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Photography workshops?

Posted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 3:45 pm
by faxmachineanthem
I'll be in Concord, VT from 10/3 - 10/10 and I'm kicking around the idea of taking a photo workshop. I've found a few on the web (the one at the link below looks good) but I'm wondering if anybody here has any experiences or recommendations?

Posted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:15 pm
by Andy
These guys are all active members here I go to the forums on that site frequently and there seems to be a pretty good talent and helpfulness among them. A lot depends on what you are looking for. I consider myself advanced enough that I am more often looking for someone to lead me to good sites and if I pick up some information or pointers along the way, fine.

If you are looking more for instruction, that will make a difference. I would figure out who is leading the Vermont workshop from the site and then go to the above site and engage them in a conversation. They are, as a general rule, friendly, helpful and courteous. I have never seen any flaming or name calling on the forums there. They are serious photographers.

The full members of that site also have galleries on the site, which might give you an idea of the talent of the leader. If I thought their own work was mediocre, I might think twice about paying them to "instruct" me :)

Posted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 1:13 pm
by faxmachineanthem
Thanks for the link Andy! I'm looking for a combination of instruction and finding the hot spots. I have a solid understanding of the basics, controlling depth of field and all that. But I'm kind of looking to take it to the next level, especially regarding composition.

I browsed through the workshop listings in that forum and now I'm up to two options-- one with Joe Rossbach and one with Margo Pinkerton. I've been a little surprised not to find more workshops since there must be a thousand pro photographers in Vermont at that time of year.

Posted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:01 pm
by autzig
David Middleton leads a Workshop in Vermont beginning on October 7 through the Santa Fe Workshops. David lives in Vermont and has published several books including a book on photographing Vermont. If you can adjust your timetable, you certainly couldn't do better than take a workshop from him.

Here's a link:

Here's the write up from his website for this workshop.


There are few places in the world that are more colorful and spectacular than Vermont in October. The landscape is awash with reds, oranges, golds and yellows as trees, vines, wild meadows and even late flowers shout for a photographer’s attention.

The workshop will take place in the heart of Vermont where David lives and happily photographs. Based on his intimate knowledge of the area (he has done two books on Vermont) the workshop will visit his favorite places at the best times- tumbling streams, quiet lakes, rolling hills, quaint villages and classic New England views.


Posted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:48 pm
by faxmachineanthem
Thanks autzig, I'll look into that. Coincidentally I just bought David's book earlier today.

Posted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:45 am
by Andy
Fax: I came on here this a.m. to suggest you look into David Middleton's workshops. Al beat me to it! I would second his suggestion. David has written two great books on Vermont. One is his Guide to Photographing Vermont (he also wrote a guide to Maine -- I am going to be their in late October and his book is already dog-eared and worn :) ).

His other is called "The Nature of Vermont" and is not a "how to" book but has some really nice photographs in it.

As far as the "hotspots" go, you might want to take a look at the "Arnold John Kaplan" threads here. Arnold wrote a great little book/pamphlet that has some pretty detailed information regarding how to get to some of the places and when to be there. It is linked on his "sticky" on the Foliage Forum here. I don't know if it is also linked on this forum, but when I get a minute, I'll do that. I don't have the information here at the office.

Finally, if you care to look, my own website ( has a free, downloadable PDF which specific instructions (and illustrative photos in many cases) of some great places -- you can also see some of them in higher resolution in my Vermont Gallery on the site. Your location puts you within easy striking distance of some really great ops -- Peacham and Barnett areas being so close they are a can't miss. Also Waits River and E. Corinth are pretty easily driveable from your location.[/url]

If you do find a good workshop, please report back to us. I don't know as much about Rossbach as some of the other leaders. He is from the Northern Virginia, Maryland, D.C. area. Some of his shots around the Great Falls N.P. - Potomac River are pretty stunning. So he has some talent. Cannot say whether that translates into being a good leader/teacher or whether he has inside knowledge of places in Vermont. Middleton has.

Posted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 3:43 pm
by faxmachineanthem
Just to post a little follow-up. David Middleton's and Joe Rossbach's workshops looked to be the most interesting ones available. I decided not to take either one though, because both are in Southern VT and I'll be in northern VT at the time.

