Des Moines Photography Workshop at the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge


Join me this spring in Des Moines, Iowa for a weekend long photography workshop at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge has great classrooms, a bison herd, elk, tallgrass prairie, oak savannas and sedge meadows. I’m staging this workshop at a perfect time to kick off your spring and summer photography. You’ll learn tons.

Space is limited. Sign up now.



  • April 7 to 8, 2018 (Optional photo walk the evening of April 6th)

Cost: $199.00, $189.00 for members of the Friends of Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge (Fee includes $100 non-refundable deposit)


Bryan Hansel Photography is an authorized permittee of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and operates under a Special Use Permit from the Department of the Interior.

SKU: Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge Photography Workshop Category: Tags: ,


During the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge Photography Workshop you’ll learn techniques in the classroom and then practice those same techniques in the field. During the field sessions, both Bryan and a guest instructor will be available for plenty of one-on-one instruction. The field sessions will take place in the 5,600-acre Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge in Des Moines. The refuge is home to lots of wildlife, including bison, elk. The tall-grass prairie, oak savanna and sedge meadows provide environments to photograph. On Sunday, we’ll review your photos taken during the field sessions in an honest and supportive atmosphere. Not only will you learn from your successes, but you’ll also learn from your mistakes. You’ll also be able to see what you missed when looking at the photos from other participants.

Workshop Topics

  • Aperture and depth-of-field
  • Shutter speed to blur or stop motion
  • Filters for capturing sunrise
  • Filters for creativity
  • Filters to make your images pop
  • Composition: Simplicity, Balance and Relationships
  • Composition: Juxtaposition in Landscape Photography
  • Composition: Shapes, lines, patterns, texture and colors
  • Composition: Visual weight and gravity
  • Basics of digital photography
  • Making the right exposure in the digital age

We may also cover:

  • Shooting Iowa’s landscapes and farms
  • Planning for sunrise and sunset shoots
  • Editing photos in Lightroom

Tentative Des Moines Photography Workshop at Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge Itinerary

Subject to change


  • 9:00 am: Workshop begins
  • 9:15 am: Welcome and Orientation
  • 9:30 am: Presentation 1
  • 10:30 am: Presentation 2
  • Noon  to 1pm: Lunch
  • 1 pm: Presentation 3
  • 2 pm: Presentation 4
  • 3 pm: Field Session 1


  • 6:00 am: Field Session 2 – Sunrise at Neal Smith
  • Break for breakfast
  • 10 am to 2pm: Reconvene for review of images and question and answer session at Refuge Center


Paul from Fort Atkinson, Iowa:

I recently attended the “Neal Smith Wildlife” Photography Clinic, and it was extremely beneficial to my experience and will improve my technique. They took the time to explain the processes in detail from the simple basics to the extreme depths of the art of photography. Whether you are just starting out in the digital photography world or a seasoned veteran, you will learn from the experience and be enlightened with a desire to endeavor to persevere behind your camera, for your best photograph is still ahead of you. The images we create are the legacy of the past preserved for those of the future.

Jeff Parker from Eden Prairie, MN

I took Bryan Hansel’s photography workshop at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in central Iowa. This my first time with a workshop of any kind. I’ll definitely take another course with Bryan. The course was full of great material from technical aspects of camera usage to an artist’s take on photo composition. I learned more than I expected and Bryan’s “bedside manner” made me very comfortable when asking questions and working with him one-on-one. A first experience like this has to be good for a budding photographer like me to want to do it again. I want to do it again.

Registration and Cancellation Policies

Additional information


April 5-6, 2014

Max Participants



This workshop is for all levels of photographers and works best for photographers using digital cameras

What's Included

Quality small group and one-on-one instruction. Conference room for classroom time. Fun!

What's Not Included

Transportation to Neal Smith and photography locations. Car pooling is highly recommended. Lodging. Meals.

Getting There

The refuge is located 18 miles east of Des Moines, Iowa, on State Highway 163. Follow the refuge directional signs just south of Prairie City at exit 18. Travelers on Interstate I-80 should use exit number 155 at Colfax and follow directional signs approximately 7 miles south on Highway 117 to the refuge.


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