Discover BC Photo Tours announces new People & Places workshops in Kelowna

My good friend and business partner, Kelly Funk and I have completed our 2012 Kelowna workshop schedule and we think you’re going to like it!  The theme of the workshops is: ‘People & Places’.  We’re offering 3 dates for each theme, for your convenience. The workshops are a full day and all the details can be seen on by clicking here. We’re very excited about these and we hope you will be too. We welcome all levels of photographers to explore their creative visions while perfecting any technical issues. Space is limited so be sure to book for your preferred dates early!

Mount Robson Workshop a Huge Success

I just got back from our 3 day workshop in Mount Robson Provincial Park as part of the Discover BC Photo Tours workshop series. Twelve enthusiastic participants joined fellow instructor Kelly Funk and myself in one of the most picturesque destinations in British Columbia. For the most part, the weather cooperated. A few hours of rain challenged us on Saturday morning and again on Sunday afternoon, but the clouds and fog made for some dramatic scenes. And the saturation from the rain added to the impact.

A good time was certainly had by all, starting with an awesome wine and cheese welcome, made possible by Tourism Valemount. Silvio and Jennifer went above and beyond in helping to make this workshop a hit, providing the transportation to and from field locations throughout the entire weekend!

Friday night also included classroom style instruction on Camera Basics, Lighting, Exposure and Creative Compositions. The group was just itching to get out onto the trail the next day.

Saturday included trekking up the Berg Lake trail to Kinney Lake.

Along the way participants were offered further instruction on vertical panning, shooting lifestyle imagery, shooting water, shooting stitched panoramas and using filters. On Saturday night the group was shown how to use long exposures to turn truck tail lights into streaming beams of awesomeness tunneling towards a clouded Mt Robson. It was the perfect ending to a great day of instruction and shooting.

Sunday arrived and the weather was rather subdued, borderline flat; the perfect conditions to be shooting Rearguard Falls.

The group spread out almost immediately to find their vision and create their scenes. It was really fun to see the creative energy surface and it was here that we stressed the importance of filters when shooting waterfalls and high contrast scenes. Just when it seemed like we had exhausted the location, two rafting groups decided to hit the water and give us an opportunity to instruct on action/lifestyle photography.

After lunch on Sunday the rain started in. The group voted and we opted to use this time to stay inside and instruct on a critical element in image creation; post-processing. Here we covered topics like work flow, using Photoshop, shooting RAW, clone-stamping, highlight recovery, colour matching and outputting. This was very well received and Kelly and I have decided to make this a regular part of our workshop curriculum.

Monday was an optional day and most of the participants stuck around for the added day. We used this time to head up to White Falls along the Berg Lake trail. We were available to the group for any questions along the way, but we made a conscious decision to let them put their newly acquired knowledge to work. I look forward to seeing the shots produced by our participants.

If you want to join us on an upcoming workshop, click here to see what’s coming up for 2012. We are currently working on adding more workshops throughout BC for summer and fall of next year.

Discover BC Photo Tours launches new website

Discover BC Photo Tours (a joint venture between Darren Robinson Photography and Kelly Funk – Natural Wonders Photography) is proud to announce the launch of its new website www.bcphototours.com. Our mission is to foster an environment conducive to learning photography, both artistically and technically. By fusing together dynamic small group learning with optimal one-on-one instruction, participants are sure to notice a dramatic improvement in their imagery whatever their skill level. Through our workshops, we strive  to bring the classroom to life by introducing participants to some of the most iconic and breathtaking locations in British Columbia.

We’d like to thank Powell River based designers Massive Graphic for putting together such a captivating site. Please check it out and stay tuned as we release details on our Wells Grey Provincial Park workshop in March 2012!

Also, be sure to become a Facebook fan of Darren Robinson Photography by clicking here.

 

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 🙂 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

Mt Robson workshop confirmed for this fall!

