Monday, December 07, 2015

Announcing the NEW "Gales of November" Workshop!

The Gales of November

One of the longest running photography workshops around has been the "Gales of November" at the Rock Island Lodge in Wawa, on the shores of Lake Superior or 'Gitchigumi' as the natives call it. The area offers the most outstanding and spectacular landscape and outdoor photography in the Province. It has run for some 10 years under the expert tutelage of Rob Stimpson.

Due to some other commitments, particularly his trips to Antarctica, Rob has been forced to give it up and I have accepted the responsibility of facilitating this stellar photo-op and workshop opportunity.

Sunset view from the Rock Island Lodge 

Last year, the workshop was re-named, "The Gales of November Come Early" because it was scheduled for October! (That's like Oktoberfest in Munich: it's held in September because they can't wait!). The reasoning is to allow the lodge to close for the winter a bit earlier. We're still working out the details, but we're looking at one of two weekend dates, either October 8th or October 22nd, 2016. I'd like to do the earlier one because I think there will be fall colours in evidence at that time (who knows? This year was weird...) however that is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada and I don't know if that's going to be a plus or a minus.

A small corner of High Falls on the Magpie River 

I might even do a Spring 2016 session up there if enough people are interested.

The basic premises for the workshop are as follows:

  • 3 nights at the superb Rock Island Lodge, great accommodations, all-inclusive
  • Inexpensive. The final price hasn't been set yet but it will be affordable.
  • Limited to about a dozen photographers. There are some nearby accommodations also available when the Lodge itself fills up.
  • This is for experienced photographers who already know their cameras and basic post-processing. Depending on demand, we may make a separate session for those who need more guidance.
  • Some physical limitations are not a problem, although there is ample opportunity for those more active to explore more challenging venues by hiking or kayaking or canoeing, etc.
  • Limited teaching: I plan to set some challenges and assignments so people can step up to a new level. But Rob told me the following: "I found for the most part the last few years, people were looking to shoot and edit with like minded people - take them to places they otherwise would never get to".

One of the rooms in the Lodge 

There's a web page in progress (Link here). I would ask my gentle readers to go there and give me some feedback: I need to choose dates, etc. For now, there's a two-minute survey there, please respond if there's even a remote chance you might be able to join us!

I'm really excited about this. Some think it might be just an excuse for me to get back up there again... maybe a germ of truth in that! I absolutely love this area.

New Banner

When I put a new banner up top, I post the old one in the body of the blog so it doesn't disappear entirely. The new banner is an impression of the steel wool shoot in Haliburton last week. Here's the previous one:

Sharing a laugh

When my Nikon SB-600 flash died, I bought a Yongnuo YN568EX to replace it. It seems to have excellent specs, it costs about 30% of the price of the Nikon equivalent (it's available at B&H for $100 US here). The only downside is that my Gary Fong diffuser doesn't fit because the head is larger than the SB-600.

FREE! First person to request it gets it for free (just the cost of the shipping). Email me.

Here's the laugh part. This is what it says in the instruction manual:
FAST CURRENT-RETURN SYSTEM The time for full gloss output current-return will only take you 3 seconds; you can get fast current-return experience even without brand-new batteries, which will only take you 4~5 seconds.
Here's another example. This is from the "Quick Start" page:
Press [MODE] button to select TTL/M/Multi mode, holding [ZOOM} for a while to select remote trigger model, and then press [MODE] again to select Sn/Sc/S1/S2.
Nowhere in the manual does it explain what Sn/Sc/S1/S2 are. Does "n" stand for "Nikon" and "C" for "Canon"? That's my best guess. Oh, wait. I found a paragraph on "S1" mode:
It will work with the first work of the master flash synchronously with the result consistent with the use of radio slave. To use this mode correctly, the master flash should be set at manual flash and the TTL flash system with preflight function and the red-reduction function with multiple functions should not be used.
OK, folks. I've used off-camera speedlites before so I'm pretty sure I'll eventually figure this out but I wonder if someone who has never done off-camera would be able to do it! It also says it will do fast sync up to 1/8000 sec (interesting, the D800 says 1/320 sec maximum...). Anyone who has used one of these, please email me!

