaching this one for a few years now and have been pleased to include several students from West Virginia, as well as from many other states.  
On the heels of Cedar Lakes will be our “Great Alaska Grizzly Adventure!”  Amanda and I have been working on this event since 2019!  Once we had our dates and fee firm, this workshop sold out in Ten Days!  In late September, we will be in the heart of the Alaska wilderness along with 10 Workshoppers!  Each day for a week, we will fly from our lodge at Lake Iliamna via bush plane to locations to photograph grizzly bears, also known as coastal brown bears.  
We are currently accepting registration for three different workshops.  Our fall workshop is scheduled for October, and is our “Bridges of Ashtabula County, OH,” event.  With a backdrop of stunning fall color, we will visit the 19 covered bridges in the area, along with a few additional venues.  Our “Early Bird” discount fee of $560.00 is now in effect but will end on August 21.  
Next is the follow-up to this year’s Alaska trip, our SECOND “Great Alaska Grizzly Adventure!”  We will return in September 2024, but must have your $1000 deposit no later than THIS September 1, 2023.      
The third workshop accepting registration currently is our first one in 2024.  This is our “Florida Keys Winter Dreams” photo workshop!  From a starting point in Miami, we will spend a week in January exploring and photographing the Florida Keys.  Amanda and I have already scouted for this trip, and we have plenty of locations for you, and maybe even a couple of surprises, too!  Our discount fee will close on November 16, and is just $4990.00 for the week; this includes six nights of lodging, local transportation, admission to our selected venues, and photography instruction.    
Now that I’ve shared all this news, maybe you can see why I haven’t written a blog for 2023 until now.  We also taught some private classes and a private workshop!  I’ll try to do better.


(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) AK Alaska Amanda Haddox class classes covered bridges grizzly Maryland MD Mountaineer Photo Excursions OH Ohio PA Pennsylvania photography Ron Gaskins sunflowers waterfalls West Virginia workshop workshops WV Tue, 25 Jul 2023 21:57:14 GMT
And So It Begins...2022 And So It Begins...2022


To indulge my inner nerd, our blog title is a quote from Lord of the Rings.   King Théoden utters the phrase "So it begins" in preparation for the Battle at Helm's Deep. 


However, I’m going to focus on some positive thoughts, instead of gloom and doom.  We can get enough of that on the evening news and more.  Amanda and I have taken our Workshoppers on several photo workshops over the past year, with careful planning to keep everyone safe as we traveled to Sanibel Island, FL; Bar Harbor, ME; another Beginner Bootcamp in Ripley, WV; Colonial Williamsburg, VA; and Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg, KY.    


As we begin our next 10 years (see, I said I was going to be positive), we have created a fun and exciting workshop schedule for 2022!   


We’re just halfway through January and we’ve already sold out our first workshop of the year, “Exploring the Crystal Coast” in North Carolina.  This destination will be a “first” for us, although we have scouted it, of course.  The Crystal Coast is an area with different smaller locations, each with its own attractions and flavor. 


The Village of Beaufort is North Carolina’s third-oldest town and has a deep history which includes fishing, shipping, pirates and more.  One of the spots we will visit is the Old Burying Grounds, with many historic names on the large, intricate headstones.  We’ll visit Atlantic Beach, which is home to Fort Macon State Park.  The Fort was taken by the Confederacy at the beginning of the Civil War but was later retaken by the Union.  Fort Macon became North Carolina’s second State Park in 1924.  Morehead City is home to a stunning and varied waterfront and presents views at sunset that are remarkable with the reflections in the water and the silhouettes of the docks. 


Those are just thee spots in the Crystal Coast that will be part of our first 2022 workshop, so it’s easy to see why it has sold out!  While each of our workshop destinations are special, they all bring a combination of nature and wildlife, the history of the area, and their own unique story.  This offers our photographers different subjects and themes to capture and share with their cameras. 


As we move further into this New Year, we will return to North Carolina for a special workshop in cooperation with the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA).  We have planned a targeted event in April, focused on wildlife and landscapes of the Outer Banks.  This is a NANPA Regional Photography Event, and registration is managed through their special webpage, and registration is open now. 


Summer will find us in northern Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie, as we make our third workshop trip to Put In Bay and Marblehead on the 200th Anniversary of the Marblehead Lighthouse.  In early October, we will return to “The Pine Tree State” for our “Colors of Maine” workshop.  We were in Maine last summer, but this trip will include some new venues, as well as giving us the chance to see this beautiful state in its full fall glory!  Once again, we plan to finish our workshop year in eastern Kentucky with a new version of our “Jenny Wiley Fall Photo Workshop,” held at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg, KY.  The tall mountains and pines, along with wonderful 1100 acre Dewey Lake, offers stunning views throughout the Park.  In addition, the area is part of the state’s free ranging herd of Rocky Mountain Elk, numbering more than 10,000 animals! 


All these locations are confirmed for 2022, and we also are scouting for our 2023 workshops!  Both familiar and new destinations provide something for everyone.  We don’t just put you in interesting and attractive places…we share our experience and knowledge to help you bring back better images!  Do you want to improve your photography?  Let us take you there! 


Ron Gaskins


(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Amanda Haddox Carolina Kentucky Maine Mountaineer Photo Excursions North Ohio photography Ron Gaskins workshop Thu, 13 Jan 2022 21:11:27 GMT
Getting the Most Out of a NANPA Regional Event Mountaineer Photo Excursions is pleased to share this blog by Frank Gallagher of NANPA, the North American Nature Photography Association.


By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

One of the top-rated NANPA member benefits is the opportunity to participate in NANPA Regional Field Events. Each year, professional nature photographers, workshop leaders, and educators plan, organize, and lead field workshops in beautiful places at very modest costs. But what are Regional Field Events like? What should you expect? Why are they so popular? We asked several of the pros leading upcoming trips for their thoughts.

What makes a Regional Field Event unique?

Ron Gaskins, who is co-leading the Outer Banks Regional Field Event with Amanda Haddox, April 7-10, 2022, says they are unique “because they allow photographers to come and explore new and unfamiliar locations, whether it is on the coast, in the mountains, or in the desert, with professional guides who are familiar with the area and can lead them to where great photographic opportunities await. The work of scouting, mapping, finding the best locations, and times of day to visit have all been done for you.”

Cameras and camaraderie

“What makes our event a once-in-a-lifetime experience is that the people who attend our outings usually have similar photographic interests,” says Amanda. “Through these commonalities and group interactions we foster an atmosphere that encourages photographers not only to explore the area but to challenge themselves, technically and creatively by knowledge sharing, trying new techniques, using different settings to create impact, and sharing each other’s unique perspective on a location and its subject matter. Tips, tricks, ideas are only a few things you will take away from this trip, but we’ve been told the best thing about our outings are the lasting friendships that have developed between photographers while out in the field.”

Cathy Illg, co-leader of the the Bosque del Apache Regional Field Event, December 5-8, 2021, agrees. “What makes it unique or special, well, it’s usually the people who do that. The camaraderie and being able to share info and techniques can be invaluable.”

Astonishing sights

Take Bosque del Apache, for example. If you’re a wildlife photographer, you’re sure to have heard of this National Wildlife Refuge, known for the thousands of sandhill cranes and other birds that overwinter there. Cathy Illg says that she and her husband, Gordon, “have had more images from Bosque awarded in major photo contests than from any other destination, including three in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.” As Maresa Pryor-Luzier, the other co-leader puts it, “Witnessing thousands of waterfowl and cranes flying and feeding is an astonishing sight.”

In the Tucson Regional Field Event, March 30-April 2, 2022, you’ll be seeing “a diverse and unique combination of habitats, vegetation, and animal life that cannot be found elsewhere in the United States,” as co-leader Dan Weisz describes it. “Where else can you find the iconic saguaro cactus and the combination of the character of the Sonoran Desert nestled among “Sky Island” mountains that rise up to 9,000 feet in elevation. This Regional Field Event will explore the area where the subtropical Sierra Madres of Mexico meet the temperate Rocky Mountains of the US creating a very unique biological mix. We are eager to find out what participants wish to know and learn about our area and look forward to sharing its beauty with everyone.”


Another “astonishing sight” is grebes rushing. Even if you don’t know what that term means, you’ve probably seen photos. It’s a stunning sight that happens when a pair of grebes “lunge forward with their bodies completely out of the water, as they rush across the water, side by side, with their necks curved gracefully forward. It’s thrilling to watch, and even more thrilling to photograph,” says “Grebe Whisperer” Krisztina Scheeff, co-leader of the Southern California Regional Field Event, February 3-6, 2022. You’ll also see brown pelicans, sea lions and pups, landscapes, and seascapes as you explore the San Diego area. And who wouldn’t want to be in Southern California in the middle of winter?  

Experience and expertise

Scheeff is well known for her knowledge and photographs of rushing grebes. Known as “the Grebe Whisperer,” she really knows the area and the behavior of the animals there. Check out her interview on NANPA’s The Nature Photographer on the Wild and Exposed podcast. She’s joined by David Hekel, (aka Ranger Dave), Senior Park Ranger for the San Dieguito River Park, nature photographer, tour guide, and an expert on grebes.

Steve Vaughan is an experienced naturalist and professional photographer who has been visiting southern Arizona for more than 30 years. Dan Weisz, a native of Tucson with years of experience with the natural history in the area is also an accomplished photographer. Then are both intimately familiar with the current conditions and how to best utilize them for the photography.

Now a resident of New Mexico, Maresa Pryor-Luzier is a pro with many years of experience who leads private tours photographing birds. Cathy Illg has been a full-time pro since 2000 and has been photographing at Bosque for more than three decades.


Ron Gaskins and Amanda Haddox each own their own photography businesses in West Virginia. They’re both experienced workshop leaders. Haddox enjoys photographing lighthouses along the coasts and Great Lakes. Gaskins has documented events, but is known for his wildlife photography. 

What you bring and what you get

What do you need to do, as an attendee, to get the most out of your experience?

Regional Field Event leaders are experienced photographers and tour guides, but they’re not clairvoyant. It helps them and you if you know what you hope to get out of the experience. So, come with some clear goals in mind and some questions you want answered.

Cathy Illg says that “it helps to be familiar with your gear, and always bring your manual. The things that will help attendees get the most from the Regional Field Event tend to be different for each individual. Definitely don’t be afraid to ask questions, and let us know what you’re hoping to get out of this experience. We’re happy to critique participants’ work after the event if that is something they’re interested in. Be prepared to see old friends, make new ones and have fun!”

“Come with comfortable clothing and hiking boots,” says Steve Vaughan. It is the desert, so “bring water bottles and snacks for each outing. Be as familiar as possible with your gear and bring your equipment manuals so we can trouble shoot any problems. Bring all your questions, but feel free to email us ahead of time with any specific questions you might have so we can be prepared to answer them. If we don’t have the answers, we will find them for you.”

When you’re there, “prepare the night before for the following days activities so you don’t have to rush the day of photography. Be sure your equipment is functioning properly and batteries are charged before you arrive. Most importantly arrive on time!! Be prepared to make some outstanding photographs and more importantly be prepared to have an exceptional experience.”  

Ron Gaskins advises spending some time with your gear before heading to the workshop. Go out shooting near home to make sure everything works and you are “familiar with your camera and how to change its settings (mode, aperture, shutter speed, and ISO) to avoid being frustrated when you are out in the field. If you plan on renting or buying a new camera for this trip, if you have found yourself to be ‘settings challenged,’ or have questions regarding your gear, please bring the instruction manual for your equipment.

“Most importantly,” Amanda Haddox says, “bring your curiosity, a sense of adventure, an open mind and leave all your preconceived notions behind! Be flexible. In the Outer Banks, for example, it is common to get quick moving weather fronts and other unexpected opportunities might arise that may require a quick change in the schedule. Embrace the change and be prepared to make the most of those moments and you can come away with some once in a lifetime images. Look for opportunities to try new things.”

What you get out of one of NANPA’s Regional Field Events is proportional to what you put in.  Haddox gets the last word. “Share your knowledge and your insight with your fellow photographers. Join us for round table meals, this is an excellent opportunity to socialize, ask questions, find solutions to problems encountered or just discuss the day’s experiences. Never be afraid to grab one of the instructors if you have a question, need equipment help, or ideas for compositions. We are there to help YOU make the most of your time with us!”

The first and most important step, though, is to sign up and secure your spot. NANPA’s Regional Field Events have a tendency to fill up quickly, so don’t put it off!





(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Amanda Haddox Frank Gallagher NANPA photography Ron Gaskins workshop Mon, 11 Oct 2021 22:25:46 GMT
This Year and Next Year - A Ten Year Journey We’re closing in on the last quarter of 2021, which is our 10th year of leading our travel-based photography workshops.  I know many of us had high hopes of a return to “normal” this year, after all the challenges that COVID caused in 2020.  While there have been improvements, notably with several vaccines becoming available early this year, we are still facing difficulties related to travel as summer comes to a close. 


Fortunately, we have been able to have some exciting excursions this year!  We started with our “Sanibel Island Time” workshop on Sanibel Island on the Gulf Coast of Florida!  We left winter behind us during February and explored this unique island paradise with its views of lush tropical vegetation, miles of beaches and hundreds of bird varieties. 


From the southeastern tip of the country, we traveled to the north-eastern tip, as we experienced the “Magic of Maine” in June!  This was a personal “bucket list” trip from Ron, and Amanda had visited a few years ago, so we knew we wanted to take a group of “Workshoppers” there.  We enjoyed stunning views from some of the fishing villages, sunsets along the roadway, and sunrise on the granite shores.  One of the special stops was the West Quoddy Lighthouse in Lubec.  Our Workshoppers were the first in the country to see the sunrise at 4:41 am form this easternmost point in the continental United States!  We also included two cruises…one to see the colorful puffins and beautiful lighthouses, and another to hunt for whales!  Our Workshoppers came back with wonderful experiences, new friends, and amazing photographs! 


Now we’re looking ahead at our last two workshops of 2021:  “A Colonial Capitol – Williamsburg” and “Jenny Wiley Fall Photo Workshop.”  Our Williamsburg workshop will be focused on the historical locations and events that brought America into existence!  This is where the idea of America was born, where our ideals we stand for as Americans were defined.  We will also be visiting historical sites at Jamestown and Yorktown, with a special added venue:  The Presidents’ Heads! 


Next is our only annual destination, the Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg, KY.  Amateur and advanced photographers have come to our previous workshops in the Park and enjoyed attractions there and elsewhere in the area.  The Park consists of almost 3000 acres, over a third of which is Dewey Lake, all of which is surrounded by towering pines and peaceful mountains.  Our two highlights of the weekend will be our “Elk Tour,” where we’ll see and photograph the wild elk herd nearby…just part of the 10-15,000 free-ranging elk in eastern Kentucky; the second is our “Pontoon Boat Cruise,” where we’ll explore Dewey Lake, watching for birds, wildlife, and beautiful autumn scenery reflected in the water. 


