Posts Tagged ‘workshop’

What You Need to Know

Friday, August 1st, 2014
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Clearing Autumn Storm, Yosemite National Park, California, 2013

Here is my most recent On Landscape column published in Outdoor Photographer. I have added a few other images from October 28, 2013 to give you a broader sense of the epic quality of the day,  I would love to hear feedback on your favorite images, and share links to any “epic day” images you wish to share!
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This is the golden age of information. Photographers have access to endless amounts of guides, tutorials, ebooks and websites about making perfect photographs, any kind of photograph, and that includes landscape photographs. Need to learn techniques for composing, exposing or postprocessing your images? Many sources are available, offered by excellent photographers and teachers. Outdoor Photographer covers those subjects in depth, in the magazine and on the website, leading the way forward since 1985. Need to know where to photograph and when at a new location? With a smartphone, you can learn where to stand, as well as the sunrise/sunset times so you know how early to set your alarm—no exploration or scouting needed!

My own photographic path started in the “old days,” with 35mm film cameras in the 1970s. Then I used a 4×5 view camera and sheet film for 25 years. I began making digital prints in 1994, and since 2005, have switched entirely to digital capture. My digital skills have evolved slowly, steadily into a simple, but effective toolset. When I can’t make my images say what I want them to say, when lack of technique is blocking my artistic expression, I update my skill set. I learn more. But in those early years, I made some very strong images with very little knowledge of technique.

With all of this in mind, a question has been bouncing around my head: How much does a photographer need to know before he or she can make a great photograph? The focus on consuming every possible technique drives me crazy sometimes, or maybe I’m just lazy! Seriously, the way I stay creative is to keep it simple. If my mind is too full of tech thoughts, they get in my way.

Autumn Oaks and Snowstorm, El Capitan Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California, 2013

Autumn Oaks and Snowstorm, El Capitan Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California, 2013

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Dogwood Leaves, Yosemite National Park, California 2013

Last fall, I worked with a student from Hawaii who had never been to Yosemite before. The autumn color was peaking, especially the oaks and maples. A storm was coming the morning we started. The forecast was for a rainy day, but I looked forward to taking advantage of the soft light to photograph the saturated colors and patterns of autumn leaves. A strong wind that night had brought down most of the yellow maple leaves, covering the forest floor, especially at Fern Springs. Our workshop was off to a great start, but then it began to pour, so we decided to wait out the rain over breakfast at the Lodge. As we sat, we were thrilled to see that it started to snow! A few gulps later, we were out the door.

One of our first stops was El Capitan Meadow, where we photographed golden oak leaves in the snowstorm. I helped Sean work out his compositions and made sure he tried various shutter speeds. As with moving water, each change in shutter speed conveys a slightly different effect, with blurring or freezing the rapidly falling snowflakes. I showed him how to create panoramic images like “Autumn Oaks and Snowstorm” using multiple frames to stitch in Photoshop.

The conditions were thrilling, and next I found a deep-red dogwood tree with snow gathering on the leaves. I helped him find the best angles for simple and clear image designs. My instructions were simple, such as improving his camera angle and helping him find the right balance between shutter speed and aperture.

Soon the clouds began to clear, so we headed to Tunnel View. Looking east at El Capitan and Half Dome, snow had dusted the trees and cliffs, with dramatic clouds hanging around the cliffs. We immediately set up before the classic view. He had never photographed at Tunnel View before! I suggested to Sean that he visualize postprocessing this image as a black-and-white photo, which could heighten the forms of clouds and cliffs. This approach worked out very well for him for his final rendition of this scene.

As he photographed, I turned around to simply enjoy the clearing storm. To my pleasant surprise, I saw the magnificent conditions so sought after by photographers at Tunnel View when looking east during sunrise or sunset. The nearby cliffs, not the iconic view, were beautifully backlit and shrouded with clouds, beams of sun streaming through the mist. The light was changing quickly, so we had little time to think or analyze. We worked on this new composition thoroughly, watching his histograms carefully in the brilliant and rapidly changing light. I’ve included my own version in this article.

