Introducing the Purcells!

Well I’ve been talking about this for quite some time now and I am now very excited to announce it’s a GO! Join me this BC Day long weekend and vastly improve your knowledge of photography in one of the most iconic (and secluded) mountain playgrounds in the world – The Purcell Mountains.

Through Discover BC Photo Tours, come discover BC as you unleash your creative and technical savvy in one extraordinary wilderness landscape. Let the unmistakable Mt Sir Donald be your backdrop as you explore this vast mountain wilderness through your camera. This is considered the very centre of where the Columbia, Selkirk and Purcell ranges meet, so if you yearn for the mountains, this is undoubtedly your workshop!

Get up close and personal as we shoot some amazing waterfalls, mountain streams, forests, fiery meadows of indian paintbrush, fireweed and western pasque flowers and so much more! The grassy meadows of the area allow for some really great opportunities to see and shoot wildlife such as elk, moose, caribou, whitetail deer, black and grizzly bears, and mountain goats. With over sixty-three species of birds identified in the area, your bound to return home with some amazing stories to match the breathtaking imagery you’ll get to show off.

But don’t think for a second that just because we’re in the middle of nowhere (or everywhere!), doesn’t mean we’re sleeping in tents and sharing cans of pork ‘n beans after our field shoots. No, no, the incredibly astounding Purcell Mountain Lodge will be our headquarters for the long weekend. Luxurious mountaintop accommodations coupled with delectable meals using organic ingredients (all included in the workshop rate I might add), means that we can solely focus on the task at hand; vastly improving your photography!

Image provided by Purcell Mountain Lodge

All weekend long we’ll cover topics such as camera basics, lighting, exposure, composition, depth of field, essential gear, patterns and textures, creative approaches, working with subjects, landscape essentials, impactful portraiture, architectural photography, lightpainting and other in camera effects, post-processing and more!

To access the Lodge we will depart from Golden on August 3rd via helicopter! The flight is 15 minutes long and will take us over incredible mountain peaks and ancient glaciers, before dropping us off at the Lodge to begin our weekend of learning and exploring. Because participants will likely need accommodations in Golden on August 2nd (flight leaves typically between 8-9 AM), I am waiting on some discounted one-night rates exclusive to us. Before booking your Golden pre-night stay, be sure to ask me who to book with!

Also, if you plan to get new gear before our workshop, make sure you visit The Camera Store in Calgary, personally, I wouldn’t dream of going anywhere else for my photographic needs.

And I would also like to welcome the newest sponsor Experience the Mountain Parks! EMP is a fantastic resource for anyone wanting information on visiting the mountain parks of BC and Alberta. Publisher Bob Harris is not only responsible for creating this useful and beautiful guide, he is just a fantastic person and I am so happy to welcome him and CMI Publishing as an event sponsor!

The workshop takes place August 3, 4 and 5 and there is a maximum of 8 spots available! Booking deadline is April 30th, 2012!

To view the complete details and prices in PDF form, click here! You do not want to miss out on this workshop! Email me at darren@darrenrobinsonphotography.com or call (250) 838-6195.

Oh, I cannot wait for this one!

Inspired By Nature Workshops – Change of Dates

Due to the rapid loss of daylight during the fall season (and to appease many schedules), the dates of the last two workshops in the Inspired By Nature fall workshop series have been moved. The new dates can be accessed here. There is still space left for both October workshops (The Magic of Water, and Intimate Sunshine Coast), so contact me at darren@darrenrobinsonphotography to book or find out more about the two Saturday afternoon sessions.

The Province

The Province newspaper just published a great article by Jane Mundy on travel highlights of the Sunshine Coast, including the Sunshine Coast Trail, geocaching, and nature photography workshops.

Thank you to the Province and to Jane for helping us expose the beauty of the Sunshine Coast!

Please enjoy these other Sunshine Coast images.

Rushing creek found in the Mud Lake/Duck Lake trail system

The Sunshine Coast is blessed with ocean and freshwater lakes, including Haslam Lake in Powell River.

The Sunshine Coast is surrounded by coastal rainforest.

Quarry lake on Texada Island

Photo workshop participant awaits the perfect sunset moment. Palm Beach near Powell River.

Focus shifts to Mount Robson in September

Oh, the weather was glorious for the Coast in Focus Photography workshop last weekend here on the Upper Sunshine Coast of BC. Although the group was a smaller one (in numbers, not collective height :)), an amazing time was had by all the participants. Some of the locations changed this year, which worked out incredibly well given that this was our first year of the workshop without rain. Most notably was our visit on Sunday to Heisholt Lake (Quarry Lake) on Texada Island. The group seemed rather keen to make this amazing locale the grand finale shoot of the weekend. I am very excited to see some of the imagery produced by the workshop participants.

