The Rocky Mountain School of Photography held a photography weekend event in Overland Park, Kansas this weekend. I was lucky enough to register before it sold out. There were approximately 200 in attendance. The instructors for the weekend were Tim Cooper, Tony Rizzuto and Doug Johnson. Three different sessions ran concurrently so choosing which one to attend was a bit difficult at times because virtually all the classes sounded interesting. Fortunately, for several of the Photoshop classes I didn’t attend, they have web notes available that I can save and hopefully get a good overview of the concepts discussed.

I attended Understanding Exposure: Using the Zone System for Color (Doug); Macro Photography (Tim); Low Light and Night Photography (Doug); Processing Your Images: Fine Tuning with Layers and Masks (Tim); and Sunrises, Sunsets and Flowing Water (Tim).

I found the zone system and layers/masks programs to be the most beneficial. The zone system for color is based on the same system Ansel Adams used for black & white. I found it interesting that the human eye can see 15 stops of lights and tones, but digital cameras are capable of capturing only 4. Four!! No wonder the images we take look so different to us from what we remember when finally viewed on the computer. The camera is only capable of capturing a small amount of the light and detail the human eye normally sees. He also discussed the different types of metering and which ones are most effective to achieve the results you want. It was a very interesting presentation and I hope to begin using the system soon as I believe it will help my image quality. Fortunately, I took a lot of notes and they gave us a chart with the zone system that I’ll laminate and put in my camera bag.

The Photoshop session today was awesome. He showed how to do localized adjustments with layers and masks. Seeing how it was done in person really made it click for me. He also explained in depth the different selection tools and which one is best to use for certain images, which was very helpful. I’ve had some trouble figuring out how those tools really worked and now I feel I have a better understanding. I hope to start playing with some of my images in CS4 and applying some of these tricks soon.

RMSP does not conduct a weekend workshop in the same city two years in a row, but they said since this one sold out, they might consider holding another one next year somewhere in the same region. Since I’m on their mailing list, I’ll be watching for any information and if it’s close enough, I’ll go again. The information was great and the instructors were very patient answering questions. They gave out some door prizes such as $50 B&H gift cards (I would have LOVED to win one of those!), a camera bag, Canon fanny packs, etc. Unfortunately, I didn’t win anything. But it was a fun, educational weekend and I’m very glad I went. I can’t wait to start applying some of the things I learned!

For more information about RMSP workshops and courses, visit their web site at: Rocky Mountain School of Photography.

After waiting for 19 days with no precip, we finally got another dusting (1″) of snow on the 16th! Because the temperatures overnight didn’t stay that cold and were predicted to rise into the lower 40’s the next day, I knew I had to work fast before the snow melted and the trails turned to a total mud pit, so went back out to MacLennan Park at sunrise on the 17th. I finally got to play a little with my new Canon 10-22 mm lens. At 10 mm there is some distortion, but sometimes that’s a good thing. It lends an interesting effect to tall trees.

Last weekend, I started my lens testing procedure and finished all test shots for the 10-22. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to review all the images but after looking at a few, it was no surprise that the sharpest apertures were in the mid-range and not at the largest or smallest settings.

With this shot, for example, I wanted to capture the starburst so used the smallest aperture at 10mm (F22). When comparing this shot with another shot at F14, it was very evident the sharpness of the lens fell way off. I hope to finish my lens testing the next few weeks and be able to label my lenses with which apertures are the sharpest. I also purchased a hyperfocal chart and hope to use this to improve the sharpness of my images. Through trial and error, I’ve been using different sharpening techniques for images I post to the web. So far, the technique that Marc Adamus (member of Nature Photographers Network) uses seems to work fairly well. I’ll keep working on it! Since I’m a self-taught photographer, I’m used to the trial and error method of learning. There are certainly a lot of resources at my disposal, and membership in NPN has been one of the best things I’ve done to improve my photography skills. NPN has many talented folks who never seem to mind sharing their opinions and techniques. Just viewing the images of these talented photographers has made me look at my own work much more critically and see flaws that I wouldn’t have noticed a couple of years ago, and makes me want to improve my techniques.
This scene is found on the Blue Trail. The stream was totally frozen, creating a great photo opportunity with a nice bend in the stream, the warm sunlight on the right, and the small falls frozen in time. As I was shooting, I noticed the sun coming up and creating a nice starburst. I got off about 4 shots before it moved behind more trees and the starburst was gone. I showed my husband this photo and he knew right where it was at and said “Yeah, I remember it. I had a bad bike wreck there!” Guess he and I will have different feelings about this location 😉
After getting the big scene, I got some more intimate shots of the falls with my 70-300 lens. I’ve never been a big fan of winter, but now that I’ve been out a few times with my camera, I’m starting to develop a different attitude. The snow makes everything look fresh, pure and beautiful. The air is clean and crisp. There is a peacefulness and serenity not present during other seasons. I really enjoyed my 4 mile hike, and I’m hoping for yet more snow SOON! MacLennan Park certainly has some beautiful places to explore.

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