Category Archives: sand dunes

Where have I been????? FEATUERD ARTICLE: Which one Works #7… The Ferry House, Whidbey Island,Wa.


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Mystery Valley, Arizona


It’s been quite a long time since my last posting. I have been busy away with my 2012 workshop schedule. I’ve spent about 6 weeks in the southwest, and 4 corners region (Navajo and red rock country) then up on Whidbey Island doing a great workshop for the Pacific Northwest Art School (more on that later) then over to Olympic National Park for a week.

I am currently in southern California where I’ll be at the Temecula Balloon and Wine Festival starting this Friday through Sunday afternoon. I return to Oregon on Tuesday morning and begin my Columbia Gorge workshop Wednesday night and another in the Palouse Region in Eastern Washington the following week. I am so fortunate to be able to get to these places at the best times of the year.

After the workshop I usually take a look at the few images I make (I am there for my customers, not for my own shooting opportunities!). I have had very few acceptable images, this year since workshops have been quite full and my time is spent with my attendees. However this image I made waking back t my truck on the Olympic Peninsula is one I am quite pleased with. I had a metal print made of this which I will get to see tomorrow. This is the Sol Duc River between Forks and Port Angeles in a secret spot I know about.

Sol Duc River, Olympic Peninsula, Wa.

Tech Data  012:05:18 16:34:00  Nikon D700 80-200mm F 2.8 @ 100mm

Sunset, Marin Headlands, near San Francisco, Ca

Below is a list of my workshops for the remainder of 2012. Of particular note is the workshop in Northern California in September 2012 ) that I will be conducting with the Pacific Northwest Art School. September is a great time to be in this area. The summer crowds are gone and the air is a bit cooler and refreshing. In addition, the cost of this workshop is very attractive considering the itinerary and diverse subject matter. We will spend a full day in the beautiful win county of the Napa Valley. We will travel a bit Northwest through the Point Reyes area, then down to the Marin headlands for some great ocean views and a sunrise shoot of the Golden gate. After a morning in San Francisco, we’ll venture out to the coast, south of San Francisco for more ocean, and intimate landscape locations. Time is set to conduct presentations, image discussions and more. Please consider joining us. You can register with the PNWS here: or by calling 866-678-3395.

My 2013 workshop schedule is coming into shape. You can view it here. Another trek to Iceland is planned for July with an additional 9 day excursion to beautiful ( and quite warm & pleasant  and under photographed) Greenland.  I’ll be back in NE Ohio in October for fall color and once again a full day(including a private Amish dinner) with my Amish friends on their farm in Sugarcreek Ohio. I’ll be teaming up with my good friend, world class photographer and teacher Bill Fortney( for a workshop you will not want to miss! I’ll also be announcing a workshop in late October 2013 in the red rock country (including Zion National Park) very soon. Details on these and more can be found here:

I received requests to link the webinar I conducted  for NIK SOFTWARE , back in March, entitled, “Keeping it Simple .You can view it here: ( if you purchase any or all of the NIK Software package… enter code JGRAHAM and receive a 15% discount!!!

Sunrise, Hunt’s Mesa, Monument Valley AZ

2012 Workshop Info:

COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE …JUNE 2012 – 1 seat left  1 spot open



OREGON COAST 5 DAYS!—August 2012—2 seats open




 More information found here:


    FEATURED ARTICLE  -.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.

 WHICH ONE WORKS?    The Ferry House, Whidbey Island, Washington

In this series of articles, I discuss and compare images and talk about why I like one over the other.

Choosing one image over other similar images is one that we all deal with in our digital darkroom.

I suggest to you, as well as my workshop attendees to work the subject while in the field, make final decisions on your monitors at home.

 ….. WHICH ONE WORKS # 7…..

 LOCATION:  Whidbey Island, Puget Sound, Washington

If you have viewed the movie “Snow Falling on Cedars”, 2009, you might remember this house. It is the historic Ferry House at Ebey’s Landing.  The Ferry House was in the movie for only about 30 seconds so have to look quick. This house is owned by the US Park Service and is one of the historic places. The house even has its own Facebook Page

One of the oldest residential buildings in the state of Washington, the Ferry House was built in 1860 by Winfield Scott Ebey as an Inn to provide financial stability for his brother’s children, who were orphaned when Isaac Ebey was brutally murdered and beheaded by Canadian natives. Once completed and opened for business, the building was named The Ebey Inn. With no other nearby accommodations, the Inn — which housed a post office, a tavern, and rooms for overnight guests — quickly became an important place for sailors and other travelers to rest before continuing their journeys to  other towns on Whidbey Island the nearby mainland and points further north. Travelers and locals could also purchase merchandise and groceries at the Inn, which served ferry traffic to and from Port Townsend The house stayed in the Ebey family for 57 years, until Isaac Ebey’s grandson sold the old Inn in 1917.

The old Inn is currently owned by the National Park Service. The Ferry House became part of the 17,500-acre (71 km2) Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve created in 1978 to protect the rural working landscape and community on Central Whidbey Island.

 THE STORY:  Every time I visit Whidbey Island, be it for a workshop or when I am there photographing, I always visit this beautiful location. These three images were made on separate days in different light. These are three of my favorite images, but only one will stand out enough to me to be my favorite image of the Ferry House. I was initially attracted to the location by the look of the old house against the background of cedars. The challenge was how to work the rather large foreground into the scene. In many cases a rock tree, etc. can serve as an anchor for the image, making for an interesting photograph, In this case, using the building in and of itself would have been acceptable, but I wanted to use the beautiful field of barley and the green to serve as my foreground. This was not as easy a task as I thought it might be. This location is best photographed in the morning. The light can be challenging to say the least. Often extremely windy conditions are present due to the proximity to the sound and the ocean. Returning many times is essential.

To create a successful landscape photograph I believe you should learn as much about a location as possible. Learn the conditions such as weather and light, and how they affect the scene and prepare yourself properly. Being at the right place at the right time is rarely by luck. Be sure your camera setting are what you want to make the most of the photograph. Imagine these images taken at F4! When the lights “happening” it usually lasts for only a few minutes. You’ll need to work quick and know how to access your equipment. Not knowing where things are in your camera bag can cost you a great shot.

TECH DATA: All images made using my Nikon D700, Gitzo 3541 tripod and Really Right Stuff BH55 Ball Head.

IMAGE  1   Nikon 80-200mm  2.8 @ 200mm   1/60sec at f16  Apature priority / Matrix metering

-1/3 compensation . ISO 1250


IMAGE  2   Nikon 28-70mm @ 70mm   1/ 2.5 sec at F16  Manual /Spot metering –1/3 compensation . ISO 200



IMAGE  3   Nikon 28-70mm @ 70mm  1/3sec at F16  Manual /Spot metering –1/3 compensation .

ISO 200




The key to processing is knowing what I want out of the image in the field as I am making the photograph, then applying the processing technique in my studio. I make initial processing

adjustments in cam RAW using Adobe Lightroom. I use NIK SOFTWARE’S “DEFINE” to reduce any noise. I adjust the image further using NIK”S VIVEZA and Color Efex Pro. I used some layer adjustments in Adobe Photoshop to increase contrast. Final sharpening was done using NIK’S Output Sharpener.

