Some Photo Tips for Our Death Valley Workshop

I am very much looking forward to my February 2015 Death Valley Photo Workshop with Hal Schmitt - and the workshop participants who have signed up for this awesome workshop.

Here are some quick tips for shooting on and in the dunes, just one of our locations:

• Work with shadows and highlights to create dynamic images.
• Expose for the highlights.
• Think HDR in high contrast situations
• We need to get up early to get on site before the dunes are filled with fresh footprints and other photographers. We'll car pool from the ranch.
• Yes, we will be on the dunes before sunrise, but the light will be very flat. As soon as the sun comes up, the contrast, light and colors are awesome. You may not want to lug a tripod into the dunes, which are about a  20-minute or longer walk from the road. If you do bring a tripod, be very careful not to get the joints packed with fine sand. I've been to the dunes for sunrise three times and have not used a tripod . . . but it's up to you.
• Bring your head-mounted flashlights (and extra batteries) on our sunrise shoots.
• It can get windy on the dunes. Bring plastic bags or camera covers to protect your gear.
• Bring water! Don't forget your water bottle.
• Be very, very careful when changing lenses on the dunes. Sand is your enemy.
• Travel light on the dunes. Maybe just bring a wide-angle and tele-zoom. Fish-eye, too.
• If you put your backpack down in the sand, be very careful about . . . that's right - the sand!
• Plan to shoot panos. The long image above is a four-shot, hand-held pano.
• Pack your polarizing filter.
• Be ready to have your hiking boots and shoes filled with fine sand.
• Wear a hat and sunsceen.
* Getting to the top of some of the sand dunes is not easy. You need to run up fast in the sand. Hal and I will be there to help. But to get to the top of the dunes, you need to be in good shape.

For tips on sand dune shooting, see my on-line class that was shot in the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Above: We will have an awesome model for our early morning and late afternoon shoots.

Above: Hal and I will teach HDR. If you are new to HDR, download Photomatix from my Play & Save on Plug-ins page.

Here is my gear reco list for the workshop:

Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 15mm lens (my lens) or Canon 8-15mm lens (getting it soon) - for fun fish-eye shots.
Canon 14mm lens - for an extremely wide view.
Canon 17-40mm lens - my basic landscape lens.
Canon 24-105mm lens - for closer views in landscape photography.
Canon 70-200mm f/4 lens - to isolate elements in a landscape.
Canon battery chargers - so I have power.
Arctic Butterfly - for cleaning my sensor.
Tiffen Polarizing filter - to darken the sky and to whiten clouds.
Lexar 16GB cards - for recording your memories.

Induro CT 214 tripod
Induro BHD1 ball head
MacbookPro loaded with Photoshop, Lightroom and all my plug-ins.
Head-mounted flashlight and hand-held flashlights - for seeing in the dark.
Lexar card reader - for fast downloading.
Lacie 500GB portable hard drive - for storing my images.

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Above: We'll shoot this cool, old and colorful car in HDR, too!

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Above: There are good photo ops at Badwater. We'll shoot sunset there.

Above: Hal and I will also talk about light and composition during our sunset shoot at Artists Palette. As a preview, check out my KelbyOne on-line classes.

We hope to see you in Death Valley!

Explore the light,

Revisiting the "Old West" at My Wonder Bar Photo Workshop in Casper, Wyoming

Howdy Pardner,

Do you have an inner cowboy or cowgirl – a part of your personality – that dreams to be awakened? Do you like to photograph the scenes and players of the Old West? Do you have an artistic side of your photography personality that strives to make photographs – rather than just take photographs?

If you answered yes (like me) to all of the above, then I think you would have enjoyed my Creative Visualization Workshop this past weekend at the World Famous Wonder Bar (established in 1934) in Casper, Wyoming. Plus, I think you will enjoy my June 2015 Casper workshop. Shoot me an email to get on the invite list.

The Saturday workshop followed my Friday night Canon Explorers of Light Seminar at the historic Rialto Theatre in downtown Casper. Canon and Wyoming Camera Outfitters sponsored both events.

The workshop was unlike any other workshop that I’ve run over the past 20 years. Yes, we have photographed models, worked in low light, shot HDR and even used bars as locations.

This workshop featured a first: a horse, surrounded by cowgirl models, in a bar. What’s more, the entire shoot was basically a low-light shoot – which tested the low-light capabilities of today’s digital SLRs.

One reason I use a Canon 5D Mark III as my main camera: low noise at high ISO settings.

William “Dinty” Miller, owner of Wyoming Camera Outfitters, was the dude who, along with Canon’s Cal “Cowboy Cal” Ellis, organized the awesome workshop and seminar.

In this post I will share a few of my favorite images that I was able to grab during the photo workshop, which was co-led by Jim “Diamond Jim” Dicecco, an expert on Canon equipment. I’ll also share some quick tips.

Opening image: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 17-40mm lens. ISO 6400. Tip: Don’t be afraid to boost your ISO. My guess is that you would rather get a sharp shot than a blurry shot. If you do get a bit of noise, reduce it in Lightroom, Adobe Camera RAW, Photoshop or with a plug-in, such as Topaz DeNoise  - the plug-in I recommend for noise reduction. (Get a discount on plug-ins on my Play & Save on Plug-ins page.)

