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Archive for March, 2013

Yowza! David Burnett and RC Concepcion Join Me in St. Lucia This Year!

Mar 25

In Seminars & Workshops at 5:39am

Our yearly St. Lucian adventure in flash lighting has grown so popular over the years that we’re doing two straight weeks this year at the magnificent Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain, both of which are routinely rated amongst the top destination resorts of the world. And as usual, we have guest instructors for each week. Thrilled to have colleagues David Burnett for week one, and RC Concepcion for week two. We go to the Caribbean for the last two weeks of August! Hit this link for all info on the hotel and the workshop. As I always say, there is no more beautiful place to learn lighting and camera work than St. Lucia.

David is quite simply one of the quintessential photojournalists of our time, a truly, historically important photographer. During our time teaching this workshop together, there will be an emphasis on the journalistic application of light, and tactics about using small flash simply, fast and well. The keynote for this workshop is storytelling. We will go “off campus” on walkabouts seeking good light, street scenes, and portrait subjects. David will lead these walkabouts in his unique way, informed by 40 years of covering presidents, conflicts, Olympiads–in short, most of the major events of our time. I will, as usual, direct and inform on the ins and outs of lighting on the fly, recognizing and using light well, and integrating small flash into an off the cuff street scenario. There will be daily critiques, and then, at the end of the week, David and I will also run a special critique session, offering commentary and analysis of the participants work. Then, as always, we close the week with sunset flambos on the beach, running  multiple, flash lit sets for all participants, complete with models, as the day fades into yet another surreal St. Lucian sunset.

RC is a one of a kind genius who knows the wherefores of shooting, post production and the web like no one I know. During his guest stint, he will teach modules on super simple digital video and editing, camera raw and PhotoShop, and lead an HDR bootcamp, shooting in the field and then back at class doing the post work. I will be teaching once again my usual component of flash lighting on the beach, at sunsets, in amazing hotel rooms and in the jungle with trail bikers. On the last day, RC and Joe combine for critiques and Q&A and then everybody hits the beach for a sunset flash extravaganza, complete with flambos, models, and big and small flash. If you are into making good light at the moment of exposure, then taking your pictures into the realm of post-production in simple, unique and beautiful ways, this week will be rich and informative.

Each participant in both weeks gets a free copy of Joe’s Language of Light DVD. There are discounts available for folks who want to come for both weeks. Here are the day to day descriptions of each week….

WEEK ONE, WITH DAVID BURNETT. AUGUST 18TH THROUGH THE 23RD. ASSIGNMENT ST. LUCIA!

Photographers have an opportunity to learn lighting, story telling, and camera techniques from two of the world’s leading photographers and educators at St. Lucia’s ANSE CHASTANET and JADE MOUNTAIN Resorts. Joe McNally, internationally acclaimed American photographer and long-time photojournalist, will conduct two weeks of education about light and its possibilities. Both weeks will be about the language of light, and how to use small flash well and fast, travel with a minimal amount of gear, and make beautiful pictures and portraits.

Joining him as a guest instructor for the first week will be David Burnett, one of the world’s preeminent photojournalists. David, one of the truly significant photographers of our time, will lecture, critique and lead walkabouts that emphasize and demonstrate how to work with people on the street in spontaneous fashion and create wonderful, story telling portraits and scenes of Caribbean life.

Sunday Night Welcome Dinner (included in workshop)

Monday Morning Class with Joe: 9am

Held in an air-conditioned conference room, Each participant shows up to 8-10 images. This is not a portfolio critique. It is simply a “get to know you” session, with comments and discussion. Joe will then spin a slide show, offering lessons of light, and how to use it well and shape it, even in difficult circumstances. Environmental portraits, a “face in a place,” will be thoroughly investigated.

Midday break, from 1230 to 3pm.

Afternoon session, approx. 3 to 6pm

At the opening of the afternoon session, gear strategies will be discussed, buttons and dials explained, workflow explained, and participants will be introduced to the light shapers and grip equipment that will be available for them to use for the week. There will also be a sensor cleaning demo.

