Photo Workshops

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

Join Me - and Some Awesome Horses - in Provence for My 2015 Photo Workshop

Registration is now open for my 2015 Provence, France Photo Workshop.

It's my second time to Provence, and I can't wait to return.

Above: On site, we'll play with plug-ins, such as Topaz Impression to create painterly-like images. Get a discount on Topaz Impressions on m Play & Save on Plug-ins page.

I hope you can join the photo fun - and awesome photo learning experience. We'll photograph the beautiful Camargue horses, as well as the tranquil landscapes.

I have a ton of images from my last workshop, but here are my favorites.

All my workshops are listed on My 2015 Workshops page.

Explore the light,

Canon 70D Test Shot/Quick Video

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I picked up a Canon 70D yesterday from Adorama... mostly for the educational videos that we shoot (listed on the bottom of my On-line classes/Video page). Of course, I will be be shooting stills with the cool camera, too.

As always, I test and familiarize myself with all my new gear, which is something I stress to all my digital photography workshop students. So this morning, when it was 7° F outside, I swung by the New Croton Dam (where I teach summer and fall workshops) and took a few shots and made a quick HD video - before my fingers started to freeze!

Back home, after I defrosted, I downloaded my files. The camera is working perfectly - and the images are looking awesome.

NOTE: Waterfall was loud! You may want to turn down your sound.

If you are looking for a DSLR that shoots both stills and full HD videos, check out the Canon 70D. Among other features, including an awesome auto-focus system, you'll like the flip-out screen, which is great for moving making.

My main camera is still the Canon 5D Mark III. All my gear is listed on My Gear page.

Above: Here's a video we shot with the Canon 5D Mark III in Myanmar. As you will see, it's important to envision the end result.

Explore the light,

P.S. My Croton Creative Workshops, a.k.a. Rick's Backyard Workshops, fill up fast. I hope you can join the fun in the sun. :-)

How Come I'm Not Getting The Shots?

rick sammon mongolia.jpg

I teach a lot of workshops throughout the year.

Every so often a workshop participant asks: "How come I'm not getting the shots that the other photographers are getting?"

I've seen this happen on all different types of workshops - wildlife, people, landscape and so on. I've heard this from my fellow workshops instructors, too.

The answer, sometimes, is equipment. In some situations, a certain lens, say a 400mm or a 15mm, is indeed needed.

In other situations, it's luck.

Of course, sometimes the photographer is a novice and has not yet acquired the skills to get specific shots.

Sometimes, and this is the point of this post, it's the photographer's responsibility.

To help all workshop participants, here's my list of "A Workshop Participant's Responsibilities."

Know your camera - especially when it comes to fine-tuning the exposure with the +/- exposure compensation control - or dialing in the correct exposure manually. After all, for every photographer, there is only one correct exposure. (For more on exposure, check out my class on Kelby Training: Light - the main element in every photograph.)

Stick like glue to the instructor.

Ask to see the instructor's photographs, and the photographs of the other workshop participants.

Know that the instructor is not a "mind reader" when it comes to your needs.

Show the instructor, and the other participants, your pictures as often as possible on your camera's LCD panel.

Be part of the "team" - and join in the fun, as well as the work.

Ask questions.

Do your homework before leaving home on the location, subject and the equipment that's needed.

Sit with the instructor during Photoshop and Lightroom sessions and see how your shots can be improved.

Set goals, and maybe even a specific goal.

So my friends, speak up, join in, ask questions, know your camera, do your homework, don't assume anything, set goals, stick like glue . . . and you'll get the most out of a photo workshop. The more you put in, the more you'll get out.

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Explore the light,

Plug-ins: Rant or Rave?


I recently read an article by a photographer who was ranting against plug-ins, kinda dissing them as a cop-op way to turn a not-so-great shot into a totally cool shot.

Well my friends, compare the image above, enhanced with Nik Software's Color Efex Pro (Bi-Color User Defined, Detail Extractor and Image Borders), to the straight out of the camera shot below. I took the grab shot during my Coney Island photo walk workshops while waking down the boardwalk.


I think effects like this are something to rave about. What do you think? Post a comment here and join the conservation.

I also think plug-ins can help photographers awaken the artist within. Sure, getting the best possible in-camera exposure is key. But when we remove some of the reality from an image, by changing the color or sharpness or saturation, our pictures can become more creative. More artistic.

What's more, plug-ins are fun to use. And what's wrong with having a little digital darkroom fun?

All the plug-ins I use are listed on my Save on Creative Plug-ins Page.

Explore the light,
Rick Sammon

P.S. I like straight shots, too :-)