However, I did wind up taking a weekend workshop with Joe Rossbach in the Deleware Water Gap area of PA a few weeks ago. It was really enjoyable and I learned quite a bit. So if anybody is interested in workshop recommendations, Joe gets a thumbs up from me. Maybe next year I'll take Middleton's-- it looks great. I've devoured his Photographing Vermont book and I know it's going to be a great resource this fall.

Posted: Fri Sep 04, 2009 8:49 am
by Andy
Hi Fax: Rossbach works out of the DC area, I think. I visit there at least 2x a year. I have been wondering whether his workshop is worthwhile. I would sure like to hear more about it.

Would you be willing to post a more detailed report here? I could actually create a permanent Workshop Thread and we could all post our findings as we attend them.

If not, I would sure like to hear more details from you in a PM.

Posted: Fri Sep 04, 2009 5:07 pm
by faxmachineanthem
I'd be happy to post a detailed report. First off, I had a good time and would recommend Joe's workshops. Especially one in the DC/Md area since that's definitely his home territory.

This was a two day workshop in the Delaware Water Gap recreational area. There were 4 other participants in the group, ranging from novice to fairly advanced amateurs. The plan was to shoot waterfalls, wildflowers, the Delaware River at sunrise, some old barns, and a lake at sunrise/sunset. The weather for most of the weekend was overcast and sometimes drizzly. So the sunrises and sunsets were duds, but the weather was perfect for waterfalls.

We met up at 6 am for sunrise at Hidden Lake. It was probably a great spot, but as I said the light was not happening. We went on to shoot 3 waterfalls (Childs Park, Dingmans Falls, Buttermilk Falls) and an old abandoned barn that day. For sunset we returned to Hidden Lake which was again a dud due to drab lighting. But shooting the waterfalls was great, especially at Childs Park. I think Joe's specialty is waterfalls, so if that interests you, you can really learn a lot from him. He's willing to get wet to get the best angle, so if you're up for that it can be a lot of fun. Some in the group were, and some were not. It was definitely a full day and everyone was pretty tired by the end.

The second day we had another sunrise at Hidden Lake. Again, not much happening. So we went to explore a stream with several sets of waterfalls. This was a fun and pretty vigorous hike. It didn't yield many great shots for me though since the best falls were located in gorges that were too steep to descend.

We spent the afternoon in a local library while Joe taught us some stuff in Photoshop. The primary things he taught us were 1) using layers to blend two exposures. He uses this technique a lot on waterfalls since the flowing water is usually much brighter than the rest of the scene. So he'll take two shots, one light and one dark, of a waterfall and then blend them.
2) A quick HDR tutorial using images of the barn we shot the day before. Joe's not a big HDR guy but this is a hot topic and is definitely an interesting technique.
3) Dodging/burning/vignetting to keep the viewer's eye trained where you want it to go. Joe kept it pretty simple and, even though I don't use Photoshop (I use GIMP or Corel Paint Shop Photo X2), I'm able to apply the same concepts.

In the field he taught how to use polarizers and graduated neutral density filters, how to use the histogram, setting focus with live view, and taught me how to use my new macro lens. He would also find some compositions and help the participants set them up. Joe is a pretty laid back guy. I think his style can suit both people who 1) have a lot of questions or 2) want to be left alone more. He'll answer questions patiently all day but most of the time he isn't actively teaching. A few times a day he'll bring up a topic himself and explain it, but most of the time he answers questions as they arise. It was also just enjoyable hanging out with friendly, like-minded people, since usually photography is a solo activity for me.

Here are a few of my favorites that I took from the workshop. Actually the sunset was taken the night before but whatever. :-) The best waterfalls were at Childs Park. The falls are beautiful and very easily accessible. I highly recommend checking it out if you're in the area.







Posted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 8:40 am
by Andy
Thanks. Sounds like if timing and location worked out, a Vermont Workshop with Joe would also be good. Since I am so often in the DC area, I will have to seriously consider his workshops. This summer I traveled to Great Falls VA (about 1/2 away from where usually stay) and I know Joe does some workshops in that area. Appreciate your information.

Nice waterfall shots. I do like waterfalls. I also like the slow exposure shots, and the glassy look of the smooth water.

Hope your Vermont trip yields some good photos. Remember if the weather is rainy or cloudy, there are tons of waterfalls in Vermont.

Posted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 9:27 am
by Andy
Fax: Found this on a forum that I frequent. Might be worth a look. It doesn't really give specific locations, but maybe if you e-mail Kurt, he will share? ... _page.html