About a month ago, I headed out on an epic workshop adventure in Moab, UT with my husband who also happens to have an interest in photography. During the workshop, he was eager to learn and used my backup gear while simultaneously keeping me focused on my goals for the workshop: getting out of my photography rut and learning something new.
Let me lay this out up front: I do NOT consider myself a landscape photographer. It’s totally out of my comfort zone and it’s difficult for me to gather up the patience, put all the planning into action and find an interesting composition with SO MUCH space in my viewfinder. The details, the overlooked vignette, the split second interaction? That’s more my speed. But I was determined to make this workshop work for me. We were lucky to have some great weather. And by great weather, I mean the opposite of clear blue (boring) skies. We had foggy mornings, moody dark skies, rain and the subsequent puddles that come along with them, and big puffy clouds. We even had a “stop-the-car-in-the-middle-of-the-dirt-road” sunset sky that allowed me to capture this, one of my favorite images from the trip:
At one point during the workshop, I found myself getting frustrated with trying to capture the complexity of the large scale scenes before me and I started to revert back into my cozy habits of details and moments when my husband called me out. He patiently reminded me that small vignettes were not the reason we had come all the way to Utah. And he was absolutely right. (Dang, now I’ve said it publicly…) So I grabbed my tripod and ventured back out with fresh eyes.
Here’s the shot that I took right before the reminder:
And here’s what I took shortly after:
It would have been easier to fall back on my usual methods, but then, what was the point of paying for the workshop? In addition to the change in perspective, I got a lot of personal instruction on editing. And just when I thought I was getting the hang of things in Lightroom, our instructors, Andy Biggs and Bret Edge managed to completely alter the way I go about post-processing. I asked each of the instructors to use one of my raw images and show me what they might do if the image were theirs. It was fascinating to watch someone else work their magic. I tagged and saved their edited copies of my images and then I used some of their advice on my own copy so I could compare the two. The image on the top was edited by yours truly, and the one on the bottom was edited byAndy :
I love how you can tell a distinct difference in style and preference between 2 images of exactly the same subject. That’s one of the incredible parts of photography to me: no two people will ever see things the same way no matter how many times it’s photographed.
When you attend a workshop, do you ask yourself ahead of time what you hope to get out it? Do you check in with yourself half-way through to assess your progress? How do you work(shop)?
PS – I did manage to capture a few detail shots for a side-project I was inspired to begin while I was out there. But that’s another story for another post…