Cape Cod Massachusetts Weekend Workshop Announcement! Lighthouses, Night Photography, HDR’s, and more!!!

Posted in Instructional Photo Tours on July 8, 2012 by roamin with roman

Come join me for this special weekend workshop exploring the beauty of outer Cape Cod.  There is simply no better time of year to photograph on Cape Cod.   The bugs and the crowds are gone and the weather is cool, but not cold. The marshes are simply gorgeous as they prepare to go dormant for the winter. I will cater locations based on the weather conditions.

The workshop begins on Friday night, October 12th as we gather at the Four Points Sheraton in Eastham, MA Plan on arriving around 3pm -5pm in time for a sunset shoot on Friday.  We will head back to the hotel for an orientation pizza party which will also include a short presentation on landscape photography with time built in for a possible night shoot at one of the local light houses.  As usual, maximum flexibility has been built into the itinerary to ensure a jam-packed weekend of photography and instruction.

Saturday begins with a sunrise shoot after which we will head back to the hotel for a mid-day processing session.  I will guide students throughout the process and show them the best ways to optimize their images using Photoshop/Photoshop Elements and share with them various plug-ins such as Topaz and/or NIK. We will also cover the use of HDR plug-ins such as HDR Efex Pro and/or Photomatix. Techniques that will be covered will include tips on how to make your images “pop” and other ways to create depth and interest.  A laptop is recommended for all afternoon processing sessions but not required. Saturday afternoon will feature a special lighthouse tour to Race Point Lighthouse (pictured on top) in Provincetown where students will have an opportunity to photograph one of the most beautiful lighthouses on the Cape during the golden hour and at sunset.  After dinner (meals are not included in workshop cost), we will head to another beautiful lighthouse nearby for night photography where students will learn light painting and other low light techniques.  Your stay on Friday and Saturday night at the Sheraton is included in the cost of the workshop (based on double occupancy).

Sunday morning starts with another sunrise shoot and we will choose the location based on the weather. One possible location may include the many salt marshes. At this time of year, the marsh grass turns beautiful shades of gold and orange and as the sun comes up, the marsh grass is breathtaking.  The compositions here are limited only by your imagination as the tidal pools create patterns in the golden hues of the marsh grass.  Another potential location is a working fishing community where there are lots of interesting fishing trawlers, skiffs and other boats to photograph as well as the skyline of the town itself.  This is a perfect place to use HDR (High Dynamic Range) and to capture interesting reflections in the water.    We will once again return to the hotel conference room after checking out and have another afternoon processing where students can work on processing their images taken during the workshop.  Questions are always encouraged throughout the weekend and Betty and I will be right there with you to answer them all. A laptop is recommended for the workshop but not required.  The cost of this weekend workshop is $800 and is limited to 12 participants.  Transportation is not included in this workshop but after your arrival at the hotel, we will try to arrange carpooling to the shoots as parking is limited in some of the locations.

As always, if you have any questions you can e-mail me at: rkurywczak@gmail.com .

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Working on Some Images…. Yellowstone/Grand Tetons on My Mind

Posted in Instructional Photo Tours on June 29, 2012 by roamin with roman

I have been working on finalizing this year’s Yellowstone/Grand Teton photo tour and it spurred me to work on some night images from my previous trips there.  Teaching night photography on all my tours is one of the favorite things I do on them.  It takes often photographed scenes and puts a fresh new spin on them.  All the images in this post are very good examples of this and anyone who has been to these parks knows how difficult it can be to get a fresh take on some of the most photographed icons in the world.  The top image of Schwabacher’s landing and Yellowstone Falls below are perfect example as the crowds there can be unbearable during the day.  Yellowstone and the Tetons revert to their quiet wild self at night.

The lack of crowds and the absence of noise is a real treat!  During the day, you lose some of that experience…… although since I have written the Night Guide……we are running into a lot more photographers!  Good luck avoiding the crowds at either Oxbow Bend or Old Faithful, both pictured below, during the day!

The barns (shown below) are another example of where you will encounter throngs of photographers during the day. After a quick tutorial on focusing at night and composing, we head out to these iconic locations while the crowds are busy slumbering away for the night. I love to see the thrill on my clients faces when they get to photograph them for the first time at night for themselves.  By the end of every tour, they are all experts at night photography!  This is why siesta time during the mid day hours is so important too!