All three of these images were processed relatively the same. What makes them different is

1) Composition     2) Light conditions  3) Use of the subject with the foreground

THE EDIT:    There are three very different images and each conveys a different feeling. It is always important to define the subject before making the image. Obviously the subject is the Ferry House. Like all images, weather they be photographs or paintings, how the subject is handled is crucial. The house is depicted in three completely different ways in these images.

IMAGE #1  


This image was taken about 2 months before the others and the green barley field was really nice in green. I think if I was trying to show the house and not the environment,  I would select this image, The adjacent fields and close by water adds something to the image. There are some lines in the field that sort of lead into the subject which I like. The house is sharp and the background fairly clean. Depending on the use, this image works quite nicely. The light was really good this day. It was overcast, quite cool and windy. That is why I set my ISO to 1250. I did not want blurriness in the grasses as the wind was very strong. The house in this image is for my taste is balanced, but too centered. As you can see in the other images there are parts of the environment that I did not want to include in this image. By not including them I came up with this one dimensional image. It’s a nice image but to me somewhat boring.


I went back after the 1st image and arrived at the location early in the morning, during the sweet light, to make this another images of the Ferry House. This time I wanted to use the driveway and pathway, leading to the back of the adjacent property to tell more of the story of where this old house is located. After walking around for quite a while, I selected this spot, while the light remained quite nice. The early morning light really did a nice job on the background. I still to this day cannot decide if I like this driveway or not. Sometimes I think is add something, something I think it draws my eye to the end of the driveway and away from the subject. I also don’t like how the light handled the green barley field. The light though good everywhere else really didn’t work on the grass. Perhaps if I was sold on this composition I could go back into my software and play with the luminosity etc. and adjust the grass a bit, but since I am really not sold on this image, I think I’ll wait until I am, if ever.



Again this image was taken in the early morning. This day featured a cloudless sky and though not bad, the poorest morning light of the three images.  I like the house placement and the green barley field a lot in this composition. This time of year the yellow mustard field in back of the property was in full bloom. I used the blue of the Puget Sound along with the complimentary yellow of the mustard field to work to enhance the image. The light was not quite as good on the house as in image 1 or 2 but not terrible. The biggest drawback for me in this image is the sky. There is no drama here. However we photographers sometime have to work with what we have.


My final decision is to go back and do this photograph again.  What I am after is the composition of IMAGE $3 with some dramatic sky’s or some drama caused by weather. Snow would be great. Fog would be interesting as well.

All three images are nothing I would hang on a wall. Image one might be good to use for editorial purposes.  I can’t come to a firm decision regard the composition of IMAGE2. Until I do I will pass on this composition.  IMAGE 3 is more of what I call a post card image. Yes, the composition is somewhat different from what I’ve seen before, but after a few seconds it is just a nice image, not exciting.

Many that I did not want to include in this image. By not including them I came up with this one dimensional image. It’s a nice image but to me somewhat boring.

Many times, viewers look at some of the better images I have and ask “How did you get that great light “ or “How did you ever get an image looking like that” They wait for a technical answer, thinking I must have a great camera or lenses. My answer always is that I try and go back to a location many times, and you I might be there when everything works.

What do you think?–jg


Which One Works #5 Death Valley National Park , NIK SOFTWARE WEBINAR, ULTIMATE ICELAND 2012

         Jack Graham Photography    

Learn to See                        Learn to think                      Learn to create

2012 Workshop Schedule    — WORKSHOPS FILLING FAST —!!

2012 Registration Form   REGISTRATION FORM 2012v9

 Workshop Referrals:

 One on One, Individual Workshop information

Workshop FAQ’s  GENERAL WORKSHOP QUESTIONS_FAQ’S INFORMATION_v2012f    new podcast ready now—interview with Laurie Rubin, NIK SOFTWARE

2012 Workshop Locations incliude the desert southwest, Olympic National Park, Columbia River Gorge, Fall Color in Oregon’s Wine Country & Area, Northern California  and  Whidbey Island, Wa   with the Pacific Northwest Art School…. Tetons & Yellowstone, Wyoming Big Horn Sheep in December….   please check out the details here:

My fall workshop with Guy Tal  in the Eastern Sierra is almost full there are a few spaces left. This workshop is almost at capacity.  Register NOW! ( Check out Guy’s E=Books as well !!)____________________________________________________________________________

Jack Graham E-Book Series 1 & 2 now available for purchase and instant download:


 Noteworthy                                                                                       Use code  JGRAHAM when ordering NIK SOFTWARE on line and receive a 15% discount!!!!

Left to Right: Jack, Laurie Rubin, Dan Hughes, of NIK SOFTWARE in their offices in San Diego
Left to Right: Jack, Laurie Rubin, Dan Hughes, of NIK SOFTWARE in their offices in San Diego

Recently I recorded a webinar at the NIK SOFTWARE Headquarters in San Diego. I would like to thank the folks at NIK Software, especially Laurie Rubin and Dan Hughes for making this possible. You can view the entire webinar here:

I just returned from my spring workshop in Death Valley. We had great weather right up until the last few hours when a bad dust storm blew through.  We had good sunsets and sunrises. We had an exceptional group of attendees as well. I’ll be back in Death Valley in early November and have a few spaces left.

Driving into the sandstorm on the way out of Death Valley last week

   Speaking of spaces, I have only one space left for Ultimate Iceland in July 2012. If you are thinking about this trip, please consider coming along. You will be in for an exceptional experience, feathering 10 full days ( I don’t count travel days like some other workshops do!) of photography. You can view the details here:

Getting set for the webinar at Nik Software


I received a nice email from a workshop attendee recently. She really summed up what I not only preach on workshops, that being to slow down, Look more and shoot less,  and to try and make some different images than what has already been done. Please give it a quick read!

From: Anne S []
Sent: Wednesday, March 07, 2012 5:42 AM
To: Jack Graham
Subject: Recent Workshop


I finally got a chance to process the photos.  I did not take a whole lot of pictures but each of them reminds me a lot of your instructions and hints.

As you know, I am not out there to just take beautiful pictures though I have some very nice ones with your help to get things tighter.  For me, most importantly, I left the workshop with a good amount of knowledge and technique to help me take better pictures in the futures.  I really appreciated you coming out for this personal workshop.  I certainly have enjoyed it a lot and best of all, I have learned some good technique in photography.

If I get a chance to be in the west again in the near future, I will certainly contact you.  Likewise, if you are in the east coast, please do not hesitate to drop me an email.  I hope we could do another workshop again in a different setting.



My podcast partner Bob Kulon has a new e-book out titled “Getting There”– Bob goes through the trials and tribulations of going pro as a nature photographer–a must read! !!!


© Jack Graham


Which One Works is a feather I am publishing here on my blog every week or two. I’ll discuss and compare images and talk about why I like one over the others.

This process is a common one that we all deal with in our digital darkroom. The final image is important for whatever project it’s being used for, and spending time determining which image works vs. another is well worth it. In many case the slightest difference in composition, light etc makes all the difference,

Often we may take many frames of a subject in different light and different angles. Each frame can evoke a different feeling to the subject.

Always remember that you need a good subject and acceptable light, or your final image will probably be less than desirable.

Your comments, as always are more than welcome.