In between all these workshops, Amanda and Ron have been scouting for new locations and exploring some familiar area for added venues for 2022 and beyond.  We have some exciting destinations in mind that we’ll be sharing details on soon. 


As a teaser, here are the ones we’re sure of right now….


In March, we’ll “Explore the Crystal Coast” of North Carolina.  Along the southern coast of North Carolina is a region rich with history, amazing views, and thrilling experiences. This is the Crystal Coast!  Also known as the Southern Outer Banks, it is a stretch of 85 miles of pristine beaches.  It consists of different towns and areas, all with their individual character and history.  In addition to the beaches, we’ll visit the Old Burying Grounds in Beaufort, Fort Macon, and the Morehead City Yacht Basin.  The Crystal Coast is home to beautiful beaches, varied wildlife, delicious food, and almost endless stories of its history. 


In April, we’ll return to a familiar location, but with a special interest, as we partner with the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) for their Spring “Regional Event in the Outer Banks!”  We’re taking photographers to the Atlantic Coast, the Currituck Sound and Alligator River Natl. Wildlife Refuge for sunrises, sunsets, shorebirds, and black bears.  The Outer Banks is North Carolina’s easternmost point and is the first to see the sunrise.  As you walk on the beaches, you will share the space with more than 400 bird species.  While this is designed for Members of NANPA, anyone can attend! 


During the Summer of 2022, we plan a return to northern Ohio and Lake Erie, as we visit “Put In Bay & Marblehead!”  While we have visited the area two times previously, it has always been a favorite of our Workshoppers.  In 2022, we will be there on the occasion of the 200th Anniversary of the Marblehead Lighthouse.  This Lighthouse is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse in the United States.   


The rumors are true…yes…we are returning to Maine!  In October, we will offer the “Colors of Maine,” as we return to the beautiful “Pine Tree State” during what may be the most colorful time of the year! 


So, as 2021 winds down, Mountaineer Photo Excursions is already winding 2022 up for you to explore exciting locations, with opportunities to improve your photography and make new friends!  We didn’t get to do much “celebrating” this year, so we’re going to focus on 2022 being our “Tenth Anniversary!”  We’ve scouted the locations, we know where to go, and we can help you come back with amazing photos!  Make your travel plans to include us!    


P.S.  We have been featured in NANPA’s upcoming blog.  We will be sharing it here next month, so please stop back!


Ron Gaskins & Amanda Haddox 

August 2021


(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Amanda Haddox Mountaineer Photo Excursions photography Ron Gaskins workshop Tue, 24 Aug 2021 16:32:47 GMT
From NANPA: Photo Workshops in 2021 By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

The COVID-19 pandemic meant that many travel workshops were canceled last year and the few that took place looked very different. Now, with vaccinations ramping up and new precautions in place, photo workshops are coming back … but they won’t look, feel, or be the same. We asked several NANPA members who are long-time workshop leaders what will be different and how the experience and logistics of travel photo workshops will change.

It won’t be long before spring arrives. The weather will turn warm. Trees and plants will bud and flower. Newborn animals will take their first, tentative, steps. Just like every other year, photographers will be afflicted with a sense of wanderlust, that irresistible desire to load up our camera gear and travel, often on photo workshops. But 2021 is not like every other year.

Most, but not all 2020 workshops and photo tours scheduled after March of that year were canceled, as were many slated for early 2021. That’s given workshop leaders time and opportunity to adapt to this “new normal” and modify their plans to keep everyone safe, healthy, and happy. Here’s what workshop and photo tour leaders Susanna Euston, Ron Gaskins, Jennifer King, Jeff Parker, and John Slonina (bios at the end of the article) had to say.

King safely managed four workshops during the fourth quarter of 2020. Her participants dined outside at restaurants or had picnics, which added an element of fun. However, she also had to postpone six international workshops and noted that  it looks like, due to continuing travel restrictions, she’ll have to reschedule again. So, for now, she’s concentrating on locations within the United States. Jeff Parker also managed some late-2020 workshops. Where lodging was included, he arranged for each participant to have a single room at no extra charge. He, too, postponed several international trips and, with the unpredictability of travel restrictions and lock downs, feels overseas tours are too risky right now and is concentrating on domestic travel.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Gaskins had never had to cancel a workshop but, like many in this business, had to drop several. Slonina had to cancel a year’s worth of sold-out tours. Fortunately, he was able to reschedule many to later in 2021 or 2022. Many clients of each workshop leader opted to transfer their money to later dates. Being able to give a full refund to anyone who requested it was tough, but good for one’s reputation, said Slonina, who thinks that could ultimately pay off if those individuals book later trips. For our workshop and tour leaders, having clients shift their booking to later dates was a big help, but it also results in fewer available slots in the next round of workshops for everyone else.

Timing is everything
Airlines and hotels are offering deals to entice travels to return, so there are savings to be had but, even as travel slowly starts to pick up, the demand has been slow to rebound. While Gaskins, along with most workshop leaders, expects there’s a lot of pent up desire, people just aren’t booking early spring trips. Slonina agreed, but said that registrations for his trips scheduled for this summer and beyond are very good.

The downtime caused by travel restrictions and lock downs has given tour and workshop leaders a chance to rethink and revise what they’re doing. Some have started teaching classes and speaking (and marketing their services) to camera clubs and other groups via Zoom. They’ve revised their teaching to match the capabilities and limitations of online platforms.  They’ve refined itineraries, added new stops, and done other things to enhance the experience they offer. While they each have their own styles and strengths, they all seem to agree on some major changes to the workshop and photo tour experience.

In addition to avoiding international travel for now, Euston is focusing on local places that don’t require travel by air. There are a lot of potential clients within driving distance of her base near Asheville, North Carolina, and many great photo locations an easy drive from there. Expect a lot of domestic options and few foreign sorties, at least before mid-summer. A lot depends on vaccination rollouts, both here in the U.S. and in destination countries.

Limited numbers
Most workshop and tour leaders are limiting enrollment to about six people. King sometimes uses two instructors, increases the number of participants to ten and splits them into two groups to maintain social distancing. Smaller group sizes can lead to more intimate workshops but also mean fewer openings for anyone looking to book one.

Transportation & lodging
The option of sharing a room with another workshop attendee is pretty much gone and no one is offering shared transportation or carpooling (unless participants are traveling together). On many of his workshops, Slonina used to drive participants around in a 12-passenger van. The van was great for group dynamics and talking photography. It gave lots of extra time for answering questions, preparing the group for the next stop, informal teaching. Like others, he has reduced his maximum group size to six and now has everyone taking their own vehicles. Finding parking spots at popular locations, viewpoints, and trailheads becomes an issue when there are six or more vehicles instead of one or two, adding another layer of complexity to the workshop leader’s planning.

Classroom time
Most leaders are teaching the classroom lecture or demonstration sessions during their travel workshops via Zoom. Euston sometimes delivers sessions prior to a workshop and sometimes during a workshop, but with everyone participating from their own rooms. Parker has sometimes done his classroom sessions outside under a tree, with a large TV and tables set up six feet apart.

Social distancing
Each of the workshop and tour leaders requires participants to wear masks when inside as well as outside when in proximity to others. They keep extra masks and sanitizer available throughout the workshop, and some provide both in welcome bags at the start of the workshop. King does her meet and greets at the beginning of each workshop outside.

Slonina said that a few people had canceled because of mask mandates. King reminds her clients that wearing a mask is a requirement on federal lands, like national parks and wildlife refuges, as well as at some state and local parks and public lands.

Group meals are sometimes available where restaurants have outdoor seating but sometimes participants are on their own. King’s groups occasionally have picnics and Parker does some buffet-style group meals outside, where one person goes through the food line at a time, and masks and gloves are required.

Waivers and insurance
Workshop and tour leaders have long urged participants to get insurance but many travelers were surprised last year when their trip insurance did not cover cancelations due to the pandemic. With all the unpredictability around the coronavirus, they’re urging (and, in some cases, requiring) participants to get insurance and to read the fine print to be sure they know what is covered.

Most tour leaders have added COVID-19 to their standard waivers. Parker asks attendees to sign a waiver stating that they have not exhibited any COVID symptoms in the last 14 days and they have not been diagnosed, or had contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID in the last 30 days. King revised her cancelation policies to give herself and her clients a little more flexibility.

Things workshop attendees may not know
Workshop leaders took a beating in 2020. Workshop cancellations and postponements cost money, both in revenue foregone and loss of deposits or payment of penalties for cancelling hotel rooms and other logistical items.

King noted that most national park hotels, international destinations, and many other hotels, require a contract where the tour leader agrees to pay 85% of the total group block, making workshop cancelation and rescheduling very expensive. For example, a five-night workshop with ten participants results in 50 room nights, meaning the leader would still have to pay for 42 room nights (85%) if the workshop was canceled! Last year some venues were themselves closed and some, but not all, vendors were flexible and allowed rescheduling or renegotiation. Know and appreciate that, whenever a workshop has a block of rooms reserved, your tour leader is on the hook for a big chunk of those rooms if the workshop is canceled.

Parker spoke for all of his peers when he said, “I’m really hoping that we can get the vaccine rolled out to everyone who wants it and get on with our lives.” For everyone who loves to go on photo tours and workshops, let’s hope so!

If you’re a photo tour leader and have instituted additional changes and safety precautions not covered in this article, let us know. And, if you’re thinking of signing up for a travel workshop, tell us what safeguards important to you. Drop us a line at [email protected].

Who they are
Susanna Euston is a prize-winning photographer, graphic designer, and artist. She teaches photography at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of North Carolina Asheville, leads workshops, exhibits in galleries, and is a regular speaker at camera clubs and photography events.

Ron Gaskins owns West Virginia Fine Photography and is president of Mountaineer Photo Excursions. He’s best known for images that illustrate stories, document events, and express the beauty and wonder of wildlife. His work has been published widely and held artist-in-residence posts at several parks and wildlife refuges.

Jennifer King is a multi-award-winning nature photographer, author, and speaker. Her work has appeared in publications from Outdoor Photographer Magazine, to Smoky Mountains Journal of Photography, to Camera in the Wild. She’s the founder of Photography for the Fight Against Breast Cancer and is a Singh-Ray Filters Ambassador.

Texas-based wildlife and nature photographer Jeff Parker, along with his wife Mary O, owns Explore in Focus, a workshop and photo tour company. His images have appeared in many publications, including Outdoor Photographer, Audubon Magazine, and Texas Wildlife Magazine, as well as several editions of NANPA’s Expressions journal. He and Mary O lead workshop and tours all over the globe. In addition, he is a Corpus Christi Certified Wildlife Guide and holds a NOLS Wilderness First Aid certificate.

John Slonina is a New England-based nature photographer, author, and workshop leader. Beginning with a childhood that was full of enriching outdoor activities, he’s been exploring the landscapes and wildlife of North America for decades and brings that intimate knowledge of nature to his photography, teaching and writing.


(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Amanda Haddox COVID Gaskins Mountaineer Photo Excursions NANPA workshop Fri, 12 Mar 2021 21:04:26 GMT
A Look Ahead to 2021 In my earlier blogs this year, I’ve shared some of the challenges that Mountaineer Photo Excursions has faced in 2020.  I know many people have had a terrible time this year with the coronavirus, the economy and more.  While Americans are still experiencing what may be the worst of the virus, good news of multiple vaccines is now on the horizon. 


Having said all that, I would like to talk about the future.  There’s some song lyrics, “The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.”  We’re not there yet, but it’s a goal! 


2021 will be mine and Amanda’s tenth year in offering photography workshops.  As you may know, we started in 2012 with our “Spring Photography Workshop” at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg, KY.  The next year, we did two workshops there!  Last month, we led our most recent Jenny Wiley event.  We’ve kept the same idea and have created a somewhat eclectic style of workshops.  I don’t see that changing in the future, although we continue to look for new locations to visit and new people with whom to share our experience and knowledge. 


2021 will be an exciting year for Mountaineer Photo Excursions.  We have been planning and scouting and have some new locations selected for you! 


In February, we’re returning to Florida but at a new destination…Sanibel Island!  You need to reset your clocks…for Island Time!  Sanibel Island, that is!  The warmth and beauty of Sanibel Island is calling for you…let us take you there! 


Sanibel Island on the Gulf Coast of Florida is home to an abundance of natural gifts.  You will enjoy views of lush tropical vegetation, miles of beaches and hundreds of bird varieties.  Interestingly, this is all outnumbered by the countless seashells you will find on Sanibel’s beaches.  This has earned Sanibel Island a well-deserved reputation as one of the best locations in the world to collect seashells!  Along the beach, we’ll also find Sanibel Island’s unique lighthouse.


Sanibel Island is also home to the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.  This is a 7000+ acre home to over 50 types of reptiles and amphibians, over 30 mammal species, and more than 230 species of birds!  Photographers will enjoy the observation tower as we travel the four-mile scenic drive.   


These are just the highlights.  This workshop is open for registration now and you can read more on our “Workshops” page. 


For spring, we’re doing something a little different.  Our second workshop for 2021 will be our “Nashville Sights and Sounds” event.  Whether you know it as "Music City USA," "Athens of the South," or Tennessee's Capitol City, Nashville is full of sights and sounds of yesterday and today!  Amanda and I have already explored the City of Nashville, and we’re working now to put our itinerary together to showcase all that we can in just one weekend! 


There is so much to see and experience!  Nashville’s Parthenon; the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum; the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park; the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge; and Broadway, also known as the “Honky Tonk Highway!”  We’ll also be on the lookout for live music!  Registration has just opened for this weekend workshop; see all the details on our “Workshops” page. 


This coming summer, we have planned another special getaway!  We’re heading north to the Great State of Maine!  This was an amazing place to visit during our scouting trip and it will be a fantastic photography workshop in June.  Humorist Will Rogers remarked, "Did you ever see a place that looked like it was built to enjoy? Well this whole state of Maine looks that way." 


Moving into fall, we’re ready once again to visit our third new state in 2021, as we schedule our delayed trip to Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia!  Colonial Williamsburg is the world’s largest living history museum, with over forty sites and trades, four historic taverns and two art museums.  Colonial Williamsburg takes you back in time to the dawn of America.  This isn’t just a place where things once happened.  They are happening now in 18th Century Williamsburg.  This is where the idea of America was born, where our ideals we stand for as Americans were defined.  Step back in time with Mountaineer Photo Excursions and meet the people who made America!     


