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.

 

Monument Valley Photo Workshop, April 2017

Carol Lewin - Workshop participant

Carol Lewin – Workshop participant, Mittens view at Monument Valley

Claret Cactus-Student Photo

Claret Cactus, Workshop Participant photo

Moqui dugway-Student Photo

Looking South from the Moqui Dugway, near Valley of the Gods – Workshop Participant photo

Monument Valley-Student Photo

Monument Valley Buttes and Mesas, from John Ford’s point. Workshop Participant photo.

Our Spring 2017 Monument Valley Workshop is just around the corner.  And we still have openings for a few more photographers.

Early April, 2017.  Participants can expect to explore and photograph at the following locations:

  1. Lower and Upper Butler Wash, outside of Bluff, Utah
  2. Twin Rocks, Bluff, Utah
  3. Valley of the Gods
  4. Monument Valley
  5. Mexican Hat
  6. San Juan River views
  7. Comb Ridge

We have some favorite locations to share with you. The desert wildflowers are in bloom by the end of April, so we’ll scout some compositions to teach you how to best capture the Claret Cactus, Yucca flowers and other wilds of the canyons of Southeast Utah.

Here’s a sampling of the subjects we’ll incorporate to teach you how to use your digital camera.  Most workshop participants find that they are very comfortable with their camera, and know all it’s features by the end of a Chase the Light Adventure.

  1. Grand Scenics
  2. Intimate moments in the landscape
  3. Working with clouds
  4. “No sky, NO sky.
  5. Night Photography
  6. Moonrise in Monument Valley
  7. Star trails in Monument Valley

Skills and Techniques

  • Aperture Priority
  • Shutter Priority
  • Composition
  • Balance
  • Focus priority
  • Depth of field
  • Graduated Neutral Density Filters (in the camera, and post-production)
  • Capturing density for post-production

Related articles

Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods Photos

Our Chase the Light Photography Workshop in Southeast Utah and Arizona: 5 days/4 nights photographing the monuments of Monument Valley and the spires and buttes of Valley of the Gods.   Eight participants attended the photo workshop.  Our first location was at the Goosenecks of the San Juan River, where I taught about using the widest focal length lens to capture the big scene.  The day was blustery to say the least, so handheld photography from the overlook rim was in order.  Students determined how wide they could photograph, set up their wide-angle lenses and chose an ISO for obtaining deep depth of field as well as a shutter speed that would avoid camera shake.

Learning about using our wide angle lenses ©Nora Whalen

Learning about using our wide angle lenses ©Nora Whalen

As the week progressed, lessons included metering properly for balancing indoor and outdoor lighting (we used a hogan in Monument Valley for that lesson).  By using the digital camera’s “live view” or LCD, to assist in metering challenging scenes, students learned to balance and choose the correct exposure.

Image 23

Discussing how to capture the varied exposures in the Hogan at Monument Valley. By turning on “live view” you can see exactly what the camera is metering.

An example of using "Live view" to meter the inside and outside of the Hogan.

An example of using “Live view” to meter the inside and outside of the Hogan.

Some students were working with advanced Point and Shoot cameras, some DSLR, some played with their iPhones and when we had service, uploaded their images to instagram and social networking sites.

The Road to Monument Valley ©Nora Whalen

The Road to Monument Valley, many people call this the “Forest Gump” road. ©Nora Whalen

Shot with an "in camera" effect: vignette. ©Sherry Ketner

Shot with an “in camera” effect: vignette. ©Sherry Ketner

Shot with an "in camera" effect: vignette. ©Sherry Ketner

Shot with an “in camera” effect: vignette. ©Sherry Ketner

iPhone Photography, Monument Valley, Instagram images ©Nora WhaleniPhone Photography, Monument Valley, Instagram images ©Nora Whalen

Image 22

One of the workshop participants, Anita, photographing along the 17 mile drive in Monument Valley

Image 20

Walter never took that camera down from his face. He had a great time on this, his first, photo workshop

More participant examples to follow.  I’m prepping up for a two week adventure, a photo and road trip to California.  More to follow.

Reflections of a Large Format Photographer

For years I used a Toyo 4×5 View Camera, shooting 4×5 sheet film.  Up until 2007, I processed all my large format film, both color transparencies (chromes) and black and white negatives in my darkroom.  I used the Jobo rotary processor for film, and Cibachrome printing of my color images.  I printed all my own Gelatin Silver Prints. I operated a Community Darkroom in Durango, Colorado.  And taught darkroom and film skills at the Maine Media Workshops, at Bayonne High School in New Jersey, and private lessons in Durango.  I miss it.

Tonight is the opening reception for the Colorado Plateau: A Storied Landscape exhibition here in Durango.  As an invited artist, I was asked to show my Black and White imagery from the Four Corners.  I’m stoked to be showing right alongside Don Kirby, Bruce Hucko and Serena Supplee.  Years ago I attended and assisted a workshop, my first trip into Antelope Canyon, with Don Kirby, Bruce Barnbaum and Stu Levy.  These men are some of the biggest influences on my photography and choice to use large format, along with Ansel Adams and John Sexton.

