Category Archives: Photography

Photography!

2016 Portrait Lighting Techniques Workshop Report

Iowa Portrait Photographer

 

It’s been a while since I’d offered a portrait lighting techniques workshop, and I was thrilled that a fabulous assortment of photographers came together for the one I offered this fall in West Des Moines, Iowa. The group ranged from experienced portrait artists, to photographers of other genres wanting to learn some portrait skills. We had a very fun full day of photography and I’m pleased that the feedback has been extremely positive.

Mark S Peterson Photo Workshops
Ayeesha by Minniette Bucklin

We started the day going over some lighting concepts in a classroom setting. After nailing down the basics of lighting patterns, equipment, and some techniques, we were joined by three fantastic models – Ayeesha, Kasi, and Sara – whom I’d hired to be subjects for a morning studio portrait shooting session. We shot in a studio setting with a few different plain backdrops and straightforward lighting using studio strobes, my favorite triggers (PocketWizards), and a variety of modifiers – soft boxes, umbrellas, and reflectors. We discussed lighting strategies for getting started as well as some more elaborate lighting approaches.

Mark S. Peterson Photo Workshops
Ashley by Luciana Sarmento

In the afternoon, we moved outside to discuss location lighting techniques and equipment. We were joined again by model Ayeesha,  as well as by models Ashley and Sabah, and all three patiently posed for our group members in a variety of locations as we explored several of the many portrait-friendly backgrounds and locations that can be found throughout the Valley Junction area of West Des Moines.

Mark S. Peterson Photo Workshops
Sabah by Cynthia Hanevy

The day was fast-paced and moved quickly, and I think the group of photographers and models had as much fun as I did. Below is a gallery of photos some of the participants have forwarded to me to share, and be sure to follow the links in the featured photos embedded here in the text. I extend my thanks to the great group of photographers who really worked hard throughout the day to master their lighting skills, and also to the models who joined us for this fun workshop!

2016 Winter Landscape Workshop Follow-up

It’s been a crazy couple of months here at MSPP, and while the world  is thinking “spring” I feel like I’m still trying to wrap up winter! Is it March yet? (I know, I know, we’re halfway through April).

Regardless, I’ve wanted to share some info and some of the awesome photos created by participants in my February “The Midwest Winter Landscape” workshop. We had a fabulous winter season from mid-January through mid-February and I was thrilled that just a couple days prior to this workshop, the ground was covered with 8-10″ of snow and rivers and streams were frozen – with a few open areas, perfect for water feature photography. Scouting locations at Ledges State Park, the location for this workshop, 48 hours before the workshop, I was thrilled with the conditions. In fact, while scouting spots where I wanted to cover specific teaching material, the scene looked like the below gallery (note, these are just handheld snaps made with my favorite little fixed-lens mirrorless camera, largely to create references for location and possible compositional recommendations):

And then, the unthinkable happened: a mid-February HEAT WAVE! 24 hours after shooting the above photos, it was 50+ degrees fahrenheit, and the forecast was for the temps to remain that warm through the weekend! Ugh! For once in their life I had 10 participants praying for cold and snow, but instead we got two days of May in February.

The lovely snow pictured above melted. Nearly all of it. By the next morning the little meandering stream pictured above, which was crossable in places by walking across 8″ or so of ice cover, had become raging river of snow-melt. It was completely uncrossable on foot – too deep and moving too swiftly. Really, raging.

This led to a somewhat last-minute re-plan of the workshop itinerary. We did have a fantastic sunrise, and found some excellent ice crystals and frosty landscapes early in the morning. And I knew of one area within the Ledges that is shaded all day – there is never direct sun in the winter months. I suspected that there would still be a (small) snow field here, and perhaps some frozen stream water segments. But it required a bit of a hike over a muddy, somewhat slippery (due to overnight-refrozen melt from the day prior) ridge. Luckily, my awesome participants were game for the hike, and I had my fingers crossed that I was right on the snow field call. Turned out, I was! We descended the ridge trail and found a lovely section of snowy woodland. Though there was only a very small amount of ice remaining in the nearby stream. But plenty of subjects to photograph, nonetheless.

After a lunch-hour trip into town for some warm food and a bit of classroom-style discussion (it was so warm out we could have just picnicked!), we returned to the field to photograph at some scenic overlooks, and found some more snow in another section of the forest.

Two participants in the workshop shared some of their images with me directly, and generously have allowed me to include them in the gallery below. So please enjoy the below gallery of photos created by participants Chuck King of Des Moines, IA, and Frances Kuelz of Minnetonka, MN:

Thanks for allowing me to share these, Chuck and Frances!