We’re still working on details, but we also plan to return to Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg, KY, next year.  We hope to have an exciting workshop during our 10th year where we started in 2012 with elk, a lake cruise and much more!   


You can see we have big plans!  Amanda and I hope you will make plans to share ours in the coming year.  Please visit our website and our Facebook page to stay up to date.  We hope to start local classes again, and also intend to restart our online classes, as well! 



For now, we would like to thank everyone who has helped us get to where we are and helped us get through a difficult year.  Amanda and I enjoy what we’re doing and we’re looking forward to enjoying next year.  We want to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays!    


Ron Gaskins

November 22, 2020


(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Florida Gaskins Haddox Kentucky Maine Mountaineer Photo Excursions photography Tennessee Virginia workshop Mon, 23 Nov 2020 20:09:15 GMT
What's Happening NOW? What’s Happening Now? 


Last month, my blog entry was “What’s Ahead in 2020?”  (yes, I’m actually writing two months in a row!)  I talked about what we had cancelled and rescheduled, and how we were getting started on some online classes.  Basically, from our perspective of leading travel-based photo workshops, things had come to a halt. 


This month, I’d like to talk about what is happening now.  Of course, from the perspective of the corona-virus, we’re pretty much unchanged;  the virus is still among us;  we’re still hoping for a vaccine to be developed, and in the meantime, many of us are wearing masks, keeping a healthy distance from others, and trying to find our way through these difficult days. 


I suppose I’m thinking about finding our way today.  As I shared in an earlier blog (and also have posted on our “About Us” page on the website), many of our workshop and classroom participants become our personal friends, and we also look forward to meeting new folks!  We don’t want any of you to become ill or even worse.  That’s why we shut down all our activities after February. 


During that time, we put a lot of thought into how we could and should move forward.  This is a business, and if it’s going to survive in the future, we must operate somehow.  At the same time, Mountaineer Photo Excursions isn’t solving world hunger, so it’s not absolutely imperative that we are “out there” in full force.  The risk to others, ourselves and our families just isn’t worth it.  So, we investigated different options, new things we could do, new ways to do our favorite things, and we are starting to put those ideas into practice. 


We’ve been offering some online classes.  If you’ve taken one of our Beginner Bootcamp or Road Scholar workshops, some of these classes may be familiar.  We’ve also developed a few new ones and are continuing to do so.  We’ve also put together a fun and local workshop at Babcock State Park here in West Virginia.  We had a smaller group, wore our masks when necessary, and had a successful weekend event.  During this past weekend, we also ran a “new & improved” version of our Beginner Bootcamp at Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley, WV. 


Amanda Haddox and I also recently returned from the Great State of Maine, where we scouted amazing locations such as Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Schoodic Peninsula, Cadillac Mountain, Winter Harbor, and Moosehead Lake.  This will be our summer 2021 workshop destination.  We’ve been working on next year’s schedule, and have a great lineup planned.  We’ll be opening registration soon for our first workshop of next year at Sanibel Island in Florida.  2021 will be our TENTH year offering photo workshops, and it’s going to exciting! 


We haven’t been sitting around staring out the windows, just wishing we were doing something…we’ve been doing something!  So, stay in touch, watch our schedule, and we hope to see you during our travels!  Do you want to improve your photography?  Let us take you there! 


Ron Gaskins

Mountaineer Photo Excursions

August 11, 2020 


(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Acadia Amanda Haddox Bootcamp Gaskins Mountaineer Photo Excursions Sanibel workshop Wed, 12 Aug 2020 00:13:39 GMT
What's Ahead for 2020? What’s Ahead for 2020? 


What is the most useless purchase in 2020?  A planner book!  Since our outstanding photo workshop “Escape to the Golden Isles,” Mountaineer Photo Excursions had to reschedule or cancel all our photography workshops and classes this year!  We certainly hope everyone is doing well, hunkering down when you can, wearing your mask and staying as safe as possible in this time of Covid-19. 


After cancelling our Outer Banks and Southern Shores of Maryland workshops, and rescheduling our Colonial Williamsburg event to next year, Amanda and Ron have been working hard to find ways to continue helping you to improve your photography.  We did put a quick workshop together at Babcock State Park here in West Virginia.  We visited the Park with stops at the Glade Creek Grist Mill and Boley Lake, as well as various waterfalls, abandoned coal towns, beautiful views of the New River Gorge, and even a distillery!


Now, we are finally bringing a few ideas to fruition!  We have started a series of online classes using the Zoom service.  Our first class, “Basic Photography,” was a great success.  It was designed to help kick-start beginners with info on cameras, exposure, lenses, and flash.  Our next several classes are already scheduled and will include topics such as “Personal Travel Photography,” “Fabulous Filters,” “Flash Photography Explained,” and “How to Improve Your Landscape Photography.”   


We are also bringing back a fresh version of our “Beginner Bootcamp!”  This year’s Bootcamp will be arranged differently, offering a full day of intense classroom instruction on camera functions, exposure, lenses, auto-focus options, and composition.  Our second day will be spent in the field, camera in hand, as we work with our students to put their new knowledge into practice.  Once again, we will be at Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley, WV, and will take advantage of their great facilities and beautiful setting.  Keep checking back, as we are also working on a sequel to this event for more advanced photographers. 


Finally, we still have three other travel workshops remaining on our schedule for 2020.  We are still hoping to offer “Autumn in the Laurel Highlands” in PA in September; our cooperative Regional Event with the North American Nature Photography Association in the Outer Banks of NC; and wrap up with our return to Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in KY. 


Please visit our website, especially our Workshop and Classes pages to stay up to date on what we can offer!  Who knows?  Ron may actually write another blog before months pass! 

July 13, 2020  


(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Beginner Bootcamp classes Gaskins Haddox Jenny Wiley KY Laurel Highlands Mountaineer NC online Outer Banks PA photography travel workshop Mon, 13 Jul 2020 20:07:50 GMT
Mountaineer Photo Trivia! Okay! We're either declared "essential" and reluctantly going into work and braving the virus situation, or we're at home working or just waiting things out.

So...let's test some brain power! Over the next days and weeks, we're going to share some photography and travel trivia, as well as some "exercises" to help you sharpen your photography skills. 

 April 13, 2020- Today's Question: If you've been in one of our classes, you've probably heard Ron explain a particular concept in which he uses a trash can and a coffee cup. What is he explaining? 

Saturday (4/18) Clue: Part of the answer involves what is sometimes called the "digital negative."
Friday (4/17) Clue: Do you want MORE or LESS?
Tuesday Clue: related to a setting on your camera.
April 19:  YES! We have a WINNER! 🥇🏆📸  Lauri Bowling says JPEG and RAW files!  

JPEG and RAW are two of the most popular and useful digital file types. When I explain this in a class, I will often use a coffee cup to represent a JPEG file. This is the basic amount of data the camera saves when you take a photo. It contains enough digital date to create an image, and to allow some editing. I will use a trash can to represent a RAW file. The RAW file contains a lot more date. You have to process a RAW file and create a JPEG in order to use it. However, you are able to select the aspects of the photo that you want, either to make the photo as accurate as can be, or to modify or embellish it to create something very different. It is very easy to lose your original JPEG, and then you are left with only a modified copy. Other than deleting the original RAW file, it always remains, even if you have done multiple changes to it.

March 29: 2020- Coronavirus Cabin Fever Contest –Post a picture to this thread that demonstrates one of the following things ; “Social Distancing”, “Self Isolation”, “Shelter in Place”,” Essential Travel”, “Quarantine”, ” Hand Washing”, “Hand Sanitizer”, “Face Mask”, “Corona” or the thing you all will be competing for “Toilet Paper”.

Share this post and encourage your friends to like your photo, the winner with the image with the most likes on Sunday April 4th at 3 pm will receive a certificate and a 12 pack of Angel Soft 3 ply Mega Rolls Toilet Paper shipped to your house!  

Congratulations to Beverly Short Kourey! Her photo "Nico trying his best at social distancing from Belle" had the most "Likes" this week! Beverly will be awarded a certificate and a 12 pack of Angel Soft 3 ply Mega Rolls Toilet Paper!

March 28, 2020- This will be a Travel Trivia question. Since our Photo Trivia question was answered so quickly yesterday, this one will be a little more difficult. Question: Where Am I? (not a city, but a specific venue)
Clue #1: Mountaineer Photo Excursions has visited this location more than once.
Clue #2: You can have more than three squares nearby. (11:40a)
Clue #3: You can look into faces from history. (3;22p)
Clue #4: The nickname of the state I'm in is a fruit. (8:07p)
Clue #5: The nearby large city is known for its well-preserved architecture. (9:17p ; last clue today.)

And....we have....A WINNER!!!! 😀📸‼️📣🏆 Congratulations, Lisa Hechesky! You stand tall among your photography peers! Raise your arms high and bask in the knowledge that YOU know All! (well, you knew this!) Bonaventure Cemetery is a rural cemetery located on a scenic bluff of the Wilmington River, east of Savannah, Georgia. The cemetery became famous when it was featured in the 1994 novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, and in the movie, directed by Clint Eastwood, based on the book. Mountaineer Photo Excursions visited Bonaventure Cemetery on one of our "free" days during our recent "Golden Isles" photo workshop, and a couple years ago during our "Savannah & Tybee Island" workshop.

March 27:  Photo Trivia Question - Which filter is used in photography to control reflections and reduce glare; darken skies and improve contrast; The effects of this filter cannot be duplicated in post-processing.  Our winner was Janet Hutnik!  Her answer:  a polarizing filter!


(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Mountaineer Photo Excursions photography question trivia Mon, 13 Apr 2020 23:48:10 GMT
Changes in Plans for 2020 Due to the nature of our business and recognizing the circumstances that all of us are dealing with currently related to the corona-virus, we would like to share these comments.

First of all, we hope that everyone can get through this difficult time and come out the other side healthy and maybe a little wiser.

Secondly, in providing travel-based photography workshops and local classes, we would normally be bringing groups of people together. At this time, we are suspending our normal activities and events. We encourage everyone to make good personal choices. Wash your hands. Stay home if you are sick. If you think you may have been exposed to the corona-virus or the flu, seek medical attention.  

Due to concerns about our clients' health in the face of the Coronavirus/Covid-19, our Outer Banks workshop is cancelled, and registration for our Colonial Williamsburg workshop is suspended at this time. We will be following the situation closely, and hope to resume regular activities soon. Effective March 19, 2020, we have cancelled all scheduled classes at both WVU-P and WVSU-EDC. Due to closings and changes at the schools, it has become impossible to maintain a schedule. We plan to reschedule our classes in the future, so please check our "Classes" page on our website for updates.

Our plans are often made months or even well over a year in advance. We strive to find locations that offer beautiful scenes, historical venues, and those places off the beaten path that often go unseen.  We will continue to work during this time to plan new workshops for 2021.  We anticipate having a thrilling and beautiful year of workshops.  2021 will be our Tenth Year, and we want it to be as special for our Workshoppers as it will be for us!  Please keep us in mind as the circumstances improve.

Many of our workshop and classroom participants become our personal friends. We want all of you to be safe and healthy, and look forward to seeing you soon, whether near or far away.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.  Be safe and well!  

Ron Gaskins & Amanda Haddox
Mountaineer Photo Excursions


(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) 2020 Amanda Haddox cancelled corona Mountaineer Photo Excursions Ron Gaskins suspended virus Fri, 27 Mar 2020 17:18:04 GMT
Looking Back on Michigan  
We received an email from one of our followers, who had recently been on vacation in Michigan.  She share her story about some unexpected events and sights that she encountered. and was wanting to know more about what we saw and enjoyed the most during our "Shores of Lake Michigan" workshop last summer.  Amanda and I have learned that, in spite of all our planning, sometimes serendipity presents us with amazing opportunities.  We try not to let our schedule blind us to "happy accidents!"  
After I replied, I thought my message would make an interesting blog entry for the website, so here it is!  One of my New Year resolutions is to write more blogs, so check back occasionally.      
We had a great time in Michigan!  We had a full house, and stayed at an historic camp lodge near Silver Lake.  We traveled north and south along the coast of Lake Michigan.  We were there for a week, and ran the workshop for four days. 
In my mind, the two highlights of our trip would be our visit to Big Sable Lighthouse and to the little Oceana Historical Park Complex in Mears.  We had an almost two-mile hike from the park out to the lighthouse, but it was a great walk, with opportunities for detail shots of the trees, dunes and more.  We arrived at the lighthouse and spent a couple hours composing images of the lighthouse and surrounding property and many differing views.  As the evening approached, we found positions to photograph the lighthouse with the sunset featured in the background.  It had been a somewhat clear day, and we really had our doubts on getting anything striking.  However, just in the last 30 minutes or so before sunset, a cloud layer moved in, the color began to grow in intensity and we had a magnificent view! We wrapped it up with a return walk in the dark, with lots of laughing and comments on the day.  
Rain was forecast for our last workshop day, but we had planned to stop at the nearby community historical complex.  Mears is just a small town, but they are very proud of their history.  They have several building in which they have collected and preserved various articles from their past.  They have a transportation building, with several antique vehicles, including an open tour car from a local beach.  They have preserved the home of a local writer, who I believe was the editor of the newspaper and was also well-traveled, with lots of memorabilia.  In addition, there was a small church on the property where we entered, photographed, and one of our workshoppers even played a hymn or two on the piano.  We completely forgot about the rain!  
We had plenty of other stops during the week, including several lighthouses during the day, mornings and at sunset; the boardwalk on the lakefront at Holland; the USS Silversides Submarine Tour & Museum; the elk ranch in Ludington (we got to touch their velvet antlers!); and the historic White Pine Village, preserving the memory of one of the earliest settlements in this part of Michigan.  
We had a great time and I'm sure we will return, although I don't know when.  We have some exciting locations selected for 2020, as you have seen in our newsletter.  Amanda and I have already started on planning spots for 2021, and will be making several scouting trips this year in addition to the workshops.  2021 will be our tenth year offering workshops, so we are hoping for some special attractions!  


(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) amanda haddox highlands Holland laurel maryland Mears Michigan mountaineer photo excursions photography ron gaskins williamsburg workshop Sat, 04 Jan 2020 17:21:54 GMT
Road Scholar Workshops In 2017, we taught our first two workshops with the Road Scholar organization.  I was fortunate to meet some interesting and exciting students, and when asked if I would teach for them again, I enthusiastically answered “Yes!” 


Road Scholar (which began as Elderhostel) is a not-for-profit organization and is the world’s largest and most innovative creator of experiential learning opportunities.  Road Scholar is all about lifelong learning…experiencing the world, not just looking at it.