 In the afternoon, participants are paired off with each other,  the assignment being to take one small flash and one small, portable light shaper, and make effective, story telling portraits of each other. (The portrait can also be made with available light. This week is about using all manner of light well.)

Tuesday Morning: Critiques

Part of the morning is spent in class, discussing yesterday’s efforts, and evaluating results. The class then goes outside in the predictably, bright, harsh sun of the tropics nearing the noon hour, and strategies for using bad light well are discussed and shown. Bounce boards, hand held diffusers, raw flash, hi-speed sync, and large silks are all brought to bear to tame the raging sun. One of the most important skills any shooter needs is the ability to use bad light well, and to overcome situations where they encounter tremendous disparity of light.

Midday Break: 12:30 to 3pm

The class is sent out, each individually, to take camera in hand and, in three hours, create a journalistic impression of the hotel. This could involve photographing their spouse or traveling partner, hotel staff, other guests, the jungle biking areas at Anse Mamin, the dive shop, the bars, or the beach. It is important to feel and get used to that awkward, occasionally intensely uncomfortable feeling one has a photographer: “What do I do now?” Or, “How do I tell this story?” “Where do I start?” Moreover, you have to overcome the natural reticence one has about approaching strangers, introducing yourself, your camera and your intent into their lives, and trying to, as seamlessly as possible, tell their stories. Joe and his assistants will be centrally located during this stint and available for questions and problem solving.

Tuesday Evening: Photographic Legend and Lore with David Burnett  8-10pm

After a break and dinner, the class gathers for a truly special evening of historically important photojournalism, complete with Q&A, and tall tales from the field. (The amazing thing about David, given his stature and history in this field, his tall tales are all true.) Embedded in David’s lively lecturing style are lessons from a photographic life, and anecdotal, inspirational information about how and where to point your own camera, and tell your own stories.

Wednesday Morning, Critiques

The morning is spent in class with Joe, critiquing and evaluating the previous day’s efforts. At the end of the critiques, Joe shows a slide show detailing stories from 25 years of shooting for National Geographic, and LIFE. (Both David and Joe were members of the legendary photo staff of LIFE, and both go about story telling in their own, individual, provocative way.) As always, Joe is a complete open book, free with information on how stories get produced, client relationships, rights, rates, and the possibilities for the future.

Midday Break: 12:30 to 3pm

Afternoon walkabout with David and Joe

Locations for this could be nearby Soufrieres, or anyone of the tiny fishing villages that dot the coast. Transport to and from location by van or boat. TBD.

Thursday Morning Critiques

Once again, back in class with Joe, evaluating images, and discussing what went right and what went wrong. During all the crit sessions, Joe will have been selecting images that represent the best of the participants work for the week. That process will continue during this session. Also during this session there will be presentations from Drew Gurian and Michael Cali, two young, promising photographers in the field of rock and roll shooting and weddings. They will detail and discuss their beginnings, their setbacks and successes, and their developing strategies to “make it” in this industry.

Midday Break: 12:30 to 3pm

Afternoon Walkabout with David and Joe

Again, locations will vary depending on weather and availability of van or boat transport. Castries is a possible destination, along with the coastal villages, or in the interior jungles, parks and farms.

Friday Morning: Critiques

David runs this critique session, taking a look at the distilled, edited images from the week and the previous day’s shoot. He offers his journalistic take on what went right or wrong, and how to push forward with your photography in a powerful, storytelling fashion.

Midday Break: 12:30 to 3pm

Then: Return to class for a lively Q&A wrap up with both David and Joe. You can bounce questions off either, or both, or engage and solicit their opinions on all manner of photographic stuff, past, present, and looking to the future. After that……Flash extravaganza on the beach! During the Q&A, Drew and Cali are hard at work on the beach, where the St. Lucian legend, Junior, prepares his flambos for a sunset display on the beach. Two to three sets are available for participants to rotate through, all involving radio controlled small and big flash, gels, and the blending of the sunset sky with a flash lit foreground. All sets will be populated with models.

