In SHORT: This was a wonderful adventure! Charlie is a great photographer, educator, host and organizer. If you want to improve your photography in a relaxed, hands on setting and explore Costa Rica's Oso peninsula this is a workshop you should take.
In LONG: This was a smooth experience from the moment I touched down in San Jose. No confusion or glitches at the airport or hotel (Hampton By Hilton). It was a very comfortable room.
Transportation from San Jose was, well, let me say, if you have to ride ~5 hours in a car, our driver Luis is the guy to go with. He was congenial, spoke excellent English, had a passion for his homeland and was anxious (but not overpowering) to share his knowledge of Costa Rican customs and life.
It's hard to explain it but I felt "at home" from the moment we arrived at the house we'd be sharing in Puerta Jimenez. For our workshop there were 3 photographers.
The house was open, airy and clean. The bedrooms are air conditioned. There are plenty of spaces outside the house where we could congregate or enjoy a bit of solitude. The are numerous opportunities for photography without even leaving the property.
Days consisted of breakfast (always with fresh local fruit) and heading out to do what we'd all come for - photography. Guides ensured we had the best opportunities to capture great images whether we were in the jungle, in preserves or on the river. If I HAD to I'd be hard pressed to rate Charlie as an educator or the guides he's lined up as the best feature of the workshop. Both worked to help us capture the best images we could - the guides in finding and teaching us about our subjects and Charlie in explaining artistic and technical aspects of photography essential to realising our vision. Fortunately I don't have to. Educator and guides were incredibly knowledgeable and shared a passion for sharing what they've learned. I can not say enough good things about them (Charlie, Randall, Simone, Raynor and Denis) as a group.
We returned to the house early in the afternoon for lunch and relaxation. There was time to nap, explore Puerta Jimenez or shoot around the house. In the evening we met for dinner and editing, again enjoying Charlie's expertise (Did I mention in addition to being an award winning photographer Charlie is a chef?)
I realize I could go on and on and I'm sure when I read over this I'll think "I should have mentioned this (or that)" Suffice it to say this was a genuinely great adventure, one I'll cherish the rest of my life.
Having Charlie there to answer questions in real time, whether in capturing images or editing them later was invaluable. I made some wonderful new friends, saw things I never could have seen anywhere else and learned new skills to practice and perfect. I would go again in a minute. I'd recommend it to a friend. I'm recommending it to you! Pura Vida!
Some of Donn's photos