How much does a photographer need to know before he or she can make a great photograph? The focus on consuming every possible technique drives me crazy sometimes, or maybe I’m just lazy! Seriously, the way I stay creative is to keep it simple. If my mind is too full of tech thoughts, they get in my way.
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Autumn Sunset, El Capitan and the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2013

Cottonwood leaves and cloud reflections, Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California  2013

Cottonwood leaves and cloud reflections, Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2013

Snowflakes and cedars, Yosemite Lodge, Yosemite National Park, California  2013

Snowflakes and cedars, Yosemite Lodge, Yosemite National Park, California 2013

The day continued with more spectacular photography of both intimate details and grand views, focusing on the experience and the basics of making good exposures: clean design and great light. We had the next day’s session to analyze, delve into technical issues and discuss post-processing options. To summarize, Sean had an epic first day in Yosemite. The question remains: How much do we need to know? Hunger for more knowledge and better technique is a good thing. Sure, spend hours in front of your computer editing your images. But when you feel the inspiration, whether in front of a grand landscape or a flower in your backyard, let go of the rules and regulations, and embrace the Beauty. Be in the moment. Connect with your senses. Art will come through your emotions when most intense.
On that October day, all we “needed to know” was that we were there to see it.

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William Neill, an American photographer and resident of the Yosemite National Park area since 1977, is a renowned nature and landscape photographer. Neill’s award-winning photography has been widely published in books, magazines, calendars, posters, and his limited-edition prints have been collected and exhibited in museums and galleries nationally, including the Museum of Fine Art Boston, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, The Vernon Collection, and The Polaroid Collection. Neill has received the Sierra Club’s Ansel Adams Award for conservation photography.

He is the photographic author of many books including The Sense of Wonder, The Tree,  By Nature’s Design,  The Color of Nature  and  Traces of Time.  A portfolio of his Yosemite photographs has been published Yosemite: The Promise of Wildness and a retrospective monograph of his landscape photography entitled Landscapes Of The Spirit

To learn about William Neill‘s one-on-one Yosemite workshops, ebooks and iPad app, see his latest images and learn about his online courses with BetterPhoto.com, visit www.williamneill.com. If you like this post, please sign up HERE to receive the latest updates to my Light on the Landscape Photoblog.

Antarctic Dreams – a developing portfolio Part Two

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

As many of you might have noticed, I returned three weeks ago from an amazing adventure:  Antarctica By Air – A Unique Luminous Landscape Photographic Workshop with Michael Reichmann and Kevin Raber.

Here is a set of ten new images.  In spite of all the energy I have been putting into editing and processing in the past three weeks, I am shocked and thrilled that I still have many strong images to “finish” and present to you.

I would enjoy your comments and feedback on this selection.  When I have another set of newly processed images, I will let you know!  Also, as new images are created, I am adding them to my Facebook pageGoogle+ or 500px.

Enjoy, and if you Like, please Share!


Ancient crystal Iceberg, Cierva Cove, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM,
1/750 second at f/16, ISO 1600

 


Glowing Glacier, Cierva Cove, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM,
1/8000 second at f/11, ISO 1600

 


Icebergs, Cierva Cove, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM,
1/3000 second at f/11, ISO 800

 


Icebergs and Sunset, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM +2x III,
1/3000 second at f/5.6, ISO 800

 


Mountain and Iceberg at Twilight, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM +2x III,
1/500 second at f/5.6, ISO 400

 


Iceberg Detail, Pléneau Bay, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM,
1/350 second at f/9.5, ISO 400

 


Iceberg Arch, Pléneau Bay, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM,
1/500 second at f/9.5, ISO 400

 


Cliffs and Glaciers at Sunrise, Neumayer Channel, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM +1.4x III,
1/750 second at f/11, ISO 500

 


Icebergs, Neumayer Channel, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM +1.4x III,
1/250 second at f/19, ISO 500

 


Mountains and Glaciers, Scontorp Cove in Paradise Bay, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM +1.4x III,
1/1500 second at f/16, ISO 800

Yosemite Spring!

