Eric Stoner
Eric Stoner

Eric's professional photographic career spans over 25 years specializing in portraits, weddings and commercial photography using everything from simple lighting to very complex.

Canon Live Learning: It's an Oregon Workshop Thing

July 30, 2013

If you’ve never been on a Destination Workshop before, there’s certainly one out there to enrich your creative desires. Many of the workshops bring you to any number of breathtaking locations throughout the United States and expose you to a learning experience you won’t forget. From springtime at Glacier National Park capturing landscapes and wildlife with Lewis Kemper to creating extraordinary portraits with Parish Kohanim or experiencing Canon’s “big glass” super telephoto lenses while photographing birds in the Everglades with Arthur Morris, there’s something for everyone.

Destination workshops are usually limited to small groups, allowing you the opportunity to work side by side with world-class instructors. This type of environment takes the learning curve and makes it much easier to handle. At the end of the workshop, you’ll likely feel comfortable taking what you’ve just learned and putting it to use immediately.

 

My latest trip took me to Oregon to work with George Lepp and a crew of 15 students. The subject matters were waterfalls and wildflowers, which we saw a lot of. The heat was, as all the locals told me, very unseasonable – but perspiration is healthy right? We had a very diverse group of students, all sharing the same desire to capture great images, and George’s instruction was extremely helpful. They got some great tips on how to create infinite depth of field, how to prepare super high-resolution panoramic images for very large prints and how to make waterfalls look smooth and serene.

 

We hiked down some pretty steep terrain to get to the falls in the pictures above. These things aren’t always conveniently located (what were they thinking?) so a good set of hiking boots are always a great idea. Another hazard you have to be aware of are mossy rocks. They’re extremely slick, so be careful! Fortunately, we didn’t encounter any incidents on our trip.

There are some items you might want to carry with you on an excursion like this, besides your camera.

  1. The first one that comes to mind is bottled water. Safety first, they say! Getting down into a gorge is usually a bit easier than coming back up. Water will help keep your body hydrated and reduce muscle fatigue or cramping.
  2. Take frequent breaks so you don’t wear yourself out, especially if you’re a little out of shape like me!
  3. A comfortable backpack can make a huge difference. Hauling gear around becomes much easier when you’re trekking it around rough country.
  4. Get yourself a good sturdy tripod. Carbon fiber is a lightweight luxury but not absolutely necessary. I just got my first carbon fiber tripod after 25 years as a professional and I love it.
  5. An electronic cable release is also one of those things you may forget about, but it’s usually a critical item to have, along with a tripod, for acquiring sharper images.
  6. Regarding filters, there are three I always have in my bag: circular polarizer, neutral density and graduated neutral density. Polarizers are great tools for taking reflections off of objects, cutting through haze, darkening blue sky and increasing color saturation. Simply turn the filter until the desired effect is reached and it usually cuts exposure down by 1.5-2 stops, depending on the filter you buy. Neutral density filters are terrific tools used for cutting exposure down to allow the use of slower shutter speeds. Why would we want a slow shutter speed, you may ask? To show the effect of, in the case of the picture below, moving water. During the daytime when there is ample light present, it’s difficult to reach shutter speeds of ¼ second or slower. Attaching a neutral density filter cuts the exposure down to allow slower shutter speeds even during mid-day. The last filter, graduated neutral density, usually is rectangular in shape and transitions from a gray tone to clear. The most common use for this type of filter is to cut down the exposure on the sky so it doesn’t “blow out” or overexpose, compared to the foreground (see examples below for filter vs. no filter). Be aware that the lens you have is only as good as the filter you put on it, so don’t skimp on filters if at all possible.

That’s my basic kit. You’ll be able to accomplish a lot with similar items in your bag.

No filter

3-stop graduated neutral density

Try to pre-visualize your shot before you take it and then practice different techniques to make it happen.

You might even smile once you’ve created your own masterpiece!

Take your time. It’s a quality over quantity thing, if you know what I mean. Get it right in the camera and you’ll save loads of time trying to fix issues in your image editing software. So come see us, wherever we are in this vast country of ours, and make it a Canon Destination Workshop THING!

Until next time, behave yourself and happy shooting!

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