The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a national treasure. It was also designated a UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve, as a result of its biological diversity and unique natural resources. For photographers, the Smoky Mountains offer many opportunities in any season, but springtime provides a dazzling menu of spectacular and rare wildflowers, high peaks shrouded in mist, dramatic sunrises and many pristine waterfalls and mountain streams. Robert has photographed this region extensively and knows the premier locations for a diverse range of imagery and learning experiences.
The spring workshops are an exciting opportunity for nature photographers to hone their skills in this unrivalled location. Robert will individually instruct and share his knowledge, experience and photographic vision, while demonstrating the key field techniques for photographing both grand vista and intimate landscapes. The timing of this late spring workshop is geared to the blooming of wildflowers and trees such as dogwoods and redbuds, and possibly the opportunity to photograph this year’s newly-born animals. Selected scenic locations will be used to demonstrate individual photographic concepts and techniques (both traditional and innovative) and to encourage and develop individual photographic vision. The teaching is not just limited to the subjects at hand, but will also encompass his many years of experience working as a professional natural history photographer in Southern Africa.
What is the focus for the Workshop?
Carefully selected locations will be used to demonstrate a range of photographic concepts and techniques, and above all- to encourage and develop the participant’s photographic vision.
To support the artistic development, techniques for scenic and macro photography will be demonstrated and discussed. For instance: control of exposure, depth of field, use of natural light and flash, maximizing the use of digital and lens technology, polarizing and graduated neutral density filters, and composite images.
The primary focus is learning how to capture or distill the very essence of the scene – by recognizing and isolating the key elements, and successfully incorporating them. For instance, by using sweeping foregrounds, selective cropping or focusing techniques, getting closer or backing off.
The pros, cons and use of different types of light and atmosphere will be discussed.
Teaching and developing techniques for composing both the grand vista and intimate landscapes, using a wide array of lenses from wide angle to macro and telephotos (the landscape photography “tools”).
Special attention to control of perspective and depth of field using perspective control (tilt and shift) lenses will be given. This is specifically for attendees wishing to learn large format techniques and apply them to 35mm imagery.
Included in the techniques will be the creation of multi-layered images with sweeping and interesting foregrounds using wide angle or ultra wide angle lenses. This can be considered as “photography from the ground up”!
In order to be able to put the inner vision into practice, the tools of compositional development such as visual aids, the rules of thirds, the Golden Mean and achieving compositional balance and structure will be discussed and demonstrated.
Tuition on how to best photograph the many wildflower species; including trilliums, phacelia, violets, irises, orchids, showy orchis, and dogwood or redbud trees in flower; the sunrise from the higher peaks of the range, and Cades Cove. Other opportunities to photograph insects, mammals, reptiles and amphibians will be taken as they arise.
There are places still available on two 3-day workshops: choose from April 12-14 or April 19-21, 2013
The dates for these exciting workshops have been set, and details can be obtained by clicking through on the link below:
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a national treasure. It was also designated a UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve, as a result of its biological diversity and unique natural resources. For photographers, the Smoky Mountains offer many opportunities in any season, but springtime provides a dazzling menu of spectacular and rare wildflowers, high peaks shrouded in mist, dramatic sunrises and many pristine waterfalls and mountain streams. Robert has photographed this region extensively and knows the premier locations for a diverse range of imagery and learning experiences. Robert will individually instruct and share his knowledge, experience and photographic vision, while demonstrating the key field techniques for photographing both grand vista and intimate landscapes. The timing of this late spring workshop is geared to the blooming of wildflowers and trees such as dogwoods and redbuds, and possibly the opportunity to photograph this year’s newly-born animals. Selected scenic locations will be used to demonstrate individual photographic concepts and techniques (both traditional and innovative) and to encourage and develop individual photographic vision.
The dates for these exciting workshops have been set, and details can be obtained by clicking through on the link below:
This is an exciting opportunity for nature photographers to hone their skills in the unrivalled scenery of Acadia National Park. Robert has photographed this region extensively and knows the premier locations for a diverse range of imagery and learning experiences. October offers unique opportunities for photographing the glorious fall colors of hardwoods and berry bushes, reflections in beautiful ponds and lakes, together with the always popular rugged coastal scenery for sunrise and sunset images. For such a small park, Acadia and its surroundings has an outstanding range of photographic subjects and opportunities for learning field techniques. Robert will individually instruct and share his knowledge, experience and vision, while demonstrating the key techniques for photographing both the grand vista and intimate landscapes. The teaching is not just limited to the subjects at hand, but will also encompass his many years of experience working as a professional natural history photographer in Southern Africa.
We have all heard: “Sometimes the luck is with you and sometimes it is not, and sometimes you make your own luck”. Someone also once said: “Luck is preparedness in the face of opportunity”. This is a lot closer to the truth, and the simple reason I managed to nail the accompanying image. The image was taken during September 2012; an unusually hot and dry year in this region of South Dakota, with little rainfall. This was my first serious shoot in Badlands. Having scouted many potential locations, I was continually drawn back to this spot, with the pyramidal shaped sandstone formation, probably the remainder of an ancient butte. After suffering more than two weeks of hot, dry and extremely windy conditions; with pale blue, cloudless and uninteresting skies, a small weather front came in one afternoon. I was actually heading north-west away from the pyramid area when I saw the first dark clouds appear on the horizon. Immediately thinking of my pyramid location, I did a U-turn and arrived at the location with just enough set-up time – to catch the sun as it peeked through a narrow gap in the thickening clouds, just before it went below the horizon. While I certainly don’t try and micro-manage or previzualize every picture, I felt there was a really special image here, anticipating that the sun would be setting in the perfect position to light the pyramid. Also, I knew from experience that if the storm cloud cover had reached the eastern horizon, it would turn blue-black if the sun peeked through a gap. And so it did. 21MP capture, 35mm lens at f11, iso 100.
