Tag Archives: photography workshops

A photo educator’s philosophy- From simply picture taking to image making

What do I mean when I distinguish between simply “taking pictures” and the photographic method of “mage making”?   Image making is a deliberate process for creating original photography that produces predictable and repeatable results. Picture taking is random and sporadically produces good images. Shooting snapshots can be fun and for the average digital photographer and can provide plenty of satisfaction.  For shooters who have higher photographic aspirations a more skillful and deliberate approach is required.

 

Squid fishing boat passing under the setting sun in Ko-Panang , Thailand. Image by photographer Dan Splaine.©2011 Daniel J. Splaine-TEST of TIME PHOTO

Squid fishing boat passing under the setting sun in Ko-Panang , Thailand. This photograph is an example of the “image making” approach to photography that professional photographer and photo educator Dan Splaine teaches in his photo workshops and tours. Careful observation, composition and timing are the factors that add to a photographic result.

I am constantly referring to “image making” in my digital photography workshops and photography tours.  My goal as a photo educator is to help my students build their understanding and skills so they can fulfill their creative intent or more simply to make the photographs they imagine.  The approach I advocate to photography is all about understanding the mechanics of cameras and photographic techniques in order to achieve the greatest amount of creative control.  Photography is a remarkable melding of art and science and digital cameras are extraordinary tools for personal expression.

 

My objective as a photo educator is to enable my photography students to realize their creative intention.  My approach is to build the skills and technical understanding that allows my students to make photographs in any condition with a deliberate creative objective. Learning digital camera controls, developing an understanding of light and the relationship between the two is the core of the image making technique.

Another element of image making is to develop your photographer’s eye, to begin to see the world photographically.  When we are observing a scene an analysis of lighting conditions, optical choices and design considerations should be made before we raise our camera.  Good photographers are careful observers and good photography should be deliberate in conception and execution.

Photography is a wonderful medium for creatively expressing an individual point of view.  How we understand and adapt all of the photographic tools available and apply them to our observations is at the heart of that expression.   Building photographic knowledge and skills provide creative control and ultimately greater satisfaction in the photography produced.   Reconsider your photographic approach and make to move from “picture taker to image maker.”

Photographer Dan Splaine of  Test of Time Photography in Nashua, NH presents a full program of digital photography workshops and photographer tours for adult photographers of all skill levels. Currently we have several photo workshops scheduled for September and October as well as a 10 day photography tour in Ireland in April 2012.  Our fall program includes a photography weekend in the White Mountains of New Hampshire on October 15-16, 2011. Click on the links above for further information about our upcoming program.  For more information or to answer any questions send me an email at info@testoftimephoto.com.

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2011 WHITE MOUNTAIN PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP announced

I would like to invite you attend my WHITE MOUNTAIN PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP on the weekend of October 15 and 16, 2011.  We are presenting this weekend program with the able assistance of our partner NH TOURS.  Join us at the Mountain Club on Loon, a great resort located in the heart of the White Mountains in Lincoln, NH.

Student at the White Mountain Photography Workshop presented by photographer Dan Splaine  ©2010 Daniel J. SplaineJoin us for a weekend of immersing yourself into exploring the White Mountains with your camera.  Our package features many items, including photo instruction, a critique session and accommodations at a very comfortable resort.  This is our second year for this workshop and we expect it to be very popular.  If you have a partner or spouse that is not into photography, you may want to consider bringing them along to enjoy the resort amenities.   They can enjoy the spas and nearby shopping while you are happily tramping around the forest.

To view a video about the workshop with images from last years event go to the following link.

White Mountain Photo Workshop information video

This weekend program is open to adult photographers of all skill levels. It will be a great experience for beginner and advanced photographers alike.  The package includes accommodations (one night), photography instruction and handouts, lunch on Saturday, evening photography critique session, a voucher for the Loon Mountain Gondola and of course plenty of photo opportunities.

For registration,  information and a schedule of the workshop click here

If you have any questions or need further information please contact me at info@testoftimephoto.com.

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Why should you attend a photography workshop?

 

Photography is a subject that is worthy of, and to be done well, requires study.  My nearly 35 years behind the camera has been a continuous learning experience.  Not only do I present photography workshops – I often attend them.  Photography workshops provide an opportunity to remove yourself from the distractions of your daily life to spend some dedicated hours or days building your photographic skills. Photography workshops often can inspire and reinvigorate your passion for image making. Digital photography in particular has a significant learning curve and attendance in a photo class can help leapfrog your learning.  Workshops presented by a well qualified instructor provide a forum to explore photographic concepts and creative techniques beyond your current skill level

Photography student during photography workshop hosted by photographer Dan Splaine at the Isle of Shoals in New Hampshire.

Photo workshop student shooting on Star Island

 

How often do you actually pick up your camera and dedicate time to specifically making photographs?

No doubt those occasions are rare.  A dedicated period of time concentrating solely of photography is the best way to rapidly advance your photo skills.  Even a few hours provide an opportunity to focus on your creative approach to photography subjects. In my experience continuous photography during multi day and weeks long travels are really productive.

