Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Digital Photo Essays

Hello! After a few weeks off, we are back at it. David H. Wells just finished a week on Digital Photo Essays. Once again, the class shot gig after gig around the Central Coast. Subjects included everything from tomatoes to killer sunsets (aided by smoke that drifted north from the San Diego area) to a manual grape harvest.

The highlight of the week was when the class put everything they learned into practice and created an impact series of photos from a vineyard shoot. We left Los Osos at 0615 to ensure we could catch the first light of day hitting the grapes and pickers. It was an excellent morning as the shutters clicked away. After the picking, we visited a working winery to watch as winery personnel processed grapes and recently finished wines.

Another great week at the Institute.

On a cool, new equipment note, Hoodman USA recently sent us their new RAW compact flash cards, high speed card readers, hood loupes, and right angle viewers. Their gear is very fast, extremely reliable, and made in the USA. All of the aforementioned gear is available to try here at the school. For those of you looking into the brand new Canon cameras, make sure you pick up UDMA compliant memory cards. Give us a call if you need more information.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Classes back in session!

Well colors are turning and harvest is here! We had a couple weeks off to enjoy a bit of harvest up in Paso Robles, our very own spectacular wine country! We usually hang out on 46 West which is a beautiful area for growing high quality wine grapes.

As some of you may know Hal is the assistant wine maker for Midnight Cellars and has his own wine label named Volatus. Hal has been making wine for 10 years as part of his relaxation while flying jets in the Navy.

Now that classes are back in session we will have more photos to post soon. Here are a few photos that I took up in the wine country. I practiced panoramas, infrared and macro! Techniques I took from Rob Sheppard, Frank Lavelle and George Lepp in the past few weeks inspired me to get out and look at taking photos a bit differently.

This is a winery named Booker taken in Color and in IR. Both are roughly 6-8 shots, stitched
together in Photoshop CS3.

To stitch a Panorama in Photoshop:
Go to File-> Automate->PhotoMerge
I usually choose Auto. Browse for the files you would like stitched together and press "OK". It will take a few seconds to a couple of minutes depending on how many images you have.
It will give you multiple layers on your stitched document which you can add masks to if you need to fine tune areas it missed. I would save a copy with all of the layers and then flatten to work further on it.

Infrared photographs are very interesting to play with. Our cameras are Canon D60's that were converted over to an IR sensor. It is best to take your IR photos at high noon with a lot of sunshine, and a lot of interesting clouds. The effect is amazing! You get dramatic skies and trees that look very surreal. Make sure you have it on a low ISO around 100 that way your grain won't be an issue. IR tends to have a grainy look so any help in the camera is a bonus!

Hope to see you in classes here soon!

Check our courses page often for more classes and updates

For more information on Infrared cameras, George usually recommended this website:

For information on the wine country here on the Central Coast

(the affordable Napa) follow these links:






Monday, October 1, 2007

Down Time and Expansion

Although we do not have a class in session, I wanted to update everyone on the happenings with the Institute. The big news is... we are expanding.

Beginning 01 November the Institute will include an entirely new space increasing our size from 2900 up to 4400 sq. ft. With the new square footage we will build a full sized (@850 sq. ft.) photography studio, increase our print space (we will have more area for larger printers and our canvas stretching machine,) and add retail capability for equipment from some of our sponsors.

Renovation of the space should start next week. We are extremely excited since having a studio will allow us to expand our instructor roster and offer classes devoted to studio photography whether portrait or commercial.

Take care and hope to see you here soon.