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Workshop With My Brother

In Moab right now for the digital photo workshops and this is going to be a special workshop for me as my brother Dan will be on the workshop with me. My brother Dan and I started out photography together in high school and he is now a fashion still life photographer in Grand Rapids Michigan. Dan’s work is incredible and I’m sure I’m going to laugh a whole bunch during this workshop can’t wait to get started and him to show up.

Hand Of Man in Death Valley

Rick Sammon posted an image and question from our past “The Digital Photo Workshops” that asked what we thought about the hand of man in his image. I have two thoughts about this:

First, if showing what effect man has on the planet is your goal for your image, then by all means include that. If it is there to evoke an emotion that we are a part of this earth and that we do effect and change the planet in time then show it. It should not be a distraction or overpowers the viewers “sense of place” which I think is very important in a photo.

Second, my thought is that I want to show the beauty of the place I saw. Did I see all those foot prints in the sand, maybe, but the emotion I felt did not see them. I saw an incredible vista in front of me and I want the viewers of my photographs to feel and experience as much as I did. If that means that I spent the time to remove all the footprints, than that is what I am going to do.

We live in a time where we see the hand of man everywhere, we can go to very few places where we cant see it’s effects. I want people that see my landscape photography to be able to leave man’s footprint on the world and rejoice in what is incredible and beautiful all around us. 


A Different Look

This year I had the opportunity to teach two workshops in the Tetons/Yellowstone National Parks. Before I go any further, I want you to know that before teaching a workshop I arrive a few days early to check out the areas we will be photographing and to take a few personal shots for myself. In Teton National Park there is a row of barns called “Mormon Row” and this is where we took many of the students to photograph.

When I started going through all the photographs I looked at these barns and I discovered that I had a lot of photographs, but what I also discovered was how different all these images looked. I had images that I had light painted, shot with water in front, had bison in some, different angles and had one that was lit by moonlight only.

I have noticed that a lot of photographers will set up the tripod in one spot in order to get the iconic image that they have seen. These photographers are the “Checklist Photographers”, they have seen this image, and they have now taken the shot that everyone else has taken and are ready to move on to the next spot on their list. They now have that pretty photograph that they can show everyone where they’ve been and photographed, instead of exploring and looking for a different angle that people have not seen. This is not to say that I haven’t done this, because I have, but I have learned that you need to explore and look for new angles or different views so that you will come up with your own interpretation of the subject.

I had the opportunity recently to photograph Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park and this image has done very well for me this year winning the first place in landscape photography at the Florida Professional Photographers convention. In the past few days as I have been clearing out a lot of old magazines and I have seen a lot of images of Mesa Arch that are all of that same iconic image. It is a very nice image, but the image I took by going off to the side and coming in at a very low angle has given a different view to something that has been photographed by tens of thousands of photographers.

My point here is that after you get your “checklist shot” pick up your tripod and move around, look at a low angle, try from a different spot that you haven’t seen anyone try before. Try to get the shot that no one else is taking, it may be bad, it may be great, but if you don’t try you will never know and you’ll really never grow as a photographer.

Here are a number of images from the two workshops of the Mormon barns:

Photos From Death Valley – 2012

I finally had some time to work on a few images from The Digital Photo Workshops Death Valley trip and I am really happy with some of the shots I came back with. We did a little light painting at both Zabriskie Point and the ghost town of Rhyolite, and I am getting excited about light painting with Dave Black when we do our workshop in MOAB next month.

Last time I was in Death Valley I wanted to photograph the Racetrack, but was informed by the park ranger that it was a very bad idea in 125-degree heat. I went there this time and was not disappointed. It is about an hour drive on a very dusty and bumpy dirt road to get up the mountain and photograph the moving rock that marks trails in the playa.

We photographed the Mesquite Sand Dunes on two different days, the first day was nice and warm, and the second was a little different. It was very cold and the wind was kicking up the sand so bad you didn’t want to change lenses on your camera, but then we went to the bigger dunes in the back and it made it all worth the journey.

Here are a few photos from Death Valley:

Rick Sammon at Our Death Valley Workshop!

I just got back from our first workshop with “The Digital Photo Workshops” from Death Valley and it was an incredible time and our attendees captured some great images and had a great time too. We had a incredible guest instructor, Rick Sammon and along with the students learned a lot about composition and landscape photography. I am looking forward to our next workshop in MOAB photographing with Dave Black in April. For more information on that workshop and many more coming up go to The Digital Photo and check out the great places and instructors we are going to be photographing with.

Here is a video that Rick made while in Death Valley with a quick tip for shooting landscape photography.

  • Jeff Leimbach - What a great trip! The images that were taken last weekend in Death Valley were amazing.

Getting Ready For Death Valley

Just got back from Milwaukee from doing a Kelby Training seminar and have a day and a half to get ready for Death Valley. The Digital Photo Workshops first workshop being held in Death Vally is just a few days away and I have to pack up my equipment & computer to leave on Monday. I am very excited about our first guest instructor “Rick Sammon“. Rick is a great photographer and he just posted a list of the gear he will be taking on this trip, here is the link. My co-host of “The Digital Photo Workshops”, Jeff Leimbach, and I will be in Death Valley a few days early to go over the locations that we will be shooting for the workshop. I have been photographing with Jeff for many years and he always captures some great images. Check out his work at “jl photo-graphic” This is one of my favorite places to photograph and has some of the most unique landscapes in the country.

There are a few openings left for the workshop in Death Valley. Click here to learn more.

Here are a few photos from my trip a few years ago.