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Rocky Mountain Field Seminars   

 

Light & Snow: Winter Photography

 

February 28-March 2, 2014

 

Course Level: III       Course #: S1001

Fee: $250

Instructor: Glenn Randall

 

Location:          Rocky Mountain Nature Association Field Seminar & Conference Center

1895 Fall River Road

Estes Park, Colorado

 

Time:                    

Friday:

6:00 PM

- 9:00 PM

Saturday:

5:00 AM

- 7:00 PM

Sunday:

5:00 AM

- 1:00 PM

                                                                 

Course Description: This course will help low-intermediate to advanced-intermediate photographers learn the professional techniques that will take their photos from so-so to spectacular. It will help photographers understand Rocky Mountain National Park’s turbulent winter weather, and it will show photographers how to plan shoots to be in the right place at the right time. It will help photographers master the logistical problems of dealing with cold weather and show them how to correctly expose snow scenes for realistically beautiful results. Slide shows by the instructor will explain in detail the techniques behind his best images. Landscape photographers face the fundamental challenge that the range of light intensities in a scene often greatly exceeds the range of tones that can be captured by their sensor. The course will explore a variety of ways to solve this crucial problem, including spot-metering to max out the dynamic range of your sensor, HDR software, and the "Rembrandt Solution," a technique first employed by one of painting's grand masters that is still useful in today's digital world. Careful use of the Rembrandt Solution can create the illusion of greater dynamic range in a print than actually exists. The course will touch on many other essential elements of good landscape photography, such as map-reading to identify promising locations, lighting, composition, and atmospheric optics (the way sunlight interacts with our atmosphere). Images shot at sunrise each day will be evaluated in class later the same day, giving students immediate feedback on their efforts. Participants are encouraged to bring a small sampling of their previous work for one-on-one critique sessions with the instructor. Both film and digital photographers are welcome, but film shooters should be aware that they will not be able to get film processed in Estes Park in time to see it during the workshop.

 

COURSE LEVEL: III

Moderate hikes of less than five miles per day with elevation gain of less than 1,000 ft. A Dream Lake hike is

planned for this course. This hike is 2 1/2 miles round-trip, with 400 feet of elevation gain.

 

Brief Instructor Biography (additional information available at www.rmna.org): Glenn has been a full-time freelance photographer and writer for more than 34 years. For the past 20 years, he has been specializing in Colorado wilderness landscapes. His fine-art landscape photographs can be found in galleries and gift shops across Colorado, including Art Mart in Boulder, Grizzly Creek Gallery in Georgetown, and The Canyon Gallery in Montrose. During his career, he has accumulated over 1,000 photo credits, including 68 covers, and sold more than 10,000 prints. He was the sole photographer for two books of landscape photographs, Rocky Mountain National Park Impressions and Colorado Wild & Beautiful, both published by Farcountry Press, and he is a regular contributor to Outdoor Photographer magazine.

 

Instructor’s Website: www.glennrandall.com

 

Expectations: Professional conduct will be expected from participants at all times. Individual ideas will be respected. Except during course breaks, cellular phones, pagers, and personal entertainment devices are strictly prohibited in the classroom and during field sessions.

 

Car-pooling:  Rocky Mountain Field Seminars courses utilize car-pooling to limit vehicles traveling into the Park.  Car-pooling makes it easier to keep the group together, reduces transit time, and allows courses greater access because fewer parking spaces are required at destinations.  In addition, it provides an opportunity for participants to discuss course material in small groups during transit.  Typically, a few participants from each course volunteer the use of their vehicles for car-pooling to course locations.

 

Tentative Course Schedule:

Friday                6:00 PM                    Introduction and discussion of participants’ prior experience in photography; expectations for the  course and photographic goals; discussion of the elements of a strong landscape photograph.

6:30 PM                    Instructor slide show: Scouting. This slide show will discuss basic techniques for finding great landscape subjects. The instructor will also demonstrate the use of The Photographer's Ephemeris, Heavenly Opportunity, and SkyGazer, three inexpensive, easy-to-use computer programs that make it much easier to be in the right place at the right time.