Additionally, some other participants have shared some images in my Peterson Photo Workshops Participants flickr group. You can find these here.

Thanks to all the participants for a very fun day – we cursed the warm temps in the morning, but had fun, hopefully learned some solid landscape photography techniques, and created some great landscape and nature photographs. Congrats on the excellent work!

I’m looking forward to my next nature photography field workshop, Spring Wildflowers and Landscapes, where we’ll study professional macro and close-up field techniques while photographing Midwest varieties of woodland wildflowers, and explore the Iowa forest landscape in spring. I do still have just a couple spots left in that workshop, coming up May 7.

Blog revived!

As anyone can see from viewing my posting history here on this blog, I’m an infrequent blogger. I admit it. I really very much enjoy the process of blogging my many projects and travels, but I generally find myself to be juggling one or two too many projects at any given time. And though I nearly daily think of blog posts related to photos I’m creating or projects I’m shooting, when it gets to the end of the day there’s simply not much leftover time. So weeks or sometimes a couple months go by between posts.

In mid-2015, I somehow broke the database on my blog host’s server, and this blog was inaccessible for a stretch of months. Though I attempted to fix the issue myself (my inner nerd takes a pretty DIY approach to my website creation, maintenance, and resolution of tech issues), I could not find a fix. For months! Finally, a search of my web host’s tech-help website for relevant search phrases resulted in 393 hits for articles related to the issue. 393!!??  No way I could surf all of thoes to discern which was my issue.

So last week I gave up and phoned tech help, and after my many weeks of seeking a solution, the tech on the other end of the phone line took all of about 25 seconds to correct the issue. I literally barely finished describing the issue, and he responded, “there, I got it for you.” Wow. OK. Thank you!

So I’m excited to have the blog back in operation, and one of my 2016 goals is to post more frequently.

I’m also in the process of updating my primary website, mpetersonphoto.com, and consolidating several of my web assets (including this blog) that are scattered across 7-8 domains into a smaller number of sites. It will be very visually clear when I’ve done this (i.e., these changes involve an all-new format and drastically updated portfolios!). But I’ll promote it when that’s been accomplished, as well, rather than waiting for you to just stumble by again. That’s right, what I mean is, I’ll blog about it.

So please stop back again soon. I have some fun stuff in the works, including some past projects that were never shared that I think a lot of visitors to my sites will enjoy. I’m looking forward to sharing it.

Hope to see you soon – thanks for stopping by!

Winter Workshop Follow-up

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We ended up with a beautiful, sunny day for my annual Midwest Winter Landscape workshop this month, and now that participants have had a chance to edit and post some photos created during the event, I’m thrilled to post this blog follow-up.

The day started pre-dawn near the entrance to the Iowa Arboretum. The forecast was for a clear, warm day, and there are some lovely century-old burr oak and sapling locust trees on the edge of a prairie on the Arboretum’s native area, that have captured my attention for a sunrise shot for some time. After shooting the sunrise, we captured textures in the prairie’s freshly fallen snow; the beautiful soft directional morning light really emphasized the swirls, ridges, and crystals of the beautiful fresh prairie snow.

_MSP8055 We moved on to photograph some compositions using specific tree specimens in the Arboretum itself, and then drove to a nearby Des Moines River Canoe Access area that is actually on the southern-most tip of Ledges State Park. Here, we used the leading lines of some snow drifts to emphasize dramatic features along the riverfront, worked with some intriguing fallen trees, and captured reflections and textures in open water areas of the river.

After a couple hours of classroom and Q&A time in a nearby town, we returned to a prairie area in another area of Ledges State Park and photographed tree patterns, grasses and snow, and some fabulous landscapes involving the S-curves of the river and reflections of the far-shore landscape in semi-melted open areas.

_MSP8056The photographers that came together for the event made a really fun group, and I had a great time working with them. It included some very hard-working landscape photographers, who continued to shoot right up until sunset. I’ve been really impressed with the images shared with me by the participants so far, and I know more work from the workshop will be appearing as they have more time to edit.

As of today, the most recent 45-50 or so images posted to my Peterson Photo Workshops Participant Flickr Group archive illustrate some of the fine work by this group. Please check it out and enjoy their work! And to the photographers in the workshop – I hope you had a fun day, learned some new skills, and created some work you’re excited about!

First Workshop of 2015: The Midwest Winter Landscape

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I’m really looking forward to kicking off the workshop season with what turned out to be one of my favorite workshops last year: The Midwest Winter Landscape. It’s coming up soon, on February 7!