You would think that a company – even a Chinese one – who are a major supplier to the North American market, would be able to afford a translator who is not transliterating from the Chinese.

It is to laugh...

I'm pretty good at Lightroom and Photoshop

On Facebook, frustrated people post questions they're stumped on. Sometimes I'll watch for a while and see that nobody else seems to know the answer, even though it's obvious to me. Or people put up stupid and flat-out wrong information. That frustrates me, so I take the time to respond. The best example is "Should I output the picture at 72 dpi or 300 dpi if it's going to be printed"? (DPI doesn't matter, it's the number of pixels). Or "should I convert my pictures to CMYK to send them to the printer", or "I deleted all my pictures from the computer but I kept them in Lightroom, how come I can't output them anymore?".

I try to help out by answering many questions (but not the ones like, "which is better, Photoshop or Lightroom"?). Not blowing my own horn, but I guess I know the right answer to 95% of 'normal' questions, on either program.

I'm not pretending to be something I'm not... I certainly don't have the chops to be a Lightroom or Photoshop ACE (Adobe Certified Expert). To pass that, you have to be familiar with everything in the programs and I'm not. For instance, I've never done 3D or worked on a storyboard or tried to do a web page with slices. I don't use the print module in Lightroom, never even looked at the Map module. You have to know all that stuff to pass the ACE. But I certainly know my way around the normal (normal for me!) stuff. And I know where to look when I need to learn something new.

Maybe it's the way I'm built (wide and low to the ground?), but generally you only have to show me how to do things once, or I see them or try them once, and it sticks. Must be the fact that I was left-brained for half a century before I discovered the other side. I owe my Lightroom start to Jim Camelford who put me on the right track when I got Lightroom 1.

I love to share. And teach. Nothing turns me on more than watching the lightbulb come on, seeing someone 'getting it' (well... let's not go there!). Right now I'm doing a two-session Lightroom workshop. Session 1 is on organizing and importing images, Session 2 is on editing and exporting, because these are the things people have to do in LR and if they can do more, it's gravy. Once they can do those things, they are on the right track.

I'm also pretty good at general photography. Same thing: if I've tried it, I know how to do it, and I can probably teach you how to do it. Basic camera use; lighting; composition; visualization; shooting stars; editing images; winter shooting and more.

If anyone wants me to do these sessions for them, contact me.

PS: I'm less confident teaching the right-brained stuff: I can't teach you how to play keyboard or guitar or harmonica even though I've tried those things, I'm not good at them. Or painting: I really suck! And seeing how to do it once isn't doing it for me this time. Ditto carpentry or canoeing or anything that challenges my arthritic knees! Some people think I'm pretty good at writing, but I can't teach it.


After Lance sent me some images of snowflakes he had taken, I knew I wanted to try it. With a new macro lens, I gave it a shot.

It's HARD! I tried a bunch of tricks and after a while I was able to get this shot. But it took a ton of manipulation to get it to look like this. There's a lot of Topaz Texture Effects in this shot.

I can do better! With winter on its way... well watch this space!

Speaking of Texture Effects...

I was in the car, actually parked on the shoulder of South Lake Road near Minden, talking to Dr. Ron on the phone when I saw the delightful pattern formed by the snow-covered branches of this tree. I remember saying to Ron, "there are wires, and a fence... but I bet I can make a good leading line out of it". Well it took a lot of work but I got the image I wanted. 

I went back over an image I shot last September up on Lake Superior ('Gitchigumi' is the Ojibwe name for it). This is consistent with my passion for creating art out of digital images. I think it tells the story of the Big Lake well, and it certainly takes me back to when I was there. It should print really well on canvas.

This is a composite image. I added the girl/dog in from another picture taken on the same beach that day, because I wondered if having a foreground interest would add to the image, which it did! FWIW, they were facing the other way, I flipped them around so they were looking into the image. And I spent some time creating drop shadows and matching the toning so they would fit in seamlessly. The textures were done in Topaz Impression starting with one of the Oil Paint presets (#IV, if anyone cares!). Oh, and I enlarged the moon. It gets pretty small when you use a wide angle lens. 

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