Photo Workshops vs. Photo Tours – What’s the difference?

By David Halgrimson

Have you had an opportunity to take a photography workshop? And, was it really a photo workshop or was it a photo tour? There is a difference!

A workshop is a learning experience to not only take you to great places for photo opportunities but also to guide and assist you in capturing superb images by locating the best places at the perfect time, seeing the light, identifying the best compositions, using proper camera settings and much more. A great workshop will provide group and one-on-one instruction with guidance from top photographers who make their living in photography and provide strong, approachable instruction. Image critiques, evaluation, and feedback from instructors and peers are some of the additional advantages of attending a notable, high-quality workshop.

On the other hand, a photo tour usually takes you to ideal locations, but leaves you on your own. This can be great for those who just need to get there, do not need any special assistance, and prefer limited interaction with others; it really leaves the learning process strictly to you, through trial and error.

When attending a workshop you not only get interaction with the photographer, but also the chance to share with the fellow participants, which in itself is a learning experience.  It is a perfect opportunity to develop camaraderie with individuals who share the same creative passions in photography and learning.  Whether you are a beginner or advanced photographer, Arizona Highways PhotoScapes offers some of the best workshops around with the most exceptional photographers in the business.  The photographers intimately know the workshop locations, and will get you to the best spots at the most opportune times, then help you get your finest shot possible – all while encouraging you to take your creative vision a step further than before.

Being an Arizona Highways Photoscapes Volunteer Trip Leader for the last 11 years, has only encouraged my feelings on the truly exceptional benefits that transpire on an AHPS Photo Workshop.  I continue to encourage others to take advantage of these opportunities, as I know first-hand just how valuable they can be.

Tetons NP Wyoming

White Sands NM New Mexico

White Sands NM Balloon Festival New Mexico

Death Valley NM California

Palouse Washington State

For more information on these prime photography workshops through Arizona Highways PhotoScapes, check out their website at https://photography-workshops.directory/photographer/arizona-highways-photo-workshops/

David Halgrimson is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

Super Moon and a Streaking Airplane

Author: Jeff Insel

I’ve had several people inquire as to the settings and lens I used for my “Moon Shot”, so I thought I’d try answering in blog form.  I had planned to photograph this event for a while, as many others.  I know from previous experience that a long lens is very handy, and I happen to have a Sigma 50-500mm that does a good job, mated with my Sony A65 – giving me a total of 750mm available.  Next, I made sure to bring my tripod and camp chair, plenty of water and snacks, and made sure my batteries were charged up.

Once on site, I set up my chair, tripod, remote shutter release and camera.  I also set my camera for manual focus and in aperture priority.  At this point I also plugged in my earphones for my iPhone and set my music to shuffle, I was all set and waiting for the event to start – about 40 minutes away.  I had decided to set up at the Fountain Park in Fountain Hills and there were a lot of folks walking their dogs and enjoying the quiet evening; a few photographers were also set up scattered all along the walkway around the lake. We also enjoyed the fountain going off on the hour for it’s 15 minutes of duration.

When the moon began to make its presence known (it was already in its early eclipse mode) I began to test out different exposures and focus points. The Moon was still fairly bright though. Once the eclipse got to about a third of the way through we began to see the “blood” color effect. Of course the Moon is moving, so every couple of minutes I had to adjust the focus point and angle of the lens. I varied from about 300mm to 500mm and tried ISO’s from 100 – 1600.  I settled on an ISO 0f 800 and f6.3 for most of my shots. This resulted in a shutter speed of about 3.2 sec. once the Moon was in full eclipse. While making another angle and focus point adjustment I noticed the lights of an airplane that looked like it might transit in front of the Moon so I moved quickly with my adjustments and clicked my remote shutter when the plane appeared (by my eye) about 6” away from the Moon.  The result is the photo above, and I consider it my most unique and best Blood Moon photo.