I’ve selected some outstanding locations for Midwest winter photography for this session, all of which are within a 45 minute drive of Des Moines, Iowa. Where we start and how we structure the day will depend on the local snow conditions at the time: some locations are better for morning photography, some better for afternoon, some only interesting with lots of snow, some best with little snow. Participants will be informed exactly where to meet a few days prior to the workshop.

20140215-photo 2Last year’s event was really exciting, and featured a subtle pastel sunrise, a mid-morning blizzard that led to some great images, and a warm-and-sunny afternoon with lovely golden light. Here’s a link back to my blog post from that event, featuring a gallery that includes some excellent photos created by workshop participants Penny Adam and Tanmay Roy.

The workshop will start early at 6:30am on Saturday, Feb 7. The early meeting time allows us just enough time to acquaint the group and get set up to photograph the sunrise. We’ll plan to end by 4:00pm or so.

Full details of the workshop are available here. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions!

2015 Workshop Series Announced!

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All-new workshops, studio seminars, and instructional photo tours!

Updated Workshops
Happy New Year! I’m happy to announce my new 2015 workshop offerings. Full details can be found over on my workshop website, Peterson Photo Workshops. For this upcoming yera, I have dramatically updated the format and content of each workshop.

I’m frequently humbled when photographers register for what is their 7th, 8th, or 9th workshop with me, and I thank each of you who have joined me for even half-a-day one time! This year’s workshops should be better than ever!

One-day Studio Seminars
I’m also bringing back two studio photography workshops that I haven’t offered in a few years: a full-day Portrait Lighting workshop, and a full-day Tabletop Studio workshop. These are both skill-sets I use weekly in my magazine, corporate, and portrait photography, and both promise to be exciting hands-on learning and portfolio-building events.

Instructional Photo Tours
Finally, I have made a significant schedule addition this year: I’ll be offering two Instructional Photo Tours to extremely photogenic locations in the Central US! I have extensive knowledge and experience at both of these locations and will get participants to spots for outstanding photography. These will be Thursday-through-Sunday events, and while I’m not quite ready to announce the dates and locations, info will be available soon. If you’re potentially interested, please keep an eye here as well as on my social media and of course on the workshop website.

Based on conversations I’ve had with field workshop alumni who have asked for such trips, I expect these photo tours to attract groups of interesting, highly talented photographers. I am also very confident that these trips will result in a very strong portfolio of nature, landscape, and cultural photographs for the participants.

Overall, I’m anticipating a very fun year of photography education, and I invite you to be part of it. The list of workshop offerings is below with links to individual workshop info. I hope to see you soon!

2015 WORKSHOP CALENDAR

Saturday, February 7 ~ The Midwest Winter Landscape – Des Moines area, IA. All-day. $119

Saturday, February 28 ~ Intro to Digital SLR & Mirrorless Photography – Des Moines, IA. Half-day – 12-4pm. $69

Saturday, March 7 ~ Advanced DSLR & Mirrorless Photography – Des Moines, IA. Half-day – 12-4pm. $69

Saturday, April 18 ~ Introduction to Lightroom – Des Moines, IA. Half-day – 12-4pm. $69

Saturday, April 25 ~ Advanced Lightroom – Des Moines, IA. Half-day – 12-4pm. $69

Saturday, May 2 ~ Spring Wildflowers and Landscapes – Central IA. All-day. $119.

Sunday, June 28 ~ The Midwest Summer Prairie – Rural Marshall County, IA. All-day. $119.

Saturday, August 29 ~ Studio and Location Portrait Lighting – Des Moines, IA. All-day. $189.

Saturday, September 12 ~ Tabletop Studio Photography – Des Moines, IA. All-day. $189.

Saturday, September 19 ~ 9th Annual Living History Farms Photography Day – Living History Farms, Urbandale, IA (see LHF website). While this is not my workshop, I look forward to offering instructional sessions at this always-fun annual event – one of the largest outdoor educational photography events in the world!

Saturday, October 17 ~ Midwest Autumn Color – Ledges State Park near Boone, IA. All-day. $119.

Saturday, November 7 ~ Intro to Digital SLR Photography – Des Moines, IA. Half-day – 12-4pm. $69

Saturday, November 14 ~ Advanced DSLR & Mirrorless Photography – Des Moines, IA. Half-day – 12-4pm. $69

2014 Autumn Color Workshop

 

© 2014 Diane Lowry
© 2014 Diane Lowry

Just a few weeks ago, my 2014 field workshop series came to a fabulous finale. An outstanding group of photographers joined me at Iowa’s gorgeous Ledges State Park for my annual Autumn Color Photography workshop. I’ve been holding this workshop here for several years, and have found both the location to be tremendously popular with the participants and the Iowa DNR organization excellent to work with.