But now, we put Coast in Focus behind us and get ready for our Mount Robson Photography Workshop in September! This one is filling up quickly, so if you are interested in improving your imagery through professional (and experiential) instruction, be sure to book your spot soon! Kelly Funk and I will also have details coming fairly soon on our newest workshop for 2012….the incredible Purcell Mountains ūüôā Stay tuned.

Coast in Focus participant sets her focus on the Palm Beach tidal pools

Sweetwater Creek was the location for our water shoot

Sea Fair was on - great opportunity for creative scenes like this 30 second exposure

We took advantage of some unreal cloud formations that looked like jellyfish - how fitting!

 
 

Sunday's Heisholt Lake shoot was the perfect ending to a great weekend of learning

 

Participant Gabe joined me in an 80 ft plunge into the lake to finish off the weekend

Put on your Mask

I keep getting asked how¬†I get¬†my images¬†to look¬†as¬†“crisp” and “sharp”¬†as they appear to¬†be. First, I point them to my workshops page and ask them to consider professional instruction. After all, that is exactly how I started several years back. Then, I let them know that proper focus is the most critical element of crisp, sharp imagery. I know, duh right. But, without proper focus right at image capture, your image is dead in the water. Period. So start by having a good read of your camera manual and get to know its capabilities with respect to focus (focus points, auto vs manual modes, etc). My good friend and Discover BC Photo Tours co-founder Kelly Funk has done a great two-part¬†tutorial on the topic of focus, so I will simply recommend you¬†have a look here.

So, you’ve signed up for¬†a workshop AND you have read Kelly’s blog¬†so many times that you¬†could recite it blindfolded, while standing on your head,¬†if so¬†asked.¬†You¬†are now¬†creating images that are properly focused (and properly exposed of course). But, your images still aren’t smoking sharp and crisp. What now?¬†Two words that should from this point forward be forever entrenched in your brains: Unsharp Mask.

Contrary to its name, the Unsharp Mask tool in Photoshop is an application used to sharpen images. It helps to emphasise texture and details and I use the Unsharp Mask tool (to varying¬†degrees) to finish almost every image I create. It is usually the last step in my work flow before I consider an image done. How does it work? Who cares. But, if you find you do care, then you can learn more about the science of the application right here. In the meantime, for those that just want to see how to apply it and what immediate results it can produce, let’s move on. Unsharp Mask can be found in most photography editing software, but I’ll use Photoshop for the¬†sake of this tutorial.

Start¬†Photoshop and open up an image that is properly exposed and in focus. In the top tool bar, click on “Filter” tab and under the drop down menu, hover your mouse over “Sharpen”. A list of sharpening options will appear, select “Unsharp Mask.”

The Unsharp Mask window will come into your screen view. You will see three options; Amount (%), Radius (pixels) and Threshold (levels). For me, Radius is always at 1.0 pixels and threshold at 0. It is the Amount lever that I play with depending on the intensity of sharpening I want. I usually add at least 50%, but normally I would add about 100 % to most images. I have gone as high as 175 % in rare cases. Play around and see what results you get. The Preview button lets you see the results before applying the Mask.

Now, you may not see dramatic changes (especially at 50 %) to your image in full view. Where you will really see the difference is when you are zoomed into a particular scene within your image.

Before Unsharp Mask

After Unsharp Mask

You can really notice new detail on the leaves in the forest foreground after the Unsharp Mask was applied.

So have fun with the tool. It may take a little time and practice to really understand the full dimensions of it, but you will notice immediately that your images appear sharper, crisper and more rich in texture and detail.

Now, about that workshop you need to sign up for… ūüôā

Summer workshops to get you shooting…better!

I love spring. It provides me with much needed hope that summer is just around the corner. It¬†means the beginning of¬†more favourable “keeper-to-loser” image ratios, warmer light, new blooms, bluer skies and¬†longer shooting days. In great anticipation of the short (seems shorter anyways) season, I eagerly plan shoots and workshops that will keep me shooting as much as possible while the weather is delightful rather than frightful.¬†