8:00 PM                    Planning for Saturday morning’s sunrise shoot using map, compass, and computer printout giving the bearing of sunrise. Review of digital landscape photography basics and brief introduction to the universal exposure strategy. Students should bring their cameras and instruction manuals to class Friday evening so instructor can ensure everyone is familiar with the recommended settings for digital landscape photography.

9:00 PM                    Conclusion of Friday workshop session.

 

Saturday           5:00 AM                   Meet at location to be determined by students for sunrise photography session. Sunrise is at 6:35 AM.

8:00 AM                    Breakfast picnic at the Field Seminar & Conference Center and dissection of morning photo shoot. What went right? What went wrong? How could students do better next time?

8:30 AM                    Discussion of exposure, exposure meters, the dynamic range of digital sensors, the four basic exposure strategies, and the universal exposure strategy. This discussion will be followed by a field exercise on measuring the dynamic range of a scene using in-camera spot meters.

10:00 AM                 Conclusion of morning session. Students who wish can schedule individual 20-minute portfolio reviews for the period between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Students have four hours of free time to explore, eat lunch, and nap.

2:00 PM                    Class meets as a group at the Field Seminar & Conference Center. The instructor will give a slide lecture that discusses composition, atmospheric optics (which is really a discussion of light), and controlling light using graduated neutral-density filters and polarizing filters. The lecture will include a discussion of Photoshop techniques for controlling dynamic range, including the Rembrandt Solution, and an overview of HDR software such as Photomatix and HDR Efex Pro 2. Students will then plan the sunset shoot and Sunday's sunrise shoot.

5:00 PM                    Evening photography session where students can employ everything they have learned so far about visualization, finding subjects, exposure, composition, lighting, and atmospheric optics. Sunset is at 5:54 PM.

7:00 PM                    Conclusion of Saturday evening session.

 

Sunday              

5:00 AM                   Meet in the field to photograph sunrise and early morning light. Sunrise is at 6:33 AM.

8:00 AM                    Breakfast picnic at the Field Seminar & Conference Center and critique of morning photo shoot: What went right? What went wrong? How could students do better next time?

10:00 AM                 Instructor will discuss handouts on hyperfocal distance, the optics of rainbows, and his pre-shoot checklist. If students indicate an interest, the instructor will also demonstrate how to shoot and stitch together panoramas created from multiple frames, and how to use tilt-shift lenses to control depth of field, keep parallel lines parallel, and double the effective megapixel count of your camera. Students will select three or four of their favorite images from the weekend's photo shoots to project for the class. This culminating slide show will celebrate what everyone has learned and accomplished during the weekend. It is not a contest; the instructor will not pick winners and losers.

1:00 PM                    Conclusion of workshop.

 

What to Bring:

·         Sack breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, energy bars, Water.          

·         Camera: Both film and digital cameras are welcome, but film shooters should be aware that they cannot get slide film processed in Estes Park in time to see it during the workshop.

o    Film cameras: Instructor recommends a 35mm SLR camera with interchangeable lenses. Students can also use medium-format or large-format cameras.

    • Digital cameras: A student using a digital camera does not necessarily need a digital SLR. Digital cameras offering manual exposure, a spot meter and the ability to attach filters will give students greater control over their images, but these features are not required for taking the class. All students should bring spare batteries, a battery charger (if appropriate) and instruction manuals.

·         Lenses: A normal 50-55mm lens is all that is necessary. A moderate wide angle (24-35mm) and/or a moderate telephoto or telephoto zoom (80-200 or so) will increase the student’s creative options.

·         Tripod: Essential for sunrise and sunset shots at shutter speeds that cannot be hand-held.

·         Cable release: Always a good idea.