While some years in the past have brought rain, frigid temps, or in one year even really high temps, this year it was a lovely day. The morning was cool and damp (for just a few minutes around sunrise, some donned their camera rain covers, but many didn’t even bother), it was overcast much of the day (perfect for autumn macro and “nature portraits”), then cleared off and became a little breezy in the afternoon (not ideal but we were having too much fun by then to even notice).

© 2014 Sarah Becker
© 2014 Sarah Becker

The group ranged from novices who were just starting out, to a semi-pro or two, as is often the case with my workshops. It’s always fun to have a range of experience in the group, as we work together throughout the day and learn from each other. For the first time, I conducted my demos not with an SLR as in years past, but with my Fujifilm X-Pro1 mirrorless camera. Also for the first time, there was another mirrorless camera user in the group. Not that the DSLR vs. mirrorless issue means much – or anything at all – for the photographic content of the workshop. I’m just always interested in cameras and it’s interesting to see the mirrorless cameras taking hold in the US. (For that matter, for those of you who may like to keep track, the workshop was dominated with Canon shooters, with only two or three Nikon users in the mix; usually it’s fairly balanced between those two brands, but not this time. And unlike most of my field workshops, there were no Sony or Pentax users present; generally we see a couple of these). Regardless, we had no major malfunctions and no one knocked over their tripod in the stream, so equipment-wise it was also a fantastic day.

Several of the participants forwarded images from the day for me to share here. Please take a few minutes and view the photos. The group created an excellent body of work that day, and we had a fun time doing so. I hope the participants learned some things along the way, as well.

BUT! If you’d like to see more, please also check out my Peterson Photo Workshops flickr group, where quite a number of additional participants have posted work from the day. And wow, there are also some outstanding images shared there as well!

To all the participants in this workshop, thanks for participating and for sharing your photos! I look forward to working with you again sometime next year!

Group portrait fun, revisited

So as usual, it’s been a while since I’ve posted to this blog. What a frantically busy season! While I logged in today to post on another subject, I immediately noticed my last post below, in which I posted some photos of my oldest daughter’s high-school homecoming group of friends from last autumn. This reminded me that I had just recently photographed my next-oldest daughter in a similar situation, with two of her “besties” prior to this fall’s homecoming dance. It’s her sophomore year of high-school, and she and a big group of friends gathered for dinner and to attend the Homecoming Dance as a large entourage.

So here she is with a couple of her closest buddies. We had a great time taking these photos, as I think you might be able to see when you view the gallery. I tend not to post many client galleries, but I am happy to post these (I’m the client I guess?) – I hope you like them.

And for the photographers reading, my gear has changed a bit since the last similar session I photographed a year ago. This time around, all of the photos were created in natural light, with a Fujifilm X-Pro1 camera and Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4R lens. All at f/1.4, auto-ISO, in the Fuji RAF raw format, and processed in Lightroom 5.

UPDATED: Winter Landscape Workshop Report – What a Day!

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They say around here, “If you don’t like the weather in Iowa, just wait ’til tomorrow – it’ll be different!”

We had a fine group of photographers come together Saturday for our “The Midwest Winter Landscape” photography workshop, in Des Moines, Iowa. It was a dedicated group of hardy souls, and wow, did we experience a wide array of weather. Forget waiting “’til tomorrow” as the saying goes – we experienced an entire winter season just in one day.

20140215-_DSC2401Starting with single-digit temps in pre-dawn light, we met at 6:30am to be able to be set up before sunrise. With a group ranging from beginner to advanced photographers, we alternated  between instructional gatherings and shooting in the morning. We enjoyed a…shall I say….”fleeting”…sunrise? If 90 seconds of beautifully red-glowing clouds in the Eastern sky during a steel-grey overcast morning represents sunrise, then yes it was fleeting. But if you weren’t paying close attention, it would have been easy to miss altogether. With snow forecast for mid-morning, we were focused on contrasty landscape images of some beautiful trees in the prairie.

Right on schedule as forecast, the sky broke and we were hit by a (beautiful!) wet, driving snow for an hour or so. While it was tempting to stay in our warm vehicles, almost all of the participants braved the driving snow to capture some beautiful wild riverfront-in-snowfall images, using slow shutter speeds to emphasize the hard-falling snow. Reviewing some participant photos later, there were some very fine images captured during this part of the workshop.