With this in mind, I have now put together¬†the new Inspired By Nature photo workshop series here in Powell River.¬†The new series consists of four, four-hour evening workshops spanning the glorious summer/fall months on BC’s Sunshine Coast. The workshops are geared towards those that wish to vastly improve their photography skills, but¬†are limited due to¬†time restraints and unforgiving commitments called life. Topics include: All About Light, Composition 101, Intimate Sunshine Coast (macro/close-up photography), and The Magic of Water. Each workshop begins with a recap of camera basics to ensure that everyone is in the know when it comes to their basic camera functions.¬†I will email a camera basics worksheet a¬†couple of weeks before each workshop for all participants to review for homework (darn rights there’ll be a test…it’s called the field shoot :)). Then once we are done our recap, we will start putting that new knowledge into practice in some of the most spectacular locations on the upper Sunshine Coast. Here’s the catch. To ensure everyone gets as much attention as possible, I am capping each workshop at¬†10 people. So make sure you contact me as early as possible if you would like to reserve your spot. Each workshop is only $75 per person!

If you are the kind of person that doesn’t want to wait to learn…there is also Coast in Focus, a weekend chalked full of classroom and field instruction, fun and unforgettable photographic experiences in Powell River. My good friend Kelly Funk hosts this weekend workshop with me as part of our Discover BC photo tours. Stay tuned as we continue launching more experiential photography workshops throughout our beautiful province. To steal an old cinematic cliche, it won’t be long until¬†we’re “coming soon to a theatre near you.” Or something to that effect. Coast in Focus is now 1/4 of the way booked, so contact me right away¬†to book!

Coast in Focus weekend workshop is confirmed for 2011!

The Sunshine Coast of British Columbia is undoubtedly one of the most stunning areas of Western North America. On July 22-24, 2011 Kelly Funk and myself will teach you how to capture all that this place has to offer.

See the pdf here

We‚Äôll start the weekend with a ‚Äėcamera basics‚Äô lesson and a meet and greet on Friday night.¬†Saturday will be a mixture of field time and informative classroom lessons.¬†We‚Äôll work in the field for a half-day on Sunday in order to give enough time for people to travel home.¬†Last year, the format seemed to work very well, and we had 14 happy participants leave this beautiful part of the province.

Along with the nature aspect of the weekend, Kelly and I will answer questions and showcase techniques that include: utilizing the human form in your imagery, how to make your pictures stand out from the rest, story-telling, impact, color balance, movement techniques for effect, artificial light and the list goes on. This is truly a unique workshop that brings you a combined 25 years of professional experience.

We‚Äôve moved the date from last year as well, as we were hit with torrential rain throughout most of the weekend.¬†We should (cross fingers) have great weather and fantastic sunrises and sunsets.¬†This will be a ‚Äėbang for the buck‚Äô workshop, so we want everyone to come out with their hard-hats and steel toed boots on, because we not only intend to have a hoot but to work you like rented mules as well!

If you have any questions about the weekend please contact either myself or Kelly here right away as this weekend will book fast.

Kelly and I both share the same informal, non-stuffy nature with our workshops, so if you’re looking to learn a ton and have some laughs this is the place to be in July! Looking forward to hearing from you.

 

Hey is that a new lens, baby?

I love discovering new tricks in Photography. Especially tricks that save me money by not having to purchase new equipment. Case in point is this constant nagging in my consumer-driven psyche to purchase a Lensbaby lens to capture that dreamlike, selective focus effect that I fall for every time. I know that the lens would have been quite fun to play with…for about a week. After which, it would likely stay buried deep¬†in my camera bag talking about its glory days with my never-again-used Armageddon Red ND Filter that I just had to have when I first started photography. A filter that would turn any sky¬†a deep, unrealistic¬†red. Good impulse buy Robinson. Real good. That filter rendered one good image in the several years I have owned it and the¬†minimal times I even used it.

Aliens are coming...to get my red filter

So here I was contemplating another ridiculous spend, when my good friend and pro photographer Kelly Funk passed on a great tip in¬†Photoshop that will produce the same effect as a Lensbaby…when¬†applied correctly. It gives¬†you that dreamy, hallucinogenic-mushroom, Disney Viewmaster type of look and feel. Basically allowing you to keep one¬†element of your image in sharp focus (subject), while blurring the rest of the image elements to look like you just put in eye drops. This effect is used¬†mostly in wedding photography. I don’t see it too often in nature photography, so I thought I would give it a try.

Here is an intimate shot of Lois River near Eagle Falls in Powell River. The colour of the main rock in the image jumped out at me when I captured this shot last year. I thought I would apply the selective focus technique to really make the rock pop. Nothing against the original image, but adding this new application made me fall for this shot in a new way.