Road Scholar has offered 5500 learning adventures in 150 countries and all 50 states and serves over 100,000 participants per year.  2 of those learning adventures this year will be ours, taught in cooperation with Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley, WV.


Our digital photography workshop, titled “Through the Lens of Learning: West Virginia,” is designed to guide someone with an interest in photography to learn more about their cameras and their hobby.  We spend time in the classroom, learning about camera modes and lenses, along with various techniques and equipment.  Plus, every day we are out with our cameras, taking in the interesting and attractive views available at the Conference Center, such as the covered bridge and log house.   


I’ve taught one Road Scholar workshop already this year, and will soon teach the second, and then four next year!  Just to give you an example, from the 11 people in my earlier class this year, eight states were represented, and three camera brands.  It’s also great to watch the students discussing their interests and asking and answering each other’s questions.   


If you’re interested in an introductory week-long course in digital photography and would like to do so with a group of mature adults, you may want to consider one of the Road Scholar programs.  They also offer many other activities and trips, and you can learn about them by visiting their website at  Sign up with them, and they will also provide catalogs of their classes and trips by mail.  


September 2, 2018

Ron Gaskins



(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Amanda Haddox Cedar Lakes Mountaineer Photo Excursions photography Ripley Road Ron Gaskins Scholar WV Sun, 02 Sep 2018 22:09:55 GMT
Halfway Through and Speeding Up! Halfway Through, and Speeding Up! 


We’re just into August of 2018, and we’re putting the workshop Jeep in high gear!  So far this year, we’ve done four photo workshops, including a Beginner Bootcamp and our first event in the Sunshine State, as we explored the “Ancient City” of St. Augustine!  The Jeep is gassed up and ready for the remainder of the year!


In August, we return to Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley, WV, as Ron teaches the first of two “Road Scholar” workshops on Digital Photography.  Road Scholar is proud to offer 5,500 learning adventures in 150 countries and all 50 states, serving more than 100,000 participants per year. At any given time, 2,000 Road Scholars are experiencing the world on our learning adventures.  The second Road Scholar workshop is scheduled for September.  Road Scholar handles all registration, which includes instruction and lodging.


Our September workshop will find us returning to Pipestem Resort State Park at Pipestem, WV, for what we are calling our “Pipestem 2.0” workshop.  We visited here in April, but now we’ll enjoy southern West Virginia at the beginning of autumn.  We’ll also trade the main Park lodge for the Mountain Creek Lodge, located at the bottom of the Bluestone River Gorge, and accessed only by the Park’s tram.  In September, Amanda and Ron will also teach our second mini-workshop on “Learning Photoshop Elements 2018” at West Virginia University at Parkersburg (WVU-P).


At the end of October, we will return to where we began six years ago, at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg, KY.  Once again, we will be working with Trinity Shepherd, Park Naturalist, as we see and photograph Rocky Mountain Elk, cruise Dewey Lake in search of heron, eagles, hawks, and stunning autumn scenery.  


We also have a full schedule of Excursions planned for 2019, and we’ll be talking about those soon.  In the next few weeks, we’ll be opening registration for our first workshop of next year, to be held at Blackwater Falls State Park in Davis, West Virginia.  For more information on any of our workshops and classes, please contact us at [email protected].      


More to come…I promise!


Ron Gaskins, August 9, 2018.  Happy Birthday to my daughter, Kathleen!

(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) amanda haddox mountaineer photo excursions photography ron gaskins workshop Thu, 09 Aug 2018 23:41:45 GMT
A Full Year of Excursions! A Full Year of Excursions!


Mountaineer Photo Excursions has kicked our game into high gear, and many of the ideas we have been developing over the past two years are beginning to develop into workshops and classes for our you!


We’ll be sharing some of this news in more detail in our next “Mile Markers” newsletter, I want to give you a quick update on what 2017 holds.


We started with our “Buffalo and the General” workshop in northern Kentucky.  This was the first time holding a workshop here, which included visits to General Butler State Resort Park, Big Bone Lick Historical Park, and Clifty Falls State Park in Indiana.  Our Workshoppers came back with some terrific sunrise photos from both inside and outside the amazing General Butler Lodge, documented a bison “stampede,” and enjoyed the trails on the way to and from the Clifty Falls overlook.


Ron has been working with West Virginia University at Parkersburg (WVU-P) to offer a “Digital Photography Class.”  This was a course across three weeks, which he taught during February and March.  The class was one of the most popular offered through the school’s Workforce and Economic Development department, and both offerings filled quickly.  Another class is planned for May.


Amanda and Ron are excited for the “Return to the Outer Banks” workshop in April, which has already sold out.  Once again, we have arranged for an expansive beach house, and have included lodging there as part of this excursion.  We’ll be revisiting some popular locations from our 2015 workshop, as well as new venues for amazing subjects!


In late May, we are proud to partner with the Harpers Ferry Park Association to lead a unique adventure to one of America’s most beautiful and memorable locations, the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.  Thomas Jefferson said, “The passage of the Potomac through the Blue Ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in Nature” after visiting in 1783.  Harpers Ferry was also the setting for the abolitionist, John Brown, when he attempted a raid on the Federal armory, in one of the actions that precipitated the American Civil War.


In June, we will begin a series of in-depth photography classes with West Virginia State University and their Economic Development Center in Charleston, WV.  Our first class will be “Photographing Your Art,” which will include both instruction and hands-on learning in their Capture Studio.  Additional planned classes for later in the summer include “Personal Travel Photography” and “Learning Digital Photography.”


We are currently accepting registrations for our summer workshop, in the “Southern Shores” of Maryland.  In the 17th century, colonists placed their faith and future in a small boat and left England for the New World, and settled in on this peninsula.  Their settlement was called St. Mary’s City, which eventually became Maryland’s first State Capitol.  Bordered on three sides by the amazing Chesapeake Bay, we’ll visit some of the state parks, along with historical sites, including the Historic St. Mary’s City.  We also have arranged for special discounted lodging at St. Mary’s College.


We always love to come back to “Almost Heaven,” and through special arrangement, we will be visiting Cacapon State Resort Park in Berkeley Springs, WV.  We have some interesting activities planned, and will be sharing these soon.  This will be an early autumn workshop in September, and we hope to see the beginnings of fall color, as well.


There are more events planned, but I’ll wait for another blog opportunity to share them.  Until then, I invite you to visit our “Workshops” page on our website, and watch for our new “Classes” page…coming soon!  We’re also on Facebook, as Mountaineer Photo Excursions and @MPExWorkshops.  If you’re on Twitter, you can follow Ron:  @RonWVphoto.


Ron Gaskins

March 11, 2017

(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Amanda Haddox Harpers Ferry Jenny Wiley Mountaineer Photo Excursions Ron Gaskins Southern Shores St. Mary's workshop Sat, 11 Mar 2017 16:51:35 GMT
What is Coming in 2017! January 2017 – What’s Coming! 


Is it too late to wish everyone a Happy 2017?  I hope not, so consider yourself “wished!”


2017 will be a full and exciting year for Mountaineer Photo Excursions, as well as for all our “Workshoppers” who join us in our travels.  Our first photo workshop of the year will be our “Buffalo and The General” Winter Workshop.  We’ll travel to a new location in Carrollton, KY, to the General Butler State Resort Park.  It will be our center of activities, as well as one of our photography venues.  The Lodge is a beautiful structure, and faces sunrise on winter mornings, providing a unique view both indoors and out!  We’ll also be visiting the Bison herd at Big Bone Lick Historical Site, at Union, KY.


In addition, we’ll be making a “run for the border,” but not for tacos!  We’ll cross into Indiana to the Clifty Falls State Park, and will photograph along some trails, overlooks, and of course, the Falls!   We’ll also be offering some instruction on black & white photography, including some infrared (IR) if there is any interest.


On a different turn, Ron will be teaching a Digital Photography Class through West Virginia University at Parkersburg.  The class will actually be a three-night series, covering composition, exposure, camera handling techniques, lens selection, and some basic post-processing skills.  Scheduled for February, it filled quickly.  Due to the overwhelming interest in the class, a second set of classes was also scheduled for March, which also filled in a short time.  If any other classes are scheduled, we will post them on our website, as well as on our Facebook page.


For our Spring Workshop, we have offered our “Return To The Outer Banks,” to be held in early April!  We first visited the island in 2015, and stayed on the beach, eight miles beyond the end of the paved road.  This year, we’ll be a little closer to the action, renting a beach house in Corolla.  We’ll pay a second visit to some venues, such as the Corolla Lighthouse, the Currituck Heritage Park, and others.


We’ll also be visiting some new sites, such as the Wright Brothers Memorial, Jockey’s Ridge, more lighthouses, wildlife preserves and more.  Our mornings, days, and evenings will be full…as is this workshop.  We were full before the end of January!


Our Summer will be hot and exciting, and Ron and Amanda have scouted a new location with lots to offer…wildlife, nature, history and stunning locations!  The “Southern Shores of Maryland” is bordered on three sides by the Chesapeake Bay, and is also home to St. Mary’s City, home to Maryland’s historic first Capitol City, and St. Mary’s College, where we will enjoy our lodging for the weekend.


We’ll visit Historic St. Mary’s City, where restored structures and costumes reenactors tell the story of early settlers, who placed their lives and faith in a small sailing ship to cross an ocean.  Other venues will include State Parks, lighthouses, and miles of coastline, where osprey and pelicans soar and nest.


As Summer turns to Fall, our travels will bring us back to where we started…Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg, KY!  Our first workshop was here in 2012, planned in just a few short weeks after we met Park Naturalist, Trinity Shepherd.  Trinity has now become our good friend, and this will be our seventh event at the Park.


Plans are still being made, but we are sure to include our Elk Tour and our Eagle Cruise on Dewey Lake.  So, 2017 will be a full year, and we are continuing to work on some possible additions, as well as scouting trips for next year’s workshops.  We currently have plans for events into 2020, so keep us in mind when you make your plans!


Ron Gaskins

January 27, 2017

(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Amanda Haddox Aperturent Corolla Gaskins General Butler Jenny Wiley Mountaineer Photo Excursions OBX Outer Banks Prestonsburg Ron Gaskins Southern Shores Trinity Shepherd photography workshop Sat, 28 Jan 2017 04:03:35 GMT
Summer Edition of "Mile Markers" newsletter "Mile Markers!"  That's what we call our newsletter from Mountaineer Photo Excursions.  If you're on our mailing list, you should have already received it in your email box.  If not, please share your email address on our Contact page, with the subject "Newsletter," and we'll add you to our contact list.  Read on for some tips on equipment, planning your own photography trips, and information on our upcoming excursions!

Refurbished Equipment: To Buy or Not To Buy?

A common question we get at Mountaineer Photo Excursions is whether to buy or not buy refurbished gear? The answer is almost always “YES! Buy Refurbished if you can.”

Manufacturers including Nikon, Canon, Sony, Sigma, and Tamron, as well as many others, give photographers the opportunity to buy factory refurbished items such as camera bodies and lenses. What exactly does refurbished mean? Refurbished means a product that has been removed from its original packaging, therefore cannot be sold as new. Refurbished items are commonly display items from tradeshows, showrooms, or stores, while others were demo items that were used by sales and tech representatives, reviewers and the like; some might have been returns resulting from something as simple as buyer’s remorse or damaged packaging, to a minor defect or some other problem that requires correction.

Actually in some ways, refurbished items are better than new! Manufacturers clean, inspect, and if necessary repair refurbished gear to new equipment specifications and they do so with a more critical eye. These products are then put through even more stringent quality control testing than they did when they were new. After being re-packaged, many companies advertise refurbished items in a special section on their website or they send them to select dealers who are allowed to sell factory refurbished products. Cosmetically, most items are in like-new condition, and some manufacturer’s offer warranty’s as long as one year to 90-days.

“Manufacturer refurbished” items are significantly different than “used” items (trade-ins from photographers) which are usually advertised with a condition scale: Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor. Make sure the item you are considering is a manufacturer refurbished item and not “used” before you buy, used equipment usually do not have the same return policy on them or warranty.

How much can you save? Most refurbished items, depending on the product, are priced somewhere between that of a new item and its used counterpart minus the wear-and-tear of the used item. Usually, the discount is about 20% less than the cost of new.

If you buy a refurbished item direct from the manufacturer or a reputable distributor, buying a manufacturer refurbished body or lens is as safe as a buying one new, except, that you can pick up ‘refurbs’ at sometimes a very substantial discount!

Refurbished Equipment - Manufacturer Websites:

Canon :



Tamron: No refurbished listing

Reputable Dealers of Refurbished Equipment



Excursion Tips: 
No time or money for a week long summer vacation? How about a ‘daycation’ or a weekend away close to home?

-Check out your State and Local Parks. They’re usually free for a day trip! Some Parks may have a minimal “day-use” fee.  For overnight stays, “Resort” parks offer a number of different types of accommodations as well as other amenities such as on-site dining facilities. These larger parks also have a number of different programs and activities such as ranger or naturalist guided hikes. Smaller state parks may have a lodge, rentable cabins, or camping facilities. Many parks offer discount lodging and packages, especially during the weekdays and off-peak travel times, sign up for their newsletter to be the first to know about upcoming specials.

-There are plenty of free and low cost attractions from grist mills and covered bridges to caves and waterfalls. Use Google, to search a place, town, or city that you are interested in and see what sights are located nearby.


-Get in the car, pick a route you have never been on and just drive! You never know what unique sights you might find off the beaten path.

-Speaking of camping, ready to get away from it all? Are you entirely too connected? Do you need a break from cell phones, television, the internet, the kids, work, and just everyday life? Grab a tent, a sleeping bag and your honey, and spend an evening or weekend away from it all! Look for a local mountain lake, pitch your tent and after a day of hiking or exploring other attractions, you and your special someone can spend a quiet summer’s eve, looking at the milky way or counting fireflies!

-Think out of the box, see if you can find privately owned cabins or if you plan on staying at a hotel, make your travel plans for during the week. Take a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday off and runaway! Prices will definitely be cheaper and there’s more likelihood that you can find cabins and hotels with vacancies than on a Friday or Saturday night. You are likely to encounter less people at sights and attractions too!


What’s Ahead?

Amanda and Ron have been doing some research and some traveling, in order to find those hidden gems and familiar locations, and looking for ways to develop them into outdoor photography classrooms.  We currently have venues planned into 2019, with a few past favorites that will be making a return, and several new ones! 