Workshops about a particular digital photographic topic or technique provide you the opportunity to explore new methods. Selecting a photo workshop that provides access to a unique location or specialized tools gives you a chance to test drive those techniques.  I often host classes about studio lighting which allow new photographers to use lighting equipment and work with models they normally do not have access to. My photography tours bring photographers to locations that have been scouted and selected for their photographic potential. Workshops that feature a particular photo editing software help inform your purchasing decisions.

The social component of photography workshops adds important value.  Spending a day with other people who share your interest in photography is another benefit of photo classes.  In my opinion photography is a highly individualized form of personal expression.  It is definitely not a team sport.  That being said, the social exchange of ideas and the insights you can gain from a group of photographers can only build your understanding.  In group critique sessions I find the peer-to-peer commentary and conversation well-informed and inspirational.  Other perspectives on your photography and techniques are great learning tools. (To attend one of my photography review sessions click here).

Photographic ability and skills can be learned and have to be practiced.  Attending a photography workshop will build your skills, confidence and inspiration.  The investment of money and time can be justified by the value you receive, by how your creative ability to make photographs will increase.

I offer a program of digital photography workshops and photography tours (over 400 people attend in the last 18 months!) for adults.  Some of the workshops are single photo topic sessions held at my studio or conducted in the field at nearby locations.  Others are daylong sessions (like our Isle of Shoals Workshop held 7/23/11) or weekend packages   (like our March 2011 weekend in Quebec, Canada).  In addition to photo classes my schedule for the fall of 2011 includes a Photographers Weekend in the White Mountains (October 15-16). In April of 2012 I am leading a ten-day photography and cultural exploration in Ireland for STRABO tours.  For more information and to receive notices of all my photography workshop contact me at info@testoftimephoto.com.

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ISLE of SHOALS Photographers Workshop – July 23rd, 2011

Still time to Register (Deadline is July 1!)

View of Portsmouth harbor by NH photograher Dan Splaine

Photographer Dan Splaine and TEST of TIME PHOTOGRAPHY with the able assistance of NH TOURS is presenting a one day workshop for photographers on Saturday July 23rd at the ISLE of SHOALS.

This day long excursion to the scenic and historic chain of islands and ledges off the coast of NH and Maine is a photographer’s dream event.  The workshop includes round trip passage on the M?V Thomas Laighton, a four-hour stop over on Star Island, photo instruction and box lunch.

I was able to preview the location last week and I am excited about the photo potential of this location.  I only had a half hour to shoot and was happy with the photography I was able to create. Watch the attached video to examine some of the shots I made.

Shoals_slideshow

This trip is being offered to adult digital photographers of all skill levels.  This is a remarkably beautiful location to visit, with an amazing selection of photography subjects.  If you have never been to the Shoals or you want a chance to photograph a truly unique location I would encourage your to attend this workshop.

For complete information and to register click here.

After July 1 there may be more seats available but they are subject to confirmation by the boat company.  Sign up today to confirm your place.

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GOOD PHOTOGRAPHER HABITS – PHOTO SKILL BUILDERS (Part 2 of 2)

Here is the second set of my ten tips for habits all photographers should use to become better image makers. Good digital image making and the process of photography starts with knowledge and cognitive skills. I found that these habits and behaviors sharpen my photographic skills and elevate my awareness of the photographic process.

OBSERVE AND UNDERSTAND THE QUALITIES OF LIGHT: Pay attention to light – all light, even the absence of light (shadow)! Observe the intensity and direction of light and how it falls in your scene.  Understand the reflectivity of subject tone and surface and how you can represent them in your image.  How much light do you have on your scene and how does it affect the subject?

Learn to see “photographically”. Light is your instrument as a photographer, you are a “light writer” ( photo graphikos in Greek or photo graphis from Latin).  Examine the transition from highlight to shadow in your scene; learn to recognize the contrast and dynamic range of your lighting.  It is all about light so master your understanding of how it affects your image making.

UNDERSTAND EXPOSURE – MAKE GOOD EXPOSURES: There is no better guarantee of quality then a accurately exposed image. Proper exposure, the measuring, recording, color balancing and setting selection determine the quality of your data. The better the data quality at the point of image capture, the better your image will be.  Practice using your light meter on subjects of a variety of tones – make note of how it responds to differing of conditions.  Understand the relationship between aperture, shutter speed, and ISO (the exposure triangle). Learn how to interpret and refine the information included in the histogram.  Understand what the meta data means on your camera display so you can analyze the quality of your exposure.  Learn how to use exposure compensation and bracketing to really refine the quality of the exposures you make.

DESIGN & COMPOSE YOUR IMAGES CAREFULLY: Crop with your camera and remember to move your feet and your position relative to your subject and the direction of light.  Really examine the contents of your frame and judiciously decide what subject elements are visually interesting.   Be disciplined in the visual arrangement in your images, edit with your camera not your computer.  Look at your frame and select the image components to include and exclude carefully.  Fill the frame!

ALWAYS WORK ON A COPY- never the original image file: This is an essential habit in the era of digital photography.  In film we had a fixed staring point…..the negative was permanent,  and it contained a finite amount of information that offered a finite set of options for visual interpretation.  Remember that until you make a backup copy your digital photo is a one of a kind original.

