Preserving Coastal Patagonia with Leica

Join award-winning environmental documentarian, Bridget Besaw on a journey through one of the most remote wild regions of the world, and a place in urgent need of environmental protection. Preserving Coastal Patagonia is designed to teach the combined techniques of landscape, people, and advocacy conservation photography, while participants create a portfolio of imagery of Chilean Patagonia.

  • When: 8-14 December 2013
  • Where: Aysen region of Patagonia, Chile
  • Price: $3975 (double occupancy)
Preserving Coastal Patagonia with Leica
Preserving Coastal Patagonia with Leica
Preserving Coastal Patagonia with Leica

Workshop Details

Climate Change

This workshop is part of a larger offering of Seedlight Workshops Climate Change Photo Workshop series. Although Chile is a low carbon emitter, responsible for only 0.24% of total global emissions, it is nonetheless vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. Changes in temperature, glacial retreat, shifts in rainfall patterns, drought, expanding deserts will all impact the interplay between Chile’s economic development and natural environment including: water availability, food security, land use, land-use change and forestry.

Bridget’s work visually illustrates ecological issues in Patagonia, making powerful statements that help us steward the environment.

Jéchica and Melimoyu islands will serve as home base for this nature lover’s dream escape. Isla Jéchica is a 15,000-acre private island and nature preserve at the heart of the Guaitecas Archipelago in the country’s Aysén Region, home to hiking trails, waterfalls, sandy beaches with penguins and kayaks to adventure by sea. With fine local cuisine and lodging in lovely cabins overlooking the ocean, Jechica offers an unparalleled nature experience.

The Patagonia Sur Reserve at Melimoyu lies at the nexus of the southern edge of the Valdivian temperate rain forest and the northern edge of the sub-Antarctic rainforest. This one-of-a-kind ecosystem is home to a combination of species not found anywhere else on earth: blue whales congregate just off the coast to deliver their young, while dolphins, penguins, seals, and sea lions illustrate Melimoyus's extraordinary diverse marine environment.

From these inspiring settings, workshop participants learn documentary field techniques and put them into practice, while creating a portfolio of imagery that tells the important story of the conservation of this vast, pristine, wilderness region-one of the last of its kind in the world. Melimoyu ecosystem research institute, will be our environmental NGO host and partner recipient of our class photos in support of their important marine research.

Photographic opportunities

This trip offers opportunities to cover all aspects of the story of Patagonia conservation:

—Capture the outdoor adventure aspect of wild-land preservation while hiking, river floating, mountain biking, bird watching, fishing and taking a sevation while hiking, river floating, mountain biking, bird watching, fishing and taking a sea safari.

—Cultural coverage of the foundation’s community projects in traditional arts, sustainable ranching, and organic agriculture initiatives.

—Conservation through the lens of science as we visit the Patagonia Sur reforestation and climate change research sites.

USD $3,975 includes workshop instruction and guidance, use of Leica camera and lenses, 7 days and 6 nights accommodations (double occupancy), meals and beverages, guided activities integral to the workshop, and transportation between Valle California and Melimoyu from Puerto Montt, Chile. (Single occupancy rate is $5975)

Preserving Coastal Patagonia with Leica

Collaboration With Leica

Workshop participants have the opportunity to utilize the latest additions to Leica’s storied M-System, the Leica M9 and M9-P. The entire portfolio of M lenses is also available throughout the workshop, including the latest Super-Elmar-M 21 mm f/3.4 ASPH, an amazingly compact super wide angle lens.

"Bridget, thank you for so freely sharing your knowledge, skills and experience in conservation photojournalism. I loved your enthusiasm and energy. And you were a gentle and kind teacher when we needed encouragement. You are the best at what you do, and you are doing it with heart. For sure, you inspired many photographers in the workshop to continue this work. What could be a better way to express love of nature, photography and activism all at once?"
~ Lea Ramirez

More Information & Sponsors


Saturday 7th December

Arrive in Puerto Montt, Chile

In booking your spot in the Workshop, we ask that you arrive in the city of charter flight departures, Puerto Montt, on 7th December to ensure smooth connections on all legs of your journey to Patagonia. Puerto Montt is a 1 ½ hour domestic flight from Santiago, and we can arrange accommodation for you with our partner hotel Cumbres Patagónicas, in the charming town of Puerto Varas just 30 minutes away.

