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I’m sure a number of you reading this have a few stories you can tell about photography workshops. Some good, some not so good, some maybe a little embarrassing (Matt Gibson and Bryan Allen, if you’re reading this don’t say a word). A few months back a friend and former workshop participant called me while he was returning from another workshop. He called to tell me that he wanted to take my workshop again and that he appreciated how I did things. He didn’t appreciate the workshop he just attended, primarily because the instructor was not in a good mood. Then I recently took a workshop in which the instructor was incredibly nice, talented and accomplished, but lazy and very wasteful of our time, and there was a bit of a mismatch between how the workshop was pitched and my skill level. Back in October of 2009 I assisted a friend with his workshop and it was clear that all the participants thought it was an amazing experience.
And let’s not put it all on the instructor’s shoulders. Have you done everything in advance of the workshop to make it a great experience? Here are 5 issues that I think are very important in considering your next (first??) workshop (and I’m sure there are more you can share in the comments section):
1) Does the instructor have a good reputation as a teacher? If you haven’t heard it before, hear it now. A very well known and talented photographer does not necessarily translate into a great workshop instructor. Educating, inspiring, and motivating individuals organized into a group is a special talent. A GREAT workshop leader will create multiple opportunities for you to learn, practice and reflect on the process, seeing and drawing out into the open your strengths and weaknesses.
2) Does the instructor spend time shooting for him/herself? Not everyone is bothered as much by this behavior as I am, but it really sends a message about the instructor’s intent and concern for your experience. In a landscape workshop, for example, if I’m shooting for myself then I can’t be giving you any attention, assistance or support. In a portrait workshop, I may need to shoot to illustrate a teaching point. In any event, don’t be afraid to ask the instructors if, as a matter of practice, they will shoot for their own portfolio during the workshop and decide for yourself how you feel about it. You pay a lot for workshops – you deserve a lot in return.
3) Does the instructor’s personal or professional work and vision inspire you? This issue helps you decide if there is something you can learn from the instructor. Its easy to image that the more advanced you are, the fewer people are out there who can actually teach you something new. The instructor’s vision and talented will most likely be reflected and shared throughout the workshop experience. This is far from a deal killer for any particular workshop, but its important to consider on your own workshop journey.
4) Have you considered what you want from a workshop? Here is a laundry list of things you MIGHT want from a workshop: building/improving upon your eye for the subject matter, new field techniques, basic and creative technical skills in post-processing, building your confidence and inspiration with a new subject, networking, exposure to a new subject (ie. the north shore of Lake Superior or Fashion Photography), or maybe you just want a fun vacation. The list could go on and not every workshop and workshop leader is going to provide a one-stop experience for you, but at least you can begin thinking about what you want from your experience and set priorities that fit with a workshop.
5) Are you prepared to receive it? This may be as important a factor as the instructor - and maybe more so. Its critical to do the following things, if possible: get plenty of rest ahead of and during a workshop. The better instructors will push you mentally and physically (within reason I hope) and rest will allow you to absorb the maximum from the experience. Also, have your equipment ready. Is your computer and software ready to handle the raw files your new camera produce’s? Do you know HOW to use your camera or have your owner’s manual close at hand? Do you have the ability to bring backup camera/computer equipment? Have you double checked with the instructor about equipment, computer and software requirements of for the workshop? Things are tight and its tempting to skimp on critical items to save a few bucks. Budget and save for your next workshop so you can be as prepared for the experience as possible.
No doubt we can add to this list. Feel free to do so in the comments section of the post. If you’re looking for a workshop on location portrait photography, then I urge you to consider:
Bryan Allen Photography – a premier educator and amazing photography talent.
Hi Gang, just wanted to get this announcement out about a new, online beginner’s photography workshop I’m offering starting in February. Please pass this on to anyone you think may be interested! THANK YOU.
THE NEXT LEVEL: Online Photography Workshop for Beginning Digital Photographers beginning Saturday, Feb. 20th, 2010
Maximum of 5 students. Cost: $179 Register now to insure your place in this one of a kind photography education experience.
You enjoy taking landscape and portrait photographs, or shooting events. You’ve been using a point and shoot camera. You now have a Digital SLR camera and want to really grow your passion for photography, understand the elements of a photograph and build your confidence. You want a solid foundation delivered to you by a professional photographer with significant teaching experience.
Begin learning how to make that camera work for you and take your images to the next level of quality. Over the course of four weeks we’ll work through four assignments, all done on your schedule and at your pace. Each assignment is focused around your photographs and each assignment will help build the mindset to create beautiful, more compelling and provocative images.
Build your confidence, understanding and passion for photography. Learn at your pace and on your schedule. Learn from a professional photographer and teacher. Let me help you get TO THE NEXT LEVEL, beginning Saturday Feb. 20th, 2010. Register by visiting: http://acjphotoworkshops.com/workshops/the-next-level-online-course/ Questions? email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m just now catching up on a bunch of content to share on the blog. This group of images is the beginning of a larger series, titled as a question “Failing Concepts?.” I shot this series while getting lost (intentionally) on a recent trip to Texas, except for the last image, which is the 35W Bridge in Minneapolis. I suspect this series inspires a different dialog than typically appears on my blog. In any event, I hope you enjoy the images as some certainly represent a departure in style and aesthetic you typically see here. Also, I’d love to hear from you if you ideas that might fit into this series.
