Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Columbia Gorge Waterfalls and Vistas Workshop

Although many visits and workshops have taken place over the years in the Gorge, every visit has unique and interesting aspects. This June workshop was focused on visiting familiar areas as well as some beautiful and less well known areas to photograph.

We started the workshop at one of finest vistas in the Columbia Gorge, Women's Forum Overlook. This gives everyone a chance to meet, discuss gear and other make adjustments while taking in the view and scouting different compositions along the Overlook. This is a place worth visiting time and again, as the light and clouds are always changing. The view of Vista House is an added bonus.

Here are two versions of the same scene from different angles, with different light and processing.

Kira Bartlett, ©2016
Larry Holmes, ©2016

The first waterfall visit was to the unusual and varied Panther Creek Falls north of Carson. After a very short walk, one can shoot from the well placed platform, or venture along the creek for a wide variety of compositions.

Many falls and streams to photograph at Panther Creek

Steve Synder, ©2016
After lunch at Skamania Lodge Cafe, we headed back to Oregon and visited Starvation Creek with it's falls and variations in compositions in the creek. It seemed the creek had been scoured a bit, with a very humble amount of vegetation this visit. Participants found their own unique and intimate views of this lovely creek, as well as the falls.

Back in Washington via the Hood River Bridge, we stopped at one of my favorite small falls in the Gorge, Dog Creek Falls. With some very nice late afternoon light, the falls was quite charming. Chinook Salmon spawn here in the fall.

Suzanne Michalik, ©2016
Our last area was Hamilton Island, overlooking the Gorge to the west. Although sunset was a bit demure, we still had some pleasant light on the clouds, promenades and features around St. Peter's Dome. Pearson Island, Beacon Rock and the surrounding bird sanctuary are a most pleasant place at sunset.

Photographing along the Columbia River

Steve Synder, ©2016

Photographs from this workshop can be seen here>>

Friday, July 1, 2016

A Short Addendum to the Olympic Workshop, May, 2016

After returning to the cabin at 11pm after a very long but fine day of instructing, driving and dinner making, it seemed like a good idea to get in some photography before ending the day. There is little or no personal shooting while teaching, but the night sky was interesting and it can be very peaceful and relaxing shooting at night....

Retrieving my camera and tripod and heading to the shoreline, there was an amazing glow of lights over Pyramid Peak. It was very bright and beautiful, but my first thought was the military was doing some kind of odd testing. Part of the display was a giant beam of white light that one normally does not see in these latitudes.

Aurora Borealis, Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park. Byron Will, ©2016
 Rushing to the shore, the light was changing subtly every moment. It was quite spectacular. One detail that was missed was not fully tightening one section of the tripod leg sufficiently. While taking an exposure with the waves pounding right next to me, I heard the dreaded sound of my camera landing in the water. It was so dark, it fell over without me even seeing it fall. The cable release was just long enough to give a tug on my hand.

Aurora Borealis, Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park. Byron Will, ©2016
Completely upset and tired, the camera and lens were promptly tested (comatose), so were placed in a warm oven to (hopefully) revive. By the next morning (with not very much sleep for me), they came slowly back to working order. A big sigh of relief!

Aurora Borealis, Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park. Byron Will, ©2016

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Long Awaited Olympic Photography Workshop, May 2016

After being in many beautiful areas of the Olympic Peninsula over a 40 year period, a way to share  some special places has been a goal for some time. One very important aspect in making it possible is having a small family cabin to act as a base for our workshop on the shores of picturesque Lake Crescent.

Thursday evening we gathered for a small briefing and dinner at Lake Crescent Lodge, and then headed into the old growth forest along Barnes Creek. Using a beautiful grove of ancient Cedars as our base, we explored this forest and creek with the goal of sharpening our seeing and relaxing from the driving and the pace of the city.
Forest and Barnes Creek. John Camp, ©2016
Friday morning we headed to the land of the Quileute tribe on the Pacific, hiking Rialto Beach in the morning mist. Solitude and an eagle were our companions as the low tide slowly advanced into the exposed rocks. The sun was working on clearing the mist and we were working on various compositions of rock, sunbeams, trees and driftwood. We continued down to Hole in the Wall, with limited time to shoot before the tide advanced. We headed back to a fine lunch in La Push.

Get up close to the driftwood at Rialto Beach
Walking back on Rialto Beach as the tide approaches. Thanks, Connie
 In the afternoon we had a 2 1/2 hour Lightroom review and develop session. After dinner at the Lodge, we explored the rough coast along the Strait of Juan de Fuca at Salt Creek. Sunset was quite pleasant, and there was some very nice wave action on the rocky shoreline.