Day 1—Sunday 8th December

Charter flight Puerto Montt – Melinka

The inbound flight for the Workshop will depart around 11am to transport you to Melinka (flight duration: 1 hour), the administrative center of the commune of Guaitecas, were you will be picked up by isla Jechica´s boat to travel to the island of Jechica (1 hour). You will arrive in Jechica, for a traditional Chilean lunch, where you will be met by our hospitality and expedition team.

Evening: Group welcome dinner, program overview & sunset photo expedition.

Day 2—Monday 9th December

Sunrise photo walk (Optional! Sunrise is 5AM at this time of year!)

Morning: Lecture covering the important aspects of conservation photography and of photographing people in nature. Review camera fundamentals, and equipment choices.

Lunch and afternoon photo excursion: we’ll hike and kayak around our private island as we investigate this remote place in the Guaitecas Archipielago. We will encounter a marine peat bog, coastal rainforest and beautiful island views.

Evening cocktail and group discussions or more photography as desired.

Sunset photo shoot (Optional! the sun sets at 10 PM in Dec in Patagonia! )

Day 3—Tuesday 10th December

Optional sunrise photo walk

Breakfast and morning photo excursion. Board a small boat with a local fisherman to photograph him catching our crab dinner in the bay or accompany one of our expedition guides on a hike or kayak trip photograph nature or sealife including the endangered Magellanic Penguin and the famed Magellanic Woodpecker which we find everywhere we look in this pristine ecosystem!

Lunch and lecture, downloading, editing and critiques.

Group cocktail discussion, dinner and evening editing session or photo shoot.

Day 4—Wednesday 11th December

Sail to Melimoyu Bay (4 to 6 hours). Photograph the pristine islands and marine fauna.

Arrival in Melimoyu for lunch & meet the hospitality and expedition team. Patagonia Sur Reserves and MERI introduction. Short hike through the coastal rainforest.

Group cocktail discussion, dinner and evening editing session or photo shoot.

Day 5—Thursday 12th December

Excursion to photograph coastal scenes, scenic vistas or the endangered Darwin frog.

Lecture on editing and workflow, including how to set up your DAM (digital asset management) system, image archiving and backup options, image editing in Adobe Lightroom, and refined techniques for digital black & white.

Group cocktail discussion, dinner and evening editing session or photo shoot.

Day 6—Friday 13th December

Excursion into the village of Melimoyu or photograph fly fishing, or kayaking.

Downloading, editing and critiques.

Dinner and evening slideshow presentations of our best work from the week.

Day 7—Saturday 14th December

Breakfast, Flight from Melimoyu to Puerto Montt (1 hour)

Departure from Puerto Montt to destination.

Trip Pricing Details

Trip pricing includes round trip transportation between Puerto Montt, Chile and the workshop locations, including (weather permitting) a helicopter ride to the glacier, and boat trips to see the Blue Whales. The trip price does not include: round-trip airfare from your city of origin to Puerto Montt, Chile, hotel accommodations outside of your stay with Patagonia Sur, transit and personal expenses. We are happy to work with you to arrange your connecting international flights, as well as your transit hotels in Chile.Group size is limited to 12 maximum.

Collaboration with Leica

leica Leica represents a union of craftsmanship, technology and experience. It is at once an extension of art, knowledge and philosophy, providing a state-of-the-art optical experience in a precision, hand-made photographic instrument. Leica Camera has a simple mission: to provide users with an incomparable experience, an instrument that defines an unsurpassed heritage and sets a standard of excellence for the industry to meet.

“We are very excited to partner with Bridget Besaw for this incomparable travel experience,” said Christian Erhardt, Vice President of Marketing at Leica Camera, Inc. “A Leica in hand, participants interpret and capture fleeting moments to document the planet’s natural resources and the people who work, play and steward Patagonia’s impressive landscape.”

Sponsored by Think Tank Photo

Like Seed Light Workshops, Think Tank Photo believes that storytelling through photography remains one of the most powerful tools for social change. A picture is worth not only a thousand words, it can be worth a thousand minds changed, a thousand votes, a thousand behaviors transformed. To protect the environment we must first educate the species that has the greatest impact on it.