Adult Opportunities

Nature Photography Workshop: Light, Shadow, and Depth

Skillfully capture and render shadows and highlights for an improved sense of depth within your nature photography.

Content Detail

Many nature photographers have returned from a day of shooting only to be disappointed with images that appear too flat, too high contrast, or lack the sense of depth that they felt when capturing them. This course will help photographers return from their next outings with a high degree of success.

With an ever-present emphasis on photographic composition and subject matter, proficiency in capturing shadows and highlights with intent is routinely overlooked. Command of this important skill propels photographers of all skill levels to the next level.

Over the course of five sessions at The Morton Arboretum, students will learn their digital camera’s histogram on their journey to mastering light and shadows. Discussions will prepare students for success even under the most difficult lighting conditions, including high contrast, low contrast, and backlighting. Become proficient in reading scenes to predictably capture the mood of the light that is present. Discuss camera and lens settings, light modifiers, and fill flash to compensate for quickly changing light conditions. Stretch your photographic vision and master high-dynamic range (HDR) scenes, shadows, and highlights through various software imaging tools using Camera RAW and a host of other tools offered by image management solutions.

Through a mix of classroom sessions and experimentation in the field, students will learn and practice how to

  • read the camera histogram and make effective decisions when capturing images,
  • explore the artistic concept of chiaroscuro, the use of shadows and highlights to render three-dimensionality of subjects (essential when working in a two-dimensional medium),
  • conquer the difficult aspects of rendering shadows and highlights using post-production software to produce images with a sense of depth, and
  • tap their innate creativity by creating powerful 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.

Instructor: Dan Pollack, photographer

Age: 16 and older

Course number: P426

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 at his website.

What to Know

This is an intermediate to advanced program; foundational knowledge of manual controls and camera skills are required.

Please bring a fully charged DSLR camera, tripod, and any lenses you have. A kneeling pad or an old blanket may make the field experience more enjoyable.

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 the following five meeting times.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Saturday, February 10, 2024, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Saturday, February 17, 2024, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Thornhill Education Center


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