WEEK TWO, WITH RC CONCEPCION! ADVANCED FLASH AND POST PRODUCTION! AUG. 25 THRU THE 30TH. 

This week will be an intensive look at all manner of speed light techniques, from simple one light, on the fly strategies to multiple flash, gels, balancing flash and ambient light, finding a picture and lighting it well, high speed sync–in short, a wide range of small flash expertise, along with some big flash examples along the way.

Joining him will be one of the world’s preeminent visual educators, the brilliant RC Concepcion. RC will join Joe in teaching about light, color and composition, and add to the mix his mastery of virtually all of the necessary post production wizardry all photographers must know, from HDR techniques, to Lightroom to shooting quick and easy video.

Monday Program

Morning Session: 9am. Class meets in air-conditioned conference room equipped with digital projector. Morning is devoted to assessing participant portfolios and determining objectives for the week. Each participant to bring no more than 10 images for review and discussion. They can be the participant’s images, or images not their own that they admire and wish to know more about, or emulate in some way.

Joe will do a slide show based on lighting strategies that emphasizes the use of all manner and color of light to create effective portraiture and story telling pictures. The key this week is to explore techniques for excellent small flash use, finding a photograph, shooting it well, and then, given RC’s amazing post production expertise, finishing that photo well.

Break from 12:00 – 3:00 pm.

In the afternoon, gear strategies will be discussed and buttons and dials explained. There will be a demo of sensor cleaning techniques, and an overview of work flow for the week, followed by a review of basic lighting techniques.

Special Short Lecture:  Capturing video with your DSLR!

Your DSLR camera can be used as an instrument to produce wonderful video that can complement your images.  In this short workshop, RC talks about how to setup your camera for quick video capture, what are some of the tools of the trade for capturing great video, and quick workflows for capturing footage while making great still images.

This short, informative presentation from RC will enable the participants to shoot quick simple video clips throughout the week of their St. Lucia adventure. After RC’s quick talk, there is an afternoon shooting session consists of small teams with a model assigned to each team. Basic assignment: Use one light well.

Tuesday Program

Part of the morning is spent in class, discussing yesterday’s efforts, critiquing and evaluating results. The class then goes outside in the predictably, bright, harsh sun of the tropics nearing the noon hour, and strategies for using bad light well are discussed and shown. Bounce boards, hand held diffusers, raw flash, hi-speed sync, and large silks are all brought to bear to tame the raging sun. One of the most important skills any shooter needs is the ability to use bad light well, and to overcome situations where they encounter tremendous disparity of light.

Break from 12:00 – 3:00 pm.

Afternoon demo and on location discussion of shooting interior/exterior environments effectively, with emphasis on using flash to balance exposure zones encountered in the open air rooms of Jade Mountain. Each team disperses with models to a selection of rooms to shoot for the afternoon. Assignment is to create mood and ambiance, while effectively using small flash techniques to blend interior and exterior environments.

Special Tuesday Evening Presentation: Camera Raw and Photoshop, From Start to Finish, RC Concepcion  8-10pm

After a break and dinner, the class gathers for a start to finish workflow seminar.  RC will go over his workflow for importing and organizing images into Lightroom.  Once completed, RC will go over key things to keep in mind during the post processing of your images – focusing on making the most of your raw files in the Develop module in Lightroom or Adobe Camera RAW in Photoshop.  Finally, RC will take selected images from RAW and arm you with solid Photoshop techniques to make the most of your images- covering things from sharpening, post processing effects, masking, layer blending, and image recovery.

Wednesday Program

Meet in conference room at 9:30 for image review and critique with Joe. Time in class available to select and edit images for max of 3 per student to project. Break from 12:00 – 3:00 pm.

Afternoon Session

A visit to the Soufrieres Fire Department! An afternoon with firefighters at their home fire station in downtown Soufrieres. Firefighters make for iconic portrait subjects, and Joe has a long relationship to the department. Strategies, demos will be offered in how to do single, and group portraits, on location, using an environment to tell a story.

