Monument Valley Photo Workshop: Participant Photos

As a student of Kit Frost’s 2014 Monument Valley Workshop, I was very impressed with the entire experience. Having been an amateur photographer for over 40 years, I had never attended a photography workshop and had yet to explore the Utah Southwest. Kit was an extremely capable teacher / mentor and has a unique way of connecting with individual students to help instill their own unique way of seeing the world and capturing their vision within their own photographs.

Aside from her technical knowledge and her ability to capture amazing images, Kit was able to help me “feel” the geography and connect with the natural world in which we were situated. Her personable style and excellent communication skills then helped me to capture imagery that was forming in my mind. 

Click on the thumbnails to see larger images, and to comment.

While I have always felt I was a reasonably accomplished photographer, Kit taught me to see with light and “paint” my compositions with light and shadow in a way that elevated the final images to a level I had only hoped to achieve.

Friends and family have been astounded with the quality and composition of the images I made at the workshop and I am so very pleased with what I gained over the four days. I am looking at local scenes and geography much differently now. “Chasing the Light” has become much more than a catch-phrase, it has become a way of interpreting what I am seeing in everyday life and imagining how those scenes can be captured within the camera. Thank you Kit for opening my eyes to the light. My photography will never be the same.    Tom Fulton, 2014

 

Lessons Learned

We returned recently from our 2014 Monument Valley Photo Workshop.  And wow, the photo opportunities were awesome.  Although the spring winds in Utah and Arizona were sometimes epic, we explored locations to teach the participants composition, right place-right time, cloud shadows as subject, avoiding the “cliche” in a well-photographed environment too.

Our locations included multiple views of the San Juan River as it flowed through the canyons of Utah.  We made photographs using wide-angle lenses to capture the expansiveness of the Goosenecks of the San Juan, ate lunch at river level at the Sand Island Recreation Area, and photographed the big views from up on Muley Point to see the next level of the canyons and the tiny river cutting through.

iPhoneography, we hiked down from the Goosenecks overlook to get a better vantage point. ©Kit Frost

iPhoneography, we hiked down from the Goosenecks overlook to get a better vantage point. ©Kit Frost

We photographed with our iPhones, Smartphones, DSLR’s, and Point and Shoot Cameras.  And uploaded images to Instagram.

A mix of moments from our workshop.  Monument Valley

A mix of moments from our workshop. Monument Valley

Lesson: Find an interesting foreground. Lead the viewer through the frame.

Lesson: Find an interesting foreground. Lead the viewer through the frame. ©Kit Frost

Create a framing of positive and negative space to make a new image of a classic subject. ©Kit Frost

Lesson: Create a framing of positive and negative space to make a new image of a classic subject. ©Kit Frost

 

Monument Valley has been the backdrop of many movies, from Stagecoach to Thelma and Louise.  It takes some imagination to create images that are “different”.  We were blessed with clouds (and blown by winds) so we could use the sky in our images too.

Working with what is presented to us is very important in Workshop Photography.  We cannot control the subject or the sky or the wind or the crowds.  We CAN work with these elements to create images that are unique.

Keep coming back, as we will add more images as the participants submit them for this blog.

 

Use shadows to create positive and negative space in the big scene.  See if you can find a shape that matches the distant scene. ©Kit Frost

Lesson: Use shadows to create positive and negative space in the big scene. See if you can find a shape that matches the distant scene. ©Kit Frost

And just in case you think I’m kidding about the Epic winds.  John Ford’s Point was so windy, that we dared not take our DSLR’s out of the car.  Here’s a link to our You Tube video. And another short clip Here.

 

5 Steps to Prepare for Your next Photography Adventure

5 Steps to Prepare for Your Next Photography Adventure

Preparation for travel and photography:

  1. Get Inspired
  2. Choose a location
  3. Research online
  4. Make reservations
  5. Prepare camera gear
  6. Get out and STAY out.

Get Inspired.

I love looking at great art and great photography; I visit galleries, museums, and “follow” artists online.  For this week’s travel, to Arizona, my main inspiration is to see the Dale Chihuly Gardens and Glass exhibit at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix.