We participated in the Mountain State Photographers’ Conference, on Saturday, July 30, in Ripley, WV.  Mountaineer Photo Excursions had a booth at the Conference, and Amanda taught “Fabulous Filters!”  Ron was the Conference Chairman, and internationally known photographers Jim Clark and Adam Jones were the featured speakers.  To stay updated on future Conference information, visit the Charleston Camera Club’s page:


We will “Get Tucker’d” in August, and will visit Tucker County in West Virginia, for our Summer Photo Workshop at Blackwater Falls State Park in Davis, WV.  Other locations will include Canaan Valley Resort State Park, Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, and various spots in Tucker County.  We’ll be searching for wildlife, hiking down hills to see waterfalls, and waiting for sunsets in the mountains during August 26 – 28.


We’ve talked with our friend, Trinity Shepherd, the Naturalist at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg, KY.  You may recall, they experienced a fire that severely damaged the May Lodge, including the restaurant.  Trinity says the good news is that they are operational, while repairs continue, and the lodging areas are not affected.  We will have some exciting activities, but will definitely include our Elk Tour and the Eagle Cruise on Dewey Lake.  We’ll see you at Jenny Wiley on October 14 – 16.


We’ll be posting our Winter 2017 Workshop soon, as well as our plans for Spring next year.  Please make plans to join us on one or more of our fun, exciting and educational trips!  Contact us at our NEW email, [email protected].  Learn more at our website,   Please be sure to “Like” our Mountaineer Photo Excursions page on Facebook.  If you know someone who would enjoy knowing about our Workshops, please share this blog with them!  We hope to see you soon at one of our workshops!


Ron Gaskins

August 10, 2016 

(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Amanda Haddox Blackwater Falls Jenny Wiley Mountaineer Photo Excursions Ron Gaskins photography refurbished workshop Wed, 10 Aug 2016 21:41:39 GMT
Summertime, and the Livin'... and Photography...Can Be Easy! Summertime, and the Livin’ (and Photography) Can Be Easy!


In our part of the country, this past winter wasn’t too bad, but we certainly welcomed spring!  Amanda and I had a great time during our winter workshop in Savannah, Georgia, and fell in love with Tybee Island!  We’ve just returned from a terrific workshop in Ohio’s Hocking Hills, where we enjoyed the unique scenery of the waterfalls, rock formations, and even visited a little lost gem at the Rock Mill County Park.

We’ve also been scouting for our planned 2017 photo workshops.  Some of our workshops next year will be returns to previous locations we’ve discovered, while others will be entirely new venues, with sights and experiences that will facilitate great photography!  We’re also working to develop some new teaching experiences that will be especially useful to beginner photographers. 

Right now, we’re looking toward our next workshop, which will be our summer event at Blackwater Falls State Park, in Davis, West Virginia.  Blackwater Falls has always been my personal favorite of the Mountain State’s Parks, and I’m thrilled to bring our workshop there, along with folks eager to see and preserve its beauty.  We'll be there on August 26-28, but you can get all the details on our "Workshops" page.

Blackwater Falls State Park sits in beautiful Tucker County, and shares the space with Canaan Valley Resort State Park and the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, along with many other wonderful views and locations.  We’ll be visiting as many as we can manage, as well as including opportunities to learn new photography skills.  We will learn what the Tucker County Convention & Visitors Bureau means when they encourage visitors to "Get Tucker'd!"

There will be plenty of wildlife, natural views, and more, as we base our weekend in an historic lodge, complete with restaurant, pool, exercise area, meeting space, and our discounted lodge rooms.  Our “Workshoppers” will have the chance to learn about photographing waterfalls, the ever present whitetail deer, mountaintop views, as well as spot metering, the histogram, controlling depth of field, use of various lenses, and more.

Summer in West Virginia, and the Livin’ ….and the Photography…. will be easy…. if you join Mountaineer Photo Excursions on this workshop.  Do you want to improve your photography?  Let us take you there!

Ron Gaskins

​May 2016

(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Blackwater Canaan Davis Gaskins Haddox Mountain State Mountaineer Photo Excursions Summer Tucker County West Virginia photography workshop Sun, 01 May 2016 15:40:20 GMT
Merry Christmas to All! Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year!


2015 is running into its last days, and almost everyone is scurrying about, trying to finish their shopping, or other holiday plans.  Amanda and I have been doing that, plus making last minute adjustments for our Savannah trip, as well as planning for the rest of our 2016 Workshops.


We’ll have them added to our Workshop page soon, and we hope you will join us on one of them…or even more!  We enjoy meeting new folks, and it is always a pleasure to have our “Workshoppers” return, as well. 


This year, we shared our first email newsletter, “Mile Markers.”  I hope you enjoyed it.  We included news about our recent workshop at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg, KY, as well as promoting our upcoming events.  In addition, we included some suggestions about when to purchase new gear.  If you didn’t receive “Mile Markers,” please visit our Contact page, and email us with NEWSLETTER as the subject.  We’ll be happy to add you to our mailing list!


We do want to take this opportunity to thank all of our family and friends for their support and encouragement throughout the year!  To do this right takes time and effort, and we want to do it right!


We also want to thank everyone who has been on one of our Workshops!  We enjoy the fellowship, the opportunities to teach and learn (yes, we also learn from you), and the places we visit with you.


Finally, we want to wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas, and a Happy, Safe & Healthy New Year!


Ron Gaskins & Amanda Haddox

Mountaineer Photo Excursions

December 23, 2015

(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Gaskins Haddox Merry Christmas Mountaineer Photo Excursions Savannah blog photography workshop Wed, 23 Dec 2015 16:06:01 GMT
Peddling Fast and Trying to Catch Up! It's been too long since I shared some of our activities with you, so shame on me!  The summer has been very full and busy, and Amanda and I have been on the road for various purposes.  I'll give you a quick update of where we've been and what we are planning, and will try to get back in the groove of providing some regular blog entries soon!

This weekend, we will be returning to the Jenny Wiley State Resort Park for our FIFTH photo workshop there!  We are excited to see some "friends of long acquaintance" and get back to once of the most attractive state parks I've ever seen.  Our good friend Trinity Shepherd, Park Naturalist, will be joining us again, and intends to keep his 100% "Elk Sighting" record intact.  In addition to the Elk tour activity,  we will be adding some ideas to the weekend, as well as returning to a few favorite spots.

This week, we just opened registration for our Savannah & Tybee Island Winter Photo Workshop in Georgia, scheduled for January 14-17, 2016.  This will be limited to only 15 Workshoppers, and our early discounted registration is only $445.00, if you book before December 14, 2015.  So, plan your own Christmas present, and join us in the "Hostess City of the South" while the snow falls in the north!

In the spring, we will be visiting the Hocking Hills area of Ohio.  There are actually multiple Ohio State Parks which make up this unique geography, which contains several waterfalls, rock and cave formations, Logan Lake and beautiful scenic views.  We'll be setting the dates for this Workshop right away, as soon as we return from Kentucky.

Amanda and I have been scouting for new locations, and reviewing some of our past Excursions.  We have tentative plans for new workshops into 2018, and will be sharing some of these in our upcoming newsletter!  This is something we've also been working on, and when you receive it, we hope you will find it interesting and informative.  To be included in our newsletter mailing list, just go to our Contact page, and send us an email, with "Newsletter" as your message. 

As a hint, we're looking at a return to West Virginia very soon, with other visits planned for Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio and more!  I'm using Amanda's "Gear & Clothing List," and getting packed for our Jenny Wiley Workshop.  If you're joining us, we'll see you there!  If not, we hope to see you at one of our upcoming Excursions soon!  Do you want to improve your photography?  Let us take you there!

Ron Gaskins

October 13, 2015


(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Amanda Haddox Hocking Hills Jenny Wiley Mountaineer Photo Excursions Ron Gaskins Savannah Tybee Island Tue, 13 Oct 2015 14:14:40 GMT
Teaching ABCs in Harpers Ferry and the Trails of Battle One of the specifics tasks the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park had for the “Artist in Residence” program was to conduct a photography class.  Sam, the Park Volunteer Manager, and I had several discussions on when we could schedule a class, and what I could include in it.


We ultimately decided that the second Saturday, the day before Easter, would be a busy day at the Park, and probably the best opportunity to lead a group that would be interested in photography.  I decided to use a class I had done previously, on the ABCs of Better Photography, as the basis of my walking class.  Sam created a flyer, which was shared on the Park’s Facebook page, and also shared it with the Bolivar-Harpers Ferry Public Library…which created another opportunity!  (more on that later)


Saturday, April 4, was a beautiful day, and I met my first group at the Park Information Center.  I introduced myself, and asked the folks where they were from, and how they had heard about the class.  I had a father and daughter from Virginia, another man from Virginia, and a young man from here in Harpers Ferry.


We talked about ways to improve our photography, regardless of what type of camera was being used.  As I shared some of my recommendations, we made some stops on our way around the Lower Town.  We paused at the Dry Goods Store and the Provost Marshall’s office.  I even took a photo of my group near the old wagon near the theater. 


From the corner in town, we walked down by John Brown’s Fort, and then to the Point, from which you can observe the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers.  Beyond the rivers, you also see the gap in the mountains that made this location so important to explorers, travelers, and settlers, and eventually to the canal and railroad builders.  From there, we crossed the footbridge over the Potomac, and traveled to Lock 33 of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath.


From the Canal, we returned to the Point, and wrapped up with a few questions.  In the afternoon, I took another group through the same locations.  Remember that other opportunity related to the local library?  When I was telling Library Director Gretchen Fry about my upcoming classes at the Park, she said she would love for me to be able to do something at the library for the local people.  So, after a little discussion on dates, we were able to schedule an evening at the library.  My last evening in Harpers Ferry would be spent at the Bolivar-Harpers Ferry Public Library, teaching the ABCs of Better Photography to a local audience!


Easter Sunday was somewhat cloudy, and I met Ranger David Fox in the morning.  We traveled around the Park, in order to get a good feel for the various trails.  David told me that about 40% of the visitors to the Park come to hike the trails.  There are several miles of trails within the Park, which also extend from Harpers Ferry into Maryland Heights and Loudoun Heights.


This gave me an excellent chance to better understand the logistics of the major battle for Harpers Ferry, which occurred in September of 1862.  The Union Army was trying to hold the town against a Confederate force, with troops in town, on Bolivar Heights, and also on Maryland Heights.  The Confederates managed to overrun the Union troops on Maryland Heights, as the Bolivar Heights troops were also pushed back.  This left the Union troops in a completely defensive position within the town, and surrounded my Confederate forces.  Want to learn more?  Visit Harpers Ferry National Historical Park for the rest of the story!  Want to see more?  Visit .


Ron Gaskins, “Artist in Residence”

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

(events on and around April 4 & 5, 2015)

(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Artist in Residence Bolivar Canal Towpath David Fox Gretchen Fry Harpers Ferry Loudoun Heights Ron Gaskins class photography Mon, 20 Apr 2015 02:03:17 GMT
Professional Photographers Scout The Park Ron and Amanda recently visited the Mill Creek MetroParks near Youngstown, Ohio, in order to scout for our upcoming photography workshop in June.  We were joined by our friends, Jack and Monnie Ryan, of nearby Niles, Ohio.  Monnie shared our weekend adventure on her blog, and has agreed to let us share it here.  So, introducing our "guest blogger," Monnie Ryan!

On June 12-14, West Virginia friends Amanda Haddox and Ron Gaskins, operators of Mountaineer Photo Excursions, will be leading a photography workshop at Mill Creek MetroParks. Stops are expected to include the MetroPark Farm and the wetlands on Calla Road, but the primary focus will be on the park itself.

This past weekend, as is their custom in planning one of their workshops, Amanda and Ron visited the park to get the lay of the land (Amanda has been here before, but it’s all new to Ron). Of course, we tagged along, pointing out places that might be of interest to the workshop participants while they took notes (and lots of photos, as did we). We started at the Visitor Center and Fellows Riverside Gardens, paying particular attention to the very photogenic Victorian Gazebo, the rose garden (no roses yet, of course, but they should be in full glory at workshop time) and other scenic areas. The rows and rows of tulips weren’t showing their colors yet, but daffodils and pansies added a touch of color here and there. Amanda and Ron climbed the observation tower to get views of Lake Glacier and the grounds below and I was happy to see the water turned on at a couple of fountains – a sure sign that spring finally is here to stay.

From there, we made quick stops at the Old Log Cabin and Lake Glacier waterfalls before heading on to the Parapet Bridge and the Lily Pond (we got out for a bit at the small waterfall near the Lily Pond, but since we didn’t see any signs of wildlife, we moved on for a quick look-see at Ford Nature Center (I love the old building) and the Axtmann Nature Trail for All People, which is barrier free. We decided to get in one more hot spot before lunch – historic Pioneer Pavilion and Mill Creek Furnace. The pavilion is one of the oldest structures in Youngstown, a sandstone building constructed in 1821 (it can be rented for group activities). Mill Creek Furnace, the remains of which are located behind the pavilion, was the first blast furnace in Youngstown.

Lunch was at Davidson’s in Cornersburg – a relatively short drive from the park. It’s on the suggested list for a lunch stop during the June workshop, too, so since we all were in need of a rest, it provided both delicious food and a test run. Finishing up, we got back in the cars (I rode in Ron’s and Amanda rode with Jack so there’d be no problem with getting lost) to hit the next attraction – the wetlands at Newport Lake, the largest of the three lakes in the park. We followed the walkway to the end of the observation platform. I was dismayed to see that most of the foliage surrounding the walkway has been beaten down – whether by nasty weather or human hands, I don’t know. I do know it sure changes the look of the place, and not necessarily for the better – those tall grasses and weeds really added character to the place, IMHO – but a gorgeous blue sky and big puffy clouds made for a worthwhile stop from a photography standpoint.

Our final stop was at the showpiece of the park – Lanterman’s Mill. Needless to say, we spent quite a bit of time here capturing the historic building from just about every angle. The mill was open, but we didn’t take the time to go inside (summer hours begin May 1). For the record, the mill was built in 1845-46, and it continues to operate today. The stone-ground flours and meal can be purchased in the gift shop. An observation deck overlooks Lanterman’s Falls and extends out over the river a bit.

I love the mill, but I love the covered bridge behind it even more. It’s relatively new – completed in 1989 – and designed to resemble a bridge that was used by farmers who brought their grain to the mill back in the 1800s. The weathered wood is beautiful, and walkways allow visitors to watch the river course its way under the bridge toward the mill. Visiting later in the day this time out was a first for us (virtually all of our photo outings begin in mid-morning), and we were delighted to get some photos with late-afternoon lighting.

Since a little bird told us Ron loves Italian food, we’d made reservations at one of the area’s best – Salvatore’s Italian Grill in Austintown – for dinner. Our friends from Niles, Jerry and Barb, joined us there, and we all had a great time before finally calling it a night. I love eating there, BTW, and I highly recommend the Linguini Fra Diablo – crabmeat and shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce served over linguini. It’s hot enough for most folks on its own, but I (of the cast-iron stomach) always ask for it extra-hot. Delicious warm rolls and squares of fresh-baked pizza are complementary pre-meal temptations.