Original 4x5 black and white negative, scanned and digitally printed. ©Kit Frost

Original 4×5 black and white negative, photographed with Toyo 45AII large format camera, scanned and digitally printed. I printed this image 24×32 and it’s amazingly sharp at that size.   Gotta love large format. ©Kit Frost

In order to complete all the work for the exhibition I reviewed years of my archive of negatives and chromes.  Choosing just 6-8 images proved challenging, yet, I found that the show was focused on the Colorado Plateau so some of my images spoke louder to me during the editing process.  Old school editing, lightbox, loupe and all.

Once I made some choices, I scanned the 4x5s at 2000dpi, planning to print to 16×20 and matte and frame to 20×24. And then the fun began.  I have digital dust on the sensor of my D300 and D5100 but nothing compares to the dust cleanup necessary with film.  My storage is a clean area, as dust free as possible. Once committed to the process of zooming in to each small square of the file in Photoshop CS4, I used the healing brush, one spot at a time.  Very Zen.  I gave myself the luxury of time, time to get the clean up completed.

Bears Ears, or Honey I'm Home!  Large format black and white negative, Toyo view 45AII, scanned and digitally printed.  ©Kit Frost

Bears Ears, or Honey I’m Home! Large format black and white negative, Toyo view 45AII, scanned and digitally printed. ©Kit Frost

As you can see, I love Southwest thunder clouds and cumulus clouds in general.  So a clean, spotless print, is important to me.  The prints were made on an Epson 7600, boy that printer is a workhorse, as I’ve had it running in my studio since 2003.  Amazing quality.  I used a combination of Lightroom and round tripped to Photoshop to use all the tools in my “toolbox”.  I enjoy the editing process, I enjoy the ease of  Lightroom to organize portfolios, to make choices as to how images look in combinations (I made a bunch of collections to view images as a group). I burned the midnight oil (but never judged prints under night lighting in the studio).

Passing Summer Thunderstorm, from Hunts Mesa, AZ.  Large Format Color Chrome, scanned RGB, converted in Photoshop. ©Kit Frost

Passing Summer Thunderstorm, from Hunts Mesa, AZ. Large Format Color Chrome, scanned RGB, converted in Photoshop. ©Kit Frost

Looking towards the Weminuche Wilderness, the Grenadier Range, part of the Colorado Plateau series.  Large format color chrome, scanned and printed digitally. ©Kit Frost

Looking towards the Weminuche Wilderness, the Grenadier Range, part of the Colorado Plateau series. Large format color chrome, scanned and printed digitally. ©Kit Frost

I plan to record video stories about each of the images hanging in the current exhibition.  I love story telling.  And preparing the work, editing, scanning, printing, matting and framing has inspired me to use my Toyo View Camera once again.  Interestingly enough, I’ve been shopping the Nikon D800 as an upgrade from my current gear.  I look forward to working those 36 megapixels into a series of 30×40 prints. But the view camera is calling my name.  I have plenty of Ilford and Fuji film, but as many of you know, the “in the field” workflow is so much different with DSLR compared to the view camera, that I’m spoiled by the speed and quick results of my Nikons.  Waiting for film to be processed by the lab could prove to be a real challenge for me.   So maybe it’s time for my next darkroom, eh?  More to follow.  Stay tuned.

Are you using a large format set up?  Have you retired your large format gear?

 

Tips on honoring the Creative Process

Thanks to the folks at the Nutter Crew, we can see a realistic approach to the Creative Process.

The Creative Process, shared by the Nutter Crew

The Creative Process, shared by the Nutter Crew

Pardon the language but I agree with this timeline.  Right now I’m in the Panic and All the Work while Crying stage, two days from the Deadline.  I have a few suggestions for the times when you know that work has to get done, but it seems like you have PLENTY of time when you’re in the Fuck off stage.

  1. Clean the Studio.
  2. Write your blog.
  3. Visit your homies on facebook.
  4. Watch your favorite Netflix series (Downton anybody?).
  5. Talk on the phone. A good time to catch up with the news.
  6. Go to the movies.
  7. Eat out every night.
  8. Send out invoices so you earn the money to move ahead with the project.
  9. Wait till the last minute to make the money to do the following:
  10. Order the frames.
  11. Order the mattes (32×40 sheets are the biggest bargain).
  12. Order the glass (who is cutting it to size?).
  13. Order the printing paper and cartridges.
  14. Make the prints.
  15. or Better yet, send them to a service bureau and wait for them to arrive.
  16. Do all your ordering with 2-3 day shipping and get reamed.
  17. Start the project.
  18. Edit the portfolio
  19. Choose final images
  20. Mess up the studio with the packaging from all those deliveries.
  21. Have the fun of making your art important.
  22. Remember that you love to work on your art.
  23. Lock the studio door.
  24. Turn up the volume.
  25. Burn the midnight oil.
  26. Get er done.
  27. Repeat.

