CHILE – Capture the Magic through your Camera

DATES: 03/18/2020 - 03/27/2020
PRICE: $3,850.00

Lester Lefkowitz is a New York-based professional photographer who has photographed in all fifty states, twenty countries, Antarctica and Puerto Rico. He has provided images to many Fortune-500 companies and most major publications, from National Geographic to Time Magazine to The New York Times.

Lester is the author of numerous books and articles on photography, and has been a consultant to both Kodak and Polaroid. He has taught workshops and lectured at many arts, educational and professional institutions, and is a very popular teacher at The International Center of Photography (ICP). From introductory classes to advanced lighting, from basic Photoshop to close-up photography, Lester has been an enthusiastic instructor to hundreds of students.

Read More

Lester was an early adopter of digital photography, but is still pleased to assist film photographers based on his years of experience with that lovely (old) medium. His knowledge of state-of-the-art digital imaging is extensive, working with both Macs and PCs, numerous digital cameras, and with a long list of software, including Photoshop, Lightroom, and Mac Photo.

Lester is a major producer of stock photography; creating images for the largest stock photo agencies in the world. His subject matter ranges from landscapes to cityscapes, flowers to lasers, architecture to surgery.

This workshop is full.  Please consider joining Lester in the Dolomites and Venice this fall.

Combine the sights and stimulation of Chile with an opportunity to broaden and hone your photographic skills and vision. 

This will be the 4th edition of our Il Chiostro-Upside Down program, exploring the wine regions of the southern hemisphere in what is their summer – March.

Chile is considered South America’s most stable and prosperous nation with a rich culture heritage that is a mix of Spanish colonists, indigenous peoples and immigrants, largely from surrounding countries. Chile is the seventh-largest wine-producing country in the world.  Chilean wine started with the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century but are more recently noted for their crisp whites such as sauvignon blanc.

This trip will begin with two nights at the boutique Hotel Magnolia in Chile’s capital city of Santiago, the cultural and artistic center of the country, filled with history, South American native culture and national art museums, right at the foot of the Andes (being such a narrow country, the powerful Andes mountains loom majestically over just about everything).  Santiago was the home of poet Pablo Neruda and the dictator Agosto Pinochet – just to give an idea of the intense contrasts in the modern history of this nation.

Santiago skyline with the Andes in the background

A painted stone wall in Valparaiso

After Santiago, we’ll make a quick overnight stop in the intriguing old port city of Valparaiso.  The upper town is now famous for its artistic graffiti covering 75% of the walls.  This unique town is fascinating for artists and photographers alike.

Finally we will arrive at our final destination, the Santa Rita Winery in the Maipo Valley, to settle in for the last 6 nights of the program.  Here we will take over the entire boutique Casa Real Hotel.  This is about and hour outside of Santiago.

For non-photographers, there will be a concurrent painting and sketching workshop with Marni Maree.

Santiago street

About the Photography Workshop:


  • to have a wonderful experience
  • to improve your visual and technical mastery of the photographic medium, regardless of your current level, and
  • to create memorable images.

Because of the small group size, and opportunity (but not necessity) to interact with the instructor and each other for up to sixteen hours a day, each person will get a good deal of personal attention.

Daily excursions will allow abundant time for photography at visually and intellectually stimulating venues. In our mini studio there will be short presentations by Lester as well as one-on-one attention to your personal photographic interests and needs. Digital photography, of course, provides the tremendous opportunity for immediate feedback, critique and sharing, greatly facilitating the learning process. Participants are strongly encouraged to bring a digital camera (smart phones are okay)and a laptop computer or tablet to review your work..

In the studio you will have the opportunity to download your images for immediate editing, review, and comment. As appropriate, Lester will offer instruction in all aspects of Photoshop, Lightroom, and Apple Photo for editing, organizing, image enhancement and image adjustment. If you are familiar with some other software, you are, of course, welcome to use that.

Colorful Valparaiso by the sea

Workshop Includes:

  • Instruction in camera handling, basic settings and composition for people just getting started
  • Advanced techniques for those with digital SLR cameras: shooting in RAW, advanced exposure modes, accurate focusing techniques, explanation of zillions of menu choices, etc.
  • Tutorials in the “digital darkroom” – various software to download, edit, organize and enhance your images, from basic cropping and color correction to RAW file conversion, layers, masking and collages
  • An evening/night excursion to capture this magical city in the warm light that emanates from street lamps, shops, houses (and the moon, if we’re lucky). A tripod is optional, but suggested for sunrise, sunset and evening excursions.

The central patio of our hotel at the Santa Rita Vineyards

Additional Activities:

Chapel at Santa Rita

Weather and group interests will determine the exact schedule, but these are some of the activities and excursions using our private van, that we are considering. They all have unending photographic possibilities:

  • funicular & cable car to the top of Cerro San Cristóbal for spectacular panoramic views of Santiago
  • visit to Santiago’s historic center and museums
  • people-watching and photographing in the Bohemian Bellavista district of Santiago
  • evening and night photography of the lights in Santiago
  • photography at local markets
  • Grafitti in Valparaiso

    2 shooting days in Valparaiso, including opportunities to photograph its famous artistic graffiti covering 75% of the walls.

