The Southern Blue Ridge Mountains is a landscape and nature photographer’s paradise. As one of the most biodiverse and geodiverse regions on the planet, it offers a treasure trove of opportunities to capture images of sweeping views of ancient mountains stretching to the horizon; countless cascades and streams tumbling over moss-covered boulders through lush forests; an abundance of beautiful and rare wildflowers; and an impressive variety of wildlife. And then there’s the magical quality of the light—ever-changing and enhanced by the isoprene that gives the Blue Ridge their hallmark bluish color. Participants of this workshop will be immersed in some of the most breathtaking areas the region has to offer—including the nation’s top two destinations in the national park system: the Great Smokey Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Designed to advance your photography skills and stimulate your creativity, this workshop serves to inspire and equip you with the knowledge needed to make beautiful and engaging photographs with consistency. Whether you’re a novice interested in learning how to better capture and share special life moments and places visited, or a passionate amateur seeking to acquire new techniques & skills to elevate your photography to a new level, this workshop is for you.
Paced for a photographer’s needs, the workshop provides a balanced mix of time for classroom instruction; exploration of the mountains, valleys, and streams with our cameras; and relaxing breaks to process our photos and share favorites with the group for valuable feedback and learning. Carl limits the number of participants to 10, which provides the one-on-one time necessary for students to share their specific goals and challenges—regardless of skill level—and then receive suggestions that can often be immediately tested in the field.
What You'll Learn
Prior to embarking on this photographic adventure, you’ll be equipped with new knowledge and techniques to help you to get the most out of your field experience.
Carl Amoth has been a full-time professional landscape, nature, and travel photographer for over a decade, and has worked with a renowned “pioneer” of digital photography and industry consultant in a variety of classroom and field-based workshops. Drawing on this background and his instructional talents, Carl demystifies the essential functions & features of today’s cameras, and demonstrates how to effectively use them with confidence to achieve your desired results. Furthermore, he distills his deep knowledge of digital camera technology and delivers it in easy-to-understand language—providing you with valuable insight to get the most from your camera. Equally important is knowing how to effectively use an image editor, such as Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop. Carl provides some straight-forward instruction on editing techniques to show you how to really bring your photographs to life. (If you’re looking for a deeper dive into the vast capabilities of Lightroom or Photoshop, Carl also offers image editing workshops.)
Complementing the instruction of the technical aspects of photography is a discussion about the art of photography. Carl imparts key tips and techniques that aim to awaken, or further unleash, your creative potential—helping to foster new and interesting approaches to your photographic endeavors. He shares examples of strong compositional works and discusses the “guidelines” of good composition, while challenging some schools of thought on the so-called “rules” of composition and avoidance of “bad” light. One of Carl’s primary goals is to encourage you to “see different.” Before you “snap a photo,” take a moment to evaluate what specifically is compelling you to make a particular photograph. Think big and think small. Should you capture the vast expanse of a landscape or the smallest detail? Work on developing your vision, while allowing it to evolve.
Topics of Discussion
- Camera Basics: ISO, depth of field, white balance, color space, resolution, aperture, shutter speed, and shooting modes (manual, aperture priority, shutter priority, automatic, etc.). Even experienced photographers can benefit from this discussion on the fundamentals
- Exposure, the histogram, and HDR (high dynamic range): understanding these terms, and learning how to get the most from your camera’s digital sensor
- Composition: learn the guidelines, and know when to ignore them
- Choosing the right lens, and knowing how to use it
- Filters, and knowing when and how to use them (polarizing, neutral-density, etc.)
- What is Camera Raw, and what advantages does this image format have over JPEG
- Key points on the elements of composition
- Photography techniques: how to get those gorgeous silky smooth waterfalls, stunning nights skies, and more…
- Color management, and the use of a gray card
- The digital darkroom: understanding digital workflow, and image editing (Photoshop/Lightroom) tips to bring your photos to life
- Macro (close-up) photography
- Creating panoramic photos
- Image storage and backups
Please note the itinerary is subject to change in the event on unforeseen circumstances, such a park closings and inclement weather, in addition to accommodating the group’s collective (and unanimous) desires. If we do encounter a significant rain event, it usually presents a very special visual gift after passing.