Badwater, DVNP © Jack Graham

LOCATION:  Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Death Valley NP, California USA

Lat: 36°36’44.16″N

Long: 117°07’2.93″W

 Death Valley is a vast baron land, about the size of Connecticut (3.3 million acres) in the southeastern part of California. Due to the many mountain ranges on all sides, rainfall is scarce. I am sure that most of you know that DVNP receives about 2” of rain per year and would evaporate about 150”+. Badwater is over 200 feet below seal level and is usually the hottest place I the United States and even throughout the world. From a photo graphical standpoint, DVNP is a challenging place, even for a seasoned pro photographer. Heat is a huge problem in the late spring, & summer. When arriving at a location the conditions can be vastly different from your hotel or campsite. When photographing in DVNP, its always important to consider textures and patterns. Slowing down and learning to see are both very important factors and go a long way when attempting to create quality images in Death Valley. The bottom line is that DVNP is a great place to learn to be creative. If you are in too much of a hurry, your images will fail.

Image # 1   Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, DVNP  ©Jack Graham
Image # 1 Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, DVNP ©Jack Graham


Our group ventured out the 1st morning and the 4th morning of our workshop at sunrise to capture images at the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. It was soon apparent to my workshop attendees that patterns and subject matter had to be considered carefully. At sunrise, the sand becomes a rich orange. Soon after the sun is above the horizon, the shadows of the back of the dunes contrast to the first lit sides, making metering a bit tricky. I often find that automatic metering is ineffective most of the time when shooting these dunes.

I always suggest, especially in this location, that you really work the subject. Take multiple images from different locations. If you are using a zoom lens, just don’t zoom in and out to create tighter shots. Walk around and get the most out of whatever focal length up you are using. The compression of the background is different, especially with mid to long telephoto lenses, when you walk into place and make an image vs. when you stand in one place and zoom in. It’s always good to get on the dunes the morning after a windy night. Tourists (and photographers as well) trample the dunes and leave footprints which can be really tough to clone away. These images were made on the 4th morning after a windless night. I cloned out as many footprints as possible, but many still remain. Wind is the only force that can eliminate these unwanted artifacts which are seen in so many images.

Image # 2  Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, DVNP  ©Jack Graham
Image # 2 Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, DVNP ©Jack Graham

TECH DATA:  On day 4 I decided to put my new Nikon 28-300mm lens to the test (more on this in another blog article). I shot a few images at F22, which I normally do not use very often and at 300mm and 28mm respectively. I was rather impressed with the overall quality. I obtained this lens to use as a travel lens, when weight is a consideration. Does is perform like my 17-35mm 2.8 or 80-200mm 2.8? Not quite but its really better than I expected.

IMAGE 1   Date/Time: 2012:03:05 07:32:35  ( sunrise was about 6:15 or so)

NIKON D700  Nikon   Lens-Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR   set at 300m

Shutter speed: 1.6 sec at  F22  Exposure –Manual  Metering-Spot  at 300mm

–         1/3 compensation  no filters


IMAGE # 2       (11 minutes later)   This images was slightly cropped on the bottom.

Date/Time: 2012:03:05 07:43:32  ( sunrise was about 6:15 or so)

NIKON D700 , Lens– Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR    set at 105mm

Image # 2   Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, DVNP  ©Jack Graham
Image # 2 Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, DVNP ©Jack Graham

Shutter speed: 1/20th sec at F16 Exposure –Manual Metering-Spot

–         1/3 compensation no filters


PROCESSING:  Lightroom camera raw adjustments then NIK SOFTWARE—Define, Viveza 2.0, Color Efex Pro4 (Pro Contrast, Darken Lighten Center) Output Sharpener 2.0

The final monochrome image was processed using Nik Software Silver Efex Pro2

Image # 1   Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, DVNP  ©Jack Graham
Image # 1 Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, DVNP ©Jack Graham

THE EDIT:    I really have a tough time discerning which one works. They both work in different ways. There are certainly more lines in image # 2, than the wider view, as well as the crop, depicts what the dunes represent. Both images tell a story. Both images depict the sand dunes well, but in a very different way. The use of the creosote bush to me is better in image #1.

When critiquing images, I use what I refer to as my 5 second rule. If I can not look at an image and in 5 seconds, want to study it more, or know that something is working well, I usually move on. Again both images quality in this respect as well.

I will pick image #1 over image # 2. My eye tends to keep moving around in image #2 looking for a more defined subject than image # 1. I also think that though I made a slight crop in image #2, there is still a bit too much foreground. Perhaps a panorama of this area would have been better suited for my needs. I really like how the bush in image #2 anchors the image. The curve and shape of the large dune in image #1 is a well-defined subject.

After converting image # 1 into monochrome (below), I even like it better. The shadows work much better in monochrome than in color

What do you think?


Image # 1   Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, DVNP  ©Jack Graham
Image # 1 Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, DVNP ©Jack Graham


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NEWS / Workshops / Article: Which one Works # 4, “The Palouse”

               Jack Graham Photography      

Learn to See                        Learn to think                      Learn to create



This is a GREAT website for viewing some simply amazing  images!



Out in the Eastern Sierra

2012 Workshop Schedule

 2012 Registration Form   REGISTRATION FORM 2012v9

 Workshop Referrals:

 One on One, Individual Workshop information



 Jack Graham E-Book Series 1 & 2 now available for purchase and instant download:




WEBINAR———NIK SOFTWARE: I would like to thank the folks at NIK SOFTWARE for inviting me to host a webinar   at their studio in San Diego from 2-3PM on Feb 28th. You have to register to attend. You need to register for this, and I know there are only a few spots left! ( they can register up to 1000 people). Click here to register:

I have a featured article in Landscape Photography Magazine this month. You can read it here:


Workshop news and information:


WHIDBEY ISLAND & NORTHERN CALIFORNIA—Pacific Northwest Art School Workshops am conducting 2 workshops this year for the Pacific NW Art School. One is on Whidbey Island, Washington in May and the other is in Northern California in September. These are at a very special price and a tremendous value. Please contact them by clicking here,

or call (360) 678-3396 for information      Pacific Northwest Art School Flier

Blue Ice, Iceland

ULTIMATE ICELAND in July 2012—–ONLY ONE SPOT LEFT!… It’s going to a special trip!

         HIDDEN CHINA and optional TIBET:–Summer 2012 One of the 1st workshops ever to venture into Details here:


EASTERN SIERRA with GUY  TAL —  OCTOBER 2012—There are only a few spots left for my Eastern Sierra workshop in October with me and my good friend Guy Tal. If you are thinking about joining us, please let me know ASAP. Rooms are also at a premium.

Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone NP

TETON NP / YELLOWSTONE NP WORKSHOP in September. Details are found here:

COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE in JUNE !!   Wildflowers & Waterfalls!

                                             FEATURED ARTICLE:            WHICH ONE WORKS   # 4

© Jack Graham

This is a new feature I am publishing here on my blog every week or two. I’ll discuss and compare images and talk about why I like one over the others.

This process is a common one that we all deal in our editing process.  The editing process is as important as any stage in the making of a photograph. You should edit carefully, and be your toughest critic. In most cases the slightest difference in composition, light etc makes all the difference between a really good image and a great image.

Often we may take many frames of a subject in different light and different angles. Each frame can evoke a different feeling to the subject.

Always remember that you need a good subject and acceptable light, or your final image will probably be less than desirable.

Though art is subjective, certain aspects of correct composition are less. This writing is my feelings. You may disagree; if you do I’d love to know why. You comments, as always are more than welcome.