Above: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24-105mm IS lens (my favorite lens). ISO 8000. Tip: Focus on the eyes. If the eyes are not well lit and in sharp focus, you’ve missed the shot . . . in most cases.

Above: Remove some of the reality from a photograph by creating a black-and-white image. Here I used Topaz B&W Effects. Tip: When making black-and-white images, contrast becomes very important. Boost the contrast a bit for a more dynamic image.

Above: Another Topaz B&W image, this one with more of an "Old West" look. Tip: Select a plug-in effect that matches the subject.

Above: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 17-40mm lens. ISO 6400. Tip: Strive for separation between subjects when composing your photographs. To learn more about composition, as well as lighting, see my KelbyOne on-line classes.

Above: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 14mm lens. ISO 6400. Tip: Darken the edges of a photograph to draw more attention to the main subject.

Above: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 17-40mm lens. ISO 6400. Tip: Direct the model/subject – and keep talking during the photo session. Remember: silence is deadly.

Above: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 14mm lens. ISO 1600. Tip: Photograph subjects at an angle to add a sense of depth to a flat image.

Left: It's always fun meeting a fan and signing a book. Thank you Lonnie Slack for sending along this fun photo of Alisa Granger and me. By the time I return next year, my next  book, Creative Visualization for Photographers, will be published. I'll bring a few copies.

Dinty is working with me on producing a 2015 workshop that will feature a shoot in the Wonder Bar, along with a variety of outdoor Old West shoots with horses and cowpokes in natural settings. Shoot me an email to get on the info list. Space will be limited to 18, so please don’t “shoot” me if you miss out.

Thanks to Canon, Wyoming Camera Outfitters, our models, and to all the participants (many of whom have already become new friends) who attended my seminar and workshop.

And thank you to Andrew Lofholm of K2TV for a super interview in the Wonder Bar - of all places!

Above: My next awesome model photography workshop at a cool location is in NYC on November 4th. We have room – for you.

Click here for all future Creative Visualization Workshops.

Happy Trails,
Rick “Straight RAW Shooter” Sammon

P.S. Above: Why I lead photo workshops: I get to hang out with horses in bars, and I often get to play guitar!

September Seminar Savings

Whenever I give a seminar, I try to pass along savings to the attendees - as well as to those who can't attend the event.

In celebration of my Canon Explorers of Light Casper, WY seminar, here are my current Seminar Saving.

Save 41% on Photoshop Artistry (used to created the opening image for this post): Get a 41% discount on Photoshop Artistry: Fine Art Grunge Composition.

Save 25% on Topaz Impression - the program I used to create this impressionist image of a Carmargue horse running on the beach. Important: this offer expires on September 30th!

Get my Photo Sundial app for iPad and iPhone for only $2.99. The app helps you find the best light for your best photographs. It's also loaded with tips for sunrise and sunset photography - with your digital SLR.

Got an iPhone? Get 50% off this awesome iPhone course by Bob Weil.

Get a a 20% discount on all Frank Doorhof videos with WORKSHOP66 as code.

Get to know Frank, as I did at Photoshops World. One week were in Vegas, the next week we were in Holland in his awesome studio.

Project Photoshop: Compositing
Regular Price $59
with coupon code SammonSpecial $29

One of the hottest trends in photography continues to be compositing: shooting a subject on a plain background and adding them on to a different photo. This course will show you the secrets to making believable composite images, quickly and easily.

22 Lessons with over 2 hours of content, covering everything from planing and shooting to selecting and masking, to the finishing touches to make your composite look believable.

Right now you can get a 10% discount on Birds Through the Lens if you buy both episodes in the series.

Save 15% on Photomatix - the HDR program I used to create the above HDR image. Info on my Play & Save on Plug-ins page. HDR Soft, makers of Photomatix, were the first with an awesome HDR program. If you have tried the rest, now try the best.

Save a bundle on the Topaz bundle. Topaz DeNoise used to reduce the noise in the above image. Info on my Play & Save on Plug-ins page.

Save $20 on a Godfatherly Advice/Portfolio review session until October 15. Click here for info.

Save 50% on my Craftsy Landscape Photography class. Click here for info.

Like learning on-line? I have 11 classes on KelbyOne.

Order my two favorite books from Amazon and save a few bucks. Click here for info.

Save 10% on my Florida Action Workshop. Offer expires October 15. All my workshops are listed here.

Explore the light,

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Out of Africa - and into Texas - Photo Workshop

I running a May 2015 photo workshop at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas – where I took all the photographs in this post.

We booked the entire camp - and we have special photo tours.

Tip: You can stay in the Lodge, but the tents give you a real safari experience.

Small group, big fun! First come, first serve. Register here.

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I've been there five times (once teaching a photo workshop where I took these images) and still enjoy the experience - and that is after going on safari in Kenya four times.

See some of my Africa photo safari images here.

If you are planning a photo safari, check out my KelbyOne Wild Safari class.

All my 2015 workshops are listed here.

Here is a Fossil Rim video of a younger Rick Sammon discussing daylight fill-in flash. And here is a Fossil Rim video on composition.

One more video: A Quick Look at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center.

Now you can see how long I have been going there. :-)

Explore the light,

P.S. Yes! We will have plenty of time for digital darkroom work, too.