On Sunday morning, Amanda and Ron made the trip to Calla Road to check out the wetlands and relatively new observation deck as well as the MetroParks Farm near Canfield. As luck would have it, this was the Sunday the park celebrates the annual Baby Animal Shower, so they were able to get photos of some newborn pigs, calves, bunnies and such (and, until we thought about how many munchkins would be there, made us jealous that we declined to go). Since both the Calla Road wetlands and farm are on the workshop itinerary, though, so a stop here was important in getting a better idea of how and when those places will fit into the schedule.

Needless to say, we’ll be tagging along at least for part of the June workshop, and if you’d like to photograph some beautiful scenes and get instruction from the experts, we encourage you to sign up. Trying to list all their accomplishments of Amanda and Ron, both of whom have won awards for their photos dozens of times over, would be impossible. I will note, though, that Amanda is president of the Charleston Camera Club and Ron recently served as artist-in-residence at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. If you’d like more information on the workshop at Mill Creek Park, here’s a link to the Facebook page with more information. This workshop is limited to 12 participants and they all tend to fill up fast, so if you’re interested, get your reservations in ASAP!

(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Amanda Haddox Mill Creek Monnie Ryan Mountaineer Photo Excursions Photo workshop Ron Gaskins Fri, 17 Apr 2015 20:28:59 GMT
Walking With Tigers, Hunting For Hawks! I had a phone call from Ranger Stan McGee, advising me that the kids from Harpers Ferry Middle School were going to be in the Park for a hike up to Loudoun Heights.  The Middle School mascot is the Tiger….so, I would be walking with the Tigers!  So, I was up, had my Wheaties (well, some Special K…will that do?), a cup of coffee, and I was out to meet the bus!


About 20 Tigers arrived at 8:30am, along with Mr. Sturgiss, their retired principal.  Apparently, he comes back for the fun stuff!  There were a couple additional teachers, plus our own Ranger Stan.  We headed out toward Virginius Island, and then crossed the tracks and walked the Appalachian Trail for a while, paralleling US Route 340, then crossing under the highway (what a cool idea!  Stairs!) and then began the climb to Loudoun Heights.


To make a long story short (what do you mean, it’s too late?), I never quite got to the top.  I was walking “sweep” with Mrs. White, and one or two students that weren’t quite ready to run up the mountain.  We eventually met the leaders on their way back down, before we had reached the summit.  Rather than make them wait on us to go on up and then back, we graciously decided to accompany the leaders back to the Park.  (This is MY story)


It was a great morning, cool but beautiful!  Ranger Stan said that this event was just the latest in a series of hikes.  They have been a joint venture among the Middle School, the Park and Shepherd University.  The goal is to provide exercise for the kids, since West Virginia has been identified as having a large percentage of overweight children. 


After a restful lunch (with my feet up – smile), I headed out into Harpers Ferry for some additional local photography.  I found Ranger Creighton doing an excellent job on the daily historical presentation.  He was explaining that, while visitors were, indeed, looking at the original John Brown’s Fort, it was not sitting in its original location.

As my personal photo tour continued, I found the Harper Mansion, the home built by and for Robert Harper, for whom the town is named.  Harper worked on the house several years, but died without ever having lived in it.  It became known as the Mansion, and was built on the hill above the Lower Town.


The following day, I headed out early, and stopped for an Internet fix at the Boliver-Harpers Ferry Public Library!  Hello to Lisa, Tess & Gretchen.  Gretchen Fry is the Director, and we talked about what I was doing at the Park.  She commented that it would be nice to have a photography program at the Library.  Well, I agreed, and before I left, we decided to do a version of my “A B Cs of Improving Your Photography” at the Library on Wednesday, April 8, at 5:30 pm!  Be there!


While I was on that end of town, I took the cameras out to Boliver Heights.  As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, there was a major battle over Harpers Ferry during the Civil War, in addition to several smaller ones.  The Union troops initially held their Boliver Heights position, but were overrun when their Maryland Heights position was taken by Confederate troops.


I’ll be doing a pair of photo walks on Saturday, for interested Park visitors.  It is the same theme as the one I’ll be doing next week for the Library, but will be taking the visitors through the Lower Town, out to the Point, and across the bridge to the C & O Canal Towpath.  To prepare for these walks, I did some dry runs through those areas, and also worked on what I would share.


Once that was done, I was ready to get out with my cameras again!  I had been told about sightings of a red-shouldered hawk.  So, once again I shouldered my Sigma 150-500 lens, and headed out.  I talked with Susan, my wife, later that evening.  I told her I had seen several flocks of small birds in the trees, a robin, a pair of Canada Geese, a blue heron, six turtles, and a squirrel…but no hawks.  You may view some new photos at .


Have I mentioned that I’ve been doing a LOT of walking?  Yes, a LOT of walking!  If I keep this up, some of those clothes in the closet may fit again!  I was walking back from my hawk-hunting excursion, and heard the train whistle.  It was growing dark, and I turned to see the great bright-eyed steel beast coming toward me!  I pulled out my trusty Nikon and was able to get off a couple shots as it churned past me on its way to the Harpers Ferry tunnel. 


No hawk, but I did catch a train!


Ron Gaskins, Artist in Residence

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

(written on April 3)

(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Harpers Ferry Harpers Ferry Tigers Loudoun Heights birds geese heron robin squirrel turtles Tue, 14 Apr 2015 03:16:41 GMT
Who's Who At The Park? In 2016, the National Park Service will celebrate its 100th Birthday…a Centennial of preserving, exploring and sharing our nation’s greatest natural and historic treasures!  As part of the Centennial, the National Park Service is encouraging Staff and volunteers to “Share Your Story” by submitting written stories, or by being interviewed. 


NPS Staff visited Harpers Ferry NHP while I was here, and I was asked to also sit in on these interviews, and photograph the Staff as they were interviewed.  I was so excited to hear all their stories, how the Park system has played major roles in their lives, how they have met their spouses in the Park, and so much more.  Some of the folks have traveled the country in their NPS careers, while others have stayed close to home.  One thing comes through in all the voices, however.  These people love what they do, and they wouldn’t trade their experiences in the Park Service.  They are excited about where they work, and what they do, and they want Americans to come share their Park!


Once the interviews were over, I was off to explore on my own.  I made my way to the Harpers Ferry Train Station, operated by CSX Railroad.  Trains run every day, going to Washington, D.C., and Chicago.  Service to and from Harpers Ferry has run for over 25 years.


Remember St. John’s Church ruins?  I went back there near sunset, even though it was a cloudy evening.  I got a couple shots that I like, but we’ll see if I can’t do better before my “residency” is over.  You can check out some of my photos on my commercial photography website, .


The next day began with a Park Staff meeting, which turned out to have the theme of “What Can We Find For Ron To Photograph?”  This was great, as I not only got to meet more of the Staff (although I had met them briefly at the interviews), but I got to learn a little more about what each of them do for the Park.  We discussed different ideas, checked the weather forecast (indoor work for rainy days) and roughed out a schedule for the next week.  I’m going to stay busy while I’m here!


After the Staff Meeting, I got to meet Dale Nisbet, the Park’s Natural Resource Specialist.  He told me that a Peregrine Falcon had been sited near the Park, and he was very excited about this.  Apparently, Dale was very involved in an attempt a few years ago to restore Peregrine Falcons to this area.  He explained how they were able to “hack” PF chicks from various areas, including Baltimore, Maryland.  In Baltimore, the Falcons were making their nests beneath some of the city’s bridges, and many of the chicks were falling into the river before they were mature enough to fly.  By bringing them to Harpers Ferry, not only did it help with restoring the birds in this habitat, but it also probably saved many of their lives!


With some clues from Dale as to where the Falcon had been sited, I carried my trusty Sigma 150-500 mounted on my Nikon.  A little research told me that the Peregrine Falcon is usually more active later in the day, so I tried to be patient…and patience paid off!  I was watching the turkey vultures…buzzards…and realized that one of them wasn’t flying like the rest….because it wasn’t like the rest.  It was a Peregrine Falcon.  I was able to catch it in mid-air for several shots.  Then, as I watched, I was thrilled to see it land on what appeared to be a nest!


I made a trip to the Bolivar-Harpers Ferry Public Library that night…but all I was able to do was send emails to Dale with photos of the Falcon!  Blogs and photo uploads will have to wait!


Ron Gaskins, Artist in Residence

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

(written April 1; post delayed due to intermittent internet access)

(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Artist in Residence Harpers Ferry Ron Gaskins train station Fri, 10 Apr 2015 02:35:02 GMT
Meeting Peter, John and Thomas My first assignment today was to photograph an orientation meeting between Park Administration and the Job Corp.  Four young men from Job Corp will be working here at Harpers Ferry National Historic Park for several weeks.  It was interesting to hear from the different sectors of the Park Administration, such as Landscaping, museums, volunteer coordination, safety and others regarding their specific responsibilities.  Afterward, one of the Rangers took the young men on a short tour of the Lower Town, and explained the mission of the Park. 


While I was out in the Lower Town, I stopped in at the Information Center, and got to say “Hello” to Ranger Chuck Dennis again, along with his volunteer, Cody.  Chuck will soon have 40 years with the National Park Service, and loves his job.


Later in the afternoon and evening, I climbed the stone steps from High Street, and passed one of the landmarks of Harpers Ferry…St. Peter’s Catholic Church.  It is a beautiful structure, and was built after the influx of many Irish Catholic craftsmen to the area in the 1800s.  Mass is heard every Sunday at 11:00 am.


Just a little further up the stairs is the site of the first church built in Harpers Ferry, and the current abandoned ruins of the St. John’s Episcopal Church.  The remains of the stone structure still have their window openings, and imagination could easily make it a fort or castle, as well.  I will be back here to take more photos!


A little further up those steps….(yes, I had to stop for a break….okay, two breaks)…is Jefferson Rock.  No, Thomas Jefferson didn’t carry them up here.  However, from this naturally balanced rock formation, he surveyed the view of the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, and wrote “The passage of the Patowmac through the Blue Ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in Nature…this scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic.”


Ron Gaskins, Artist in Residence

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

(written on March 30; posts are delayed due to intermittent internet access)

(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Artist in Residence Harpers Ferry Ron Gaskins St. John's St. Peter's Thomas Jefferson church Tue, 07 Apr 2015 17:40:29 GMT
Lower Town, the C & O Canal, and Virginius Island My first Sunday as “Artist in Residence” has been a little slower than my first Saturday!  I did some additional photographs of the Living History event, “Necessity:  Mother of Invention.”  This featured several members of the Frederic Ladies Relief, the Atlantic Guard Soldiers Aid Society, and Shepherd College students.  They were portraying citizens and soldiers of Harpers Ferry, especially the role that women had in the growing industries of the time.  This time, I was able to find the ladies that were baking bread, and it did smell delicious!


I also had time to “hike” a short section of the Appalachian Trail!  Very short!  I walked across the footbridge adjacent to the CSX Railroad bridge that crosses the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry.  After crossing the bridge, I descended the spiral stairs down to the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath, another National Park.  I had also crossed from West Virginia to Maryland! 


While taking in the views of the old, abandoned bridge piers, and the stone walls that had formed the canal, I was glad I had brought my infrared camera along.  I took a few photos, and then returned to the “Lower Town” and walked further, and crossed another bridge to Virginius Island.  You can see some of my new infrared photos at .


Virginius Island was a site for many industry start-ups, during the industrial heyday of Harpers Ferry.  There were grain mills, firearms manufacturing, cotton mills, wood pulp mills, and others.  Entrepreneurs were able to utilize the potential water power from the Shenandoah River along the islands banks to power their machines. 


Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is full of the history of our state and nation.  This is not just a story of the Civil War, but so much more.


Ron Gaskins, Artist in Residence

Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, WV

(written March 29, 2015; intermittent access to internet for posting.)

(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) C & O Harpers Ferry Ron Gaskins Virginius Island canal infrared photography Mon, 06 Apr 2015 15:57:03 GMT
A Busy Start My first full day at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park (that's a about HFNHP?) was full of activities and meeting new people, and of course, working that camera! 

The Civil War Trust had two projects planned here for its Park Day 2015 event.  This is an annual event when members and volunteers get out and get their hands dirty....all to help maintain important Civil War battlefields and historic sites.  Here at HFNHP, one group was doing maintenance on the Appalachian Trail, where it passes through a section of historic Harpers Ferry.  Steve Lowe, the Park Landscape Architect, was the lead person, with six or seven volunteers working with him.  I photographed the group as they trimmed roots, removed old landscaping cloth, and spread a fresh layer of mulch.  It was so cold that some of the mulch had frozen overnight!

The former outdoor flea market, located near the Schoolhouse Ridge South Battlefield, has been purchased by the Civil War Trust.  However, there was still a lot of leftover tables and other flotsam and jetsam.  Sam Zurbuch, the Park Volunteer Coordinator, worked with several volunteers, including a group from the high school ROTC.  The grounds and grass looked great when everyone was done.

During the weekend, the Park was the host to a Women's History event.  Participants in the living history weekend included the Frederic Ladies Relief, the Atlantic Guard Soldiers Aid Society, and Shepherd college students.  All were "in Character," dressed in clothing and uniforms from the mid-1800s.  The Provost Marshall's office was staffed, bread was baked outdoors, shoppers were greeted at the Franken Brothers men's clothing store, a Wilcox & Gibbs sewing machine was demonstrated in the Dry Goods Shop, while ladies quilted and discussed the nature of men in the upstairs of the Stipes Boarding House.  all of these participants and settings were fantastic opportunities for photography!

In anticipation of summer, there is a program to develop a Fife & Drum Corp at the Park, and I was able to sit in on some of their practice.  Finally, the day wrapped up with what was billed as the "First" Annual Harpers Ferry Neighborhood Film Festival!  One of their "features" was a documentary on Storer college, a school built in Harpers Ferry for the purpose of educating former slaves after the Civil War.  This was an excellent film, and those attending overflowed the original setup of chairs.

I was on the run with my camera all day, but had quite a nice selection of images...which I am still reviewing!

Ron Gaskins, Artist in Residence, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Thursday, April 2, 2015

(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Artist in Residence Civil War Frederic Ladies Harpers Ferry Mountaineer Photo Excursions Park Ron Gaskins Thu, 02 Apr 2015 23:31:00 GMT
Mr. Gaskins Goes To Harpers Ferry Travel time from my home in Evans, in Jackson County, to Harpers Ferry, in Jefferson County, is over five hours, but it seemed both longer and shorter as I drove.  I will be their “Artist in Residence" this spring, and I couldn’t wait to arrive.  Other responsibilities had filled the days leading up to this occasion, and I hadn’t even had time to get excited.