Thursday Program in Class: Special Session! The HDR Bootcamp

In this class, RC will teach you how to make the most out of your HDR experience. RC will cover what images make great HDR, and show the camera technique needed to make sure you have the source files you need.  After the hardware is complete, RC will go over the entire HDR process from a software point of view.  From capturing the image to tonemapping.  Layer blending to photographic effects, RC will show that this technique can not only be something that you can control and master – but effectively use for creating stunning images.

The above is followed by quick critiques of the firehouse adventure.

Break from 12:00 – 3:00 pm.

Afternoon Session

Photography in the jungle. Panning and blurring techniques with flash and jungle bikers. Demonstration by Joe in the art of creating images that move. Also portrait techniques demonstrated in the intense, beautiful jungle environment. Teams assigned models to shoot for afternoon. Each team will have access to an experienced biker.

RC is also there in the jungle, leading an HDR walkabout, and students can participate in the “flash and blur,” and or the HDR field trip.

Friday Program

Both Joe and RC run the critique session, and field questions from the week in a lively Q&A and review. All techniques, strategies for going forward to take the next step in your photography, are up for discussion, including business strategies for the photographer. Given RC’s expertise on the web, he’ll offer excellent strategies for building a web site and projecting a visual presence. 

Break from 12:00 – 4:00 pm.

Final Afternoon session: Meet in class to for final Q&A session and review of techniques learned. Last session late on Friday, class gathers on beach for spectacular “flambo” sunset session, with fires on the beach, models and flash lighting with gels. The famous Junior of the Anse Chastanet staff creates a wondrous environment on the fire lit beach, and individual sets are created, running off of Pocket Wizard flashes, that each participant can rotate through to create their own flash at sunset tropical masterpiece.

All session times and subject matter subject to change pending availability of subjects, weather, rooms etc.

See you in St. Lucia!  More tk…

 

 

 

 

 

Vanishing Lines

Mar 23

In On Location at 8:44am

Power lines in Saudi Arabia, shot yesterday, disappear into the vastness of the desert.

D800E, 200-400mm.

More tk…

 

Many Thanks, Dubai!

Mar 20

In Thanks at 3:47am

I was very fortunate and humbled on this latest trip to Dubai to have had a couple of extraordinary opportunities, among them to climb the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Above is an Iphone snap I sent out on Instagram. Below my feet is the area known as Downtown Dubai, a truly vibrant area of the city that has literally sprung up in just a few years. Way below me on the building is the observation decks of the Burj Khalifa, at level 124. 

Many thanks to the amazing crew at Gulf Photo Plus,  and of course to Mohamed Somji and Hala Salhi, two truly wonderful people who are passionate about pictures. Together, they run a workshop series called GPP that is always one of the highlights of the calendar, and the yearly reason I travel to Dubai. I stand in awe of the assembled talent of the group of photographers who teach there every year, and just happy to be included.

And a huge thank you to the staff at Emaar! Michelle, Lejla and Waseem, the folks who organized the behind the scenes moves to make the climb possible, were nothing short of amazing. As were Johnny and Mike, the two guys I climbed with. All the best, and my humble thanks to all.

More on this, obviously, tk….

 

 

 

 

 

Just Stand Next to Moose!

Mar 15

In Friends, In The Field at 12:35pm

Wanna be a good landscape shooter? Just stand next to Moose Peterson at his next workshop. There was just this recent story that popped up in the New York Times, something about waiting for light to hit this waterfall In Yosemite. If it does, just right, it’s called “firefall,” and it is a coveted picture amongst landscape afficiandos, at least some of whom go around, collecting these famous vistas like ball cards.

Read the rest of this entry »

Amazing Manila…..

Mar 14

In Equipment, Lighting, On Location at 4:46am

When I went to the Philippines earlier this year, my friend and fellow shooter JoJo Mamangun contacted me. Would I like to work with his wife, Kris, a ballerina and Cirque du Soleil dancer? I think I simply wrote back something like, “En route.” As luck would have it, she was rehearsing for the role of Titania in Midsummer Night’s Dream for Ballet Philippines. Read the rest of this entry »