Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Rob Sheppard - "Impact"

We recently finished our latest course. Rob Sheppard, long-time Editor of Outdoor Photographer Magazine and current Field Editor of the same publication, taught a course on adding "Impact" to your photography.

The week featured classroom instruction, intensive shooting, review, critique, and some Photoshop impact techniques. As always the weather and scenery of California's Central Coast were beautiful.

Rob taught the class to use angle, color, and light to add big impact to photography. Each day the class had an assignment to implement what was taught in the classroom.
The morning following a shoot, each student selected images for review and critique by not only Rob but the entire class. We finished the shooting with a location session at the winery and vineyard up in Paso Robles.

Everyone had an excellent week and as Rob promised everyone left the workshop a better photographer.

Thanks again to Rob Sheppard for his advice and direction as a member of our Board of Advisors. It is absolutely essential for Victoria and I to receive such great guidance.

The Institute will be dark for about three weeks as I concentrate on the wine grape harvest in Paso Robles. As many of you know I am the assistant winemaker at Midnight Cellars ( as well as the winemaker of my own private label, Volatus ( Weather is beautiful and the grapes look great.

Cheers, Hal

Monday, September 17, 2007

What a Great Week!

We finished the Best of Lepp course on Friday. Continuing from the previous post, we started Wednesday with a location model shoot. The weather cooperated and provided us with beautiful soft light and cool temperatures. The shoot focused on lighting and flash. In addition, this was the first time many students shot models. The interaction between photographer and model is tremendously important to the final image impact. After some quick coaching, the class gave some basic direction and the models took it from there.

We spent about three hours with the models experimenting with different techniques. Although the models wore bright colors some of the best shots were taken with our infrared cameras. Great shoot!

The next few hours allowed the class to catalog and edit the shoot using either Photoshop Lightroom or the Bridge/Photoshop combo.

Mid-afternoon we were off again to the Los Osos Oaks. The small nature preserve is filled with old oak trees covered in Spanish moss. The dramatic, filtered light makes for tremendous images. George used this location to cover high dynamic range (HDR) shots.

After we captured the oaks, we took it all back to the lab for processing in either Photoshop or Photomatix Pro (provided by HDRSoft.)

Oaks with HDR. Artsy effect from Photomatix Pro.Thursday was devoted to digital darkroom work and printing until about noon. After lunch we were off again to shoot agility dogs in action. George uses the dogs to teach any and all action photography. If you can capture the dogs you can capture race cars or sports.

All day Friday was digital darkroom and printing. We printed everything from contact sheets to four foot long panoramas. Thanks again to Epson for supporting our print efforts. Espon helps us so we can ensure you learn how to print here. That way when you get home you can produce an effective print while more efficiently using your inks and media.

Thanks to all for a great week. We're looking forward to George's next class in January.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Best of Lepp

George returned to the Institute this week teaching the Best of Lepp.

Yesterday was a classroom session in which George provided the students with the prerequisite knowledge before spending the rest of the week shooting, optimizing, and printing.

We started this morning with a shoot at Montana de Oro State Park. The focus was on basic panorama technique and longer exposures of water.

Montana de Oro is located about 2 miles from the Institute's front door and offers ideal beach, surf, rock, bird, etc. shooting.

After a quick lunch break we changed gears and worked macro. Dennis Sheridan, a local photographer and critter wrangler, brought a whole slew of animals to the Institute. From an anaconda to leopard geckos to an albino ornate horned frog to huge insects and arachnids, we shot them all.

African Egg-eating Snake, with one egg in and one to go!

Today was a great day for the class and the Institute. George back after a nine month hiatus and unbelievable shooting. The quality of instruction and diversity of photographic subjects happens only here!

Photoshop World

The Institute spent last week in Las Vegas at the annual Photoshop World conference. By any measure, it was a rousing success. The booth buzzed as George Lepp, Ben Willmore, Eddie Tapp, Randy Hufford, Tim Grey, Fay Sirkis and others stopped by and chatted with conference attendees.

We also ran several demos over the two days the expo floor was open. Tim Grey ran a session on brush dynamics using the Wacom Cintiq display. Randy Hufford led multiple demonstrations of canvas stretching and creating gallery wraps.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and said hello. If you didn't make it to the conference this year plan on joining NAPP and us at PS World 08.

A final special thanks to our sponsors who provided the required equipment to make last week great. Premier Art, Eizo, Wacom, Adobe, and GTI; thank you.