Yosemite Workshop #3

March 21st, 2010 in Photography

It’s been a few weeks since my California trip and the Yosemite photography workshop with Steven Johnson.  I wanted to wait a bit to better reflect on what I learned and what were the lasting impressions left by the experience. (Plus I’ve been really busy in my other life, it’s almost mosquito season!)

The overall experience was simply great.  Like I said in an earlier post, I had never been to Yosemite before and I consider it to be one of the most concentrated location of spectacular scenery on the planet, and obviously a photographers paradise.  I’ve read that you could spend a lifetime photographing in Yosemite and never do it justice.  Absolutely true.

The workshop was three days of classroom lectures by Steven, on location “shoots” and critique sessions with group input and discussion. This was a small group, only 5 students.  Steven is an excellent teacher with decades of experience and it shows in his teaching and his photography.  I was a little surprised that I knew much of what was covered in the lectures but still managed to glean a few key bits of info and helpful tips.  The lectures covered raw workflow and processing, color management and some photoshop technique.  The other workshop that I attended a few years ago (DLWS/Moose Peterson) had significantly more classroom time and photoshop instruction. I feel I learned the most and gained the most confidence during field shooting and particularly the photo critique sessions not only of my photos but the images of the other participants as well.  The group discussion was worthwhile in that you not only had the opportunity to hear from Steven but others with different experience and views. Good stuff.

After the first day of gawking at the valley and taking “tourist” shots of the icons (El Cap, Half Dome, Bridal Veil Falls, Yosemite Falls) I was able to settle down and concentrate on my own vision of Yosemite and simplify.  I was much happier with the images I captured on the 2nd and third day of the workshop and even more so on the day I spent shooting on my own after the workshop was over. I always feel I do my best work when I’m in the “zone”, usually by myself and able to fully concentrate on just “seeing” and capturing what I see.  It’s tough to do that in a workshop situation.

I really liked all of the other participants and instantly made friends. They were all great photographers with a myriad of life and photographic experience. A couple have active websites and blogs.  Here are the links I encourage you to take a look.

Harry Sandler:  http://hsandler.blogspot.com/
Natasha Calzatti: http://www.calzattifoto.com/CalzattiFoto.htm

Overall an awesome experience and I can’t wait to go back to Yosemite, hopefully in the fall with better backcountry access.  There is a lot to tell and share if anyone has any questions please write me a note at mike@mmpropoto.com


Yosemite #2 – Preparations

March 6th, 2010 in Photography

Those of you who know me, know that I can get a bit obsessive when it come to getting prepared for trips, events, etc.  Of course this Yosemite workshop was no different and probably a little worse than usual. A photography workshop is more than a vacation that concentrates on taking pictures.  There is classroom time, field trips to shoot, critiques of the work, digital darkroom processing and on and on.  So you need to be prepared and on top of knowing your gear, your laptop and your processing software. Before you go everything needs to cleaned, checked out  and in good working order.

I thought it might be interesting (or at least helpful) to briefly  go through some of my preparations.

Computer & Back-up

  • Make sure operating system, software and software plug-ins are updated with current versions and operating properly.
  • Run maintenance and cleaning utilities to assure efficient operation.
  • Clean and defrag external back-up drives.

Photo Gear

  • Properly clean camera body, lenses and filters.
  • Test sensor for dust spots, clean if needed. (Visible Dust products are awesome)
  • Empty and format (in camera) CF/SD data storage cards.
  • Clean and check tripod/ballhead
  • Make a checklist of all required gear and repack your gear bag according to the list.

To get myself ready I read and re-read a few of my favorite books.

I also reviewed  several video tutorials on lynda.com. If you are not familiar with lynda.com please do yourself a favor and go take a look. They have extensive, very well done and inexpensive video tutorials on just about every software title on the planet.  They are especially strong in graphic arts and their tutorials on Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture and InDesign are excellent.

Next blog I’ll talk about the Yosemite Workshop.  Stay tuned.