“The Palouse”

LOCATION. – The Palouse Region of Eastern Washington, USA. The Palouse is made up of rolling hills, old weathered barns and patterns in the wheat fields, accentuated by the light and clouds, which makes for some simply amazing photography. One must have their creative juices flowing to be successful photographing the Palouse. The Palouse is the richest wheat growing area in the United States due to the geographic location rainfall and rich soil.

These images were made in June, when the area is its greenest.

THE STORY:  One of the most striking things I always look for are the barns, sitting on or within the green hillsides. As I am sure you know red and green, as opposite colors work well together. This time of year, the green is at its peak. When photographing here, it’s important to take the textures, patterns and color all into account in every landscape image. I did that in all 4 of these images. Keeping the image as simple as possible is also primary. These are working farms. There will be tractors, silos, and other added articles around the barns, property and on the roads and along the roads. Sometimes you wasn’t them there, sometimes you don’t. Can you clone them out, sometimes, but sometimes they may cause distractions and be unable to be removed successfully. Can they affect the feel of an image? You bet, as we will see here.

TECH DATA:  These images were all shot back in 2006 on June 12th.  Image and all were taken 8, minutes apart at ISO 200, using A Nikon D200 and a Nikon 300mm F4 lens (which equaled 450mm taking the crop factor into consideration). Apertures were all F16, and shutter speeds were either 1 /40th or 1/30 second.

I did minimal processing on these 4 images. The one which I select will be refined and look better than these, but for this exercise, we’re talking about compositional elements, not processing.

The finial-processed image will be included at the bottom of this writing.

Images were processed using Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop CS4 and as always Nik Software. Define was used first to remove any noise. I did not use Viveza 2 on these images at all, but did add Detail Extractor, Brilliance & Warmth, a slight amount of foliage enhancement and bit of vignette to each image, using the Nik Software’s Color Efex4 Pro.. Sharpening was done in Nik Sharpener Pro. There was minimal cropping done to these images.

The same amount of each filter/ sharpening etc was applied to each image. There are no variations in processing here, just natural light

 THE EDIT:    Let’s talk about each image, the pros and cons.


Image # 1

Pros:  I don’t really see too many here at all.

Cons: Let’s start with a basic question you need to always ask yourself. What’s the subject? IS it the barn? Is it the green hillsides? If you cannot answer this, the image is a failure. I cannot answer that question looking at this image. Can you?

There are many compositional defects in this image. There is a huge excess of foreground that adds nothing to the image at all. Yes the rolling hills are nice, the shadows are to me just ok, but the only reason you know it’s a barn is because it’s red. Could I crop out or clone out that tree in the upper left corner. Why is even there? Perhaps because the D200 was a 95% view finder! Also, to me the barn is not 100% sharp.

TIP—Know what percent your viewfinder is and remember things may creep into your image.  Live view will always show you a 100% view!

This image will be trashed and would never get to the processing area.


   IMAGE # 2

Pros:  To me this is an improvement that image #1, because of one factor. To me the barn is now the subject. At least we have one here. The simple placement of the barn in the foreground vs. at the top allows for a defined subject. This image was made 4 minutes after image #1. There is a nice leading line, the road coming from the lower right into the barn & house. The patterns are nice and the hillsides in the background are OK.  Notice how the light changed in just 4 minutes.

Cons:  The barn is not sharp enough, nor is the trees. This is still not anything to keep. Perhaps it might be a nice postcard, but nothing to hold my interest for more than about 10 seconds. It’s better than image #1, but to me, still a boring image.

I see many of these kinds of images, sometimes published—but this image will be trashed and would never get to the processing area either.


Image 3

No matter how I tried the images, even though there were some pros, was unusable for all the reason I stated. In the same general area, Image # 3 was taken 2 minutes later than image # 1&2. Here we have something to look at and to hold interest.

Pros:  Just my looking in a slightly different direction allowed me to see something different. Because of the way it’s constructed, the content and layout is why this image is, so far, the superior. The red buildings and silos in the foreground make a pleasing anchor to the vertical view. This image says” Palouse”!  The added suspense created by the dust blowing off the road at the top, as a vehicle, not seen, creates interest. The spacing on the barns etc is good. The light is quite nice as well. It’s a bit hard to tell in these compressed images but the barn and trees are much sharper.

Cons:  Even though there is better subject matter here, there is also much more “going on” in this image than I really would like as a final shot. My eyes wander from the red barns up to the top and that dust, and then back down. Lets’ look for the subject again? What is it in your mind? I need the subject to be a bit more defined. The trees in the upper right corner also bother me a little but not terribly.

As a documentary image or a stock image this might be kept, but not certainly for a fine art print.

Image # 3, though a big improvement over 1 &2 is still a work in progress.


Image # 4

I remember when I made these sequences of images and remembered how I asked myself how I could define the subject better. Why not try a horizontal image?

Pros: The placement of the red barn is now in the right area. As a horizontal image, there is not extraneous apace on the top or bottom. To me it’s just right. I really like how the leading line (road) comes in from the lower left and through the image. The lone few trees on the left add interest. The amount of spaced used by the hillsides on the upper half of the image add interest as well. There is enough, but not too much.

Cons: I don’t have too many. As a nit pick, when I finish processing the image I’ll remove the shadow in the upper left corner. Did you notice this? I did. These kinds of things can distract from an image. In the final image I’ll add some structure to this image using Nik Software’s Viveza2.

In a span of 8 minutes these 4 images were made and the simple though to make a horizontal image saved the day. This scene just lends itself to a horizontal over a vertical image.

TIP: If in doubt, shoot both horizontal and vertical images. When you get in front of your monitor, and then make the decision. Both can work for different uses.

What do you think?   … and if you would like to join us in the Palouse this June… click here for information:

The right to download and store or output any content on this website and  www.jackgrahamsblog website is granted for preview purposes only and may not be reproduced in any form .All Photographs appearing on this site are the property of Jack Graham unless otherwise noted.
These photos are protected by U.S.Copyright laws and are not to be downloaded or reproduced in any way without the written permission of Jack Graham
By entering this site you accept these terms. If you need permission to use a photo on this site please call 503-625-21430 or email Jack @

WHICH ONE WORKS? #3 “Composition, Processing challenges and the Feeling” / Recent News

                            Jack Graham Photography

    Learn to See                        Learn to think                      Learn to create


   2012 Workshop Schedule

2012 Registration Form   REGISTRATION FORM 2012v9

Workshop Referrals:

One on One, Individual Workshop information




    Jack Graham E-Book Series 1 & 2 now available for purchase and instant download:










This months issue (Feb 2012)  contains an article entitled “Focus on the Unconventional” by me. I hope you find it interesting. While you are there, check out his 1st class publication. Compared to many of the print magazines, Landscape Photography is far ahead of the curve. Check out them various sections and innovative layout here. Let me know how you like the article!.

NIK WEBINAR : I’ll be doing a webinar for NIK DOFTWARE, live in their studio from 2-3PM (Pacific Time) on February 28th.  The webinar topic is “Keeping it Simple” and getting the most out of the NIK Software Suite. Click here to register for the webinar:

See you there!  (save 15% on NIK Software—order online and enter the code JGRAHAM)

WORKSHOPS; My 2012 workshops are beginning to fill quickly. The links you need to have are at the top of this page. We have only one seat left for Iceland, and just a few for our unbelievable trip to Hidden China and Tibet this summer. Also the workshops in the Southwest this spring are almost filled.. Don’t miss out on these !!!!

