Photo Workshops Inspire Photographers – including the instructors

Above photograph by David Recht. Click images in this post to enlarge.

One of the reasons why I enjoy teaching photo workshops and leading photo tours is that I see the photo workshop participants inspiring each other to make good images – in the field and during our photo processing sessions. Everyone learns from each other . . . and that includes the instructors.

This point was driven home last week on my Iceland Photo Workshop, with co-leader Tim Vollmer. During one of our processing/happy hour sessions, workshop participant David Recht showed me the image that opens this post.

I was most impressed, for two reasons. First, I thought it was a very creative image: balanced composition, interesting main subject framed by surf, perfect slow-shutter speed exposure, and a beautiful background of crashing waves. Second, it was exactly the kind of image I was trying to make the same day, but missed it while helping other workshop participants.

So I said to David, "That's a perfect shot. I want to get an image like that tomorrow."

The following day I got the shot. Before I share my image with you, here's the info on David's awesome image.

Shooting details:
Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 24-105mm f4L shot at 105mm
B+W 1.8 ND filter
.6 sec at f/10 with exposure compensation of +1 1/3
Really Right Stuff tripod and ball head

Processing: Lightroom to reduce exposure to bring out the black beach as well as the ocean and wave detail. Further processed in Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 using Wet Rocks filter.

Background: Shot on the beach at the exit of the Jokusarlon glacier lagoon at about 12noon on September 12, 2015 on the Rick Sammon Iceland Photography workshop.

Concept: My plan that morning was to shoot longer exposures of the icebergs at the wave line to soften the backgrounds. I thought this would enhance the sharpness and brightness aspects of the ice sculptures in their environment. This small piece of ice was in the right spot and had an interesting shape.  I shot it from the right side to take advantage of the ice sculpture’s direction and how it matched up nicely with the wave flowing to the left as well. The small, dark rock in the left foreground was happenstance but it does serve to fill some dead space and provides a bit of an additional foreground element.

Above is my "Thank you David Recht" image.

Info: Canon 5Ds, Canon 24-105mm IS lens, Really Right Stuff tripod and ball head, Tiffen ND filter. ISO 100, f/20 @ 1/6th second, -0.67 EV.

Of course, other photographers on this workshop inspired me, in more ways than one. It was a great learning experience for all.

My next "big ice" trip: Greenland Photo Tour in 2016. Shoot me an email to get on the info list.

Thanks again, David.

Explore the light,

What's new? My 36th book: Creative Visualization for Photographers

12 Tips for Writing a How-to Book

Have you ever wanted to write a how-to book? Need some advice? Well, you've come to the right place my friend!

Here are the tips that I have followed while writing my 36 books, the latest, Creative Visualization for Photographers.

I also following these tips when writing my e-books.

These tips apply to writing all types of how-to books, not only photography books, which is my book specialty.

1 – Study and know your subject - inside and out. Old saying: If you want to become an expert on something, write a book about it. As well as you may know a subject, hire (or have the publisher hire) a technical editor. He or she will probably catch stuff you miss and mistakes you make.

2 – Know where you are going. Before you start, have a detailed outline (which may change). If you don’t know where you are going, how are you going to get there?

3 – Respect the reader. This might be the most important tip. When writing each sentence, respect the reader. Remember, you are not writing the book for yourself, you are writing it for the reader. When writing your book, keep reviews in mind. You want as many 5-star ratings as possible, and you have a better chance of getting those rating if you respect the reader and do you very, very best.

Shortly after my my latest book was released, it had a 5-star rating and was #1 in three categories on Amazon. One reason: I respected the reader while writing the book.

4 – Leave no question unanswered. Don’t leave the reader asking asking the question: Why did the author not complete that line of thought? Go the extra mile when talking about a topic.

5 – Know your competition. Go on-line and see what other authors are doing on the same subject. Ask yourself: How can I make my book, better/different . . . the best?

6 – Have more material than you think you need. You need a lot of material to write a how-to book: photos, illustrations and text. In planning your book, plan on having more material than you think you need.

7 – Make it easy and fun for the publisher/editor to work with you. Be flexible. I am not the best photographer or author on the planet, but I do pride myself on being perhaps one of the easiest when it comes to working together.