Jeff Insel is a trip leader for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

Use your Creativity to get “Something from Nothing”

Suzanne Mathia Photography

Author: Suzanne Mathia
OK…  So here’s the situation…  You’re at one of the modern-day 7 Wonders of The World, the Grand Canyon.  There’s a layer of fresh snow, but the only 
problem is, the Canyon is completely fogged in.  This is the situation our Arizona Highways Photo Workshop found itself in for our afternoon shoot (Grand Canyon in Winter).  None of us had ever seen fog hanging in the canyon, so thick, for so long.  To give you an idea of just how thick it was, the first image is looking into the GC from the South Rim from just behind the lodges.  Visibility was about 10 feet, so I could see the tree and the edge, which of course was important also to avoid falling down 6800 feet !
Has anything like this happened to you ?  It might be fog, rain, other inclement weather, a lake or river with unexpectedly low water level, or any number of things.  So you can either call it a day and head back to the hotel, or put on your thinking cap, bring out your creative spirit, and perhaps create something amazing !
So what did we do to turn around our foggy afternoon ?
We were out at one of the many Canyon Points, or vistas.  I was trying to get at least something of a shot with the rocky ledge projecting into the Canyon.  Hey, I could at least see it.  This photo shows you just what I was seeing.  Even though we could see the ledge, the scene was still quite blah.
But I thought “If we only had a photographer down on that ledge in a Red coat”.  That would stand out nicely, and create a sense of interest and contrast to an otherwise blah scene.  Now that could be something. Since I had a red Winter parka, that’s when I changed from a photographer into a model.
The result ?  Magic !!
We had all our participants lined up at the overlook to this ledge, and with help from our master photographer (Suzanne Mathia), using the scene to create
their own unique compositions.  You can decide for yourself, but I believe the results were creative, unique, somewhat surreal, and inspired.  A different
approach to capturing the amazing landscape.
The first of these photos is from Bob Blue, our other Volunteer Trip Leader on this Workshop, and the second is from Sharon Philpott, one of our
participants kind enough to share her photo.
You can see that Bob’s photo is oriented as a portrait, uses the trees for framing, and seems to capture the place and the moment of the emerging sun.
Sharon, by capturing the scene in landscape mode, shows off something about the breadth and grandeur of the Canyon.  Although the photographer is still \
a central element for the eye to land on, he’s seen as tiny compared to the giant Canyon walls.  Two photos with two very different feelings and messages.
In both cases, the photographer in red is the key to making these images work.  And I’m not just saying that because it’s me
When presented with adverse or very challenging shooting conditions, don’t just go back to bed…  Think differently, Trust your instincts, and come up with something unique and magical !!
Suzanne Mathia is an Instructor with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops

Red on the Rim

Author: Greg McKelvey

The Mogollon Rim, stretching from near Flagstaff to New Mexico, is more than a unique topographic and geologic feature.  It’s forests are home to numerous, albeit hidden Mountain Maple and small groves of Aspen trees.   Not the grand vistas surrounding the San Francisco Peaks and nothing like the New England hardwood forests, the Rim Country does have fall displays to fill the portfolio of any professional photographer, publication amateur enthusiast.  The question is where are they?

Take a Sunday fall drive on the USFS 300 road, and you will likely pass yellow flames of aspen, some even with ponds to capture the reflections.  The occasional sighting of small red maple trees is evidence that there is more. Some experienced folks know of a few isolated red and orange maple groves, many just below the Rim.  A few experienced photographers hike Horton and See Canyons for wonderful fall displays.  The more one explores, the more one finds.  Makes sense, yet not all that easy for the visitors.

Google Earth offers a shortcut that may well enhance the probability of finding exceptional fall shots!

Google Earth is a free program that uses the most up to date satellite imagery available.  Open the program and find your house and likely you will see your car in the driveway.  As they add new imagery, they do not discard the old!    With satellite data back as far 1992, their historical record of images may well capture a place at that unique time.  Such is the case in the hunt for fall colors in parts of the Mogollon Rim.

Note the difference in the image taken in June 2014 over the intersection of the Rim Road 300 and USFS 84 and the images captured in October, 2012.  See the red?