·         Filters: Instructor highly recommends that students using film cameras bring a two-stop graduated neutral-density filter, a filter holder and adapter ring(s) to fit their wide-angle to medium focal-length lenses. Students using digital cameras who do not use Photoshop or Photoshop Elements (version 9 or higher), particularly those who capture images as jpegs, will also find graduated-neutral density filters useful. Students who are comfortable using Photoshop, particularly those who are capturing images as raw files, will probably find that digital techniques for merging two or more images have largely made graduated neutral-density filters obsolete.  Graduated neutral-density filters are rectangular filters that are dark gray on the top half and clear on the bottom half. They fit into a filter holder, which in turn screws to the front of the lens using an adapter ring of the appropriate size. The adapter ring has to be the same size, in millimeters, as the ordinary filters that fit that lens. The filter holder allows the filter to be rotated left or right, and to be moved up and down. These filters are very useful in high-contrast situations to hold back some light from very bright parts of the frame (typically the sky or a brightly sunlit mountain) to allow the film/sensor to hold good detail in both the bright highlights and the shadowed foreground. They do not change the color of light. Instructor recommends the Lee filter system, available from Calumet in Chicago, 800-225-8638 or www.calumetphoto.com. Singh-Ray (800-486-5501 or www.singh-ray.com) also makes excellent filters that fit the Lee filter-holder system. Cokin also makes a line of inexpensive graduated filters, but the quality is poor. If possible, students should also bring polarizing filters, particularly in sizes that fit their medium and telephoto lenses.

·         Camera bag: Sized to comfortably carry all the student’s gear.

·         Film: Students shooting transparency (slide) film should be aware that they cannot get it processed in Estes Park in time to see it during the workshop. Instructor prefers Fujichrome Velvia and Fujichrome Provia. Most students use about four rolls during the workshop; bringing a couple of extra rolls is always a good idea!  Students should also bring extra film for any personal shooting they may want to do when class is not in session. Instructor does not recommend shooting color-negative (print) film during the workshop because its exposure latitude masks exposure errors.

·         Digital media: Plan on bringing more memory cards than you think you will need. You don’t want to be frantically scrolling through your last card looking for pictures to delete when the light is peaking!

·         Laptop: If possible, digital photographers should bring their own laptops and the appropriate hardware (cable or card reader) for downloading their images to their laptops. Be sure your laptop is loaded with image-editing software.

·         Thumb drive: If possible, please bring a thumb drive, which makes it easier to transfer student images to the instructor's laptop for the final slide show

·         Map and compass: If possible, please bring both the National Geographic Trails Illustrated map of Rocky Mountain National Park and the McHenrys Peak USGS 7.5 minute map, which shows the heart of the Park. The Trails Illustrated map is probably easier to find and will suffice, but you’ll find it helpful to have both. Please also bring a protractor-style compass. (By compass, instructor means a device for determining direction, not a device for drawing circles.) A protractor-style compass has a rectangular base and a circular capsule containing the compass needle. If you don’t own one, consider buying the “set-and-forget” style, which handles all declination problems for you. Silva, Suunto, and Brunton are three excellent brands.

 

Preparing for Your Workshop

  • If desired, students can bring a sampling of their work containing no more than 10 favorite images. Portfolio images can be in the form of prints, slides, or digital images (to be shown on student’s or instructor’s laptop). Students who bring a digital portfolio should consider putting it on a thumb drive so it can be viewed on the instructor's calibrated laptop. Students can make appointments for 20-minute individual portfolio critique sessions with the instructor for Saturday morning and afternoon. Alternatively, students can schedule one-on-one sessions to discuss any aspect of photography that particularly interests them.

·         Students bringing laptops (recommended) may wish to download The Photographer's Ephemeris (http://photoephemeris.com/) so they can use it during the workshop. It's free for desktop computers.

·         Students who do not already have Photoshop (full version) or Photoshop Elements (version 9 or higher) may wish to download the trial version of Photoshop Elements (http://www.adobe.com/downloads/) so they can experiment with various techniques they will learn during the workshop.