8 – Give your editor specific instructions. For example, when I submit photographs, I tell my editor: "Crop my pictures and you're a dead man!" After which I add this symbol:  :-)

9 - Plan ahead. Never miss a deadline. Give yourself plenty of time to write . . .  and edit and rewrite and rewrite and edit, etc. Remember: Dates in your rear view mirror are closer than you think.

10 - Let your personality show/shine though. In reality, many other authors know what you know. What makes your book different? Your personality, your style. Write like you talk and don’t try to write too fancy. Tell a few (just a few) jokes and personal stories. Let people get to know you.

11 - Have fun! If you are not having fun writing your book, that will probably come though to your audience. Even if you are not having fun, write as though you are having fun. As I tell folks at book signings: "It's sometimes not fun writing a book, but it's always fun autographing one!"

12 – PR your book. After your book is completed, it’s really up to you to promote the book, though social media and on your web site. You are the best PR agent your book can have. Get your friends to help you promote your book, too.

When I talk about writing a book to potential authors, I share these three quotes:

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. – Ernest Hemingway

Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words. – Mark Twain

I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done. - Steven Wright

Good luck  writing your how-to book!

Here is a link to my other how-to books on

Explore the light,
Rick Sammon,
Canon Explorer of Light

P.S. These same basic tips apply for producing on-line classes. Click here to read about the classes that I have produced. Again, the main element: respect the audience.


Excerpt #4: Creative Visualization for Photographers

This week on my blog: I am running excerpts from my latest book, Creative Visualization for Photographers. Both the e-book and paperback versions are available!

Excerpt #4

The space-time continuum is a mathematical model that combines space and time into a single idea. That concept came to mind when I took this photograph of a lenticular cloud near Mt. Rainier in Washington state - where I am leading a photo workshops in 2016.

If you had been there, you might have chosen a different space (composition) for your photograph. You might have taken a wider or tighter shot, or you may have composed your image vertically.

What about time? You may not have pressed the shutter release button at exactly the same time as I had, so the clouds might have been in slightly different position. You also may not have used the same shutter speed that I used, which could have affected the movement of the clouds in your photograph.

Back home, you probably would have processed the image differently, perhaps making it a more saturated images or a black-and-white image.

When you think about, a photograph you take is a singe idea – of your individual vision. Acting on your ideas, and accomplishing your goals, will give you a good feeling about your work.

With your photographs, you convey, and share with others, your own individual feelings with time (moment you take the shot) and space (your exact composition).

That's kinda cool - and you should be happy that you are a photographer!

Explore the light,

All Packed for My 2015 Iceland Workshop

I just packed my camera bag for my 2015 Iceland Photo Workshop. The workshop is full, but stayed tuned to my 2016 workshops for info on my Iceland/Greenland adventure.

I'm always asked about my gear, so I thought I'd put together a post on what gear I am bringing - and why. All my gear is listed on My Gear page.

Canon 5Ds - for landscapes, seascapes and icescapes.

Canon 5D Mark III - for photographs of seals on the ice and horses in the field.

Canon 11- 24mm lens – for landscape photographs.

Canon 17-40mm lens - for waterfall shots.

Canon 24-105mm lens - for general-purpose shots. Two pictured. I always have a back up, because this is my favorite lens.  

Canon 100-400mm IS lens – for seal and horse photographs.

Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens – for Northern Lights photographs.

Tiffen ND filter set – for waterfall images.

Tiffen polarizing filter – to reduce glare on water and ice.

Really Right Stuff tripod and ball head (tripod not shown, packed in luggage) - to steady my camera during long exposures.

Lexar 32GB Compact Flash Cards - to record my memories.

Black Rapid Strap - for easy camera toting.

OpTech camera sleeves - to keep my camera dry around waterfalls.

Lens cleaning cloths – to keep my lens clean.

Extra lens cap – because I always lose one.

Blower brush – to keep my sensor clean.


All my this gear fits into my Think Tank Airport Accelerator backpack. See! I told you I was packed.

My laptop, hard drives and battery charges are packed in my briefcase.

If you are planning a trip Iceland, my on-line class, Mater Landscape & Seascape Photography, offers some valuable photo tips, as dose my e-book, Conquer Composition – Wonders of Iceland. Click here to order the class and e-book.

Iceland images to come!

Explore the light,

What's New?

My 36th book: Creative Visualization for Photographers