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.

Thanks to Raymond Craig for making this cool video about what the students learned.

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!