I am often asked the question: “Aren’t you bored going to the same locations?  My response is always the same……no way!  The image below of White Dome Geyser is a great example of that as I have probably photographed it more than 100 times!  I tried a new composition of this geyser and the Milky Way was particularly bright this evening. Every day is different and every year I get something new to add to my portfolio.  Sharing my love of photography and teaching my clients new things is a thrill unlike no other!  That is why I keep my group sizes (4 on US-based tours) so small!!!  You will not get lost in the crowd on my tours and you get me standing there beside you answering any questions that you may have. 

I only have 1 spot left on this year’s photo tour that runs from September 27th – October 6th.  If you wish to join me and learn more about night photography you can secure your spot by submitting your $500 deposit using the Pay Now button on my website and use a credit card or PayPal.  Just enter the amount and then follow the credit card instructions or log into your PayPal account.

Don’t worry; we will also be taking all the classic day time images too……just remember to take advantage of siesta time when we get the chance!

As always you can email me personally at: rkurywczak@gmail.com so that I can answer any other questions that you may have.

 

Radio City Music Hall Photo Contest Winner Announcement!

Posted in Instructional Photo Tours on June 16, 2012 by roamin with roman

Congratulations Betty Wiley for having your image above chosen as the winner of my Radio City Music Hall workshop photo contest!!!   Susan and I felt the image showed a great perspective of the grand lobby and your processing made it shine!  You will receive your choice of any Topaz Labs Software.  Congratulations to you!!!

 

As Susan and I were looking through the images, the image above caught our attention because of the unusual perspective and composition……so I decided to choose a runner-up!  Congrats George Garbeck!  Your prize is $50 off any workshop over $125 or $125 off any of my longer tours. 

Congrats to you both and all that participated!!!

Induro GHB2 Gimbal Head Review

Posted in Instructional Photo Tours on June 15, 2012 by roamin with roman

I am always on the lookout for new gear that I can recommend to all of you that I would use myself. Every once in a while a product comes along that catches my attention and the Induro GHB2 Gimbal Style head is one such product.  For over 7 years I have used the Wimberly v1 Gimbal Style head and have enjoyed it very much.  Frankly, I am not sure why Wimberly decided to change the design as in my opinion; the v1 version really didn’t need any!  But someone at Wimberly decided they needed to make changes and when I tried the v2 version, I immediately felt that the “improvements” were a step back…..although not a big one.  Even though v2 was a significant weight savings over v1, the smoothness and fluidity of motion were just not there when compared to the older v1 version, especially in the panning movement.  Many people who switched to v2 agree with me, but there were no other alternatives….until now!

Induro has now come along and introduced their version of a Gimbal style head for those of us who use long glass. I couldn’t wait to test my beloved Sigma 300-800mm lens on it to give you all an alternative to Wimberly.  Given that the lens is one of the heaviest on the market, I felt that if the Induro performed with it mounted on the head, than most lenses on the market today would perform well using it.  Appearance wise, both the Induro GHB2 and the Wimberly v2 look similar.  Both heads have a quality finish and build; with the Induro having an additional clearly marked scale to aid you when setting up your lens. Remember, with all Gimbal style heads, proper set up to perfectly balance the camera/lens combination is critical to fluid operation!  I have provided some easy assembly instructions at the bottom of this review for those of you who decide to purchase the head for easier set-up.

The included quick release lens foot plate is the first major difference when comparing the Induro GHB2 head to the Wimberly head.  This may seem trivial….but given that Wimberly charges over $50 for their quick release foot plates……that is a significant savings.

After I adjusted my body/lens combination, I took the entire set up out into the field, photographing birds on the beach, to compare how it performed in every range of motion.  The first thing I noticed when I was carrying the whole setup over my shoulder, locked down, was how solid it was with no worries about it flopping or falling.  I decided to try and leave the tilt knobs unlocked and carry it over my shoulder as I often did that with my Wimberly head when trying to reposition myself quickly out in the field and found that the Induro didn’t flop forward or backward nearly as quickly as my Wimberly v1 version did. The v2 performed better than the v1 in that regard.  As I put the Induro through the mornings shoot, it wasn’t quite as smooth as the Wimberly v1 in the vertical/tilt movements but was definitely the equal of the Wimberly v2 in that regard.  The Induro’s panning motion was the equal of my v1 head but clearly performed more smoothly than the Wimberly v2 head. A few more days of testing and retesting confirmed what I found on that first day.

Now, I am not saying that the Wimberly v2 isn’t a quality product but I always strive to give everyone choices when it comes to purchasing gear and this is where the second major difference comes in……the price!!!  The Induro GHB2 comes in around $100 less than the Wimberly.  Factor in the lens foot plate, which is not included in the Wimberly, and you can save yourself about $150 or more in total.

