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

Fall Color and the Big Scenes in Zion National Park

I just returned from 5 nights in Zion National Park. I camped at the Watchman Campground.  The weather forecast predicted rain and show at higher elevations, my kind of trip.  What I love about photography in general is the excitement I feel when planning a trip, getting on the road, and then I feel like a kid in a candy store when I get to the location.  When rain is in the forecast in the Southwest it usually is accompanied by beautiful clouds, cumulus, and if I’m lucky, cumulus- congestus too.   This trip was like that.  I drove my camper from Durango to Lake Powell, stayed one night at the Wahweap Campground, took off for Zion in the morning.  And each day that the weather stayed changeable, I enjoyed playing with light and cloud shadows in my photographs.

As you can see by the scene below, the cottonwoods in and along Highway 9 through Zion were really stunning.  Closer evaluation shows that it’s really about a week late for full bloom.  But there are plenty of opportunities to get your “fix” of fall color in Zion.

Photographing the Big Scene

What do you think?  Compare these two images and comment on the "right time" to press the shutter. ©Kit Frost

What do you think? Compare these two images and comment on the “right time” to press the shutter. ©Kit Frost

I climbed high along the Watchman trail, and set up this image.  Two hours later the light I was hoping painted across the scene.  Patience people.  ©Kit Frost

I climbed high along the Watchman trail, and set up this image. Two hours later the light I was hoping painted across the scene. Patience people. ©Kit Frost

 

Why go to Zion in the late fall?

  1. Autumn Color is at it’s height from mid-October through early November.
  2. Zion National Park is awesome year round but especially beautiful in it’s fall glory
  3. The Zion Shuttle system runs until November 3rd, 2013, it is a brilliant system for exploring the park, no need for your car once you get to the park.
  4. Cooler fall days make the steep hikes wonderful.
  5. It’s a quiet time of the year, less visitation than in the summer.
  6. Bring a bike, you can have the Canyon to yourself at times.
    Load up the bike on the shuttle bike rack, or walk from shuttle stop to shuttle stop.
  7. Amazing Photography locations throughout the park.

Tips for Photographing in Zion National Park

  1. Bring a tripod, 98% of my photos are made with a tripod, I like the slow, methodical way of composing images, the ability to choose slow shutter speeds, and deep depth of field.  Yes, you can choose to “up” the ISO but I prefer printing large, so I like low ISO settings, around 100-320.  A tripod is not simply about steady images, it’s also about the ability to refine my composition.
  2. Explore the park, watch the light move through the canyon. Take a round trip shuttle, getting off wherever you like, and set up an important composition.  Many digital camera users simply shoot lots of images, moving to the next location, repeat.  I like to come away with a few “scouted” images. I like to commit to a few great compositions, then plan for the best light.
  3. In October and November, the days are short, sunrise hits the narrow canyon at around 8am and sunset is at around 6pm, so plan accordingly, wear layers, scout your locations to be at the “right place, right time”.  The sun didn’t hit my campsite until 11am, so next year I’ll plan better for morning warmth at my “cafe”.
  4. I underexpose all of my images by at least 1/3 and sometimes 2/3 to hold detail in the highlights.
  5. Plan for post-production, as Ansel Adams would suggest, pre visualize your final print.

Iron like a Lion in Zion – Zion National Park, UT (travelpod.com)

Join me next year on a Photography Adventure of a Lifetime, in Zion National Park. October 26-30, 2014.  Right place, right time.

Here’s a time-lapse from my first morning at camp.  This series of 320 photos was made into a time lapse sequence using the Interval Timer setting on my Nikon D300. When I got back in the studio, I uploaded the images to Lightroom, edited each one of them to fix the sensor dust, then exported jpegs to iMovie for sequencing and additional story board.

Getting ready for Colorado Fall Peak Colors

My favorite Cottonwood Tree in all it's fall glory.  Beef Basin Road. Near Newspaper Rock, Utah ©Kit Frost

My favorite Cottonwood Tree in all it’s fall glory. Beef Basin Road. Near Newspaper Rock, Utah ©Kit Frost

My studio faces north.  I can see the La Plata Mountains, and the Animas Valley.  I love the see the approaching, clearing and socked in storms that surround this mountain town.  I live and work with the San Juan National Forest and the Weminuche Wilderness in my backyard.  As I sit here this morning, I’m anticipating the fall color spectacle with excitement.  My best guess is that the end of next week will be a great time to get out and photograph.  I’m heading north on this coming Friday and planning to get out and stay out for a few days late next week.