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

During the past month, I made many trips to nearby Yosemite Valley, and so I’d like to share a collection of these new images.  Even though I have lived in or near Yosemite since 1977, I found fresh compositions and light/weather conditions that made for invigorating sessions, and new work for my ongoing Yosemite portfolio.  What made this spring season more special was that I was able to share my love and vision of Yosemite with private workshop students.

Many of my students have shared the photographs created on my  William Neill Private Yosemite Workshops Flickr Group page.  This collection also includes images from last fall and winter, which will give you an idea of the photographic opportunities for those seasons too.  Here are some of my images from last fall: Yosemite Autumn. One of the images was the feature image in my Outdoor Photographer column entitled Natural HDR.

If you are interested in exploring Yosemite’s autumn color season, now is the time to make room reservations, and book a day or two with me.  The peak of color is generally late October and early November. Please note that I am also happy to work with small groups.  If you have any questions about the possibilities, just send me an email.

William Neill Private Yosemite Workshops 


If you have a favorite image from below, or comments, please add below!

Ride the Light,

Bill

 


Wind-Blown, Bridal Veil Fall, Yosemite National Park, California 2013
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM +2.0x,
1/3000 second at f/5.6, ISO 200
Copyright © 2013 William Neill

 


Cascade Falls, Yosemite National Park, California 2013
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/4 second at f/9.5, ISO 100
Copyright © 2013 William Neill

 


Dogwood Forest and Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2013
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
6 second at f/16, ISO 200
Copyright © 2013 William Neill

 


Dogwood Blossoms, Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
2 second at f/11, ISO 200
Copyright © 2013 William Neill

 


Dogwood and Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2013
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM,
1.50 second at f/22, ISO 100
Copyright © 2013 William Neill

 


Rock and Water, Cascade Falls, Yosemite National Park, California 2013
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1.50 second at f/22, ISO 400
Copyright © 2013 William Neill

 


Morning Mist over Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 2013
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/10 second at f/16, ISO 100
Copyright © 2013 William Neill

 


Morning Storm Light, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 2013
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM,
1/125 second at f/16, ISO 100
Copyright © 2013 William Neill

 


Dogwood and Morning Light, Yosemite National Park, California 2013
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/1 second at f/32, ISO 200
Copyright © 2013 William Neill

 


Sunrise over Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 2013
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/45 second at f/9.5, ISO 400
Copyright © 2013 William Neill

 


Dogwood and Merced River Impressions, Yosemite National Park, California 2013
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/1 second at f/5.6, ISO 400
Copyright © 2013 William Neill

 


Dogwood Blossom, Yosemite National Park, California 2013
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1 second at f/32, ISO 100
Copyright © 2013 William Neill

New Yosemite Winter Images

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Here are a few new winter images made in Yosemite!

I had a wonderful day with a private student in Yosemite on Wednesday. There were no clouds, no interesting weather, but the ice was fabulous. I helped Shauna find simple but clean designs within all the chaos of patterns. There is always something of profound beauty to photograph in Yosemite.

Yosemite Private Workshops

Enjoy, share and add your comments here!

Ice patterns and grasses along the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2013

Ice patterns and grasses along the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2013

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III__EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM__0.5 sec at f / 32__ISO 100

 

 

I am still post-processing images from Dec. 27th, when we had a killer sunrise, sunset and moonrise. Oh yes, and fresh snowfall. Here is one from the sunset.

Half Dome and Winter Sunset, Yosemite National Park, 2012

Half Dome and Winter Sunset, Yosemite National Park, 2012

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III__EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM__3.0 sec at f / 32__ISO 100

Home Studio Open to Photographers and Collectors

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

By Appointment

I also offer fine art print viewing in my living room gallery.  I will discuss my photographic prints from both an artistic and technical viewpoint.  It will greatly benefit you to see actual, gallery-quality photographs, in order to learn how to make your photographs better, and realize your vision through the fine art print.  You will also be able to view my latest prints and one of a kind prints not normally available.  If a particular image interests you, please advise me in advance so that you can see a “review” print.”