__________________ FEATURED ARTICLE————————————————————————————————————

WHICH ONE WORKS?          #3

    “Composition, Processing challenges and the Feeling”

©Jack Graham / Jack Graham Photography

Within these discussion that will appear on my blog every week or two, I’ll discuss and compare images and talk about why I like one over the others.

This process is a common one that we all deal with in our digital darkroom. The final image is important for whatever project it’s being used for, and spending time determining which image works vs. another is well worth it. In many case the slightest difference in composition, light etc makes all the difference, Processing techniques can also make the choice apparent as well.

Often we may take many frames of a subject in different light and different angles. Each frame can evoke a different feeling to the subject.

Always remember that you need a good subject and acceptable light, or your final image will probably be less than desirable.

You comments, as always are more than welcome.


IMAGE # 1 Beaver Pond, Lundy Canyon,


LOCATION:  Beaver pond, Lundy Canyon, Eastern Sierra, California


THE STORY:  Prior to the start of my fall workshop in the Eastern Sierra, in 2011, Guy Tal and me, spent a few days together, scouting the area for our coming workshop in early October. Late in the afternoon as some weather was moving in we drove back into the beaver pond past Lundy Lake. I’ve been back here in some wonderful weather tor photography ( for me its dramatic skies; usually adverse conditions!). There is  lots of subject matter here. There is a series of ponds all high maintained by the local beavers who monitor the water level and use the plentiful amount of aspens and other trees for their dens, easily visible from the shoreline.



IMGAE # 2   Beaverpond Lundy Canyyon
IMGAE # 2 Beaverpond Lundy Canyyon


Its’ about 7000’ elevation here and the temperature is usually about 10-15 degrees colder than in close by Lee VIning and Mono Lake. Though the weather was not really terrible, it was about 32 degrees Fahrenheit and windy and raining and snowing at times pretty hard. Unfortunately the wind was blowing right at us. I’ve been in worse. The light was just ok, but for a few minutes when the sunlight pushed through the clouds in the distance hi about the mountains where it was snowing and the snow up high really made this image interesting. Though I had my chamois ready, the raindrops were a factor on my lens as you can see in the raw file.










Image 1 ( Horizontal )                                                                                                              Image # 2  (Vertical)

Date/Time: 2011:10:10 16:21:36 Nikon D700 /Nikon 28-70mm F 2.8           2011:10:10 16:04:41 Nikon D700  /Nikon 17-35mm F 2.8

Shutter speed: 1/30 sec   Aperture: 16                                                                    Shutter speed: 1/13 sec   Aperture: 16

Exposure mode: Manual Metering mode: Spot                                                    Exposure mode: Manual Metering mode: Spot

ISO: 400   Focal length: 30mm                                                                                ISO: 400   Focal length: 20mm


Let’s discuss processing. II did all my normal processing Adobe Lightroom & did a lot of cloning in Photoshop of the water droplets that I could not prevent from hitting my lens! ( you can see my workflow and processing information in my eBook Series 1 available for sale on my website: I then used my   NIK Software as follows:

Here are the origional RAW FILES of each image

RAW file before processing




RAW file before processing

1)       Define 2.0—noise reduction. With my Nikon D700 at ISO400 there was virtually NO noise

2)       Viveza 2.0 – added a good amount of structure and some contrast to the clouds (see my glossary below & learn these terms). I reduced the amount to light in the upper right, ‘

By adding some structure to the water, I was able to bring out some of the reflections as well. I also adjusted the shadows in the trees and brought out a lot of definition, lost in the RAW file. (This is why we use the RAW format. We have much more to work with and can make these adjustments correctly… a discussion of RAW vs. jpeg can be found here:

3)       Color Efex 4 – I added just a tad of Brilliance & Warmth and then just a little Pro Contrast. I used the foliage adjustment to bring out the greens & the foliage along the shoreline. As always I added a vignette, using the Darken –Lighten center feature. This allowed me to choose where I want the center of attraction to be. I chose the shoreline on the left side of the pone. and adjusted the amount of vignette I wanted as well as the amount of darkening I wanted the boarders to have.

4)       Sharpening _ I used NIK’S Sharpener Pro 3.0 . I wanted the trees and vegetation sharper than the mountaintops and certainly the sky. With the Nik software I can control using the U-Point technology the area I want to have sharper than others. Not all images need this but this one did.


After that I added a slight curve and adjusted my levels in Adobe Photoshop and completed the processing.




Both images deliver a totally different feeling and emoting. I chose image 2.Some of you who know me know I really love vertical images and for a while I tended to photograph more vertical images than horizontal. I’ve now learned to shoot both angles and make the decision later! This is a good example.



I choose #2 for a few reasons. First there is a much more appealing foreground, which is usually the first thing I look for inn the field when looking for good subject matter.

On my workshops, I always stress to my workshop attendees , that a little thing can make a good image a great one. Sometimes it’s not the obvious, but the subtle that can transform an image. For instance,

I really like how the sun reflection is right at the top of the tree reflection, and the top of the dead tree it pointing right up to the sun that just cresting over the tops of the mountains . I also like, really in both images how the submerged tree act as kind of a leading line to the other side of the pond.

I feel that the composition is simpler in the vertical. My eye keeps moving around looking for somewhere to land in the horizontal image. There is a lot of subject matter in the horizontal. Simple is always better.  In addition the clouds were much more dramatic in image #2.  Also note how two different lenses can evoke a different look and feel to an image as well.  Image was made with my Nikon 17-35mm F2.8 ( a very sharp lens) . I got down low to the ground to get the foreground where I wanted it. Image #2 was made with my Nikon 28-70mm F2.8, also a very sharp lens. There was no foreground where I was standing.

To recap, these items, in order of importance to me are why #2 was my choice.

1)       #2 has a more simple, but stronger composition, delivers a better feeling to the mood

2)       Strong  foreground

3)       Clouds more dramatic

4)       Position of the sun on the top as well as the reflection

5)       Somewhat better light

Let me now what you think!


The right to download and store or output any content on the  website and  website is granted for preview purposes only and may not be reproduced in any form.All Photographs appearing on this site are the property of Jack Graham unless otherwise noted.
These photos are protected by U.S.Copyright laws and are not to be downloaded or reproduced in any way without the written permission of Jack Graham
By entering this site you accept these terms. If you need permission to use a photo on this site please call 503-625-1430 or email Jack @



Jack Graham Photography Workshops


Morning at Zabriskie Point © Jack Graham Photography

                                       Images courtesy of a few of my participants from last February’s workshop, as well as a few of my own.

Death Valley Workshop Group Feb 2011 ©Diane Ottosen
Folded Earth ©Albert Tam

Want a photographic challenge? Head to Death Valley NP in South eastern California. Death Valley spans over 3.3 million miles making it the largest national park in the USA. The closest major city is Las Vegas;Death Valley’s some of the most expansive terrain offering unique and inspiring landscapes in the world.

Photographing in Death Valley offers  many completely different areas to photograph. There are few “icons” in this National Park. Monument Valley has its familiar monoliths, Yosemite NP has its familiar majestic mountains etc, but in Death Valley NP, few recognizable icons exist. You are there in the vastness, looking for patterns, textures and color. This is a challenge for even the seasoned photographer. Trying to photograph in Death Valley without proper preparation (that’s why I suggest doing a workshop there!) can literally “eat you up” due to lots of things that I’ll discuss here!