In preparation for fall photography, here are a few things I suggest

  1. Charge batteries
  2. Clean lenses
  3. Upload and empty all CF and SD cards
  4. Leave the tripod in the car, ready to go
  5. Pack a bag of layered clothing for the mountains
  6. Pack raingear for the inevitable storms (oh yeah)

In addition to the gear preparation, I tend to look over fall photos from past years to get inspired. Here are a few, from Colorado, Utah,  and New Jersey. I live 3 hours from Moab and Southeast Utah. Some of my favorite trees (Cottonwoods) are along the Newspaper Rock Road between Monticello and Moab.

This Maple and the Oak behind it live at Round Valley Reservoir in New Jersey ©Kit Frost

This Maple and the Oak behind it live at Round Valley Reservoir in New Jersey ©Kit Frost

round valley maple

The images above are examples of using my 75-300 lens to compress space.  The backgrounds in both photos are a considerable distance from the trees in the foreground.

Centennial, Hesperus and Aspens reflection

An Autumn Drive, October 4, 2010, led to this reflection and views of our local mountains, Centennial, and Hesperus with a fresh dusting of snow. ©Kit Frost

Create a “star of the show” in your Photos

Compositionally, its easy to keep your mind focused on a few simple steps.

  1. Should this image be horizontal or vertical (landscape or portrait)?
  2. What element of the scene is the “star of the show”?
  3. What element then become the supporting cast?
  4. What is the focus of the image (what seduced me to take this photo)?
In this image I was drawn to the red oak brush in the midst of the aspen forest.  She is the "star of the show".  Surrounded by her supporting cast. ©Kit Frost

In this image I was drawn to the red oak brush in the midst of the aspen forest. She is the “star of the show”. Surrounded by her supporting cast. ©Kit Frost

Learn what to include and what to eliminate from your compositions, making your photograph concise and clear.

This image was made in 2009, with a Fuji 7megapixel point and shoot camera.

Our fall color changes are seducing photographers from
all over to visit Colorado.  Stay tuned for up-to-date Colorado Fall Foliage Reports.

What do you think? Feel free to comment below and to email your “star of the show” for review and discussions.

Top 10 hints for Winter Landscape Photography

Near Telluride, Colorado.  By using a long lens, the mountains appear even bigger in this composition. ©Kit Frost

Near Telluride, Colorado. By using a long lens, the mountains appear even bigger in this composition. ©Kit Frost

When it snows in the mountains of Colorado, you can hear the locals shout POWDER DAY!   Those of us who don’t alpine ski, but who LOVE photographing snow it’s time to get out and play.

Snow-laden spruce and fir, snow-covered mountainsides, and the pure white of new snowfall make for wonderful subjects.  The challenge is to grab your gear and drive, hike, bike to locations before the snow melts.  We get bluebird skies here in Colorado, even on days with a foot of snow;  get out early to take advantage of a small window of opportunity for great images before the snow melts from the trees.  I also prefer to photograph mountains with snow; I think they look better, bigger and more seductive than when snow has melted in the spring, summer and fall.

Here are a few hints for proper gear.

  1. Bring snowshoes, gaiters, hand warmers, thermos of your favorite hot beverage, gloves, hat.
  2. And for the more adventurous, load up your x-country skis too
  3. When pulling over to the side of the road, be sure your car is safely parked, away from any ditches.
  4. If you’re hiking, wear waterproof boots, gaiters, and be cautious of “tunneling” into the snow banks.
  5. When using a tripod for deep depth of field, make sure the legs are secure.  Sometimes the snow melts and the legs “plunge” into the snow.  Take time to set up your composition and check it carefully.

Now some hints for improving your photography.

  1. Give your subjects a sense of place and grandeur.
  2. Use shadow and highlight to your advantage.
  3. For hand-held photos without your tripod, set your ISO to 500 (so you can achieve deep depth of field when needed)
  4. Set your exposure bias (+ -) for a bit of overexposure (+), but don’t overdo it.  I like +.07
  5. Focus on the nearest object in the frame, and let a small aperture capture the rest clearly (f22-32)
Separation created by using shadows and highlights to your advantage.  ©Kit Frost

Separation created by using shadows and highlights to your advantage. This photo shows “near/far” relationships too. By using the 75-300 lens the background “compresses”, appearing closer. ©Kit Frost

Get out and play! © Kit Frost

By showing the near and far mix in the photo you can give the viewer a deep sense of space. Wide angle lenses capture the grand landscape. © Kit Frost