If you encounter issues loading this site, please refresh the page by using Ctrl + F5 if on Windows or Cmd + Shift + R if on Mac.

Adult Opportunities

Nature Photography Masters Class: From Picture to Photograph (in person)

Elevate your nature photography with this masters workshop at The Morton Arboretum

Content Detail

Learn to evoke emotion and inspire connections with the natural world through your photography. Just as great music is more than simply playing the right notes, meaningful photography is more than simply taking a picture. Knowing the technical aspects of photography—composition, lighting, decisive moments—is important, but it is only the beginning of your journey as a photographer.    
What is it that elevates photographs to the level of artistry? Master photographers Will Clay and Ken Thompson will explore this question over the course of three classroom sessions and two field sessions. The class will study how outstanding composition, exquisite light,  a decisive moment, or an added special element can transform nice pictures into stunning photographs. The class will apply this exploration to landscape photography, close-up photography, and conversion of a photograph from color to black and white. Hone your artistic lens and work under the guidance of your instructors to elevate your photography.  

This program meets in person at the Arboretum.  

Instructor: Will Clay and Ken Thompson  

Health and Safety: Program participants must abide by the Arboretum’s health and safety guidelines. Guidelines are subject to change, so please check back frequently.   

Age: 16 and older  



Will Clay, photographer  

Formerly a professor of botany, Willard Clay has been a full-time photographer since 1982.  Specializing in large-format photography, he has been the primary photographer for nine coffee table books and has been published in myriad calendars, magazines, books, and advertisements. Teaching credits include teaching at The Morton Arboretum since 2005 as well as The Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont since 1985 and classes and seminars at many venues in the country.  

Ken Thompson, photographer  

Ken Thompson became serious about photography after retiring from a job managing a chemicals business. He is most interested in “the world within,” that part of the world that we often ignore or walk right on by: water drops, insects, dragonflies, butterflies, and small plants. Thompson is best known for close-ups of water in its many forms, especially dew drops and ice formations. He has been teaching photography at The Morton Arboretum since 2006 and taught for several years at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute in Tennessee.  
Thompson wrote the e-books Dragonfly Photography and Focus Stacking: How to Increase Depth-of-Field in Your Images

What to Know

Please bring your fully charged DSLR camera.  

This is an intermediate to advanced program; foundational knowledge and skills are required.  

The Saturday field sessions meet outdoors. Check the forecast and dress for the weather. Wear comfortable, sturdy shoes and plan to walk more than a mile on uneven terrain. 

Program Schedule 

This program includes all of the following meeting times: 

Wednesday, April 26, 2023, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 29, 2023, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Wednesday, May 3, 2023, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 6, 2023, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Wednesday, May 10, 2023, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Thornhill Education Center


Your support is vital to the Arboretum, where the power of trees makes a positive impact on people’s lives.

Make a gift