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!

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.

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.

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 🙂

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

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 – shooting 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

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 🙂

Coast in Focus 2010 ~ That’s a Wrap

The Coast in Focus photography weekend is now officially over. But for the fifteen students that took part in the workshop, the learning has just begun. First, I wish to thank and congratulate the budding photographers on muscling through the endless rain that challenged us all weekend long, and they still showed up eagerly at every shoot with smiles on their faces. It was brilliant to see and to be a part of. We can control our compositions and exposures…..we cannot control the weather 🙂

We started the weekend at the Town Centre Hotel here in Powell River with a Friday night welcome session and Camera Basics workshop. After some intro presentations from the three pros, Kelly Funk led a session on Camera Basics, a hands-on session aimed at understanding exposure, lighting, camera functions, shooting modes, ISO, composition basics, etc. The biggest challenge we threw out there was that all participants shoot in only Manual mode from here on out. Although some were admittedly a bit intimidated by this at first, the Camera Basics workshop armed them with the right knowledge to achieve this goal. Goodbye Auto Mode!

Everyone was ready to get some sleep and head out into the field bright and early on Saturday morning.

The rain continued to hammer us on Saturday as we headed out to beautiful Stillwater Bluffs south of Powell River, a location that offers some incredible vegetation, vistas and wildlife….when the weather cooperates (see image of the bluffs below from two short weeks ago).

Stillwater Bluffs

The group was told to “find their vision first” and start capturing it in-camera by applying some of their newly acquired knowledge. The pros spent the next few hours one-on-one with the participants, helping them to achieve their image objectives. We got soaked, but wow was it ever fun. And we quickly saw a vast improvement in quality of imagery from this group.

Coast in Focus group shot at Stillwater Bluffs ~ by Kelly Funk

 Off to the next location ~ Eagle Falls. Some of the group opted to go dry off, while the rest of us ventured up the highway to iconic Eagle Falls to learn the art of shooting water. The wet weather created an ideal lighting situation for long exposures and high apertures. The group really enjoyed this leg of the shoot. Below is a photo of Eagle Falls in happier (sunnier) times.

Eagle Falls - Darren Robinson Photography

After a quick lunch, we headed back into the classroom for a more in-depth look at lighting and exposure with Kelly, followed by a workshop session on compositions led by myself. The group really started to get a firm hold on the elements that comprise great imagery during these sessions. Then it was time to apply these elements to their own works. Before the event, the participants sent us what they believed were their three best images for a professional critiquing. During this session, the group really started to see what they would change about their images and their techniques.

After dinner we headed out for our….ehem….sunset shoot. Okay, so there was no sun around to set, but that didn’t stop us from playing with lightpainting. Lightpainting is an artifical lighting technique that, if done properly, can render some very surreal and impactful images. Basically, while shooting in low-light situations, you use long exposures and “paint” light on your scene (or scene elements) using a bright artificial light source, in our case a 10 million candle spotlight. An example is my image below. The exposure was 20 seconds just after dusk as I painted the log for the duration of the exposure. Again we got soaked. Again we had a blast and learned a lot!

Log Lightpainted at Palm Beach

Sunday turned out to be the highlight of the weekend, location-wise and weather-wise. We went to the Appleton Creek trail north of Powell River to shoot a series of captivating waterfalls.

Bandit Falls headwaters on Appleton Creek ~ Darren Robinson Photography

CIF participant reviewing image at Appleton Creek waterfall

The group starting producing some great imagery here and got really inspired by the overwhelming beauty of the area. We spent about three and a half hours here and in all honesty I had to pry many away to our next endeavor…..Willingdon Beach. We wrapped up with some field demonstrations on action photography by having them capture Kelly and myself taking turns swinging through the air on a zunga (rope swing).

All in all, the weekend was a tremendous success and we look forward to next year. We are currently evaluating the possibility of offering a fall workshop series on the lower Sunshine Coast, stay tuned for details as we iron them out!

Cheers!