Sunrise at Dante's View ©Diane Ottosen


During my workshops, we photograph from the expanse of the playas (dried up salt flats) to the many canyons within the park.  Based on many years of leading workshops and photographing here in Death Valley, I am familiar with the hundreds of locations, some not on the visitors guides, and being at the right location in prime time for the best light and near endless photographic opportunities,  As a rule, bad weather can create good light, so I always hope for some degree of bad weather. 

Earth Color © David Liu


On the Dune © Diane Ottosen

I choose to conduct workshops in Death Valley NP during the late winter and fall in order to take advantage of the friendlier temperatures, as well as the low angle of the light allowing for many hours of quality photography. Typically in February and March it’s possible to venture out to the flooded playas at Badwater and Cottonballs for some dramatic sunrise images. In the fall we are able to get out to the “Race Track” that is usually flooded in the winter and thus the road is closed. The Racetrack is a place of stunning beauty and mystery. The Racetrack is a playa, or a dried up lakebed, best known for its strange moving rocks (probably caused by wind!). Although no one has actually seen the rocks move, the long meandering tracks left behind in the mud surface of the playa attest to their activity.   

Desert Hunter © Albert Tam

Photographically,Death Valley is a study in patterns and textures. During our workshops, we typically work on all of the obvious techniques that go into making quality photographs, but we’ll also work on learning to see, and slowing down in order to make the most of our time in this magical area.

Death Valley is a great area to work on photographic skills. One must take light into consideration more than anywhere else. Side lighting, backlighting, the use of HDR will all be discussed and used to capture images in Death Valley. February and November commonly offers dramatic light. We’ll work on images that portray depth, surprise and drama, while use leading lines, foregrounds and other graphic elements to make some great images.

Dune at Night ©David Liu

We will venture out onto the sand dunes as well for some interesting night photography instruction and images!

Within the park are some old mines, and wooden structures that we’ll photograph as well. Some, but not all locations include Zabriskie Point, Mesquite Sand Dunes, Mosaic Canyon, Golden Canyon, Badwater, Dante’s View, Devil’s Golf Course, Artist’s Palate, and the Race Track. In addition we usually visit the ghost town which features a three story bank, a jail house and train depot all now in ruins. I usually custom tailor my agenda on the weather and light conditions and allow sufficient time for image reviews and photographic presentations.

I am a great believer in preparation, understanding where I am photographing and becoming part of the land and environment. Nowhere is this more important than in Death Valley.

PHOTOGRAPHY TIP:  Unless we just get lucky to get out of out vehicles and hit on some really dramatic light, we’ll take some time and bond with our surroundings. I guarantee that unless you’ve been to DV you will be overwhelmed with its inert beauty. Rushing to make photographs will result in mediocre results. Decide what strikes your eye or what is perhaps creating dramatic detail…Understand where we are, appreciate the inert beauty and slow down……..take all in …. And I guarantee that you’ll come away with great images


 Death Valley is spacious, that is an understatement. Unlike no where else in the United States does this become as intimidating as here. In addition, texture and patterns create photographic opportunities all over the park.

1)    I always try to find a foreground-–mainly because of the vastness in many location

2)    I am always looking for depth in an image using a wide angel lens. WE will work on hyper focal length, which is absolutely necessary to get the depth of field you want. You have to get low to the ground lots of times to get the correct depth and angle you need for a dramatic image.

3)    PRS—–I always look for patterns, repetition and simplicity

4)    Again because of the expanse, you need to pay attention to your backgrounds and make sure they don not take away from the scene.

5)    Exposures can be tricky in DV because of the dramatic and sometimes contrasting light. Learning to meter using your spot meter is very important. Using graduated Neutral Density filters can compensate for quite common lighting difficulties.



ESSEN TAL PHOTOGRAPHIC EQUIPMENT: (besides camera gear……I carry lenses from 24-300mm plus a 1.4 teleconverter)







Furnace Creek Resort

PO Box 187
Death Valley, California 92328 
Physical: Highway 190, Death Valley, 92328
Phone: 760.786.2345
Fax: 760.786.2514

Other accommodations can be found at Stovepipe Wells (about 35 minutes drive from Furnace Creek:

PO Box 559
Death Valley, California 92328
Physical location: Hwy. 190 
Death Valley, California 92328 
Phone: 760.786.2387
Fax: 760.786.2389


Knob Rholite Ghost Town ©David Liu

Out of State

Fly into Las VegasMcCarranInternationalAirport. Death Valleyis about 150 miles or 2 ½ h hours.  You take SR 160 north toParumph,NV.  Follow the signs to Death Valley Junction, CA and from there take SR 160 into Death Valley.  Continue to Furnace Creek

Southern California

Death Valley is about 350 miles from Southern California.  Take I-15 north to Baker.  From there head north on SR 127 to Death Valley Junction.  Turn left on SR 160 into Death Valley.  Continue to Furnace Creek.


During the day, carry energy bars and maybe a few candy bars. There is NO water available when we are out in the park photographing. However there are stores in Furnace Creek where you can stock up and near Stovepipe Wells, near the Mesquite Sand Dunes andMosaicCanyonlocations. Staying hydrated is my primary concern and I will make sure to all have the proper supplies to avoid complications.

Breakfasts, lunches and dinners are available at our Furnace Creek Location.

Though eating is not a problem on this workshop you are there to photograph and often the best light is at breakfast and dinner. Please know this in advance.

                                                     CONSIDER COMING ALONG NEXT TIME!!!!!!

Bad Water Sunset © Jack Graham



NEW PODCAST UP—Weather for Photographers( Check out the PODCAST notes as well!)


Just a few spots left in the Eastern Sierra & Fall in NE Ohio workshops in October— check out


Special Fall Color workshop here in the Oregon Wine country, Columbia River Gorge and Hood River Valley in late October with Dr. Bill Campbell and me……………..  do NOT miss this one..

ICELAND 2012 is filling up nicely—if you are thinking about it:

“Hidden China” 2012–come with us to an area that few photographers have been (Optional week in Tibet too!)



Glacier NP © Jack Graham

The battle continues.. RAW vs JPEG . Well here’s my $0.02…. frag out the dead horse.. let’s beat it one more time!

Please know before you read this that I a a strong proponent of shooting RAW folks, as is the vast majority of pros, much more well known and established than me…. and there IS a reason for it. Ive tried to list these reasons concisely below.

Note I have seen some excellent results from a few of my photographer friends who shoot jpegs. However, in my humble opinion ( and this writing is just that) I would bet they would be better if they were shot RAW…JG



A RAW file is a proprietary format with uncompressed image data coming directly from the camera’s sensor, not processed , with no color rendering information. The file includes complete (lossless) data from the camera’s sensor. When shooting Raw files, your computer not the camera processes the data. Obviously your computer is far superior to processing files than your camera. Shooting Raw will gives you total control over how your image looks and allows you the possibility for correcting inadequacies in post processing. You’ll need to use software to process RAW files.

All Raw files are proprietary to the camera manufacturer and sometimes the camera model. Raw files must be converted to be used in Photoshop or other programs. RAW has much more exposure latitude. Often blown out highlights ( if they are not to badly blown out) can be reclaimed.

Color balance is also far superior in the final results of your processing when shooting RAW. Large prints made from RAW files are superior to those of JPEG files. RAW is not an abbreviation for anything. Controlling richness, detail (sharpness), color range etc in processing is much greater with a Raw file, even though the Raw files coming out of the camera may look bland

Lundy Canyon, Eastern Sierra © Jack Graham Photography


stands for “Joint Photographic Experts Group”. The JPEG file uses compression which results in a some loss of quality. Artifacts can be introduced in JPEG files each time the file is opened and saved. These are most noticeable in the sky or like toned gradients.