I met Samantha (Sam) Zurbuch, the Park Volunteer Coordinator.  Sam is from Elkins, and has worked at the Park for seven years.  She earned her degree from Shepherd University, and was hired by the National Park Service while she was still in school.  She has also completed her Masters in Education. 

Sam got me up to speed quickly on several activities that are scheduled over the next few days, and introduced me to a few of the Park Staff, including Ranger Chuck at the information center, and Steve Lowe, Park Landscape Architect.  There were others, but it was a whirlwind trip on our way to what is known as “Lower Town.”

This is primarily where the preserved and public part of historic Harpers Ferry is located.  My room is going to be in the old clothing store, just across from the information center.  The spire of St. Peter’s Catholic Church rises from the hilltop, just behind my apartment.

I have gotten settled into the rooms, carrying my bags up the stairs, and stowing them away.  This will be my temporary home for a couple weeks.  As I sit here with my feet on the old hardwood floor, I hear a train whistle blowing.  I am typing this on my 21st Century laptop, which is sitting on a 19th Century secretary’s desk.  Truly, this is the past in the present. 

Ron Gaskins

Friday, March 27, 2015 (My postings may be a little delayed, as Internet access isn't immediately available.  Many thanks to the Bolivar-Harpers Ferry Library!  You may view additional photos in the "Artist in Residence - Harpers Ferry" photo gallery at )

(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Artist in Residence Gaskins Harpers Ferry NPS St. Peter WV West Virginia photography Mon, 30 Mar 2015 19:59:33 GMT
Artist In Residence! Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, is one of the most important historical locations in the state, if not the country. However, it is more than just a single event. While it may be best known as the site of abolitionist John Brown's attack on the Federal armory, it is the home of the first successful application of interchangeable manufacture, the arrival of the first successful American railroad, the largest surrender of Federal troops during the Civil War, and the education of former slaves in one of the earliest integrated schools in the United States.

The Harpers Ferry National Historical Park offers an "Artist In Residence" program, and I have been fortunate to be selected. I will be photographing events, scenes, activities and the people at the Park this spring.

I will be sharing some stories during my time at the Park here in this Blog.  I will also be sharing a few photographs in a Special Gallery on my commercial photography website, .  I hope you will enjoy both my photographs and my stories.

Ron Gaskins

March 2015

(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Artist in Residence Gaskins Harpers Ferry WV West Virginia photography Thu, 19 Mar 2015 01:37:57 GMT
Warmer Weather! Okay…are we ALL tired of the snow and cold this winter?  Sure, winter is a beautiful season, all of its own.  However, we’re a full week into March, and just getting past one of our biggest winter snow storms of this season!  I know that I am ready for some warmer weather, and more opportunities to get outside with my camera. 


In April, Mountaineer Photo Excursions will be hitting the beach!  This Workshop is SOLD OUT, and has been since the first of the year, but we are looking forward to making the trip, getting our toes in the sand, and experiencing the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  “Herons and Horses and Bears! Oh My!”  Indeed!


We juggled our schedule somewhat, because we had originally considered going to the Outer Banks in August.  However, we determined the crowds were too large for us to visit the variety of places we had in mind.  So, the Outer Banks moved to Spring, and our original Spring location has been bumped to 2016.  (No, I can’t tell you!)


As a result, we searched for a new Summer location, and thanks to some friends in Ohio, found a true “hidden gem!”  We’ll be heading towards Youngstown, Ohio, and will be visiting the Mill Creek Metro Parks!  Flowing water, flowers, cascades, trees, songbirds, bridges, bald eagles, ponds, lakes, beavers….and more! 


Our Workshoppers that join us at Mill Creek will learn about landscapes, macro, and wildlife photography.  All of this in a series of connected venues, which allows everyone to concentrate on the subjects they like, while having the chance to try something new.


As always, we look for these locations that have a lot to offer, and the Mill Creek Metro Parks will certainly be an exciting addition to our Mountaineer Photo Excursions list of locations.  We also try to keep our workshops priced reasonably, and we are offering this one for $219.95.  Check out our workshop page for a few more details. 


Ron Gaskins

March 8, 2015

(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Amanda Haddox Herons and Horses and Bears Mill Creek Mountaineer Photo Excursions NC Ohio Outer Banks Ron Gaskins Youngstown photography workshop Mon, 09 Mar 2015 01:29:18 GMT
After One Year. It’s been one year since Mountaineer Photo Excursions was introduced to the photography public, and we (Ron Gaskins & Amanda Haddox) think we have had a great year!  “Do you want to improve your photography?  Let us take you there!”  That became our byline, when we decided to take our combined photographic experience and create a new business!  When “Country Roads Journal” wrote about our new venture last year, they described us as “…combining aspects of nature, wildlife, travel and history with photography instruction.”  We like that description, and will continue to capture those ideas in our future activities.

With Amanda’s experience in landscape and nature photography, as well as her extensive knowledge of post production software and methods, she brings a valuable set of skills to share with our clients.  Ron’s years of personal photography experience, his five years as a full-time commercial photographer (continuing part-time), and his instructor experience from his previous career combine to bring technical depth in easy to understand methods.  As Canon and Nikon shooters, respectively, Amanda and Ron complement each other’s knowledge and skills in ways that benefit our clients desire to learn.

With our three earlier Kentucky workshops, we have been to West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky, and completed six workshops.  We now have our dates for four new workshops in 2015, traveling to Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, and back to Kentucky in the fall.  We are also considering a West Virginia Waterfalls workshop, hopefully for this Spring.  Mountaineer Photo Excursions will also have a booth at the Mountain State Photographers’ Conference in Ripley, WV, on August 1!

Ron and Amanda are already making plans for 2016 Excursions, and have some exciting locations in mind.  We appreciate the interest that everyone has shown, and we hope you will share our website, Facebook page, and your recommendations with other photographers who are interested in improving their skills.  We’re looking at new opportunities in West Virginia, Georgia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.  If you know of a spot you would like for us to consider, share it with us!  We’ve already received suggestions for Texas and Alaska…we’ll see what we can do with those!

Most of all, thank you to each of our “Workshoppers,” who have joined us on one of our Excursions during this first year.  Your curiosity, excitement and confidence in us has both thrilled and humbled us.  We are looking forward to 2015 and beyond!

Ron Gaskins

January 26, 2015


(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Mon, 26 Jan 2015 16:32:14 GMT
Outer Banks Excursion is SOLD OUT! Thanks to an overwhelming response, our Outer Banks Spring Photo Workshop in North Carolina is SOLD OUT! 

“Herons and Horses and Bears! Oh My!”  Join Ron and Amanda as we leave winter behind and get a jump on summer, as we head to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  We will be visiting the communities of Manteo, Corolla, Carova and more.  While you may have heard of the Outer Banks, you haven’t seen it until you’ve done an “Excursion” with us.

Our Deep Creek Lake Winter Photo Workshop in Maryland still has a few spots remaining, as of January 3.  We are currently finalizing details on our summer workshop, and will be making the announcement on that location very soon!  In addition, we will be returning to Jenny Wiley State Resort Park on October 16-18, 2015!

Amanda and I work very hard to find locations that are visually interesting, and ways to encourage photography education during our Excursions.  We scout our locations in advance, and make contacts and arrangements that allow our clients special access to the best spots.  We hope that when you are making choices on where to go and where to learn, you will remember Mountaineer Photo Excursions!  Contact us at [email protected] .

Ron Gaskins

January 3, 2015

(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Banks Creek Deep Excursions Gaskins Haddox Jenny Lake Mountaineer NC Outer Wiley photo workshop Sat, 03 Jan 2015 18:00:24 GMT
Go West! Winter Workshop in Western Maryland! DEEP CREEK LAKE / OAKLAND, MD WINTER WORKSHOP

“Go West, young man!”  Well, we’re not going where that comment suggested, but we are going as far west as possible…in Maryland!  This Winter, we will be visiting beautiful Garrett County!  We will be learning cold weather skills, as well as capturing breathtaking views of Deep Creek Lake, Swallow Falls, and historic downtown Oakland, Maryland…all part of the “Deep Creek Experience!”


Our Deep Creek Lake Winter Photo Workshop is scheduled for January 30, 31 & February 1, 2015 (Friday – Sunday).  This will be a unique and challenging weekend, with time spent outdoors, most likely in the snow and cold of a western Maryland Winter.  The experience and images you bring home will be worth the effort! 


We have made arrangements for special access at the Deep Creek Lake State Park, where we will begin our Workshop weekend at their Discovery Center. Have you seen an icy crystal waterfall?  Can you travel back in time to an historic train station?  We will!  We’ll walk out on a frozen lake and photograph ice fishermen…this will be your chance to go out in the snow and experience all the opportunities that winter photography has to offer… in the safety of a group with two experienced photographers leading the way.  We will see nature in an entirely different aspect from how it appears during the rest of the year…frozen…suspended.  Winter isn’t a dead time…it is a beautiful, white paradise!


The fee for this Workshop is $179 per person, and does not include meals, lodging or local travel.  Contact us at [email protected] and request an invoice.   We have arranged discounted lodging with the “Inn at Deep Creek.”  You will be provided with a discount code when you register with us for the Workshop.  With your invoice, you will be given your Group Lodging Code to guarantee your discount.  We recommend reservations for the nights of January 30 & 31, 2015.


Our lodging at the Inn at Deep Creek includes choices of rooms with two double beds, for $119; and single king beds for $129.  The Inn management recommends early reservations, due to the popular skiing season in the area during the winter;  the first night will be charged when you make your reservation; the Inn has a 72-hour cancellation requirement.  You must provide our Group Lodging Code to receive this discounted rate.


We will be limiting this Workshop to 15 participants.  We are now accepting registration/invoice requests, effective on October 2, 2014.  We look forward to hearing from you, and having you join us in January!

Ron Gaskins

October 2, 2014


(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Amanda Haddox Deep Creek Experience Deep Creek Lake Garrett County Inn at Deep Creek MD Maryland Mountaineer Photo Excursions Ron Gaskins Superior Photo aperturent cold depot frozen photo snow waterfall winter workshop Thu, 02 Oct 2014 16:07:21 GMT
Our Return To Jenny Wiley Our Return To Jenny Wiley


It’s time to join Ron Gaskins & Amanda Haddox and return to Jenny Wiley State Resort Park!  This year, our fourth visit will be during the height of eastern Kentucky’s fall color.  We will rise early one morning to see the Rocky Mountain Elk herd, transplanted here and thriving on former surface mine properties.  We will also plan time for a pontoon boat cruise on Dewey Lake, where we have seen hawks, herons, and bald eagles!  During 2013, we were there in September, but this year we will return on October 17, 18, and 19.  The Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg is about 1.5 hours south of Ashland, KY.

Along with Ron Gaskins & Amanda Haddox of Mountaineer Photo Excursions, we will enjoy additional instruction from Park Naturalists Trinity Shepherd and Jayd Raines.  Travel for the field trips during the Workshop will be provided by the Park in their new bus!  Our Workshop will feature field trips, with some other activities occurring at the Park.  Workshoppers will receive photography instruction regarding exposure, lens choices, composition and more.  This Workshop is designed for novice and intermediate photographers who know the controls of their camera, but want to learn and improve.  We also welcome more experienced photographers!

This will be our least expensive Workshop during the year, and the last one of 2014.

The Workshop fee is $75, with on site lodging available at the May Lodge.  The Park is offering a Workshop & lodging package for $205; a Workshop, meals & lodging package for $233; and a “Couples Package” for $336.  To ensure your seat for all our field trips, you must register by 11:59pm on September 16.  In order to receive a full refund of your Workshop fee, you must cancel by 11:59pm on September 16, 2014.   To register for this Workshop only, contact the Park at 800-325-0142 or 606-889-1790.

Attention!  Effective on September 19, 2014, the Park is still accepting registrations for this workshop.  In addition, the Park Staff has noted that, in most cases, your credit card will not be charged in advance of the Workshop dates. (Ron G.)

Visit our Mountaineer Photo Excursions page on Facebook to see updates and more details on this workshop.

Ron Gaskins

August 29, 2014

(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Amanda Haddox Jenny Wiley Jenny Wiley State Resort Park KY Kentucky Mountaineer Photo Excursions Ron Gaskins Trinity Shepherd Workshop photo photography Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:30:00 GMT
Lake Erie Behind Us... Lake Erie Behind Us, And Jenny Wiley Ahead Of Us!


Our “Put In Bay Summer Photo Workshop” was a wonderful success, with 13 “Workshoppers” participating!  Friday evening, we visited the Marblehead Lighthouse, preceded by a private tour of the Wolcott keepers’ house, then a private tour of both the Lighthouse Museum and the Lighthouse, including a trip up to the balcony and light chamber.

On Saturday morning, we greeted the sunrise at Marblehead, met for breakfast, and then caught the ferry for our trip to South Bass Island and Put In Bay!  This was a full day of photography instruction in a variety of venues.  We visited butterflies, antique automobiles, the harbor, the Peace Memorial (taller than the Statue of Liberty), and the South Bass Island Lighthouse.

Our “Excursions” on Sunday began with breakfast at the “Tin Goose” diner, adjacent to the Liberty Aviation Museum.  We followed through with a special tour of the Museum, including an opportunity to save London by flying the skies of WWII.  We completed our Lake Erie adventure with an interesting side trip to a marina, where the Port Clinton Lighthouse is nearing completion of its restoration.

One of the special characteristics of our Mountaineer Photo Excursions is the investigation and planning that Amanda and I put into our workshops.  This is what gives our clients the exclusive access to special venues, where they may capture their own distinctive photographs as they receive instruction.  As I write this, we are inviting our next group of Workshoppers to join us at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg, KY.  We are also finalizing our plans for our spring and summer workshops of 2015, which will follow our winter event at Deep Creek Lake and Oakland, MD, in January. 

Please check our “Galleries” to see views of past and future Excursions, plus our “Workshops” to see currently scheduled events.

Do you want to improve your photography?  Let us take you there!

Ron Gaskins

August 15, 2015

(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Amanda Haddox Deep Creek Lake Jenny Wiley Marblehead Mountaineer Photo Excursions Port Clinton Put In Bay Ron Gaskins photography workshop Sun, 17 Aug 2014 02:57:50 GMT
Lake Erie...Here We Come! As I write this, we are only a week out from our Summer Photo Workshop at Put In Bay and Marblehead in Ohio.  We are looking forward to three days of photography instruction, meeting some new friends and renewing relationships with some old ones!