 Even if you call my un-scientific tests equal in performance between the Wimberly v2 and the Induro GHB2…….if I was in the market today for a gimbal style head …… I would definitely choose the Induro GHB2 because it performs as well or better than the Wimberly v2 and save myself the $150 too!!!

 

Assembling the Induro GHB2 Gimbal Style Head

Those of you with no prior experience may find initial set-up a little tricky, but I have to give you a simplified version for you to help make set up a bit easier. Once you do it a few times, you will become a pro at it. First, mount the lens foot plate on your lens.  Make sure it is secure!  Mount the base unit onto your tripod. Make sure the tilt knob and pan knob are also locked down. Attach and lock the quick release mount platform to the vertical adjustment rail roughly in the center of the scale. Keep the quick release locking knob loose and place the camera/lens combo with attached foot plate on the platform base…..roughly center it…..then lock it down.  It helps to have someone give you a hand the first time you try to adjust the height of the mounting platform as it can be difficult to hold a lens….especially one as heavy as the “Sigmonster” when tightening the platform lock knob in place. You are trying to align the center of your lens with the center of the tilt knob that controls vertical movement. Grab a firm hold of your camera/lens combination then slightly loosen the platform lock knob.  Once you have the lens centered with the tilt knob center, lock it down tightly.   I recommend you periodically check that knob to make sure it remains tight!  Unlock the tilt knob a bit and slightly loosen the quick release locking knob. Evenly distribute the weight of your camera/lens set up, front to back, on the foot plate so the combination doesn’t flop forward or backward. Securely tighten the quick release locking knob. Your camera and lens combination are now perfectly balanced. Having done this setup more than a few times myself, I found it was just as simple as it was with my Wimberly head.

***Remember*** If you change camera bodies, change the camera/lens combination, put on the 1.4x or 2x teleconverter, add a battery pack or flash unit that this will change the weight distribution and you will have to rebalance the entire set-up on the foot plate.

 

Radio City Music Hall Workshop New Date Announcement!

Posted in Instructional Photo Tours on May 18, 2012 by roamin with roman

My first Radio City Music Hall workshop sold out quickly and many of you were unable to attend so I am pleased to announce that I have secured September 16th for another private workshop there.  This historic landmark is an Art Deco treasure and we will have exclusive access to photograph the remarkable architecture with our tripods and explore both HDR photography or just single exposures or this magnificent structure.  Susan Candelario will be co-leading this event with me.  The image at top is from the lower lobby looking up into the main lobby upstairs.

We will have opportunities to photograph the main theater, the grand lobby (pictured below), multiple powder room (including the magnificent ladies lounge pictured above), and many other areas not available to the general public.  You can see some images of the areas from my first Radio City blog post here

The date is September 16th, 2012 and the time is from 8am till 11:30am.  We will meet under the historic marquee promptly at 8am to go over setting and provide instruction before we head in to maximize the shooting time. As always, Susan and I will also be there with you to answer any additional questions that may arise.  The cost of this private instructional workshop is $90.  The price increase reflects a bit more time inside the interior as well as additional helpers once inside.  While the group size seems large (27) we will break them up into 3 smaller groups (novice, intermediate, and advanced).  I am always adjusting my workshops in this manner to foster a better learning environment for all my participants.  A door prize and special photo contest with a prize will also be part of this experience!

 The first workshop had a waiting list of 10 people that we were not able to accommodate, so if you missed the first one, don’t delay as I expect this one to sell out just as quickly and I have no idea if/when I can get another date inside! The fastest way to secure your spot is to use the Pay Now Button on the bottom of the page and use a credit card or PayPal.  Just enter the amount and then follow the credit card instructions or log into your PayPal account.

As always you can email me personally at: rkurywczak@gmail.com so that I can answer any other questions that you may have.

Five New Florida Bird Photography Tours Announced!

Posted in Instructional Photo Tours on May 15, 2012 by roamin with roman

I am thrilled to announce that in 2013 my schedule will have 5 instructional Florida Bird Photography tours!  They are timed at different times of year to offer you a variety of species and opportunities.

The first tour, from February 16th – 23rd, is timed to coincide with Presidents Day here in the US.  The images in this post represent a small example of the variety of birds you can expect to photograph both as portraits and in flight.  On this workshop we will also be doing some butterfly macro photography as well!  As many of you are now aware, I can quickly change our itinerary as different photographic opportunities present themselves!  Unlike other tours, I do not pass you off to an assistant!  I am there to personally instruct you and help with any technical photographic questions you may have. Many tours try to call themselves small and take 6 or more clients.  I take only 4 (US locations) to maximize your learning experience. That also allows me to teach you a bit more in-depth and give you a more personalized environment.