Also JPEG compression can bring out digital noise in the photograph. If you shoot in the JPEG format, I recommend using the highest quality settings, lowest ISO and presets for conditions in your camera ( i.e. cloudy, sunny etc.). When shooting in the JPEG mode your camera’s internal firmware processes the image It will take the information directly off the sensor and quickly process it prior to saving it on your memory card. Some color and resolution is lost.

With some cameras there is slightly more noise in a JPEG than in a comparable Raw version In the JPEG mode, the image blocks (usually 8×8 pixels) determine what can be “safely” discarded. The rule of thumb is that the higher the compression ration the lower the quality of JPEG is provided (more information being discarded). When the image is put back together a row of 24+ pixels that had 24+ different tones could provide less than 6. That valuable information is completely lost.

The quality of a JPEG taken with a DSLR will still be much better than one made with a point and shoot camera. Shooting bursts, as in bird photography allows for more shots using JPEG than Raw. R files, bring larger, take longer to save to the memory card. If you shoot in the JPEG format, I recommend using the highest quality settings, lowest ISO and presets for conditions in your camera ( i.e. cloudy, sunny etc.).

Mt Hood, Oregon © Jack Graham Photography


SO   ?………..Do some professional photographers shoot in the JPEG format? Yes. Can JPEG images be made with enough quality to be published? Yes. The bottom line is this. If you are printing your work, learn to work with RAW and become proficient in your processing , the benefits outweigh shooting in JPEG. If you are shooting small images for the web, not concerned with printing, or publishing larger images (more than 8 x 10’s) the JPEG format offers a quicker processing time.

Why shoot RAW?

1) Ability to change the exposure, saturation, sharpness, curves, etc with less quality loss than you’d experience with JPEG

 2) Maximum control in post-processing

Why shoot JPEG

1) Smaller file size allows you can fit more on a memory card (usually twice as many), and you can download images faster to your computer

2) Ability to shoot significantly more shots in a burst ( good for bird photography )

NOTE: Some cameras can be set to capture images in both RAW and JPEG formats at the same time. There may be times you want to immediate evaluate an image and use the RAW converter later to optimize your final results. ______________________________________________________________________________________________

                                                                RAW                                                                                                                                  JPEG

 RAW JPEG FORMAT              proprietary                                                                                           by camera manufacturer Standard easily readable

BIT RATE                                    at least 8 bits up to 12+                                                                       exactly 8 bits per color

COMPRESSION                         uncompressed                                                                                      compressed

FILE SIZE                                    uncompressed 12MP camera=12mb files                                   small file size (8MP Camera files=1-3mb file)

 DYNAMIC RANGE             Higher dynamic range( better highlights & shadows)              lower in dynamic range

SHARPNESS                              Not as sharp                                                                                               higher in contrast

PRINTING                                Not ready for printing, must be post processed                         immediately ready for printing or web posting

CORRECTION                       Read only some                                                                                        JPEG’S ready for print, web right out of camera

DATA LOSS                           No loss when processed into a TIFF, PSD file                               JPEGS loose data each time an edit is made no matter how minor

 WHEN FILE EXTRACTED FROM CAMERA     must be post processed                                        already processed by the camera

 REFRESHING BUFFER IN CAMERA    slower than JPEG                                                               Faster thanRAW

 RAW POST PROCESSING LOSS None                                                                                                         more than RAW, especially in exposure

Southwest / Navajo Country Photography Workshop / Mar-Apr 2011 / NFRCC CONVENTION FEB

NFRCC CONVENTION:  For those living in New York State, Pennsyalania and Ohio and SOuthern Onterio (Toronto area)… I’ll be doing some presentations at the NFRCC  Convention coming up soon in Niagara Falls NY. If you can make it I think you’ll find lots of great presenters, information and a fun time. Gary from Hunts Photo Video will be where with lots of show specials as well. Come on by!!

    50th Annual NFRCC Convention

Buy tickets on line now at    February 25-27, 2011
Niagara Falls Conference Center
Niagara Falls, New York





DATES:  March 31-April 3 2011                (Wed PM- through Sunday 1-2PM)

PRICE:   $ 895.00 per person                    (Limited to 8 participants)


The price for all Navajo guides and location admittance is included)The 2011 SOUTHWEST PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP will feature some of the most simply amazing places found on the planet. A whirlwind 4 day photography workshop will cover some of the icons of the southwestern part of the United States.

 We will base out tour in Page Arizona along the Colorado River and the Arizona Utah border. Page is about 275 miles north of Phoenix. The drive up to the Colorado Plateau country from the desert in Phoenix is about 5 hours, but the landscape is simply beautiful. We will also spend one day and one night in Monument Valley, in the heart of Navajo Country. There are so many well known areas within a days drive of Page it’s hard to put everything into one three 1/2 day workshop.

Tear Drop Window

 Some of the areas that we will photograph include:



Located on LeChee Navajo lands near Page, Arizona, Upper Antelope and Lower Antelope are breathtakingly beautiful and quite easy to reach and explore. Both slot canyons are open to visitors by permit, as conditions allow. A small fee is charged.

 The Corkscrew. (Upper Antelope) isn’t as long or as deep as many slot canyons, but it is amazingly beautiful! Its sensuously sculpted walls twist and wind along, glowing in unbelievable shades of red, orange, and yellow as the sun passes overhead. Upper Antelope is also one of the easiest slot canyons to visit, since you’ll be driven right up to the entrance, there are no drop-offs inside, and the ground is sandy and fairly level throughout. It does get very, very dark toward the end, where the walls are tightest.

 Lower Antelope is a long, very deep slot canyon of mesmerizing beauty. A more challenging slot than Upper Antelope, this one is entered through a slit in the rocks at ground level, where a series of ladders take you to the bottom of the gorge. The ground is rocky and uneven, there are usually muddy areas here and there, and the canyon’s twists, bends, and narrow passageways trap debris in piles that can be difficult to get through. You need hiking boots and a good sense of adventure to fully enjoy this slot canyon.

Late March and AprilValley MONUMENT is prime time for light beams in Upper Antelope Canyon

DEPENDING ON THE WEATHER: We may go to Water Holes Canyon. This is 7 miles S of Page on HWY 89.



Sunrise, Monument Valley



We will travel on Saturday afternoon over to Monument Valley (about 100 miles from Page), in time for sunset. Monument Valley is part of the Navajo Nation tribal park, straddling the border of northeastern Arizona and southeastern Utah of the Colorado Plateau. It preserves the Navajo way of life and some of the most striking and recognizable landscapes of sandstone buttes, mesas and spires in the entire Southwest. The area is entirely within the Navajo Indian Reservation near the small Indian town of Goulding, established in 1923 as a trading post, and now has a comprehensive range of visitor services. We will stay in Goulding’s Hotel at the entrance to Monument Valley. Other accommodations are available in Kayenta, about 20 minutes away.  Sunday will be spent in the park photographing with a Navajo guide (required)


Big Water area


Big Water

Big Water is located just north of Lake Powell. This surreal are feathers dramatic, unearthly landscapes that offer never ending photographic opportunities. This location is so surreal that Disney recently filmed the motion picture”John Carter of Mars” is based on the comic book and hard book series by author Edgar Rice Burroughs, that took place on Barsoom (Mars) with the first one being The Princess of Mars. Barsoom is being created in Big Water on “the moon” an area where “Highway to Hell” was filmed and dinosaur remains can be found. Balancing rocks and the gray Tropic Shale (rock) make it a place unlike most others and perfect for BarsoomRoad Old.