Perhaps not evident until zooming closer (see below).  The Mable and Aspen show on USFS 84 are known to many, often photographed and worth a revisit each year.   What was not evident is the extent of these colorful trees.  I have visited this location for more than 10 years , yet until I saw the  October 2012 Google Earth capture, I did not know how far I could find special color.  Mind you these are not the grand vista, yet are wonderful walks in the forest where my camera never stops clicking.

Red on the Rim 4

Note individual red trees.

To find the stack of images that Google Earth stores:

  • Open Google Earth
  • Navigate to a National Forest near your
  • Zoom in a bit to see roads and familiar places
  • Click on the date in the lower left hand side of the display next to Tour Guide a clock and find the 1992 button (this would be the oldest image on file).
  • Click and it opens a time slider at the upper left.
  • Slide to the right looking at the dates. Earlier images are in Black and White while many are taken in summer.
  • Surf and slide until you find the time of year you plan to do your work.

In the case of USFS 84 maple / aspen grove, the image from September 2010 and October 2010 shows nothing, but October 2012, wow the forest lights up.   From that base, we have found and visited locations,  some with splendid foregrounds and colorful skies were we would not have known to look.  I want to explore a new place each year, and I have a robust list of fall color locations worth checking.

Hey this might work in other places for other subjects.   Who knows?  I think I see carpets of wild flowers on one May image so far from a road that it not well photographed??

Greg McKelvey is a participant at Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

Should You Use Infrared or Laser When Shooting Motion?

Author: Jeff Cox

I have used the Nero trigger’s laser function for photographing birds, especially humming birds. With the Nero you can set the threshold, a delay in milliseconds and how many frames to take each time the beam is disrupted.  A laser pen is required but not provided. The laser beam must be lined up exactly to the little senor on the module. Lining up the pen’s laser beam with the Nero module I place the pen first, making sure it won’t move. Then put the Nero module on a light stand so it can be adjusted easily. With the pen turned on I put my hand in front and follow the path to the module on the light stand. Now I can adjust the stand as needed. Make sure  the laser beam is pointing to the side of the bird or animal that will not show in the photo. Anything breaking the beam will trigger the camera. It should also be noted that any movement of either the laser or module will also trigger the camera and you will have to reline both again. Its best to do when there is little or no wind or where birds or animals can’t sit on either part.

It should also be noted the Nero also has these features: lightning, sound and time-lapse and HDR.

My newest toy is the CAPTUR module pro by Hahnel. The main reason for getting this was the infrared feature. There are two parts; the control module and the infrared module. Both can be screwed in a tripod or a light stand. Setting up is easy. Turn the control and select IR setting you will get a small red light. Next arrange the IR module some distance from the control and turn it on.  With IR module pointing in the general direction of the Control its red light should turn to green. The green light indicates the control is receiving the IR signal. . In the IR model you can setup a delay before shooting starts, set a shot count, and duration of burst/exposure with continuous/bulb.

You will need to purchase a 2.5 mm cable for your type of camera you have.  (these are sold separately). I also have an extension cable and adaptors (2.5mm to 3.5mm). I use the extension cable so that the camera doesn’t have to be close to the control module. So far I’ve only tried the IR setting without making any other changes. Since the modules are not aligned perfectly when either sensor is blocked the camera will fire. This is much easier that aligning the laser. My first trials with this was setting each module on either side of a bird feeder or bird bath. The photos below were the results. I cropped them to emphasis what I liked most and to show scenes I couldn’t taken any other way.  Oh, be sure to set the number of exposures you would like. I forgot and left the setting on infinite and filled my card without realizing it. We have active bird feeders.

Some birds will enjoy the bath while others do the splashing.

The CAPTUR module will also do sound, time lapse, light/lightning, and laser modes. Each mode can be controlled  similar to the IR mode. It is comparable to the Nero trigger both are alike with some of the functions but the setting are different on each device. For the price difference the CAPTUR module pro is a much better deal.