Welcome to 2009. I’m so excited about where this site is headed I can hardly stand it. I hope you find it a super great place to learn about and discuss photography. Also, my sincere apologies. We’re in the midst of migration to the new blog, its nearly done, but during the migration over the weekend something happened that spawned a ton of inconsequential RSS feed hits and a few automatic emails (to those set up on that process). There remains the possibility of this occurring again over the next few days as we work out some bugs.
Again, many apologies for any inconvenience. I am VERY VERY excited about the new blog design. If you’re visiting the blog to read this post then you see the new design. But, I’ll announce to everyone when the bugs are fixed and new content arrives.
Until then…click on the image thumbnail to get a feel for how the site will work. This image is a composite of four separate images shot with the lens baby composer.
Using a similar technique from KS#1 and #2, I went to work shooting some cityscapes in the same manner. This image was made in downtown Saint Paul at a parking ramp. These were lights in the parking ramp stairwell.
Technical: Canon 1Ds MkII, 24-70mm, 10 second exp., f/16, in camera multiple exposure with camera rotation and flash rear curtain sync. 2 panel image.
Two announcements this morning: First, you’ll see a new tab at the top of the blog page labeled “CREATE.” This is the section where I’ll be posting video tutorial content. I’ve posted my first attempts and would love your suggestions on content.
Second, today’s image is another in the Slap Zoom/Flash series, and this is a horizontal, two panel image.
Hope you enjoy!
ANNOUNCING THE WINNERS of the print contest: I want to send out a big THANK YOU to all of you who continue to be present here at E X P E R I E N C E. For those who did comment on the Print Contest Images, I put your name in a bowl and drew two winners: Kevin Hawkins and Megan Uhan. Please choose an image from the blog galleries and send me an email with your mailing information.
Today’s post is a departure from the slap zoom and in camera multiple exposure technique I presented on Wednesday. With this image I DID do an in camera multiple exposure on a north shore fern and then flipped it horizontally and vertically, essentially creating 4 panels from 1 image.
Technical: Canon 1Ds Mark II, 24-70mm, Singh Ray Vari ND filter, 10 second shutter.
Canon IN CAMERA Multiple Exposure Method: Since Canon does not provide a multiple exposure feature, I figured out a way to trick it. During the exposure and during the MOVEMENT of the camera I cover the lens with a piece of black foam core. This minimizes blurring, allowing me to capture cleaner moments between movements of the camera.
I’m posting two images today to illustrate a technique I’ve worked on this summer. Starting Friday, I’ll be posting a series of images, the KS series, that are based on this technique.
Description: Both images are examples of slap zoom, a technique that’s been used over the years. The slap zoom technique involves a slow shutter speed, and a zoom movement of the lens during the exposure. In addition to the slap zoom I’ve added a few other twists (so to speak). In the first case I also rotated the camera during the slap zoom, changing the point of rotation in the image. In both cases, I also used a shoe-mounted flash set to fire at the end of the exposure, to create some additional detail in the subject.
Image 1 Full details: Slap zoom technique, using a black card over the lens, during movements, to create an in-camera multiple-exposure quality (necessary if you’re a user of Canon cameras) Shoe mounted flash at the end of the rotation. Canon 1Ds Mark II 24-70mm lens, Singh Ray Vari ND filter, f/22, 10 second shutter, rear-curtain flash sync set to manual mode, Fong Dome flash diffuser, cheap black foam core board, tripod.
Image 2 Full Details: Slap zoom technique, NO camera rotation, shoe mounted flash, rear curtain sync manual mode, Fong Dome flash diffuser, Canon 1Ds Mark II, 24-70 mm, f/22, Singh Ray Vari ND filer, 8 second exposure.
Here are some flower shots from the Como Conservatory. They’re fairly abstract, which gives us a difference experience than we’re used to having with flowers. I was working primarily with color and then space and shape. I’d love to hear which you prefer.
These were shot hand held using a Canon 100mm macro lens, designed for this kind of work. I was very, very close to the subject matter, so much so that I believe I was upsetting the staff at the converatory. As I looked through the lens I paid particular attention to the background, trying to work blues and then reds or greens into the composition. I was not particularly concerned about sharpness at any distance, and in the case of the first image NOTHING IS SHARP. In the second, the edge of the tulip is.
NEXT WEEK, I will begin running a series of street photography portraits. Stay tuned for these images. You’ll meet George the Puppet Man, as he calls himself. You’ll remeet Duane, who’s name is actually Darrel. I botched that recently. You’ll meet Jocephus Lomac…a street musician and a might fine one at that. As time permits, I promise you some exciting stuff from Jocephus.
During, what I assume was old man winter’s last huff of the season, I dropped in at the Como Conservatory for a little taste of spring. Their spring flower show is on, its fantastic and I encourage all of you to go check it out.
I spent quite a bit of time shooting, and a number of the images are in the flowers gallery. I’ll post a couple here to discuss technique. This particular image is actually a single exposure, but I tricked the camera into multiple exposure. Setting the camera so I could have an 8 second single exposure, I then placed a black piece of foam core over the lens IN BETWEEN subject movements. I came up with a few different images, this one my favorite for its color and composition. Hope you enjoy.