I recently attended the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Writers and Photographers workshop at the Rocky Mountain National Park (June 21 to 25, 2009). First off, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this workshop if you want to work, test yourself, and learn about outdoor photography.
One of the first things I learned was DO NOT scrimp on a good tripod. I brought a piece of junk that I got with a video camera and it was totally unsuited for nature
photography in the field. After the first night, I went online and bought a nice Manfrotto tripod and a Manfrotto monopod from B&H.
Tripods are a MUST for outdoor photography. You often will shoot in low light conditions and need the stability for clear photos. Thanks to Jared Gricoskie for beating me up over that out in the field. haha. I still ended up with a few good elk photos.
The nice thing about a workshop like this is it gets you out of your comfort zone.
I was taken to places I might not have found on my own, nor would I have the motivation factor present, either.
In addition to Jared we also had the guidance of Jack Olson, a published photographer specializing in flora.
We went all over the Rocky Mountain National Park... from the valleys to way above the tree line, in the cold and snow. THAT was welcome for this desert rat (I live in Phoenix) although I have to remind you to dress warmly if you go on this workshop.
Nic Showalter is the coordinator and also a darn good photographer. Contact him if you want more information on the June 2010 workshop.