·         Field sessions will start early and will be conducted at altitudes ranging from 9,000 to 10,000 feet. The average daily low in March in Estes Park at 7,500 feet is 21°; the average high is 40°. Students should be prepared for temperatures well below freezing and possibly windy conditions during sunrise and sunset shooting sessions. Any hikes will be relatively short (approximately 2 1/2 miles roundtrip, with 400 feet of elevation gain). Please bring layers of warm clothing, sturdy footwear, wind- and snow-resistant shell clothing, a water bottle, snacks, sunscreen, a small flashlight or headlamp and a small daypack to carry it all. Instructor will provide extensive handouts with key information, but students should also bring a small notebook and pen for taking notes.

·         Finding the Field Seminar & Conference Center: The address is 1895 Fall River Road, Estes Park, CO 80517. The road is also called Highway 34. You can use MapQuest (www.mapquest.com) to get a map showing the location. There is a sign, but it is not well-lit or easy to spot in the dark. Here are two landmarks. If you're coming from Estes Park, look for Amberwood on the right. The Field Seminar Center is the next driveway on the right past the Amberwood complex. Also, look for BoulderBrook on the left. The Field Seminar & Conference Center's driveway is directly across the highway from the BoulderBrook complex.

·         Here is a list of the clothing the instructor brings on a winter shoot:


Snow boots (Sorels or another brand of pac boot)

Two pairs of long underwear (tops and bottoms)

Two fleece sweaters, one with hood

Fleece bibs

Shell pants; shell jacket

Expedition-grade down jacket

Light gloves

Heavy gloves

Heavy mittens

Fleece hat

Sunglasses

Ski goggles


 

Remember to Bring the 10 Essentials:

Rocky Mountain National Park recommends that hikers always carry the 10 essentials in their daypacks.

      Raingear                                                  Map & compass                                    Spare batteries for headlamp

      Sunglasses & sunscreen                      First-aid kit                                             Matches or other fire starter

      Pocketknife                                             Extra layers of clothing                 

      Sack lunch, snacks, & water                Flashlight or headlamp

         

Note: Rocky Mountain Field Seminars recommends that participants for all courses dress in layers and wear comfortable, sturdy hiking boots/shoes. Participants should be prepared for sudden changes in temperature and weather conditions.

 

Recommended Reading:

These are books that the instructor recommends for learning landscape photography. None of them is required reading, nor will any book be used as a textbook during the course. Instructor will provide extensive handouts for most procedures.

 

Digital Landscape Photography, by John and Barbara Gerlach. Focal Press, 2010. Lots of good, nuts-and-bolts advice for the beginning landscape photographer.

Mountain Light: In Search of the Dynamic Landscape, by Galen Rowell. Sierra Club Books, 1986. Inspirational as well as informative work by one of the past masters of 35mm landscape and adventure photography.

The Photographer's Eye, by Michael Freeman. Focal Press, 2007. Composition is an abstract topic best learned through practice, but this is one of the most helpful guides to photographic composition that I’ve read.

Rainbows, Halos and Glories, by Robert Greenler. Cambridge University Press, 1980. A detailed layman’s guide to atmospheric optics, the scientific study of how the Earth’s atmosphere affects sunlight.

Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing, by Margaret Livingstone. Harry N. Abrams, 2002. The most illuminating book I’ve found on color vision and how the quirks of our visual system affect our perception of art.

Eye and Brain, by Richard L. Gregory. Fifth edition, Princeton University Press, 1997. The best educated layman’s book on how our complex visual system operates.

A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative, second edition, by Roger Von Oech. Warner Books, 1990. The best book I’ve read on increasing creativity in all aspects of your life.

 

 Teacher Recertification Credit:

 Most courses are eligible for teacher recertification credit through the Centennial Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES). The fee is $25.00 per seminar (.5 unit) or $25.00 per series of threaded seminars (1.0 - 3.0 units). A list of threaded seminars can be found online at www.rmna.org. Participants must enroll in all seminars of a threaded series in order to qualify for the $25.00 multi-unit fee. Please be prepared to pay for this credit with a check, made payable to BOCES, on the first day of a seminar or on the final day of a threaded series of seminars.

 

 

 

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