Adult Opportunities

Nature Photography Workshop: Canyons and Light

Capture the magic of light in Illinois’ canyons.

Content Detail

Light becomes magic when you enter a canyon. The effect of direct or subdued light reflecting off canyon walls into the trees and into the streams creates unique opportunities for photographic artistry that occur only in these settings. This intermediate/advanced nature photography class will embark on weekend field sessions to Starved Rock State Park and Matthiessen State Park. Known for their canyons, these parks offer a wealth of photographic opportunities, including impressive sandstone cliffs, ancient trees, waterfalls and flowing streams, abundant flora, exceptional wildflowers, and hopefully, some wildlife.

Evening classroom sessions at The Morton Arboretum will provide an opportunity to review images from the field and discuss post-processing techniques to fulfill creative goals.

Canyons can produce a wide range of lighting conditions, from low to exceptionally high contrast. Emphasis will be placed on mastering highlights, shadows, backlighting, and exposure. Discussions will prepare you for success even under the most difficult lighting conditions. Become proficient in reading your scene to predictably capture the mood of the light that is present. We’ll explore camera and lens settings, light modifiers, and fill flash to compensate for quickly changing light conditions. Then stretch your photographic vision through various software imaging tools to master high-dynamic range (HDR) scenes, shadow and highlight controls using Camera RAW and a host of other tools offered by image management solutions.

Through our mix of classroom sessions and experimentation in the field, students will learn and practice:

  • reading the camera histogram and make effective decisions to make the most of the unique lighting that occurs in canyons
  • conquering the difficult aspects of rendering shadows and highlights using post-production software to produce images with a sense of depth
  • tapping your innate creativity by creating powerful, artistic nature images in both color and black and white.

This workshop is appropriate for any photographer who is comfortable with the manual controls of a DSLR camera and with post-production software such as Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom. Please see What to Know for additional information on required equipment and experience.

This program meets in person at the Arboretum and on location at Starved Rock State Park and Matthiessen State Park.

Instructor: Dan Pollack, photographer

Age: 16 and older

Course number: P347

Instructor

Dan Pollack, photographer

Dan Pollack has been a photographer since 1983. In 1985, he began a successful commercial photography studio and was featured in advertising campaigns for several Fortune 100 companies. His stock photography has been chosen for advertising campaigns worldwide. In 1998, he narrowed his focus to the subject matter he loves most, landscapes and wildlife. Since then, he has been an instructor for courses in black-and-white darkroom techniques, large format camera techniques, digital capture, and post-production image processing. Learn more on his website.

What to Know

Field sessions take place at Starved Rock State Park and Matthiessen State Park. Students may self-arrange carpools during the first classroom session. Bring the following with you:

  • your fully charged camera
  • lenses ranging from wide-angle to telephoto, and a macro lens if you have one
  • a polarizing filter to control water reflections and deepen blue sky
  • a tripod
  • waterproof shoes or boots for stream crossings
  • dry shoes for your ride home
  • hiking poles or a walking stick to help traverse slippery rocks in streams
  • sun and insect protection
  • long sleeves
  • a spray bottle prefilled with water to add droplets
  • a kneeling pad for macro or low-angle photography
  • water and snacks

Field sessions will involve walking on uneven, single-track trails over rolling terrain. Conditions may be wet or muddy depending on weather.

Restrooms and food are available at the Starved Rock State Park Visitor Center. Restrooms are also available at Matthiessen State Park.

In case of inclement weather, field sessions will be rescheduled.

This workshop is appropriate for any photographer who is comfortable with the manual controls of a DSLR camera and with post-production software such as Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom.

Program Schedule

This program includes the following five meeting dates and times.

Wednesday, July 24, 2024, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 28, 2024, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Wednesday, July 31, 2024, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 3, 2024, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Wednesday, August 7, 2024, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Thornhill Education Center, West Side; offsite at Starved Rock State Park and Matthiessen State Park

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