Saturday was a very full day as well. Early morning we headed back to the coast to catch low tide at Second Beach. No mist this morning! The sun was in complete command of the day, with the light already quite strong by 10a. The sea stacks are always very stately as the tide advanced. We elected to have another lunch in La Push at River's Edge.

Walking along the textured sand at Second Beach
After a break another Lightroom session was held at the cabin. It's always highly instructive to share each others work right after a photo session. My wife Cheryl and I then prepared a locally caught white salmon dinner which was a real treat.

The first clouds we had seen for a few days had sneaked in, with the possibility that our trip to Hurricane Ridge might be clouded in. Evidence of better weather was not apparent as we drove up, but we continued to the Ridge to find the sky breaking in places and a nice view to the north towards Victoria and Vancouver Island. We then hurried back to shoot the beautiful light and clouds over the Bailey Range, with long bands of color and clouds. The afterglow light was also quite beautiful. A very satisfying end to our workshop. We arrived back at 11p after a long day!

Sunset over the Bailey Range from Hurricane Ridge
Participant photographs from this workshop can be seen here>>

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Spring in the Eastern Gorge Workshop

After a very wet March, April provided some needed sunshine and great conditions for photography. All the rain and then sun added to a spectacular display of wildflowers in the Columbia Hills and surrounding areas. Of particular beauty was the Arrowleaf Balsamroot and Lupine blooming concurrently.
Suzanne Michalik, ©2016
Under blue skies with some cirrus clouds, we headed directly to Columbia Hills State Park in Washington state, and drove up the lumpy road to the small parking area above the Dalles Mt. Ranch. The oak trees were just starting to leaf out, adding a nice warm color to the opulent flower display.

Setting up along a flower covered hillside
John Camp, ©2016
Carol Enyart, ©2016
We moved to a lower area in late morning, where there were different groupings of flowers and trees. This area also has some nice views of the flower covered Columbia Hills, the Columbia River and Mt. Hood.
Kira Bartlett, 2016
After a very fine lunch at the Baldwin Saloon in The Dalles, we visited the beautiful Horsethief Butte State Park, which adjoins Columbia Hills. There are many subjects to choose from here, with some added clouds and lovely light on the Columbia near sunset. Even the contrails looked pretty good. We also had a nice ring around the sun through the cirrus clouds.
Suzanne Michalik, ©2016
 It was a great day of photography and a full day of capturing some of the beauty found here. If you would like to see more images from this workshop, click here>>
Working to capture the last light on the Butte. Kira Bartlett, ©2016

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A Trio of City Workshops

Winter can sometimes get a little dreary here in the Northwest, but there are endless things to photograph. Three workshops were scheduled over a one month period to explore various ways of capture and post production here locally.

1. Japanese Garden Workshop, Portland, Oregon,  March 18th and 19th

The Japanese Garden is going through some construction right now, but the main garden area is unaffected. It was a somewhat chilly morning, but the weather was very agreeable, with clearing skies. We concentrated on intimate captures with Spring just emerging.

Andew Kaplan ©2016
The following day we reviewed our images and suggestions were made for composition and development in Lightroom.

2. Cityscape Workshop, Downtown Portland, Oregon, March 17th and 18th

This workshop concentrated on using some new processing that were recently added to Lightroom; Stitching and HDR. A handout was sent to participants to review with suggestions for capture. Tripods are important here, especially in the evening light.

Kira Bartlett, ©2016
Katrina Gustafson, ©2016
The following morning we reviewed our work and applied these new tools. Some participants brought prints, which is always a welcome addition to our discussions.

3. Japanese Garden  Monochrome Workshop, Portland, Oregon,  April 2nd and 3rd, 2016

The main emphasis of this workshop was thinking in terms of shapes and forms and translating our color images to monochrome. We always shoot in RAW, but some participants set their cameras so the JPEG preview was converted to monochrome. Overcast weather was welcome in the first half of our visit, but once again the sun broke through, changing and challenging what worked well in the viewfinder.

Jan Hand, ©2016

Suzanne Michalik, ©2016
The next morning we had an intensive overview of possible workflow options of monochrome conversions using Lightroom and Nik Silver Efex Pro. The results were quite lovely. Working in monochrome can also help to sharpen perceptions of elements and space when photographing in color.