A weekend in Yosemite with David Black… Sign me up! Last year at Photoshop World I had a very rare and random experience. I won a workshop pass from “The Digital Photo Workshops” team with David Black. It turned out to be a very Enlightening experience about the world of photography.
I prepared for the conference by worrying that my gear was not up to the task. I have a Cannon 20D that is pretty old but I didn’t have a budget for a new one just then. I ended up borrowing a Cannon 60D from another high school and it was a good thing I did! We pushed the very limits of the 60D and I ended up wishing I had a little better model but it got the job done. Also I was very glad that I purchased a 256 GB Solid State Lacie Rugged Hard Drive with Thunderbolt 2 which made backing up go in seconds rather then minuets and when you have the opportunity to be with some of the best you need the time to ask questions not waiting on hardware. Also I bought a great bag from case logic that allowed me to pack my Wacom, MacBook Pro, and both the 20D and 60D. The only thin I regretted not having was a neutral density filter, a polarizing filter, and a shutter release for the 60D. I packed 3 batteries and ran out one day. I also had two 32GB SD cards and they were over kill but it was nice to have space. My wife bought me a nice microfiber cloth 12” X 24” which was very nice to have.
The travel to Yosemite took some planning and research. I stayed at the Cedar Lodge in a very nice room for $110 a night as opposed to $200+ to stay in the park. The drive was about 35-40 min to the main lodge on a pretty windy road. I rented a hybrid which was a great cost saver at 40 Miles to the Gallon. I flew into the San Jose Airport and drove out through Merced and In all the drive was about 4 hours.
The first night we had a meeting where we met our Instructors: David Black, Rob Sylvan, Jeff Leimbach, and Randy Van Duinen. I had met some of them at Photoshop World and I felt very welcome even though I cam in a little late. Randy did a quick lesson on how to set up a camera for HDR so we would be ready for the next day (Sunlight meets shadows…Valley). I had no idea what HDR was so it was very useful. Dave showed us some of his photos and told us his main goal was to make sure we were able to go home and do light painting. He also told use the keys to composition three across, three vertical, three deep, and then light the subject.
The next day I ended up not being able to find the group so I was late. Ugh I hate being late but there I was late twice in a row. I found the group after about an hour and I jumped in. Rob stayed behind with me so I could get some one on one training and some good pictures. The day was really great and I came away with some amazing shots for the first time I’d ever been out taking pictures.
After we had some shots we came into the classroom and we had assisted editing time where we worked on our own images and were able to ask questions about how do I do… or what do you think… How could I… it was very informal and it worked out really great!
While we were doing some editing Dave was in the other room setting us for light painting. He showed the entire group and then asked half of us to keep working on photos while he worked two stations with the other half. The whole setting was professional but casual all at the same time which was just great!
That night we went out and did some light painting in nature. Dave lined us all up on these dead bushes and was saying isn’t this going to be great! We were all wondering what Dave had for lunch but we did as he said and just as the sun was down he light up the bushes with the Brinkman spot light and a 30 second exposure later… complete magic! One of my favorite shots that I brought home from the trip.
The next day it was more of the same in a different location. We did some reflection shots and some moving water. We moved back to the classroom where we set up our own light paintings with our own cameras. Then later that night we went to an old chapel and did another light painting where we had the opportunity to uses the Brinkman’s to light the scene ourself. Once we were done at the chapel there was a group of us who wanted to stay and do some star trails. So I setup in a field and took 50 Exposures of 30 Sec each. I had a nice shot as it was pointed at the North star. I was looking at others shots though and well… I was jealous! Rob had a great shot with the stars over half dome and I wanted one.
I drove back to my hotel that night feeling defeated because I didn’t get my star shot I wanted. I did the only logical thing I could think of and checked out of the hotel and drove back to Yosemite at 1AM. I parked in a field and spent the next three hours working on my star shot. The exposure was 61 min at 200 ISO and it came out great! I left the conference that day feeling as though I had slain the giant!
It was a great experience full of great instructors. If you get a chance to go do not pass it up for anything.