I was teaching the use of perspective control (PC) lenses in Acadia last month, and thought I should post this image as it may be of interest. While Wonderland truly lives up to its name, nailing the final composition you have envisioned is not always so easy. Despite the amazing shapes, colors and textures of the pitch pines, berry bushes and lichen, the intrusion of large areas of grey featureless sky on softly lit, overcast days, often detracts from the impact of the images. This particular wide angle perspective would not have been possible without both shift (8mm) and tilt (3 degrees) adjustments, and the 24mm T/S lens allows both movements to be adjusted in the same plane. These movements allowed me to a) remain low in order to maximize the foreground leaves and color, b) use downward tilt to maximize the depth of field, and c) use the shift to move the whole image downwards, thereby precluding the intrusion of patches of grey sky.
Even though working with 35mm format PC lens is faster than when I worked with larger format technical cameras, juggling the final composition and waiting for the wind to drop still took me about 30 minutes to capture the final image!
Some images taken by Robert during the week of this year’s Fall in Acadia Workshop – October 2012.
Any time of year is a good time to visit Acadia National Park, but the fall certainly offers some remarkable imagery, and is particularly suitable for teaching photographic workshops. Each time that I return to Acadia I am offered new opportunities; often in locations which I have photographed many times before. While I am always drawn to the rugged coastal scenery and pebble beaches, there is the chance to photograph the colors of the hardwoods and berry bushes, not to mention the always spectacular scenery of Cadillac Mountain and Wonderland. As always, the weather in the fall in Acadia was “unpredictable”, as was the color. While there were not many days with dramatic clouds for sunsets and sunrises, there were fortunately a few days with rain and soft light or mist for emphasizing the colors. Also, the unusually hot and dry summer delayed some colors and short-changed other types of plants. However, this all just makes you work harder in the Workshops to be more creative and nail the images! The hard work of the workshop participants certainly paid off.
The images on this page were all shot between the 8th and 14th of October, prior to and during the Workshop. Many of the images shown here were taken using the 24mm Tilt/Shift lens. I mention this because, during the Workshop, a considerable amount of time was also devoted to developing skills with perspective control lenses.
These images give a taste of what can be experienced in Acadia at this time of year, and I hope to have you join me on my Acadia Workshops in 2013!
During my career as a wildlife photographer – I have learnt to trust my instincts. My first visit to the Ritch Grissom memorial wetlands in Viera a few years ago told me that this was a treasure trove of potential images. It is man-made, on a waste water reclamation site, and this is its main attraction surprisingly, as several different habitats have been deliberately created, which in turn attract a wide variety of fauna and flora. Having worked in other reclaimed areas in Southern Africa, such as mine dumps, I knew these areas can be a magnet for birds and other animals in otherwise dry or unsuitable habitats. My instincts weren’t wrong, and the different months in the year that I have visited have offered up a surprise and new subjects each time. This again shows the value in working an area, and getting to know it more intimately. These Black Bellied Whistling Ducks were part of a flock which had descended on Viera in May and were squabbling over suitable nesting sites, such as dead trees. As they are monogamous, pairs of ducks would actively defend a chosen site, unless a more aggressive pair displaced them. This image captures a male chasing a battle scarred female – she had already lost one eye in an old injury, possibly from fighting involving those unusually long talons (that allow them to perch and nest in trees and other uneven surfaces). Like their Southern African cousins, their striking coloration and loud melodious calls make them an interesting species to work with.
I was working on this image for a client recently and something struck me once again: how some images are really timeless. This image was taken in 1989, yet still sells consistently as prints and as stock. It was taken during a 3-month project documenting the Central Namib Desert and particularly the noble Gemsbok. The point is that when you create an image that portrays something about a remarkable animal and its environment, the when and the technical details of how the image was captured and processed have little meaning.
Of much more importance than the gear was understanding and interpreting the behavior of the Gemsbok. Working with them for many weeks allowed me to predict where and how fast they would move up the Barchan dune slipface, so I could be in the prime position to record the peak action from a parallel dune.
However, (large tongue in cheek here) for those not raised purely in the digital world, it was taken on (“pre-Velvia”!) Fujichrome 50 Pro film, with a manual focus 400mm f3.5 Nikkor lens on a fully mechanical FM2 camera (which didn’t even require a battery – except if you wanted to use the in-built metering system, or a “bolt-on” motordrive!)
The workshop schedule for the Fall in Acadia Photography Workshop has been changed to a three-day workshop on October 12-14, 2012.
Acadia National Park and the surrounding area on Mt. Desert Island is such a special place in fall. Learn to hone your photographic vision and take advantage of what each day brings. Reserve your space now as the group size is limited to ensure individual coaching.
There are many ways to photograph wildflowers, and I am always looking for different ways to experiment with perspective. One of my favorite techniques is to use a long lens and isolate the flower from the background. In this case I used a 300mm f2.8 lens for both its optical quality and shallow depth of field. An extension tube allowed also me to get closer to the flowers. The key element here is, however, that I deliberately searched for flowers that had some distance between the background and the key element, in order to increase the extent of blur. The final decision as which Columbine blooms to photograph was the easy bit- I just liked the sense of change or succession – one flower in full bloom and one still awakening.