A friend of mine visited the Chihuly exhibition and these are some of her beautiful images.

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More Inspiration

Photography by Jody Forster

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All Jody Forster images are screenshots from her work at Andrew Smith Gallery in Santa Fe. ©Jody Forster

All Jody Forster images are screenshots from her work at Andrew Smith Gallery in Santa Fe. ©Jody Forster

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Choose a location: Research, Make Reservations

For this trip to Arizona, I chose to camp at the Lost Dutchman State Park.  Located near Apache Junction, AZ in the Superstition Mountains, this location was reviewed by the Wheeling It blog I follow.  Nina from “Wheeling It” is a full-time blogger and helpful with her campground reviews and also posts wonderful photos.  Photographing the Southwest, by Laurent Martres, is a great resource too for “right time, right place” photo locations in Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. In Volume 2, there are a few suggestions for photography at the Lost Dutchman.

Past photography excursions to Southern Arizona have included Saguaro National Monument, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, and lots of trips to Sedona, Phoenix and Tucson.

Prepare Camera Gear

I recently sent my cameras in to Nikon for firmware updates and sensor cleaning.  I am camping at a location that will allow me nightly battery charging.  My gear will include:

  1. Nikon D300
  2. Nikon D5300 (brand spanking new), no, it’s not full-frame, that purchase is in the near future.
  3. Nikon 16-85 lens
  4. Nikon 15-35 lens
  5. Nikon 55-300 lens
  6. Nikon flash
  7. iPad with 32GB
  8. iPhone 5
  9. Rav Power to extend storage on my iPad to 64GB and charge my phone.
  10. Tripod
  11. Monopod
  12. Reading materials on my iPad (kindle books)
  13. Photographing the Southwest by Laurent Martres

Get out and STAY out

My motto.  So until I’m full time retired, I create long weekends.  The drive from Durango to the Lost Dutchman is 7.5 hours so I’m camping one night at Canyon de Chelly National Monument and will enjoy 1/2 day of photography at the Canyons. I called the Navajo Nation Parks service and checked on the campground for open sites.  The ranger was helpful and told me there’s plenty of room these days.

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Next adventure:  Chasing the Light in Monument Valley. I’m teaching a photo workshop from April 28 through May 1st, based in Bluff Utah and Goulding’s Lodge in Monument Valley.

 

Just added: Location Photography Lessons

Hi Folks, The weather forecast for the weekend photo excursion to Bluff, Utah looks great, a mix of sun and clouds.

I’ve added three more locations to the photography lessons.

Moqui Dugway is an awesome drive up from the Valley of the Gods to Cedar Mesa.  With big views of the San Juan River Canyon and Monument Valley too

We will head out to Muley Point by driving up the Moqui Dugway on Saturday afternoon, the weather forecast is for clouds!  Yeah, No sky, no sky.  But with SKY< add sky.  I’ll be teaching the following hints for grand landscape:

  • Pay attention to your grand composition, watch for centering your “horizon line”
  • Create drama in the big scene by focusing on near, middle and far in the frame.
  • Actual focus point is important, choose a deep depth of field (f16-22) and focus about 1/3 of the way into your composition.
  • Use a graduated ND filter or underexpose the lower part of the frame to hold detail in clouds.
Cumulous Clouds, rain hitting the ground, deep San Juan River Canyon, and Monument Valley in the Distant landscape.

Passing rainstorm visibly hitting the ground, deep San Juan River Canyon, and Monument Valley in the Distant landscape. Just one of the amazing views from Muley Point, looking west. By NOT centering the storm, the viewer is led through the photo. ©Kit Frost

Kokopelli and other ancient puebloan (Anasazi) figures carved into canyon walls

Kokopelli and other ancient puebloan (Anasazi) figures carved into canyon walls. Photo courtesy of BLM, Monticello, Utah

Image showing the winding road of the Moqui Dugway in Utah with Mesas and Buttes in the Background

A favorite location, near Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley too.