Retreating to a warm coffeeshop – with only one photographer putting her car in the ditch on the way (thanks again to those of you who successfully pushed her out!) – we enjoyed a few hours in a meeting room, mid-morning through the lunch hour, for a few hours of discussion-style instructional content. The group asked lots of fabulous questions. While there, the snow outside stopped, the sun came out, and the temps rose by twenty or more degrees. By the time we were ready to head back out mid-afternoon, it was a warm, glorious afternoon.

Heading to another favorite location outside town, we enjoyed a beautiful afternoon in a lovely pine forest, shooting some serene scenics and enjoying fun techniques such as camera-shake and zoom-blur action. By late-afternoon the light was a mellow golden hue, giving the group great opportunity to capture hillocks of fresh, glistening snow, prairie grasses glistening with fresh powder, and beautiful areas at the prairie’s edge.

20140215-photo 2With ten minutes remaining until sunset, another front moved through and our hopes for a beautiful sunset images were dashed. More steel-grey sky. But everyone left with a solid collection of images, and I had a great time working with this great group of photographers. I hope you all who came out for this event had as much fun shooting as I did working with you!

UPDATE: I have added workshop photos photos from two Peterson Photo Workshop veteran participants – Penny Adam and Tanmay Roy – below. Great work, Penny and Tanmay! Thanks for sharing these fine images with us!

 

2014 Photography Workshop Calendar Announced

20130615-_MSP3384I’m pleased to announce my 2014 photography workshop line-up. While I will be cutting down the overall number of workshops I offer this year, I have added some new sessions and topics and I’m enthusiastic to get into the field and the classroom with you this year!

A few notes about the first sessions of the year…

I’m kicking off the season with my popular Intro to Digital SLR Photography workshop, coming up right away in late-January. If you’ve been interested in this workshop but haven’t ever taken it, please note that I’ll not be repeating this one as often in 2014 as I did last year. As of now, it’s on the calendar once – January 25. I may add another session later in the year, depending on my late-year photography calendar overall, but no guarantees. So if you’re thinking about this class, I encourage you to register right away. It will likely fill soon, so don’t hesitate.

I am also excited to be offering a new winter landscape field workshop – The Midwest Winter Landscape – coming up mid-February. We’ll do this in the Des Moines area, and it will be a slightly different format than my other field workshops. This workshop will meet pre-dawn for landscape shooting in the beautiful winter dawn light, and will continue shooting through most of the morning. But then in the middle portion of the day we’ll retreat to a warm location for small-group instruction, critique of images from the morning session, and hot chocolate or coffee. We’ll then venture back out in the afternoon to shoot in the mellow afternoon light, and sunset until dark.

I also want to note that I’ll be offering an Advanced Lightroom class, and I have kicked up my former “Intermediate” DSLR Photography class a big notch and have re-packaged it as an all-new half-day Advanced DSLR Photography classroom workshop.

Autumn Color Photography WorkshopThe calendar as it stands now:

Saturday, January 25 ~ Intro to Digital SLR Photography – Des Moines, IA. Half-day – 12-4pm

Saturday, February 15 ~ The Midwest Winter Landscape – Des Moines, IA. All-day

Saturday, March 8 ~ Advanced Lightroom – Des Moines, IA. Half-day – 12-4pm

Saturday, April 19 ~ Advanced DSLR Photography – Des Moines, IA. Half-day – 12-4pm

Saturday, May 3 ~ Spring Wildflowers and Landscapes – Central IA. All-day

Saturday, July 12 ~ The Midwest Summer Prairie – Rural Marshall County, IA. All-day

Saturday, September 20 ~ 9th Annual Living History Farms Photography Day – Not my event, but I’ll offer instruction here! This should be on the calendar of any photographer in the Midwest!

Saturday, October 18 ~ Midwest Autumn Color – Ledges State Park near Boone, IA. All-day

20130511-_MSP0529Complete information and registration for all of the above can be found at my full workshop website, petersonphotoworkshops.com.

Please note that I do generally add some mid- and late-year classes, sometime around late spring. I have already had some people asking about additional Intro to DSLR Photography classes and my Intro to Lightroom class. Please stay tuned – I’ll add sessions as my calendar for mid-year and beyond becomes more clear.

2013 was a very fun year for Peterson Photoworkshops, and I was humbled to have so many repeat workshop participants – some photographers have returned for up to seven or eight of my workshops. I greatly appreciate your support, and I look forward to working with many fabulous photographers in this upcoming year.

Happy New Year!
Mark