Shortly thereafter, I have my second group of tours but this time to the southwest coast of Florida.  I only have one week available, from March 9th – 16th, as the week of the 17th – 24th sold out to my advanced notice e-mail list.  I give that group a 2 week exclusive opportunity to sign up for any tour before I make an announcement here on my blog.  If you would like to be put on that list, just email me and I will add your name to that list.  The highlight of this tour has to be the 2 days (weather permitting) of a private charter to photograph Roseate Spoonbills.  I have been going to Florida for over 17 years now and have never had an opportunity for spoonbills like you do on the boat.  We do get off the boat and into the water to get the best shooting angle.  You can see some examples of images on previous blog posts here, here, and here.

My last tours down to Florida are to the East Coast.  The departure point is Jacksonville and the week available is from May 12th – 14th.   The week of May 4th – 11th sold out to my advance notice list.  This tours highlights are the baby chicks as well as the courting and mating rituals of many of the other species.  I have a few HDR locations on the agenda as well! 

Many of you may not be aware that my costs include lodging (based on double occupancy) and transportation after your arrival at the departure point airport.  While we travel together in the vehicle, we often discuss technical photographic subjects and share post processing tips and techniques.  My goal on every tour is to teach you how to get the best possible image in camera so you don’t have to rely on post processing to “save” a bad image but rather use post processing as a tool to enhance an outstanding capture.  You can find all the specifics, such as cost and departure point, on my schedule page and as always you can email me personally at: rkurywczak@gmail.com so that I can answer any questions that you may have.

 

March Arches/Monument Valley Tour Report

Posted in Instructional Photo Tours on May 12, 2012 by roamin with roman

I’m started working on some images from my late March instructional tour to the Arches area.  The group photographed some popular areas in Arches and Canyonlands national park as well as a private tour into Monument Valley and the Slot Canyons.  We did get out for a lot of night photography in all those areas…..including Monument Valley but the clouds weren’t as cooperative as I would have liked.  Our last night there those clouds brought some snow!  The opening image shows the 2 plus inches or so of snow on our last morning of photography.  The temps were a bit too warm and as we wrapped up the morning shoot, the snow had all but disappeared.  The image below of the tree reminds me how different Arches NP is when there is even just a bit of snow!

As many of you know by now, I have been to the Arches/Canyonlands/Monument Valley area more than any other place I lead tours to.  I stopped counting after 20 visits but I never get tired of shooting it!  While landscape photography may not be as challenging technically as bird photography, the ingredients needed to come together to create a successful image are often much more difficult to come by!  Visiting the same location over and over (I learned this from the late Galen Rowell’s example) gives you a better chance of capturing a more dramatic image of any iconic location.  I have many similar images to the ones below but on every trip the ever-changing skies present unique opportunities for everyone……..no matter how many times you have been there! A perfect example is of the last image of the mittens below when at this time of year, the West Mitten casts its shadow on the East Mitten.

I am always looking for new or obscure locations to diversify my clients shooting opportunities.  On cloudy days, I like to go shoot a little known waterfall just south of Moab called Faux Falls.  In the image below, I concentrated on smaller cascade areas as I have 100’s of images of the falls that I haven’t even processed!

The detail image below is from one of our travel days where we stopped to do HDR’s of old cars, trucks, and barns.  We spent over 3 hours in one junkyard alone this year!

One big advantage I have over other tours is that I can change my itinerary at a moment’s notice. Instead of driving the loop road of Monument Valley one cloudy afternoon, I had the group switch gears and do some HDR work inside the old trading post instead as I knew we would have another opportunity to photograph the loop road on another day.  That is the luxury we have on the 10 day tour but I also try to be this flexible on all of my tours.

My quest for the unusual at iconic locations is constant.  I don’t pass up opportunities for the “standard” shot but because I have been to these locations that many times, I can look for some less explored shots.  While I have done “flowing sand” in the slot canyons before, the image below of the triple sand falls surprised even me! 

The final image below is also another great example as I have photographed that particular tree in Castle Valley numerous times. The tips of the tree only glow that white-hot for a brief moment in late afternoon light and only during certain seasons.  My experience in the Arches area allows me to change locations no matter what the weather throws at me!

I have 2 slots left for my week-long October tour and 1 slot left on the 10 day February tour which will concentrate more on night photography.  You can find all the information on my schedule page or as always, feel free to e-mail me at: rkurywczak@gmail.com .