I have an exhibition set for delivery this coming Saturday, but I can stretch the deadline until Monday.  Another delay tactic? I’m excited to be showing black and white prints of explorations in the Canyon Country and the Colorado Plateau.  I live in Durango, and as you may know, I travel to Arizona, and Utah often.  My collection of images from the Four Corners is large and editing the portfolio has been the most difficult.  This exhibition is by invitation and I feel honored to be chosen.  One of my favorite writers, Craig Childs, will be at the opening reception, and these images are to complement his slideshow and lecture about the Colorado Plateau, Land of Ghosts, Travel in Ancient Places

With two days left to complete the portfolio, I’m on target.  All the images are scanned from 4×5 negatives and chromes, the color images have been edited for grayscale in Photoshop.  I round-tripped from Lightroom to Photoshop in order to mix the red and green channels to my liking.  The black and white negatives were scanned and edited directly in Lightroom.  Each scan was about 190MB, 400dpi (so I could crop if needed) and output to 16×20 prints, matted to 20×24 frames.

Bears Ears, or Honey I'm Home!

Bears Ears, or Honey I’m Home! ©Kit Frost

Balloon Festival Photography Lessons, Bluff Utah

A last minute adventure this past weekend to the Bluff Balloon Festival proved easy.  The Desert Rose Inn in Bluff had a few cancellations and I grabbed a room.  Very nice accommodations.  I usually stay at the Recapture Lodge in Bluff, but Jim and Luanne took the month of January off this year and closed the Lodge.  The Desert Rose was new (about 15 years old) and although I had to air out my linens from the strong scent of cleaner, I was comfortable. In the past, Zazi, my lab, would travel with me. Since she died I have explored some places where dogs are not allowed.  National Park trails, motels with NO PETs, etc.

Arizona Strip Workshop-11

I left Durango around 11am and arrived in Bluff for some late afternoon photography near Twin Rocks and spent a few hours along Comb Ridge, photographing sunset light hitting the walls of the Ridge.  The Bluff Balloon Festival’s after dark GLOW was scheduled for later so I  left the Comb in time to enjoy Saturday night in downtown Bluff. .  And I wasn’t disappointed in the glow.  Although difficult to photograph, the light glowing from the balloons was fun.  The pilots took turns lighting up their tethered balloons with the help of a count down.  So photography, although limited was enjoyable.  I did occasionally run and warm up in the car, as the temps were tipping 5 degrees. I planned to be up at sunrise to drive out to Valley of the Gods for the early launch so I hit the Desert Rose shortly after a few grab shots of the balloons.  The Bluff festival is small and there were about 10 balloons at the glow.  A big change for those of you who have witnessed the nearby Albuquerque Balloon Festival.

The morning launch was after sunrise in the Valley of the Gods, about 20 miles west of Bluff.  I love the Valley of the Gods, often camp there and the drive through the Comb Ridge is always a treat.  For photographing the balloons against the red rock formations in Valley of the Gods, I thought the wide angle lens would be the ticket.  My favorite lens is my Nikon 16-85 mounted on either a D300 or D5100 body.  But I found that in order to really accentuate the balloons it was best to photograph with the Nikon 55-300 lens.  The compression that long telephotos achieve was just the ticket for adding impact to the photos.

While waiting for the balloons to launch, I picked a location that would have a sweet rock formation too. ©Kit Frost

While waiting for the balloons to launch, I picked a location that would have a sweet rock formation too. I enjoy the sound of the fans filling up the balloons with air, followed by the sound of the bursts of gas heating up the interior, then the passengers load up and we have liftoff. ©Kit Frost

Photographing the balloons without a sense of place doesn't really work for me. ©Kit Frost

Photographing the balloons without a sense of place doesn’t really work for me. ©Kit Frost

Full compression of the 55-300 lens.  The background sure appears closer and the composition is fun too. ©Kit Frost

Full compression of the 55-300 lens. The background appears closer and by isolating the subjects against a shady part of the far wall, the basket stands out.  Compare this to a balloon and basket against blue sky. ©Kit Frost

Valley of Gods Balloons-5

You can see the wind blowing the balloon to the left.  Shortly after making this photo, all the balloons were tethered to wait own the wind.  ©Kit Frost

You can see the wind blowing the balloon to the left. Shortly after making this photo, all the balloons were tethered to wait out the wind. And many pilots landed and packed up to leave. The color of the basket is close to the color of the red rock, so not much separation of tones in the image.  But I waited for just the moment when the balloon on the right was between two buttes to press the shutter. ©Kit Frost

By using the Nikon 55-300 lens I was able to create frames that compressed the background buttes and spires.  The balloons, then appear closer to the mesa. ©Kit Frost

By using the Nikon 55-300 lens I was able to create frames that compressed the background buttes and spires. The balloons, then appear closer to the mesa. When working with pairs of balloons I had to photograph quickly.  It was a windy morning so they flew high above the spires in a few moments.