 We’ll spend an afternoon out here! 

Paint Hills on the old Pariah Road

Old Pariah Movie Set Road & Vermilion CliffsThe Vermilion Cliffs themselves must be one of the most spectacular and extensive cliff faces in the US – unusually colorful because of the especially variegated Chinle Formation that forms the lower strata, the escarpment runs for over 30 miles and reaches heights of 2,000 feet. Further to the southeast, the land is quite flat for 100 miles or more though is split by the Colorado River, at the start of its Grand Canyon.

At Marble Canyon, (below left)  Arizona you will cross over the Colorado River and you can stop at the Navajo Bridge to walk out and look at the river below.   Take United States Highway 89 South toward Tuba City.  The massive boulders you see along the highway and across the desert were placed there by the same erosion forces that created the Grand Canyon.






Lee’s Ferry is a tiny settlement next to the Colorado River at the end of a side road 6 miles from ALT US 89, not especially interesting itself but surrounded by some remarkable scenery. The village is named after John D. Lee, a Mormon settler with 17 wives who established a ferry there in 1871 whilst in exile following his role in the massacre of 70 emigrants near St. George, Utah. The ferry provided the only crossing of the river for nearly 60 years until a bridge was built a few miles downstream, where the present day route 89 crosses now.

Horseshoe Bend



 Tamed by the Glen Canyon Dam, the emerald-green Colorado River makes a gigantic bend more than a thousand feet below the overlook, swinging first to the east, and then curving back to the west. It’s a spectacular place, where shadows shift by the minute and new details drift constantly into your awareness.

 The image on the left is taken from lookout point.t I’ve shot this many times and there is only a few ways to shoot it right. I’ll wok with you al & share my technique to get THE Shot……But it’s a 900 foot drop off! That little speck in the water is a motor boat

Horseshoe Bend is the name for a horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River located near Page.  It is located slightly downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell about four miles or 6 km south of Page. Accessible via a 34-mile (1.2 km) hike from U.S. Route 89, it can be viewed from the steep cliff above, forming a spectacular vista.

Late Afternoon at Lake Powell


Lake Powell is the 2nd largest reservoir in the United States, capable of storing over 24.3 million acre-feet of water. In addition it is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Large sandstone rock creations are everywhere. This surrealistic landscape of crystal-clear lake surrounded by colorful canyons, peaks and buttes makes for some simply amazing photography


Depending on weather conditions and time factors, other areas that we may visit could be:

Coral Pink Sand Dune State Park, Utah

Lees Ferry (close to Vermilion Cliffs)

Goosenecks (just outside Medicine Hat, Utah neat Mon. Valley


TENTATIVE ITINERARIES (These may change due to weather and light conditions)

Wednesday PM March 30, 7-9PM Meet at the Marriott Courtyard, Page AZ for an informal session to discuss itineraries, and workshop expectations. Discussion of photographic topics and images will also take place

 Thursday AM March 31 – Vermilion Cliffs, Lower Antelope Old Pariah Movie Set Road, Lake Powell Sunset

 Friday            Apr 1- Horseshoe Bend Sunrise, Upper Antelope Canyon, Classroom r, image review session, Big Water area

 Saturday        Apr 2- Sunrise Location.  Image review, NOON-3pm DRIVE TO MONUMENT VALLEY—SUNSET SHOOT, Tear Drop Window/ PM Dinner, Golding’s IMAGE REVIEW

 Sunday          Apr 3—Sunrise-1PM– GUIDED TOUR WITH GUIDE/ MONUMENT VALLEY—-Workshop ends 1-2 PM


The majority of instruction and nature photography tips and techniques will take place right there in the field. There’s no need to take notes. After the workshop you’ll receive a complete 50+ page syllabus containing everything we do in the field and more.

 We take time periodically during the day to review our images in informal critique sessions. Special presentations concerning nature photography will also be made during these sessions.

 My workshops are sponsored by NIK SOFTWARE, Photograph America Newsletter, Think Tank Photo Bags, Lensbaby , Hunt’s Photo and Video and the Really Right Stuff. Discounts and some freebies are included in your workshop “pack” that you’ll receive upon arrival.

 Evenings will consist of informal sessions to discuss information on photographing in the area, critique sessions of your work shot during the workshop as well as general photography information.

As with all our workshops, this is primarily a field workshop. We do not sit in a classroom during the daytime. We are out shooting & learning about photography in the field, not behind a desk. However, it is critical as well as being very informative, to take time to review your work, and discuss important aspects of making quality photographs


 By AIR:

I recommend flying into Phoenix, (PHX). I recommend arriving no later than mid afternoon on Thursday. I’ll be in Page by Wednesday afternoon. (1-PM) it’s about a 5 ½-6 hr scenic drive from Phoenix. You can fly to Flagstaff (fares much higher) and drive 2 ½ hrs to Page.


PAGE:   Courtyard Page at Lake Powell,600 Clubhouse Drive Page, Arizona 86040 USA Phone:1-928-645-5000        


We will depart the Marriott Courtyard location VERY early each morning for a sunrise shoot. We will meet on Wednesday evening 3/31, for a discussion on what to expect and outline our photographic objectives. We will depart daily from the Marriott Courtyard

Saturday  (about noon, so we’ll we will check out early) we’ll  drive about 2 hours over to Monument Valley, following our morning location, in time for a late afternoon/ sunset shoot in the valley

 Monument Valley:  Goulding’s ( is a great place to stay. It is only about 5 minutes from the Monument Valley parking lot. Less expensive accommodations are found in Kayenta AZ, about 20 minutes from Monument Valley.

 The workshop will end on Sunday about 1PM.  If you may want to extend your trip, please let me know and I can direct you in lots of ways! It’s about a 6 hour drive back to Phoenix from Monument Valley. For those flying out Sunday night I recommend not booking flights earlier than 8PM. I would highly recommend staying by the airport and flying out Monday AM.

 It’s about a 5-6 hour trek back to Phoenix from Monument Valley.


COURTYARD by MARIOTT PAGE AZ 928-645-5000      
GOULINGS MV UTAH 425-727-3231      

Lower Antelope CanyonCAR POOLING: We’ll be car pooling as much as possible to save on expenses. This arrangements will be made on Wednesday night, when we initially meet.


During the day, we should carry energy bars and maybe a few candy bars. We will be able to grab a quick bite certainly on Thursday and Friday in Page before or after our trips into the slots. We can do the same on the way to Monument Valley on Saturday.

Eating is not a problem on this workshop.

 We will eat in the Navajo restaurant at Golding’s on Saturday night…..However, we are here to photograph and often the best light is at breakfast and dinner. Please know this in advance.


The weather is generally good in the area this time of year. High temp’s average 60-65 and low’s around 40-45. At this elevation, even this time of year, you can get sunburned so make sure to bring a hat or maybe even some sunscreen for your arms.

More details will follow after registration prior to the tour dates.


Remember the Grand Canyon is not very far away. You may want to schedule a visit there either before or after the workshop!