Why I Enjoy Teaching Digital Photography Workshops


Above: My talented and dedicated Summer Arts students in action.

This post originally ran in June 2013. For new followers, I am running it again.

I'm just back from teaching a digital photography workshop at the Summer Arts Program in Monterey, CA. The event, organized by California State University and produced by my friend Professor Mark Larson, brings together students of all ages and from all backgrounds - and at all different stages of learning.

I was one of several instructors at the event, and I was honored to be included.

You can see from the picture above just how much fun the students and I had on the workshop. That's probably the #1 reason why I do workshops: we all have fun!


Above: Getting ready to teach Photoshop and Lightroom in the classroom.

During the three-day session we covered: travel, people, HDR, flash and landscape photography. In the classroom I shared Photoshop and Lightroom techniques, as well as tips on social media marketing.

This workshop, as do all my workshops, emphasized why I enjoy teaching digital photography from start to finish. Sure, I get to impart some ideas and techniques to the students, but I also see how each photographer pictures the world in his or own unique way.

I also get to meet awesome individuals, many of whom have incredible talent. I learn, too - and we all learn from each other.

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Above: That's Mark on the left and me on the right.

What could be more fun? Well, I'll tell ya. At the end of my workshops I go around the room and ask the students, "What does your photography mean to you?" This is a good question that you may want to ask yourself. It may help you define your photography.

During my "What does your photography mean to you?" sessions I ask the students to give a short answer, which I break down to one word. We put that one word on a white board. New for me to hear this session: Loving, Confidence, Blessing, Celebration and Heart. Always something new.

I hope to see you on one of my 2014 workshops. We learn a lot and have non-stop fun.

Explore the light,

P.S. If you can make a live workshops, you can take a virtual workshop with me on-line. Check out my Kelby Training classes here

It's "Hey Rick! What's Your F-stop?" Wednesday #3

It's "Hey Rick! What's Your F-Stop?" Wednesday. This series was prompted by the question I get asked most on my workshops.

My response to the question is, of course, "What is your creative vision? That will help you determine your camera settings."

After we discuss that all-important topic, I share my settings.

Hey Rick #3

Photograph: Forest Paradise

Location: Conway Valley, North Wales

Camera: Canon 5D Mark III

Lens: Canon 17-40mm lens

Exposure: ISO 100. f/22 @ 4 seconds. EV -1

Reasoning: Use a slow shutter speed to blur moving water.

Concept: Use a neutral density filter in bright light so you can shoot at a slow shutter speed. Use creative composition to "cut the clutter" in landscape photography.

Scroll down to find more "Hey Rick!" posts.

Explore the light,

Learn about landscape photography in my on-line Landscape Photography class - and get 50% off. Click here for info.

Some Tips for The Dune Shoots On Our Death Valley Workshop

I am very much looking forward to my 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.

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, too!

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

Above: We'll shoot sunrise at Zabriskie Point. I like the soft light before sunrise. You definitely want to bring your tripod for this shoot. Another great place for panos.

Hal and I hope to see you in Death Valley!

Explore the light,

It's Stay Healthy Saturday and Sunday: Mow Your Own Lawn

I turned 64 about 8 weeks ago. That same week my doctor wanted to put me on Lipitor. I said, "Doc, I feel like an old man." He said, with a grin, "Well then, I'll give you a newer drug."

That week I made being healthy my # 1 priority. Yes, I am still as passionate about photography and playing music as ever, maybe even more so . . . because I feel better than ever. In fact, just last week I finished my 37th book: Creative Visualization for Photographers (Focal Press, due out early next year). I think I sprinted to the "finish line" with more energy than ever.

And speaking of being healthy and and feeling great: I once met a Buddhist monk who, when I asked him about the most important thing in Buddhism, replied, "Being healthy. If you are not healthy, how can you really do anything else?"

So 8 weeks ago I changed my diet (salads everyday at lunch, cut the carbs, cut cheese, cut red meat, cut fried foods and cut intake by at least 25 percent) and doubled my exercise time to 1.5 hours a day.

I lost 10 pounds.

My doctor called four weeks ago: "NO need for an old or new drug."

I always tried to be somewhat healthy, which included mowing my lawn, which takes about 45 minutes, for the past 38 years.

Last weekend, while vising my friend Steve (who had just cut his own lawn), we discussed the benefit of cutting one's own lawn. Here's our list:

After cutting your lawn, take a break and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

After cutting your lawn, take a break and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

BMW - In this case, you might think BMW stands for "Best to Mow Wisely." However, it actually stands for BMW - the car. If you mow your law for 38 years, you'll save enough to buy a BMW.

Exercise - My neighbor has a sit-down, tractor mower. I have a gasoline-powered push mower. Pushing it around for 45 minutes twice a week is good exercise – upper and lower body.

Think time - While mowing the lawn, you can get into the moment and "zen out" and think about other things while doing a fairly routine task.

Satisfaction - Mowing the lawn is not brain surgery. It's not hard, but you'll get a nice sense of satisfaction once you are done.

Smell - Freshly cut grass smells good. It's good aromatherapy.

Art - I cut my lawn in a teardrop pattern (when viewed from the side). Like a Japanese sand garden, one might consider that art.

Smile - Cutting the lawn makes my wife happy. Happy wife, happy life.

Stay healthy my friend.

Next Weekend: The Wonders of Weed Wacking. :-)

Happy mowing,

P.S. Do you know how to say "Cut the lawn" in French? "Moe de laun." 

Day 6: Six Days of Africa Photo Safari Tips

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Today is the last day of a series here on my blog: Six Days of Africa Photo Safari Tips.

I ran this series in preparation for my 2015 Botswana digital photography workshop.

Shoot me an email for info about this awesome Botswana photography adventure.

Check out my Beauty of Botswana gallery to see my favorite photographs from my two previous trips to this wildlife wonderland.

Also check out my on-line class: Capturing the Wild: Safari Photography. You can use my tips for making great pictures on a photo safari and at a wildlife park.

Today's tip: Be prepared with the right photo gear. All my gear recos are listed on My Gear Page.

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Two camera bodies - so you can always have a telephoto lens and a wide-angle zoom lens at the ready. Currently, I am using Canon 5D Mark III cameras.

Telephoto lenses:
• 100-400mm zoom - for distant wildlife
• 70-200mm f/4 zoom - for closer wildlife
• 400mm DO lens with 1.4x tele-converter - for even more distant wildlife

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Wide-angle lenses:
• 17-40mm lens - for landscapes
• 24-105mm IS lens - for landscapes and environmental portraits
• 15mm fish eye – for behind-the-scenes shots

• Tiffen polarizing filter - to darken a blue sky and to reduce reflections on water

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• Two battery chargers - for fast battery charging between game drives
• Storm Jacket - to protect your camera from rain and dust
• Blower - to keep your sensor clean
• Head-mounted flashlight - for hands-free shooting on night drives
• Plenty of memory cards

All this gear does something very important for you on your photo safari: it helps you tell the whole story of your experience - as opposed to only taking lots of close-ups photographs of the animals.

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I hope to see you in Botswana or on another one of my workshops.

If you like the composition of the photographs in this post, and if you want to learn how to make the best possible exposure, check out my Kelby Training Classes on my On-Line Classes page.

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Explore the light

This post sponsored by Adorama - great gear at great prices.