I should probably mention a Vello device also uses IR.  But, it doesn’t work as well because it appears almost anything triggers the camera.  The IR covers a huge area and any little movement with set it off.  I found that I couldn’t count on the Vello to be reliable.

In conclusion the infrared is a better way to capture motion than using a laser. This is just a brief explanation of how I used infrared to remotely capture birds.

Jeff Cox is a trip leader for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

Capture Your Moment: Light Painting for Landscapes and Architecture

Beth Ruggiero-York will be presenting two learning sessions at Arizona Highways Photo Workshops’ 30th Anniversary Symposium.  Here’s more about her “Light Painting for Landscapes and Architecture” session.

Light Painting for Landscapes and Architecture

Many of us know what light painting is, but do you know how to use it effectively? In the “Light Painting for Landscapes and Architecture” session, you will learn the subtleties of painting with light that will make your images pop without looking garnished. You will come away from the session understanding the differences between lights, and when to use each one.  Also, so you are equipped to get out in the field right away, you will know the “starting settings.”

For answers to all your questions about night photography, check out my new book, Fun in the Dark: A Guide to Successful Night Photography, at www.funinthedark.net.

Beth Ruggiero-York is a photographer for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

For more information and to register for sessions like these, please the AHPW’s 30th Anniversary Symposium website.

Listen and Learn

Author: Amy Horn

Since I was young, I remember hearing some version of the saying “listen and learn” from my parents. They would be happy to know that I have finally taken their advice. Probably not what they were thinking, but I have found listening to podcasts to be a great learning opportunity for photography.  Since I live in Flagstaff, a mid-sized mountain town, and travel frequently for teaching workshops, presentations and photography, downloading podcasts keeps me entertained on the road. Using the common Bluetooth features in newer cars, my days of searching for clear radio stations is over… the podcasts come in crystal clear. Of all the podcasts I have listened to my favorites are Photofocus, Improve Photography and This Week in Photo.

The Photofocus photofocuspodcast covers a variety of topics from new technologies to photographic techniques through professional interviews with working photographers. Videographer and photographer, Richard Harrington publishes this podcast three times a month and utilizes other professional photographers to conduct interviews as well. Whether you want to learn from Joe McNally, Lindsay Adler or any of the Photoshop Dream Team, Photofocus has the interview. This podcast is full of inspiration and information for beginners to advanced photographers wanting to stay current in the field. The Photofocus podcasts’ generally air for an hour and their website photofocus.com offers additional videos and resources free to the
viewer.

IP

The Improve Photography podcast, hosted by Jim Harmer, has grown drastically in the past months by adding additional pro photographers to their podcast for a
round table discussion and branched out with additional podcasts each week covering portraits, thoughts about photography and my favorite the “photo taco” podcast.
Although the music in the photo taco podcast is more energetic than what I like, each podcast is approximately 10 minutes long covering simple concepts in a short time frame. These audio discussions are targeted to a large audience and beginning photographers would really benefit from many of their topics. Improve Photography podcasts generally last no more than 40 minutes and the ImprovePhotography.com website offers additional courses ($) and articles to advance photographic learning.

The third podcast I listen to frequently is This Week in Photo (TWIP). TWIP has recently branched out with additional podcasts hosted by other professional photographers covering street photography, weddings, Photoshop/Lightroom, travel, gear, family, and twipthe weekly roundtable discussion. This network airs a wealth of knowledge in a variety of different subjects. Frederick Van Johnson, founder/host, invites different photographers weekly for the roundtable discussion and includes “picks of the week.” These picks highlight anything related to photography from books to apps to gear.  TWIP podcasts average an hour or more in length and the topics range from beginner to advanced. The thisweekinphoto.com website offers a member only option with additional learning available but all podcasts and show notes are free.  The show notes include links to resources discussed in the podcast.

All of the above podcasts are downloadable from their respective websites or iTunes. If you like listening to podcasts while driving, walking or cleaning the house then download one of these podcasts (or check out different ones) to “Listen and Learn” about photography.

Amy Horn is a professor of photography at Northern Arizona University as well as an instructor for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.