All prints are available to purchase or order. Also available are signed books, posters and calendars. Purchased items can be packaged safely for travel, or for shipping to your home or business.

Visits to the Neill Studio are by appointment only, and no purchase is required.  If you are traveling to or from Yosemite, the studio is located just outside of Oakhurst, CA.  Book and plan your visit to make sure William will be available.

Regards, Bill

Here is a list of my books, several of which are out of print but I have inventory here, or many can be found on Amazon.com.  If a particular book interests you, contact me regarding availability.

Landscapes of the Spirit - Hardbound EditionLandscapes of the Spirit

Hardcover
Price: $125.00 USD

Impressions of Light - Deluxe EditionImpressions of Light

Deluxe Edition
Price: $150.00 USD

Yosemite: The Promise of WildnessMeditations in Monochrome

Deluxe Edition
Price: $150.00 USD

Yosemite: The Promise of WildnessYosemite: The Promise of Wildness

Softbound
Price: $19.95 USD

The Color of NatureThe Color of Nature

Softbound
Price: $22.95 USD

Traces of TimeTraces of Time

Softbound
Price: $22.95 USD

By Nature's DesignBy Nature’s Design

Softbound
Price: $22.95 USD

The TreeThe Tree

By John Fowles
Photographs by William Neill
Out of Print

The Sense of WonderThe Sense of Wonder

By Rachel Carson
Out of Print

Visits to the Neill Studio are by appointment only, and no purchase is required.  If you are traveling to or from Yosemite, the studio is located just outside of Oakhurst, CA.  Book and plan your visit to make sure William will be available.

Announcing William Neill Private Yosemite Workshops

Saturday, June 9th, 2012

I am excited to announce my new Yosemite Private Workshops. Yosemite National Park is a photographer’s haven, a masterpiece in stone full of classic scenes and intimate landscapes.  Come join William Neill, author and photographer of William Neill’s Yosemite Volume One, and photographer of Yosemite: The Promise of Wildness for a private workshop in Yosemite National Park. William is also a long-time contributor to Outdoor Photographer magazine for the past 15 years in his regular On Landscape column. He has lived in or next to the park for 35 years, and he will share with you his extensive knowledge, experience and philosophy on photography and Yosemite.  William is know for his unique imagery of the park.

“Your session with me will be personalized for your individual needs, whether you are a beginner or an advanced photographer. The focus will be on developing your personal perspective with instruction on both technique as well as how to develop your vision as an artist.

I worked at The Ansel Adams Gallery as staff photographer for five years while Ansel was alive, during which time I was strongly influenced by Ansel and the photographers surrounding him.  I will share stories from knowing Ansel, and other inspirational photographers that guide my photographs.”

For more information, see the Yosemite Private Workshops page for detail, including Prices and Instructional Content Options.

I look forward to working with new students, and helping my past students, to push their photography to new heights! Let me know if you have any questions, and if you have potential dates we can schedule your session.

Kind Regards,

William Neill

William Neill Private Yosemite Workshops

Yosemite Portfolio

Ansel Influences

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009
Ansel Adams and I, circa 1981

Ansel Adams and I, circa 1981

Here is a photograph of Ansel Adams and me, made at The Ansel Adams Gallery in  June of 1980 or 1981.  The occasion was an evening party during one of his famous workshops.  I was the “staff photographer” at the Gallery, and so got a “free pass” to events and lectures by Ansel and other instructors.

Below is an essay about my time with Ansel and his influences on me.  Enjoy!