Day One (June 10th, 6 p.m.)
We'll kick off the evening with a “meet and greet” at the home of photographer/instructor, Carl Amoth, which is located in the Grand Highlands Community—gorgeously-situated high on Bearwallow Mountain’s grassy highlands. We’ll enjoy some heavy hors d'oeuvres and drinks (thanks to the culinary talents of my wife, Bev) and then head over to the nearby Grand Highlands Lodge for an instructional presentation and overview of the weekend plan. At the conclusion of this session we'll adjourn for the evening.
Day Two (June 11th, early morning)
We’ll start the day at DuPont State Park, which is a 10,000-acre nature sanctuary featuring lush flora, and boasting 6 beautiful waterfalls—some of which were featured in the films, “Last of the Mohicans” and “The Hunger Games.” The trails are moderately hilly, and will fire-up your body for the day's activities ahead. After spending 2-3 hours in the park, we’ll grab a late breakfast/early lunch on our way to Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Once in the park, you’ll be exposed to a cornucopia of flora, fauna, streams, and historical structures to challenge your photographic skills and creativity. Our return journey will take us on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which offers spectacular near and long-range panoramic mountain views. If our timing is right, we’ll stop at Pisgah Inn (next to the Parkway) and dine while taking in the fine views. After supper we’ll drive to some prime overlooks along the parkway and shoot until the twilight hours—capturing the drama of the mountain landscape as daylight fades to twilight and the stars are revealed.
Day Three (June 12th)
Our day begins early to arrive at a very special viewpoint along the Blue Ridge Parkway where you’ll witness the interplay of light and shadow on the expansive views of mountain ridges and valleys as twilight gives way to the rising sun. We’ll spend the day exploring the high mountain ridges northeast of Asheville where blooming rhododendrons should be peaking in places like Craggy Gardens and Roan Mountain—a wonderful setting of grassy balds and rocky outcrops that's sure to inspire. After breaking for lunch (time permitting) we’ll photograph waterfalls and the old-growth hardwood forest of the Linville Gorge wilderness area, after which we’ll head back to Grand Highlands. Once settled back into the lodge, Carl will demonstrate some photo editing techniques with Lightroom and Photoshop, and then give you some time to process some of your photos from the weekend. To wrap up the workshop, we’ll have a group photo review session of your favorite photos, and then some time for Q&A.
What to Bring
Recommended Items to Bring
- Digital camera (preferably a DSLR)
- Extra camera batteries
- Tripod (preferably a sturdy one)
- A variety of lenses, if you have some
- Memory cards
- Lens cloth
- Flashlight or headlamp
- Camera manual
- Sturdy walking shoes or boots
- Rain gear
- Insect repellent
- Water Bottle
- Laptop (for image processing, and group sharing)
- Camera bag, preferably waterproof, to protect your gear
- Camera filters (polarizing, neutral density, etc.)
- Camera shutter release
- Trail food
Easy to Moderate. Getting to the variety of wonderful photo destinations during this workshop is not strenuous. Most are close to parking lots or along side of roads, but there will sometimes be some trails that involve a moderate degree of walking, and include hilly terrain. As such, it’s important to be in good physical condition. Please bring hiking shoes or boots and appropriate clothing to be prepared for the potential of a variety of weather conditions.
Transportation & Lodging
Workshop participants are responsible for transportation during the workshop, local accommodations, and most meals. Our home base is at Grand Highlands, which currently has some lodging options available, but you must make a reservation soon (they're nice, and they go fast). For the more intrepid, there may also be camping opportunities on the beautiful common grounds of the community. (Contact Carl at (480) 268-6578 or email@example.com for details/status.) Carpooling is encouraged, and Carl can accommodate an additional three people in his vehicle. There are numerous excellent dining and lodging options available, some of which will be furnished upon enrollment.
Map to Grand Highlands Lodge - 10 Autumn Sky, Hendersonville, NC (see photo
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If you have questions or would like to register, please email Carl Amoth at firstname.lastname@example.org
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