We will be doing this surrounded by Nature…Lake Erie, the Nature & Wildlife Center; History…the Wolcott Lighthouse Keepers house, the Perry Peace Memorial; Local Interest…the Marblehead, South Bass Island and Port Clinton lighthouses, and much more!  Amanda (and friends) made our scouting trip in May, and we have made plans for our Workshoppers that will provide them access to all of these venues and more.


While we have been planning this event, we have also been looking further ahead.


In October, we will return to Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg, KY.  This will be our fourth workshop at Jenny Wiley, and we will be joined by Park Naturalist Trinity Shepherd.  In addition, we will also have new Naturalist Jayd Raines!  The Park has also added a bus to their travel fleet, so we are looking forward to some new opportunities with our workshop and photographers.


This Winter, we will visit the western panhandle of Maryland, and lead a workshop in the Deep Creek Lake area, Swallow Falls State Park, and historic downtown Oakland.


We already have plans made for our Spring, Summer and Fall Workshops during 2015.  Please stay in touch with Mountaineer Photo Excursions over the coming months!  We are planning for new “excursions”….new locations to visit, and new lessons to learn! 

Ron Gaskins

Mountaineer Photo Excursions


(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Amanda Haddox Lake Erie Marblehead Mountaineer Photo Excursions Port Clinton Put In Bay Ron Gaskins lighthouse photography workshop Sat, 19 Jul 2014 21:02:20 GMT
Holly River Photo Workshop Newsletter - Buckhannon Upshur Camera Club Mountaineer Photo Excursions was happy to have several Members of the Buckhannon Upshur Camera Club with us for our Holly River Spring Photo Workshop in April 2014.  Al Tucker from the Club does their monthly Newsletter, and put together a "Special Edition" that included several photos of and by the "Workshoppers!"  Thank you, Al, and all the folks who joined us!

Click on the image below to access the Newsletter PDF.

(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Al Amanda BUCC Excursions Gaskins Haddox Holly Mountaineer Photo River Ron Tucker Virginia West Tue, 10 Jun 2014 13:58:07 GMT
What Are We Up To? What ARE we up to?

We are closing in on the end of May, and we’ve been keeping very busy!  As an indication, I started writing this article in March!  Just as we closed the door on February, we visited Buckhannon, WV, and Amanda and I were the special speakers at the Buckhannon Upshur Camera Club meeting.  We presented a program on “The Original 50 Shades of Gray – The Art of Black & White Photography.”  There were several in attendance that evening, including several guests!

The next day, Amanda and I were joined by Club Members Al Tucker and John Simons on our advanced scouting trip for the Holly River Spring Photo Workshop.  Fast-Forward to the end of April, and we were back at Holly River with 22 of our newest friends and Workshoppers!

The weather was a little “iffy” on Friday, and after we visited Mollohan’s Mill, we substituted some classroom discussion for our star-trails activity.  However, the morning dawned with sunshine, and following a great breakfast buffet (thanks to Debby & Staff at the Park Restaurant), we were off to the waterfalls!

We had a great weekend, and I believe everyone enjoyed the locations and activities we planned.  We loved all the cooperation from Ken McClintic, Park Superintendent, and everyone there!  The Park contributed a free cabin rental as prize, and our Workshoppers contributed beautiful images for our Workshop Photo Contest!  Congratulations to Tony Maro, who won the cabin rental as the Workshop Grand Prize!

It is almost June, and we are in full swing as we prepare for our Put In Bay/Marblehead Summer Photo Workshop in Ohio, scheduled for July 25-27.  We have had a few questions about the difference in cost between this workshop at Put In Bay [$245], and our other workshops we've done. Briefly, the cost is higher because of two reasons.

This location involves several different venues and attractions, almost all of which charge an admission fee. There are travel expenses for the train tour of South Bass Island, and a $28 per person ferry fee.

When you combine these fees with the fact that we have reduced the number of Workshoppers because of some other travel restrictions, the cost per person rises.  We felt it was better for us to include the various charges into our workshop fee, rather than for everyone to have to pull out their wallets every time we stopped. 

Due to the long and lingering winter, especially on the shore of Lake Erie, we’ve been delayed in our scouting trip.  As a result, we are still putting our final agenda together, but we’ll be sharing it soon with our registered Workshoppers.  As of today (May 27), we still have a few spots remaining.

Finally, in mid-May we opened our registration for our very popular Jenny Wiley Fall Photo Workshop in Kentucky!  Amanda and I will be returning for our FOURTH Photo Workshop at the State Resort Park in Prestonsburg, KY, and I’m confident that we will have an exciting time.  We are planning for repeat activities, such as the Elk Tour and the Dewey Lake Eagle Cruise, and also for some new activities.

For THIS Workshop, you must contact the Park for your registration.  They have also developed some special pricing packages that combine the Workshop fee, lodging and meals, so be sure to ask about them.  We will be joining our good friend, Trinity Shepherd, Park Naturalist, and look forward to hearing his stories of local history and the wildlife.  This year, we will also be joined by a new addition to the Park, new Naturalist Jayd Raines!

In January….  No, I’ll wait for another entry to share that news!  Do you want to improve your photography?  Let us take you there!  I hope to see you soon at one of our Workshops!

Ron Gaskins

[email protected]

(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Amanda Haddox Elk Jenny Kentucky Marblehead Mountain Mountaineer Mountaineer Photo Excursions Put In Bay Rocky Ron Gaskins Superior Photo Wiley photographer Tue, 27 May 2014 16:22:49 GMT
Put-In-Bay Summer Photo Workshop Registration Opens on Monday, February 24! Put in Bay on South Bass Island in Northern Ohio is a popular tourist location for those that have discovered it!  With the Butterfly House, the Crystal, the Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center, the Marblehead Lighthouse, and the South Bass Island Lighthouse, we have many options to exercise your photographic imagination.  Port Clinton (mainland) is 5 hours from Charleston, WV.


Mountaineer Photo Excursions, with Ron Gaskins and Amanda Haddox, are happy to announce our next Photography Workshop at Put In Bay, OH!

Effective at 6:00am, Monday, February 24, we are opening registration to our Put In Bay Summer Workshop, on July 25 – 27, 2014.  The Workshop will be limited to 14 participants, and the individual fee is $245.00.  The fee includes one round trip ferry ride from Port Clinton to South Bass Island; golf cart transportation during the day Put In Bay, and guided visits to various photo venues on the island and mainland, plus instruction by experienced photographers.  The fee does not include transportation to the area, lodging, or meals.


While our schedule and locations may vary according to weather and other variables, we plan to begin on Friday evening at 6:00pm on the mainland; travel to Put In Bay on South Bass Island on Saturday morning, spending the day on the island; then spend Sunday morning back on the mainland; we plan to conclude the Workshop by 2:00pm on Sunday afternoon.  As we develop additional details, we will share them with our registered participants.


To register, email us at [email protected] , and request a registration package for the Put In Bay Summer Workshop.  You will be sent a Paypal invoice, which is payable through Paypal, your credit card, or you may mail a check.  Your spot is confirmed when your payment is received. In addition, you will be sent a standard Liability Waiver, which must be completed and returned in advance of the Workshop. 


If you must cancel, (and we hope you don’t), we will give you a full refund of your Workshop fee if we receive notice of your cancellation by 11:59pm on June 25, 2014.  Please contact me via email ([email protected]) or phone (304.532.0070), NOT Facebook.


After June 25, we can only offer a 50% refund, unless we are able to fill your spot.  In that case, we will refund your full amount after the Workshop is completed. 

Attention!  Lodging Discounts!

We have confirmed discounted lodging rates at The Lighthouse Resort, located at 614 East Main Street, Marblehead, OH  43440.  You may reach them at 419-798-9600 or 877-H20-VIEW.


Your reservations must be secured with either MasterCard or VISA, and you must advise the desk clerk that you are with MOUNTAINEER PHOTO EXCURSIONS to receive the discount.  The quoted rates are for ADVANCED RESERVATIONS ONLY!


Standard Room – 2 queen beds:  $139.00/night + tax

Kitchenette Room – 1 king bed:  $139.00/night + tax

Jacuzzi Room – 1 king bed:  $159.00/night + tax

Jacuzzi Suite – 2 king beds, Jacuzzi:  $269.00/night + tax

Great Lakes Suite – 2 king beds, full kitchen, dining room, 3 bathrooms:  $499.00/night + tax


These are for July 25, 26, 27; Friday, Saturday, & Sunday nights.  There is a $100.00 non-refundable deposit to reserve the suites.  The Lighthouse Resort has a 72 hour cancellation policy.  Call within 72 hours prior to the first night’s stay and no charge will apply.  Ritski’s Bar & Grill is on the premises, and offers waterfront dining for breakfast, lunch & dinner.


The Lighthouse Resort will be our “base of operations” for the Workshop.  We will meet there on Friday evening, and again for our last meeting on Sunday.  You may visit .

Should room availability run out, the Lake Point Motel is also nearby.  It is located at 908 East Main Street, Marblehead, OH 43440.  You may contact them at 419-798-4684.  Their website is  We do NOT have negotiated rates with the Lake Point Motel.



(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Amanda Haddox Aperturent Lighthouse Marblehead Mountaineer Mountaineer Photo Excursions Put In Bay Ron Gaskins Superior Photo West Virginia Photography Workshops photography workshop Mon, 24 Feb 2014 04:44:32 GMT
Working Today, and Planning for Tomorrow! The first couple weeks of working with Mountaineer Photo Excursions have been exciting, but busy!  Amanda Haddox and I have been working on details for our 2014 Workshops, and have also done some advance planning for the 2015 Workshops.  We even have some possible locations in mind for 2016! 


We did a scouting trip in January for a future location, which we’ll be sharing soon.  At this point, I’ll just say that the location is a great one, with some unique venues and scenery waiting to be enjoyed and captured in your camera!  To develop these workshops, we keep in mind what we have done in the past, what our clients have enjoyed, and how we can keep the best of that experience and add some new adventures, as well. 


Amanda and I have just returned from the Spring Convention of the Professional Photographers of West Virginia, which was held in Morgantown.  When we weren’t in class, learning more about the business aspect of photography, we were having side conversations about how we can improve and spread the word about Mountaineer Photo Excursions, plus how we can also develop our respective professional photography businesses.  Amanda and I continue to pursue our separate photography careers, hers through “In My Mind’s Eye” and mine through “West Virginia Fine Photography.” 


As you have probably noticed, on both the website and on our Facebook page, we are happy to have two sponsors onboard…  Superior Photo, Inc., and Aperturent.    Superior Photo, Inc., is located in Morgantown, WV, and is the only full service photographic supply store in the State!  In addition to the equipment and services available at their store on 641 East Brockway Avenue in Morgantown, they have a website that gives you the opportunity to order cameras, lenses, custom printing and more online.  For more information, click their link at the bottom of our “Workshops” page!  You can also call them at 304.292.8434.  Tell them you saw their link at Mountaineer Photo Excursions!


Aperturent is our second sponsor, and they offer rental of cameras, lenses, lighting, and even video equipment and tripods.  They are based in Atlanta, GA, but service customers across the country.  Their rental fees are reasonable, and by using the discount code shown next to their link on our website, customers of Mountaineer Photo Excursions are eligible for a 10% discount!  During February, they are also offering a special 20% discount for all of you Photography Lovers out there!  If you prefer, call them at 866.360.6161.


At the end of February, we will be the featured speakers at the Buckhannon-Upshur Camera Club meeting, in Buckhannon, WV.  Amanda and I will be making a presentation on “50 Shades of Gray – The Art of Black & White Photography.”  Laura Meese is their President, and the meeting will be on Thursday, February 27, starting at 7:00pm.


On Sunday, March 16, I am scheduled to teach “Forensic and Emergency Scene Photography,” as part of the 8th Annual Sissonville Fire & Rescue School.  I’ve been their Official Photographer for the past three years, and am thrilled to have an opportunity to share some of my experience with them in a teaching capacity.


Of course, our first full workshop of the year will be our Holly River Spring Photography event in April, which sold out in about 30 days!  All 25 spots have been reserved and paid, plus we have three or four people who have specifically asked to be placed on a waiting list, should we have any cancellations.  We are looking forward to our trip to Webster County and the Holly River State Park, plus getting to meet our new clients!  More news soon!


Where Are You Going In Photography?  Let Us Take You There!


Ron Gaskins

Mountaineer Photo Excursions!





(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Amanda Haddox Aperturent Blackwater Falls Mountaineer Mountaineer Photo Excursions Ron Gaskins Superior Photo West Virginia Photography Workshops photographer Mon, 10 Feb 2014 21:29:33 GMT
Mountaineer Photo Excursions - A New Adventure Begins! Mountaineer Photo Excursions  - Our Blogs

Would you like to improve your photography?  If your answer is “YES!,” I want to tell you about our new venture, Mountaineer Photo Excursions.
Two years ago, Amanda Haddox and I were in a van in Kentucky with the Naturalist from Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, on an early morning trip to photograph the Rocky Mountain Elk herd.  We had been talking, and he had noticed our camera gear.  He explained that he wanted to have a photography class or workshop at the Park, but didn’t have the expertise or connections to do it alone.  Amanda and I looked at each other, grinned, and told our new friend that he had met the right people.  Seven weeks later, we were teaching our Spring Photography Workshop!
Moving forward two years…  We have now taught three photography workshops in cooperation with Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, working with our good friend Trinity Shepherd, Park Naturalist.  We have our first full scale Workshop scheduled (and fully booked) in West Virginia for this Spring, and decided two things:  We enjoy teaching, and other people are interested in learning.  With this in mind, we are launching Mountaineer Photo Excursions!
Our Workshops are structured for the beginner to intermediate photographer, but we are happy to have more experienced folks along, as well.  Our workshops have a varied approach:  Nature, Wildlife, and Travel.   Whether our subjects are herons or elk, bridges or monuments, we can show you ways to learn, improve and then create the images you have dreamed about.
If you have a passion for your photography, and a desire to be a better photographer tomorrow than you were yesterday, we want to hear from you today! 
We have some very interesting and attractive locations selected for our upcoming Workshops.  We hope you will consider what you want to do with your photography, and that you will consider Mountaineer Photo Excursions when you are deciding on a photography workshop.
January 2014
Mountaineer Photo Excursions!

Winter at Blackwater FallsSnow covered back roads at Blackwater Falls State Park.

(Mountaineer Photo Excursions) Amanda Haddox Blackwater Falls Blackwater Falls State Park Jeep Mountaineer Mountaineer Photo Excursions Ron Gaskins West Virginia West Virginia Photo West Virginia Photo Workshops West Virginia Photography Workshops business photographer photography photography tours photography workshops snow winter Fri, 17 Jan 2014 14:48:23 GMT