Make it a habit to make copies immediately after uploading them from your camera to your computer, even before looking at them!  Back up your images onto removable media as often as you can and keep a remote archive.  Redundant copies ensure that you can always go back to your original source material.   In the future you will have an expanded set of post production options for what you can do with those files so mare archiving your habit

LOOK AT OTHER IMAGERY: Start looking at the photography and images in your daily experience critically.  Look at all art and design – analyze your response as a viewer and consider how to recreate those effects in your images.  I would encourage you to start learning about some of the great photographers from the past.  The luxury of books of photography is nice but do not forget tools like GOOGLE images.  You have a virtual connection to the works of thousands of photographers a mouse click away!   De-construct an image to define the creative and technical choices made.  Look for inspiration – steal good ideas!

 

I hope that you embrace these suggested habits to build your photography skills. They work for digital photographers of all skill levels and I recommend them to all of the students at my photography workshops and photo tours.  For more information on my program of photo classes and tours got to info@testoftimephoto.com.

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GOOD PHOTOGRAPHER HABITS – PHOTO SKILL BUILDERS (Part 1 of 2)

Over the decades I have spent being a student and teacher of photography I have learned many techniques and methods to make better photographs.  From the good old days of darkrooms and fixer fumes to the wave after wave of rapidly evolving digital image making, photography has been my constant learning experience.

From that, I have developed a set of habits that I encourage my photography students and old hands with cameras to embrace and make their own.  Some of the ten tips (5 in this post,5 more to come)  I provide to improve your digital photography may seem a little obvious but remain important.  The fact that they are obvious may lead to them being easily overlooked.  This is a distillation of insight acquired in over thirty years of learning and working at becoming a better photographer and will help you do the same.

ALWAYS BRING YOUR CAMERA :  The number one reason why people miss good pictures is because they don’t have a camera with them! Make it a habit to always carry a camera with you, because you never know what you could miss.  If you do not have your full digital SLR kit with you at least consider carrying a point and shoot camera. Compact digital cameras are simple to bring everywhere.  A basic camera, with a few memory cards, batteries give the capacity of taking thousands of images.  Be ready to shoot and make the most of your everyday observations and moments. Photography skills are built by making images not by wishing you had your camera with you!

 

Scenes from digital photography workshops & photo tours offered by Dan SplaineSHOOT, SHOOT, SHOOT! and then Shoot more : If you think you shoot enough – you don’t (especially if you have a digital camera, because there is no added cost to taking more photographs).  Why take just one picture if you can take several?  Make a regular habit using and operating your camera in a wide variety of shooting conditions. Attempt to make images in ordinary and exceptional moments of your daily experiences to practice your photographic craft.

Are you in a place you may never visit again?  Your opportunity costs (the price of getting there) is a major investment when compared to the minimal cost of making digital photos.  Is this something you will ever see or experience ever again?  Is this such a common experience that you  have never looked at it for its image  potential ?  Take a picture, because even the most boring day-to-day scenes can become historical in just a few years of time.  Practice your skills on a daily basis.

 

TRUST YOUR EYE: Studying the laws of composition is fine, but when it comes down to it you must trust your eye.  Make a conscious effort to scrutinize the arrangement of the subject elements in your scene thoughtfully. When you frame the shot, move your camera position and fully explore the scene. When you find an angle or composition that FEELS good to you, take the picture immediately!  After the first frame, which is your instinctive response, you can (and should) get several more shots.  Compare that sequence of shots on the computer to learn about your photographic point of view. Your personal style will change and improve with time.  The viewpoint you take with a camera is distinct and interesting. Trust your instinctive response to the view of the scene and build your trust in your point of view.

Train your eye: Look at the photographs you have taken and analyze them,  begin to critique your own work. How does it match up to what came to mind (pre-visualization) before you pushed the trigger?  Did the image turn out like you planned? Do you like the composition? Critically analyze the aesthetics, the emotional impact and the technical features of your photographs.

This self-review stage is essential for you to improve your photographic skills and style.  Examine how the light source and direction affect the scene. How well did you capture the scene as you visualized it?  How was your focus control and the accuracy of your exposure settings?  Deconstructing your image making techniques and comparing the results to your creative intent builds your photographer’s “eye”.

Know your camera: You don’t need to memorize every feature right away, but over time you should be comfortable enough so that operating your camera becomes second nature. It’s like learning to shift gears or ride a bicycle – only when the machine controls become instinctive are you really driving.  Understanding the mechanical functions and how they affect your images is essential to gaining control over your results.  What does your F stop selection or aperture do to change the look of the photo?  How does your light meter respond to different subject conditions? What settings can you select to match a particular lighting situation?  Practice using your camera controls in no pressure shooting conditions so you will be ready for your more important photographic opportunities.

 

This collections of habits for building your photographic skills is the first 5 of 10 that I offer to digital photography students that attend one of my photography workshops.  To learn more about the workshops and tours please contact me at info@testoftiemphoto.com.

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