First off, I wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to leave a comment the other day when I asked for your help with ideas for my landscape photography class I’m planning. You ROCK! All of your comments were so well thought out. I could tell you really spent some time thinking about and crafting your thoughts. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it 🙂

What I Have Planned So Far
Okay, I mentioned the other day that I deliberately held back from telling you what I had planned because I wanted your thoughts without any pre-conceived ideas behind them. But I figured I’ll let you know what I have planned now.

I’m basically going to do a series of classes. My “working” title is Mastering Landscape Photography: (Tagline of some sort). I plan on going to various locations throughout the country in each class. The first class/location will be Moab, Utah to shoot Arches and Canyonlands National Park. So the title of the class will be Mastering Landscape Photography: Canyonlands and Arches.

The class will start with me at the computer doing some pre-planning on where I’m going. You’ll see the websites I use. Figuring out what the “key” locations to shoot are, what times of day to shoot there, what kind of equipment I’ll need, and researching photos that I think are the ones I want for that area.

From there, we’ll go to me packing the camera bag and looking at what equipment to bring along. I’ll go over exactly what I’m taking (and not taking) and why. Lens selection, hard drives, camera body, filters, etc…

Next, we’ll arrive at Moab. We’ll head out to the locations during the down time to talk about the importance of pre-planning composition, sunrise/sunset choice, where the sun will be at, and how to avoid being a statue and standing in one place the entire time. Instead, we’ll come up with a plan on how to get several photos from one location and even some alternate shooting options if things don’t work out.

From there I’ll be shooting, and I’ll have a camera following me. I’ll be talking about composition, light, lens choice, camera settings, filters, focusing and what I’m thinking as I shoot.

Finally, we’ll end up behind the computer, looking at the photos, making selects (and explaining why) and doing the post-processing for the final photos we pick.

Moab is just the start. I’ll do classes on waterfalls, fall color, beaches and coastlines, lakes, mountains, snow/winter, you name it.

Why The Elaborate Location?
One comment I saw a few times was showing how to make a great photo in your home town and not in an elaborate location. Many of you commented that you couldn’t afford to travel, and I totally understand that. However, I want to hit some of the big landscape shooting locations for a few reasons.

1) I think there are a lot of photographers that do travel and can benefit from being better prepared for a location similar to where we’ll be shooting.

2) I think the concepts of landscape shooting can be helpful no matter where you are. For example, I’ll be in Moab with lots of arches and canyons. Well, the concepts of light, composition, and gear will be similar for any place with canyon-like scenery. Whether it’s the Grand Canyon, or some place in Arizona or many other places out west. Canyons are canyons and I think you’ll see the concepts I talk about in Moab will be helpful in a lot of other areas too.

3) There’s really no place I can shoot that doesn’t leave some one out right? If you’re one of the people that said you’d like me to show you how to get great photos in your home town of, say, Philadelphia, well what happens for everyone else who doesn’t live in Philly? If I don’t travel somewhere, and stay here in Tampa to shoot beaches, some one in Arkansas will be left out because they don’t have beaches. If I go to Denver and shoot the mountains near the city, then some one in Florida is left out because we don’t have mountains. So I plan to go to some of the big national parks and locations, but I also plan on shooting a lot of different scenery so that you’ll get a good variety of locations and lessons to pick from. In the end, I think you’ll see that learning lens choice, light, composition, gear, and filters in another location can still help you where ever you are.

Some Great Ideas
As I expected, you guys came up with some great ideas. I’m still going through all of them and really trying to figure out what I’ll cover and how, but you’ve definitely made me rethink some things.

There was a lot of comments on light and what to do when the light isn’t great. I definitely was going to cover shooting in bad (or unlucky) light and shooting at different times of the day. There’s so many factors. Weather, locations, sky, clouds, etc… but I think it’s important to know what to do if you’re at a location at sunrise and it’s cloudy, or you simply can’t be at a location at sunrise or sunset. But I’m glad to see I was on track by covering these topics.

Another area I can tell everyone is concerned with is sharpness (and you should be). There was lots of talk about focussing, where to focus, hyperfocal distance, and how to get sharp in-focus photos. So I’ll make sure I spend extra time on that.

Composition was another hot topic. What to include in the frame, what not to include, what to look for, how to include (or not include) the sun… again, I’ll make sure I devote a lot of time to this as well.

I did see ideas about night photography, time lapse, long exposures and several other areas that I’ve thought about incorporating into the class. The problem I’m running into is that in order to do a good job of teaching those topics I need time. Time-lapse isn’t just a 6-minute side-bar in a landscape photography class. So those may have to wait for a class on their own. But as long as conditions permit, I’ll definitely touch on some long exposure stuff. Again though, it depends on weather. For example, in Moab, if there’s no clouds in the sky then there’s really no long exposure subjects since everything else is perfectly still. But when I get to a class that’s along the coast with beaches and water, you’ll definitely see some long exposure action.

Again, I really wanted to say thank you to all of you for helping out. I really want this to be a great series, and your comments and feedback will definitely help make it better. Whew! Now I’m off to Photoshop World for the week. Have a good one!


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