Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Frequently Asked Questions

Here's some general information about our monthly Photography Workshop with answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.

Where are these classes held, anyway?
Most of the workshops are held outdoors at some of my favorite shooting locations. We'd probably be right here anyway, even if there wasn't a class! Timing is critical. We'll be at each location at its peak time of year. Please note that the Death Valley session is not scheduled in August!

Do I need to have lots of photographic experience?
No! Your experience is not nearly as important as your enthusiasm for getting great shots. We can get you up-to-speed on the basic fundamentals pretty quickly. All topics covered will pertain to either digital or film cameras. And, typically the discussions and demonstrations will be centered on the basics and fundamentals of good photographic technique: composition, exposure, lens selection, filtration, flash-fill, the use of reflectors, understanding depth-of-field, and metering. In addition to these universal subjects, we'll also incorporate the techniques unique to digital: white balance, file size, RAW vs. JPEG, long exposures and noise levels as well as Photoshop and preparing your files for printing. And with the before-and-after demonstrations that we do with slide shows and digital cameras, you'll learn much faster.

What about all that technical stuff? It always confuses me!
Me too. And, it can really be mind-boggling, especially if you get side-tracked on some of the really complex issues. We cut-to-the-chase on these topics and show you only what's critical. As a studio owner, I've had to deal with most of these problems. That's why I love shooting the nature and landscape stuff. It's more of an artistic release than a technical exercise. And, you can impress your friends and neighbors with all your great shots!

I can’t get away from work to attend all the days of the workshop. What happens if I only stay for a day or two?
No problem. This happens a lot, and it’s not a problem. I’d recommend that if you can make it for only one day of the week-end class---go on Saturday. We start off with the basics, early in the morning, and by noon a lot of the principles have been explained, and most of the confusion is gone. Since you pay only for the days that you attend, you can always come back for a refresher course, at a different location.

I know I’ll have lots of questions, and need some things explained a couple times. Will there be enough time for all this?
Yes. That’s why we keep the group sizes small. This allows for lots of one-on-one instruction. Our average class size is less than 10, so we can accommodate students with varying degrees of photographic knowledge. The experience level of the students varies, and actually makes things more interesting.

My camera’s not all that great. And I’m not quite familiar with all the features.
In fact you may not even own a camera, yet. No problem. There’s probably a good camera store nearby that can rent you a camera system for the class. It will give you a chance to practice with a top-notch system before you buy. And a lot of what we cover at the workshops are basic fundamentals. So, even if the camera you do have is not a top of the line model, you’ll still be able to apply all the new information. Some of the newer digital point and shoots models are VERY sophisticated...even though they look very simple. Typically, most everyone shoots with 35mm DSLR’s. But, I’m comfortable with both medium and large- format systems, so bring whatever you’re familiar with. Make sure your camera has full Manual settings, so you can have control of Shutter Speeds, and Aperture. It’s also a good idea to bring along the instruction manual and extra batteries.

Why should I buy a bunch of filters and accessories that may never get used again? Or, what if we find out that we should have gotten some better gear?
You really don’t need to get a lot of accessories for the class. Some of our sponsors have provided us with loaner gear for the students. We've got a supply of Manfrotto tripods, Lee filters and Westcott reflectors and other things for you to try before you buy! Just let us know what you'll need, so we can bring it along.

How do I get there, and where will we stay?
We’ll fax or email you some pretty detailed directions. Also a list of nearby motels and campgrounds. If you’re interested in sharing a ride with another student, let us know. We’d like to have everyone staying relatively close together. That way we can stay in touch in case there’s a change in the itinerary due to weather. This also makes for easier caravaning, if we’re driving anywhere.

Who’s this Don guy, anyway?
I’m one of the fortunate ones who love what they do for a living. Photography has been my only profession, and we’ve operated a commercial studio since the mid 70’s. My assignments have ranged from major corporate annual reports, thru studio table-top shooting and location industrial sessions. We’ve also continued to photograph weddings, portraits, copy and restoration, and custom matting and framing for our line of landscape and nature photographs. And, just to fill in any spare time, I’m also teaching nights at a local photography center.

Am I too young, or too old?
Probably. But it won’t matter for the workshops! We’re not doing any ridiculously strenuous hiking, or climbing. And just getting up before sunrise is enough exertion for most folks. We have a pretty varied age group, and it never has been a problem. We’ve all got the same common love of the outdoors and photography.

I can’t make it to any of the Workshops listed on your schedule? How can I find out about next year?
Give us a call, and we’ll add you to the mailing list, or you can check our Website for any updates at http://www.photographybydon.com/.

How much memory/film should I bring?
Digital: Memory Card capacity varies, but you'll want to have enough storage to cover at least a day's worth of shooting. With today's cameras using more memory, especially when shooting in the RAW mode, you'll want to have enough memory on hand to keep shooting. We'd recommend at least 4GB of memory. If you have a laptop to bring to the workshop, you can download your images after each shooting session and/or burn CD's/DVD's to back the data up. No laptop? Delkin's provided their Burn Away (burn directly from your camera's memory card to either CD's or DVD's) to use.

Film: On a typical day, 3 or 4 rolls. But, sometimes, with great light and exceptional scenery, you'll shoot more. Bring extra. There's nothing worse than running out of film right when the conditions are perfect.

What film is the best for outdoor shooting?
As far as what specific type of film to use, the universal favorite for nature and landscape is Fuji's Velvia. Originally an ISO 50 speed transparency film, with enhanced color saturation, the latest, Fujichrome Velvia 100, carries on the tradition of vivid color and intense saturation of Fujichrome Velvia 50. New Velvia 100 is ideal in any application where Fujichrome Velvia 50 has been used, however, several new features and improvements will expand the applications.. And if you're still trying to hone your metering and exposure technique, a transparency film is what you need. Don't let the slow speeds fool you. Most everything we shoot will be on a tripod, and it's just not a problem. So, whether you'd like to try the 100 speed Velvia, or stick with the 50 speed, Fuji's got you covered. Due to the demand, Fuji is bringing back the Velvia 50 as well, so it will be your choice.

How do I sign-up? This sounds pretty cool.
The best way is to call us at the studio, (626) 444-8008. We can hold your spot, and answer any questions.

What happens if I pay, and at the last minute have to cancel?
If you let us know at least 30 days in advance, we’ll issue a refund, less a $25 cancellation fee. Less than 30 days, we will apply the full amount to another workshop of your choice.

What about meals?
When possible, we'll provide provide coffee and donuts in the morning. We always take an extended break after the early morning session, and sometimes eat lunch together. We like to host a hamburger and hot dog barbeque on one of the days. Occasionally the group gets together for dinner. But, after a long day, most everyone is ready to hit the sack early.

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