  • guided excursion up into the Andes from Santa Rita
  • 2 dinners in local restaurants in Santiago where we can sample the traditional Chilean cuisine
  • special dinner at the Maralegre restaurant in Valparaiso
  • dinners prepared by our private chef at Santa Rita, including a variety to their own wines
  • a premium winery tour at the Santa Rita winery
  • Mapulemu Botanical Garden
  • Reserva Nacional Rio Clarillo – A beautiful mountain park
  • Cajón del Maipo – A lush canyon and gorge with expansive views, and dotted with towns, including San José de Maipo with its adobe houses
  • sunrise photography of the mountains, for those so inclined

Lester capturing the Andes, photo by Andy Holtzman

Price: $3,850* p/p ($3,550 for non-participants)

  • single supplement $650 (limited number available)

Early Bird Discount of $100 if registered by November 11, 2019


  • Room (double or single) with private bathroom (2 nights in hotel in Santiago, 1 night in hotel in Valparaiso and 6 nights in villa at Santa Rita winery)
  • 2 meals per day (dinner with wine and breakfast)
  • Workshop tuition -daily photography classes with Lester
  • General activities (as noted above)
  • Transportation for all excursions
  • Fully escorted by Linda and Michael, directors of Il Chiostro
  • Final transfer from Santa Rita back to Santiago*

*Departure is on Friday morning March 27th.

Price does not include:

  • Airfare
  • Lunches
  • Museum and sightseeing admissions
  • Photography supplies

To Register:  just click on the Sign Up Now button.  A non-refundable deposit of $500 is required to secure your spot in the workshop.  Payment can be made on line with a credit card, or you can follow the instructions to send in your registration and payment by mail.  Once we receive your deposit we will send you a formal Registration Confirmation with further information about the program.  You will receive 2-3 other correspondences by email prior to the workshop with information about Chile, a supplies list and an electronic invoice for the balance.  Final Balance is due by January 15.  Any time prior to your arrival, if you have questions about anything regarding the trip or the program, you can contact us by email or phone and we’ll be happy to assist you.

Contact us for more information: or speak to us live at 800-990-3506.

The Santa Rita vineyards

For this 10-day program we will stay in 3 different locations:

  • Santiago – we will all meet in the capital city and spend the first 2 nights in the boutique Hotel Magnolia.  It is in the “El Centro” neighborhood, close to museums, cafes at the foot of the Cerro Santa Lucia hilltop park.  NOTE:  if you plan to arrive early, contact the hotel directly to reserve a room.  Tell them you will be a part of the Il Chiostro group starting on March 18th.
    On the afternoon of the 3rd day we’ll proceed together to…

Santiago vista with the Andes in the background

  • Valparaiso – where we’ll spend one night at the elegant Casa Higueras Hotel overlooking the port.  There is a pool, spa and a 4-star restaurant where we’ll have dinner.  We’ll spend the day exploring the upper portion of this artistic old port town famous for the graffiti artists who have decorated virtually every surface in town with vibrant colors and sketches.

Valparaiso street scenes, photos by Andy Holtzman

  • Maipo Valley Wine Country – for the next 6 nights we have reserved the entire Casa Real Hotel at the Santa Rita Winery about 1.5 hrs. outside of Santiago.  This hotel was a 19th century manor house, set in a park and complete with its own chapel, swimming pool, terrace and restaurant – reserved exclusively for us.

We will spend our first 2 nights in the capital city of Santiago at the Hotel Magnolia, so we suggest flying directly to Santiago (about 14 hours overnight from the US).  Flights right now are very reasonable – under $1,000 from NY and even less if you don’t mind making a couple of stops.  We can recommend our travel agent, Nancy Schaffer, to help you book your arrangements.  Contact her at:
NRSCHAFFER@CHARTER.NET or (508)-836-0143

Since you are traveling all that way, we suggest you explore some other areas either of Chile (Patagonia or the Atacama Desert) or nearby Peru.

If you plan to arrive in Santiago early, we suggest you book a room a the Hotel Magnolia where we will meet.  Contact them directly to make a reservation and tell them that you are with the Il Chiostro group arriving on March 18th.

Once you register for a program we will send you information with suggestions for a travel agent and instructions on how to get to the hotel from the airport.

On the final day of our program, we will arrange for transportation back to the airport in Santiago.

Central market in Santiago, photo by Andy Holtzman

The Republic of Chile, the long, skinny country running just about the whole length of the western coast of South America, is a prominent wine-producing area of the continent.  The rugged Andes mountains line its eastern border with Argentina and it extends all the way down almost to Antarctica in the south and Easter Island (Rapanui) to the west in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

The culture and food are truly South American, influenced by the indigenous peoples who have populated its area.

Chile is the home of the poet Pablo Neruda.  During the turbulent 1960’s it underwent a coup d’etat whereby Pinochet emerged as the powerful, tyrannical dictator who remained in power until the early 1990’s.  At that point, Chile became a thriving democracy with one of the most vibrant economies in South America.

Valparaiso:  this is a unique city in Chile.  It is the old port of the country which today has transformed itself into a whimsical center of art.  The upper area, where we’ll be staying, overlooks the sea.  It’s winding streets form a labyrinth of living art in the form of art-graffiti and colorful idiosyncratic architecture.

The colorful houses and picturesque “cerros” – hills – are sure to raise a smile and be a font of source material for painters and photographers alike.  Here is an expert guide to Valparaiso.

Welcome to Valparaiso, photo by Andy Holtzman