Rancho Meling and the Night Sky - San Telmo, Baja California, Mexico - September 17 – 22, 2017

Join professional outdoor photographer Stephen Fischer on this workshop as he takes you east into the high desert country of Baja California, Mexico, located 2,000 feet above sea level in the San Pedro Mártir Mountains.


Rancho Meling began as a way station to gold mines and has been in the Meling family for more than 100 years. The ranch is a working cattle ranch with a couple hundred head of cattle ranging somewhere on the 10,000 acre ranch.

This small ranch uses generator power every night from sunset until bedtime. At 10 p.m., when the stars are not hindered by lights, the view is incredible. The skies of this region are so dark the Mexican government created the Sierra San Pedro Mártir National Park Observatory, located at the edge of Rancho Meling. This observatory is the 2nd largest in Latin America. Each evening, while at the ranch, Stephen Fischer will lead a workshop on shooting the night sky and light painting (see Details section).

Rancho Meling is an authentic Mexican cattle ranch. Special arrangements have been made to photograph the vaqueros (cowboys) as they run the cattle and work the herd. You will also have access to the entire ranch… its trails, the horse barn, 100-year-old family cemetery, outbuildings and various wildlife. You may encounter deer, bobcats, quail, pumas, coyotes and the biggest jackrabbits you’ll ever see.


Day-to-Day Itinerary:

September 17 – At a designated time you will be met at the San Diego airport by Diane and her driver to travel into Mexico. Upon entering Mexico there will be a brief stop at the border to arrange for a tourist visa (a passport is required). We will continue on to El Pescador for the night. El Pescador is a small campo 10 miles south of Rosarito, Mexico. After settling in we’ll take a beach and camp walk prior to visiting the famous lobster village of Puerto Nuevo, where we’ll have dinner.

September 18 – A mid-morning departure for Rancho Meling. This four-hour-plus trip will take us through Ensenada along Hwy. 1 and east into the Sierra San Pedro de Mártir. We’ll stop enroute for lunch, arriving at the ranch around 4 p.m. There will be time to settle into your room prior to dinner and an evening night sky class. B/D

September 19 – Today begins with a sunrise walk around the ranch. Near sunset we will photograph running cattle on the range and calf roping. Following dinner a night sky class prior to lights out. B/L/D

September 20 – At sunrise another photo opportunity with the vaqueros. Following breakfast we’ll travel up to the Sierra San Pedro Mártir National Park. Most travelers don’t think of Baja as home to pine trees and snow-capped mountains but San Pedro Martir’s high elevation offers a landscape entirely different than the desert floor. The landscape consists of pine and cypress trees and because of a successful reintroduction program that released California condors into the wild, you may have an opportunity to observe the endangered birds. This evening a night sky class. B/L/D

September 21 – After breakfast, a late morning departure from the ranch. We’ll return to El Pescador for the night. Following dinner this evening there will be a photo critique session. B/D

September 22 – We’ll leave Mexico. Upon arrival in San Diego we’ll visit the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. While at the museum you’ll have an opportunity to view Sebastian Selgado’s Genesis. Genesis is the third long-term series by this world-renowned photographer. The spectacular black-and-white photographs feature wildlife, landscapes, seascapes and indigenous peoples. Following a visit to the park you will be returned to the San Diego airport. B


The Details:

Flight arrival and departure times – You will be instructed about what time to arrive and depart to/from San Diego. Please note: Do not purchase airline tickets until instructed to do so.

Accommodations – While at El Pescador you will stay in individual homes within the camp. At the ranch you will stay in Casa Andres, a four-bedroom ranch house. All rooms are on a share basis. The rooms at the ranch only have electricity between 5 and 10 p.m. If the evening is cool you can light a wood stove to warm your room. Firewood is provided. The rooms are clean, the beds are comfortable and there is hot and cold running water.

Meals – Almost all meals are included in the price. Refer to the Day-to-Day Itinerary section to see which meals you will have to purchase. The ranch provides hearty meals cooked over a wood-fired stove and served on a long table beside the large stone fireplace.

Workshop – The workshop will include astronomical considerations, methods for focusing and achieving sharp results, light painting techniques, star trail captures (with and without an intervalometer), composition, multiple exposure techniques and post processing.

Equipment - You will be provided with a recommended equipment list.

Currency – American dollars are readily accepted throughout Baja. Bring only small bills: ones, fives, and tens.

Internet/phone – While at the ranch there will be no Internet or cell phone access.



The Price:

Price per person: $1,975. Double occupancy.

Single Supplement: $300.

Payment schedule: A $300 deposit is required with registration. The balance is due by check or credit card to Viewpoint by July 24, 2017.

A $100 cancellation penalty will be charge for any cancellation prior to July 15, 2017.  After July 15, 2017, there is no refund.


  • Round trip transportation from the San Diego airport to Rancho Meling
  • 2 nights home stay at El Pescador
  • 3 nights at Rancho Meling
  • Meals listed on the itinerary
  • Admission to the Museum of Photographic Arts
  • Workshop instruction including critique nights
  • All sightseeing including San Pedro Mártir


Not included:

  • Air transportation
  • Meals not listed in the itinerary
  • Tips to the driver, guides, ranch staff


Minimum number of participants: 6, Maximum: 10.


Questions: Contact Diane Tempest at dtempest@me.com



Workshop Leader: Stephen Fischer is an outdoor photographer specializing in landscape and wildlife imagery, covering many areas of the American West, including Alaska. He enjoys the challenge of out-of-the-way or less-convenient locations, and at all times of the year to capture more unique results. Part of his enjoyment is being able to successfully capture and portray beauty that comes so natural to the eye, but can be difficult to reproduce in a photographic image.

Based in Sacramento, California, some of his work has centered around the natural habitat of the area. He has exhibited in multiple forums including a juried show on the scenic American River Parkway at the Viewpoint Photographic Gallery. As an accomplished computer engineer with more than 30 years of experience, he tries to apply a more scientific and methodical approach to capturing his unique images.

His philosophy in post-processing is to preserve the honesty of the image as it originally was viewed. In this day and age with the advanced sophistication of photo processing tools, he has stayed abreast of these most advanced methods to achieve the best quality results in a realistic manner.

If he is not busy with his landscape or wildlife photography, you may find him backpacking, canyoneering, kayaking, cycling, or adventure motorcycling. He has also taken a strong interest in environmental issues with studies in natural history, completing a UC Davis California naturalist certification program in 2014.
Stephen has recently published a photographic guide book for the state of California, covering over 250 locations: Travel Guide to California Photography. It is available in paperback on Amazon.

You can see more of Stephen Fischer's extensive collection of work at his website: www.stephenfischerphotography.com







September 17 2017 9:00 AM   through   September 22 2017 9:00 PM
Phone: 916-441-2341
Initial Deposit $ 300.00

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