Thoughts on Ansel

© 2009 William Neill

“…It is difficult to explain the magic: to lie in a small recess of the granite matrix of the Sierra and watch the progress of dusk to night, the incredible brilliance of the stars, the waning of the glittering sky into dawn, and the following sunrise on the peaks and domes around me. And always the cool dawn wind that I believe to be the prime benediction of the Sierra. These qualities to which I still deeply respond were distilled into my pictures over the decades. I knew my destiny when I first experienced Yosemite.” —Ansel Adams

When we think of photographs by Ansel Adams, we all have images that come readily to mind.  “Moonrise.”  “Clearing Winter Storm.”  Winter Sunrise.”  All icons of landscape photography, of all photography.  I always enjoy seeing his books, or an exhibit, not just for these icons, but to absorb the range of his vision — still life imagery, incisive portraits, details of nature as well as grand landscapes.  As I imagine is the case for many of you, his images are burned into my memory.

His images aside, when I think of Ansel, I think of his generosity in sharing his extraordinary knowledge, especially in the form of his Basic Techniques of Photography book series.  He advocated photography as an art form equal in creative potential to other major art forms such as painting and sculpture.  His efforts elevated the respect for fine art photography, and included founding the photography department at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Ansel was dedicated to the creative spirit within each artist, and encouraged photographers to reach within for their own viewpoint rather than mimic him or other artists. At his workshops in Yosemite and Carmel, he included a diverse range of photographers as instructors. One didn’t attend Ansel’s workshops just to learn the Zone System and take wide-angle, large format, black-and-white landscapes. You were exposed to people using various photographic styles, materials and formats.

Back then, I was guilty of being fairly narrow-minded in my photographic tastes until I attended the instructors’ lectures that Ansel brought to the workshops. I looked at one instructor’s work and initially had no response to it.  But when listening to him, I could see through his eyes and understand his creative motivations and goals, and I appreciated his work far more.  One didn’t come out of a workshop with Ansel feeling like you should copy him–in fact, it was the opposite. All the photographers he brought in had developed a unique way to express themselves.

Giant Sequoia trees, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, CA

Giant Sequoia trees, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, CA

The photograph here, Giant Sequoia trees, Mariposa Grove, is a photographic effort to see these amazing trees in a new way.  Instead of the often-used “wide-angle, vertical, soaring tree” approach, the truncated composition of the panoramic format implies the weight, the massive presence of the trees without including more.  Often less is more.  I had been photographing sequoias in Yosemite for fifteen years, under the influence of Ansel’s advise for photographers to seek creative approaches in their work, before finding this solution.

Like millions of others, I was inspired by Ansel’s tireless efforts on behalf of the natural environment.  I have tried, although I am not the extroverted activist Ansel was, to find ways to use my work for environmental causes.  During my time working at The Ansel Adams Gallery, I had the honor of handling and displaying Ansel’s original prints.  Like millions of photographers upon seeing his fine prints, I was inspired to make expressive, high-quality prints of my own.  I saw Ansel’s open-minded view of technological advances in photography, and that has helped me see the potential of digital imaging.

It is difficult to summarize in any brief manner the extent of Ansel’s influence on me .  I can only feel blessed to have known him, even briefly and to a small degree.  The greatest lesson that I learned from Ansel is the importance of personal vision.  The essence of artistry in photography is expressing your own perspective as deeply as possible–not being derivative, and not mimicking, but by pushing yourself to make creative images.

“It was one of those mornings when the sunlight is burnished with a keen wind and long feathers of cloud move in a lofty sky. The silver light turned every blade of grass and every particle of sand into a luminous metallic splendor; there was nothing, however small that did not clash in the bright wind, that did not send arrows of light through the glassy air. I was suddenly arrested in the long crunching path up the ridge by an exceedingly pointed awareness of the LIGHT. The moment I paused, the full impact of the mood was on me; I saw more clearly than I have ever seen before or since the minute detail of the grasses, the clusters of sand shifting in the wind, the small flotsam of the forest, the motion of the high clouds streaming above the peaks. There are no words to convey the moods of those moments.”Ansel Adams

Addendum:  Speaking of Ansel influences, see my recent Black and White portfolio in ebook form:  Meditations in Monochrome- Digital Edition