As captured in camera

After applying Selective Focus effect in Photoshop

Here’s one of my favourite shots of Saltery Falls, the very first bit of eye-candy you get when you start the 180 km Sunshine Coast Trail. I set up this shot on my tripod and used my self timer to add the human element to a magnificent natural scene. By placing a person in the shot, me, the image becomes more appealing to tourism marketers. Again, I like the original shot just fine. But there is something so cool about the new and improved shot post-effect.

Mushrooms anyone?

Here’s one last example of the effect as applied on this panoramic interior shot of Powell River’s historic Patricia Theatre. Once again, the sharp-as-a-tack image is commercial ready in itself, but considering it is like a time-warp inside the theatre I would try that effect here.

As shot

I woke up and it was 1930

The selective focus method has made me go back into some of my old files for some reworking. It is¬†a lot of fun to see images you¬†forgot you had and bring them back¬†onto your desktop.¬†I¬†anticipate a whole lot of experimental fun with this new technique….for about a week ūüôā

But that is ok, because this kind of fun cost me nothing.¬†I am completely¬†guilt-free and¬†I didn’t have to add any more weight to¬†an already¬†back-cramping camera bag. And my Armageddon-enducing Death Filter? It is now a lovely¬†colourful beer coaster for my cold bottle of Miller. Reduce, Re-use, Re-cycle.

Cheers!

PS. For those that want to know how to apply the selective focus effect in post, visit http://www.elementsvillage.com/forums/showthread.php?t=47882

Tunnel vision to the extreme

See things differently

See things differently. This was our theme for the Fall Photography Workshop which happened over the past¬†weekend. Technical and artistic knowledge aside, I really wanted to stress to my workshop participants the importance of seeing things differently. With so many images in the world and so little time to appreciate them all, as a budding photographer, this is how you best get your images noticed. Start seeing things that others might have missed. Look at your subject from a¬†different angle. Climb a tree for a bird’s eye view. Hit the ground and¬†compose upwards. Shoot that stunning mountain meadow through a pair of mirrored sunglasses.¬†Challenge yourself to constantly see things differently. By doing so, you will become a better photographer, blowing your audience away with your fresh perspectives on¬†subjects¬†they have likely seen time and time again.

Looking up into the towering trees at Haslam Lake

Zooming into the eye of a bighorn sheep

Sir Donald through the sunglasses

Contrary to the Coast in Focus workshop earlier in the year, the weather that we experienced this past weekend was outstanding. Dramatic clouds, vibrant early fall colours and flat lighting only when we needed it Рshooting the many waterfalls of Appleton Creek. This was the ideal workshop setting and I had the ideal group of participants.

I was instructing a very geared and excited group of individuals. After¬†some “inside time”, covering topics ranging from camera basics, exposure, lighting techniques and the rules of composition we hit some of the most amazing locales¬†where participants were able to put what they just¬†learned into action.

And did they ever.

What I love most about these weekend warrior workshops is that I get to witness some very amazing transformations in my students in a very short period of time. During the first few field shoots, most participants tend to stick close by me, ask a ton of questions and timidly wait for subject matter to smack them in the face. But as the weekend goes on,¬†their confidence levels¬†increase dramatically as they take in knowledge and they become¬†unstoppable image hunters in the field. This group was very much the same. By the time Sunday’s Appleton Creek waterfall shoot came around, my students were self-sufficient, waterfall shooting maniacs. I was excited to see them climbing waterfalls (safely of course), shooting low, shooting high, eagerly attacking the beautiful¬†scenes from all angles. I actually had to pull them out of the field against their will so we¬†could cover post-production techniques before the weekend ended. I love creating monsters.

My students, no…friends,¬†are now well-armed with the knowledge and confidence to take their¬†respective photo¬†sectors by storm. I had an amazing time with each of¬†them and wish them all the best in their future photographic endeavors.

Participant Carolee Penner's shot of Gorge Falls

My view of participant Candace Roadknight getting low and shooting the creek

Fall Photography Workshop in Powell River – October 1-3, 2010

Want to learn to improve your imagery in beautiful Powell River, BC? Here’s your chance!

Due to some unforeseen circumstances, Kelly and I had decided to postpone Coast in Focus in Pender Harbour until next year. However, I am offering an intimate workshop here in Powell River from October 1-3. It is a more condensed version of the Coast in Focus workshop, arming you with the neccessary knowledge and skills to vastly improve your imagery in one of the most picturesque locations in British Columbia.

The workshop takes place October 1-3, a great time to catch the beautiful colours and textures of fall. Because of the small group size, one on one instruction is maximized and tailored to just about ever level of shooter.

Space is limited, so book your spot now by emailing me at darren@darrenrobinsonphotography.com

Click here for more details!