Thursday, March 17, 2011

New China Landscapes Workshop Announced

I am partnering with Tours Abroad China to lead a workshop to "Scenic Sichuan" in October of this year.  I am really excited about the combination of autumn foliage and  the turquoise waters and waterfalls. This is a wonderful opportunity to explore some areas that many westerners have not seen or photographed, and to bring home some truly unique images. Here is some information about the region and about my workshop philosophy.

Sichuan Province is noted for its spicy food and varied landscapes. Eastern Sichuan is home to Chengdu and Chongqing, two great cities of the interior of China. Western Sichuan is ruggedly mountainous, with road access to Tibet. Northern Sichuan, where we will be, is home to two spectacular national parks.
Our first stop enroute to the national parks is Snow Mountain, a ski resort in winter, but snow-covered year round. We will stay on the mountain, and a cable car is available to take us to the top of the mountain.
The first of the national parks is Huanglong, which is noted for its colorful serried limestone pools of green, yellow, and turquoise waters, interspersed with waterfalls. Huanglong is famous for the Five Colored Pool which, true to its name, contains waters of differing colors, and is near Huanglong Temple.
Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve, which is both a national park and a UN World Biosphere Reserve, is much larger than Huanglong, and we spend the better part of a week here. The park offers many miles of walking trails and autumn is the best time to view the fall foliage which serves as a visual counterpoint to the deeply turquoise waters and the surrounding mountains. For traditional landscape photographers, this is spectacular country indeed.







For More Information about this wonderful opportunity to photograph landscapes in China  please visit the Tours Abroad website. I also have some information on the Elizabeth Carmel Workshops page on my website. 

Some Information on my Workshops (written by Elizabeth Carmel)
I consider myself a  ”traditional” landscape photographer. I work primarily with the natural, unspoiled landscape when it is illuminated by beautiful light – primarily at dawn and dusk. I use a tripod and ultra-high resolution 40 megapixel digital capture with a Hasselblad H4D. During workshops  I help students go through the process of selecting the correct location to get the shot through scouting and pre-visualization of the desired scene. We will review the best ways to compose a dramatic image based on my philosophy about creating depth and drama in the image through composition.
I go through proper tripod technique, proper camera settings, and focus procedures to ensure maximum depth of field and sharp image capture. I often use a split ND Filter, ND filter, and polarizing filters since the effects created by these filters are difficult to duplicate in photoshop. I feel that the best light only happens for a few moments each day, so our primary goal will be to capture the maximum number of exposures in the best locations during the best light. This requires preparation not only of equipment but our physical and mental state so we are alert and inspired at the optimum time for photography. We will not run ourselves ragged all day, capturing mediocre daylight shots,  only to arrive at the sunset location exhausted. We will work a location with the urgency of a pro, and not just stay planted in one spot with our tripods. I would rather a student return from one of my workshops with five amazing shots rather than 500 mediocre ones. I will also review my image processing workflow, including my favorite plug-ins and special sauces to make images into stunning prints. Students should have a good tripod, cable release, backpack for all camera gear, and a camera they can use to capture once in a lifetime shots.
I am also leading a workshop in June 2011 at Lake Tahoe in partnership with the Mountain Light Gallery. More info on the Tahoe Workshop is at the Elizabeth Carmel Workshops link on my website.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Poppy Photograph Featured On Outdoor Photographer Cover

I am pleased to have one of my California Poppy photographs on the cover of Outdoor Photographer Magazine this month. This shot was taken in the Sierra foothills around the American River in early April a few years ago. Poppy season is fast approaching - hopefully it will be a good year. This cover shot was done with a Nikon D3x and the wonderful 14-24mm Nikon lens. I have previously written about how DSLRS can take more dramatic wide angle shots than the medium format digital cameras due  to the availability of super wide angle lenses. These types of super wide angle shots work really well with wildflowers. This shot was taken on the ground underneath the flowers, looking up. If you are not a subscriber to OP but have an ipad you can access their magazines via the Zinio app at this link. Zinio is a great paper-free way to subscribe to many magazines and get them delivered instantly.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Winter in Yosemite Prints

I was fortunate to be able to get to Yosemite right before a winter storm that hit the region a few weeks ago. Winter is one of the most spectacular times to photograph this National Park, but the snow melts quickly at the lower 4000 ft elevation so you have to be in the park during the storm and start photographing as soon as it clears. We were definitely not the only photographers there - I ran into fellow photographers from a number of other workshops including a workshop sponsored by Hasselblad. Here is a shot from the scene at Tunnel view:

Out of the hundreds of images I took I selected 9 to include in my New Releases and Yosemite portfolios. All of the snowy images I selected were taken in a 3 hour window the morning after the storm cleared, starting immediately at sunrise. When working a weather event like this there is no time to dawdle in one location - you have to get the shot and keep moving to the next location. Definitely do not waste time having a nice leisurely breakfast - by 10 AM this snow event was more or less over for photography - the light was getting too harsh and the snow was melting.

Yosemite Print - Full Moon Over Yosemite Valley

This image was taken the night before the storm came in - it was clear enough to see the full moon over the valley. I used a split neutral density filter to get the exposure correct in both the sky and foreground. All the images I took are of well known iconic locations. It was a goal of mine on this trip to capture the iconic snow covered scenes - I did not really have time to focus on the more abstract or close up shots, which I have gotten in the past when the grand landscapes were not in peak form.

Most of the images were processed with a small amount of HDR - I will usually use different raw exposures of the exact same frame to create an HDR exposure, which I then layer over a good exposure - then I reduce opacity of HDR layer to make the effect more subtle. I have found that merging 2 different frames can lead to ghosting of the images and does not really work well in landscape shots. Below is the classic snow covered rock foreground and El Cap background shot taken at valley view. The entire series can be seen in the New Releases portfolio on my website. Prints are available for anyone who wants to experience this spectacular event in the comfort of their home or office.