For those of you that don’t know, my good friend and fellow professional photographer Kelly Funk and I have started Discover BC Photo Tours, a series of experiential photo workshops that will take participants to some of the most breathtaking locations in the province, where they will learn the art of photography from two pros.

Kelly and I started this endeavor earlier this year and we have now just added our latest workshop to the series – Mount Robson Provincial Park.

Up to 20 participants will join us September 16-18, 2011 in the iconic mountain park for two days of photography instruction in some of the most breathtaking locations within the area. The weekend includes a “Camera Basics” session on the first evening to ensure everyone understands the basics of composition, aperture, lighting, depth of field, camera functions, safety and working with wildlife so that our time in the field is maximized. And to welcome everyone to the weekend in style (and to Valemount, BC which will be our base), Tourism Valemount is sponsoring a wine and cheese meet and greet.

The next couple of days will be all about field instruction, shooting splurging waterfalls, towering snow-capped mountains, changing autumn colours and potentially any wildlife we encounter along the way.

Tourism Valemount has also sponsored the transportation to and from each shooting location for the duration of the weekend.

The workshop is perfect for novice, intermediate and/or aspiring pros who wish to elevate their photography. Kelly and I pride ourselves on tailoring the one-on-one instruction to satisfy all skill levels.

The weekend is $359 per person and Valemount accommodators are offering incredible hotel rates exclusive to workshop participants. The Valemount Hotel has set a $50/night room rate for the September 16-18 weekend!

And for an extra $99 per person, you can extend your instruction and join Kelly and myself on Monday, September 19th as we lead you into the infamous Valley of 1000 Falls. This will be an incredible way to put your newly acquired skills to work and to keep the learning going. For safety, we will need a minimum of four participants for this extra day.

So if you have always wanted to experience the magic and awe of Mount Robson Provincial Park AND improve your imagery, book your spot today as seats will go fast.

You can download the PDF with complete workshop info right here.

See you in September 🙂

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… 🙂

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’ll start the weekend with a ‘camera basics’ lesson and a meet and greet on Friday night. Saturday will be a mixture of field time and informative classroom lessons. We’ll 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’ve 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 ‘bang for the buck’ 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 🙂

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

Coast in Focus II ~ The Lower Sunshine Coast

It’s official! The Coast in Focus photography weekend workshop is coming to the Lower Sunshine Coast on October 1-3, 2010. Fall on the Sunshine Coast is an amazing experience. Not only are the colours beautiful and the light warm, there is also lots of room to move and explore as tourist season winds down dramatically in this region. This is my favourite season to get out and explore, shoot and enjoy this stunning region I call home.

This past May, we welcomed sixteen incredible individuals to join us in gorgeous Powell River for the first Coast in Focus workshop. Although the weather was extremely challenging (my hiking boots are still a little damp) the weekend was a tremendous success and I am still seeing dramatic improvements in the imagery our participants are producing. What an experience for all of us.

Coast in Focus participants after shoot at Stillwater Bluffs

There was great demand to see this workshop series come down south to the Lower Sunshine Coast…….and we concur.

So if you didn’t get the chance to join us in Powell River, now is your chance to learn how to vastly improve your imagery and photography skills in one of the most spectacular settings in British Columbia, or the world for that matter. We will cover topics including composition, lighting (natural and artifical), working with subjects, storytelling, essential gear, camera basics, aperture and exposure, and my favourite subject….how to infuse creativity into your image making.

Kelly and I are very excited for October. New this time around, is the proud sponsorship of Outdoor Photography Canada magazine, Canada’s coolest publication for all things nature photography! And best of all, included in this year’s package is a free subscription to the magazine for every participant!

Interested?

Click here for the full details. A little hint: this PDF is 4 mb, so please be patient as it downloads for you, might take about 1-2 minutes. While you let it download, you could always visit www.darrenrobinsonphotography.com or www.naturalwonders.ca and learn some more about the instructors. Or you could play Farmville. Whatever your pleasure 🙂