Stephen Weaver

On Guanella Pass with Stephen Weaver

Sunset on Mt Bierstadt. Guanella Pass, Colorado, 2013
Sunset on Mt Bierstadt. Guanella Pass, Colorado, 2013

It’s all about the light (as it is repeatedly, repeatedly said), and you need to keep going back until you get it–or, as in the case of our Guanella Pass Workshop last Sunday, wait until it comes to you. That can be very, very, very hard to do when the weather conditions are sloppy and crappy, they have been sloppy and crappy for hours, and there is no sign of any change in said sloppiness.

And so it was for the ten of us who had signed up for Stephen Weaver’s workshop. Click here for the rest of the story.

The Colorado Photography Festival

Steel Marker. Guanella Pass, Colorado, 2013
Steel Marker. Guanella Pass, Colorado, 2013

Last weekend I attended The Colorado Photography Festival in Denver. Workshops such as this one, along with the accompanying hands-on, field trips are a great way to improve one’s photography.

The speakers and workshop leaders included Dan Ballard, Grant Collier, Glenn Randall, Russ Burden, Mark S Johnson, Stephen
G Weaver
, Andy Cook, David Kingham, Mary Lynne Ashley, and Rob Palmer. Even though the primary orientation of most of these master photographers (but not all!) was landscape and nature, there were many, many principles discussed that applied to all genres of “painting with light.” I attended the Saturday lectures, then a field workshop to 11,669-foot Guanella Pass led by Stephen Weaver.

Each of the speakers, and the Sunday, high-altitude, outdoor experience with Steve Weaver, contributed significantly to the stretching of more than a few neurons and synapses in my developing photographer’s cranial cortex vortex. I highly recommend a workshop to jump-start or renew your enthusiasm for your photography–it’ll likely do more good than simply purchasing that new lens you were contemplating at the local camera shop!

By way of example, here is some wonderful basic advice from Dan Ballard that is well worth summarizing and repeating: Click here to read Dan’s sage advice.

Playing Catch Up!

Storm on Guanella Pass. Colorado, 2013
Storm on Guanella Pass. Colorado, 2013

We have been very busy moving in to a new apartment and I haven’t had constant access to an internet connection nor the time to post on my blog…so I’ll be playing catch up over the next few days.The three main upcoming topics…

1) On shooting with a friend–a photo shoot with Dana Bove.

2) Comments on the Colorado Photography Festival (this last weekend)–some great presentations by various local pro photogs, and then a field workshop with master photographer Steve Weaver.

3) On learning a new camera–the above image is one of my first using the Nikon D800.

So stay tuned!

Refining an image based on a critique

Moraine Park Burn image with block print effect. RMNP, CO, 2013
Moraine Park Burn image with block print effect. RMNP, CO, 2013

Last Thursday night, at our monthly Colorado Nature Camera Club meeting, Stephen Weaver, geologist and pro landscape photographer, gave me some interesting feedback on the above image. As with all feedback from very experienced photographers, I listened carefully. Here were his key points:

1) He had a problem with the lack of detail in the snow–it is all pure white with no gradations of tone.

2) He had a problem with the blacks for the same reason.

3) He thought it was an interesting concept for an abstract.

He was right on all counts. But here’s the thing…my goal in this image was to create something akin to a Japanese print effect. I deliberately made all the whites pure white and all the blacks pure black, or nearly so. You may not agree with my vision, but that is what I was after. Here is the original image so you can see what I started with:

Moraine Park Burn original image. RMNP, CO, 2013
Moraine Park Burn original image. RMNP, CO, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did try a version in which I left some detail in the whites and blacks–and you can also see the shadows. This could actually be a better idea for the image and it does adhere more closely to what Steve had in mind, I think. Here is that version after some cropping and white balance and exposure correction:

Moraine Park Burn image with detail and shadows. RMNP, CO, 2013
Moraine Park Burn image with detail and shadows. RMNP, CO, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still, the final “blockprint” version pictured at the top is the one I like the best (although the “shadow” version is growing on me). I like the combined abstractness and the simplicity.

So, when your images are critiqued, listen with an open mind. Listen thoughtfully. Especially if the one doing the critique has been around the block for many decades (as was my case with Steve Weaver). Then, filter what is being said about your image through the vision you had in your mind when you created it. You’ll naturally find some good advice you’ll want to take…and other things you may choose to ignore.

But always listen with an open mind!