DLWS Wrap Up


Yeah, this one was shot with my iPhone, but it's one of my favorites.


Last week I had a great opportunity to participate in the Digital Landscape Workshop Series that took place in Traverse City Michigan. Although I had to work last week, I got the chance to go out on the sunrise and sunset shoots with the group. One of the ways I find to improve as a photographer is to shoot with other photographers whose work I admire. So needless to say when the likes of Moose Peterson, Joe McNally and Laurie Excell are going to be nearby, I make the effort to go! Last week I did a blog post about the importance of attending workshops/seminars, so I won't repeat myself here. The purpose of this post is to share some things that I learned.


Moose Peterson helping an attendee with camera settings


It's all about the light


I already knew that one of the most important things in landscape photography is "light." It's all about getting up early and being in place when the sun comes up. Luckily this was a group effort because anyone that knows me knows that I'm not a morning person. Had I not been terrified of being left behind on and miss an amazing shoot, I would have rolled over and blown it off (as I do many times when I travel alone and think about a morning shoot). Being a part of a group made it easier to get up and get out.



When Joe McNally asks to take your picture, you just can't say "no!"


Although the purpose of the workshop was to learn how to shoot landscapes better, each shoot involved a lighting demo by none other than world famous photographer Joe McNally. One morning Joe looks at me and asks "would you mind posing for a picture?"  (my first thought: "I'm being pranked!")


Now I'm not one to be on that side of the camera very often. Most events I attend rarely result in any shots of me. However, I was very honored to help out and have my portrait taken by Joe.


Not only is Joe a master when it comes to lighting, he also has a knack for getting perfect strangers to pose for him. This guy and his friend were total strangers on the beach on the last day. Next thing you know they were participating in Joe's lighting demo. I've never seen anything like it.

Shot by Joe McNally on the beach of Lake Michigan. No this guy wasn't a professional model. He was just there with his buddy surfing! No seriously, he was there in the FREEZING water having a ball. Crazy, I know!


Processing the shots from the day

Well if the best light is in the morning and evening, what are the students during the day? After shooting in the early morning and breakfast it's time to head to the classroom and learn how to process your images. The DLWS staff shows off their workflows and the best ways to get the best results. The first day usually involves Photoshop basics. After that Moose goes over his workflow. While I won't divulge the details here, I will say that I definitely learned a few things about the NIK software suite will definitely help me going forward. Like any workshop, you have to take away the things that will help you and realize that everyone develops a workflow that works for them. I already have a workflow that I'm quite comfortable with in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. So I was looking for anything that would be useful to add or change in what I'm already doing. I definitely walked away with a couple of things that I will be doing differently from now on.


You can't control the weather


We had rain and gray skies on the last morning. Unfortunately I was not prepared with any kind of covers for my gear. So I although I did some shooting I pretty much hung out in the van because I didn't want my gear to get soaked. Of course this is one of the things that I've already adjusted for for future landscape shoots. I've added some plastic bags and drying towels to my camera bag. Now in a pinch one thing you could grab is the shower cap from your hotel room. However, I hadn't even looked outside before heading down to leave and there was no time to go back up and grab something. 


Laurie helping another attendee with settings and techniques.


The Bottom Line

If you ever get the chance to attend a DLWS workshop, take it! Even if the weather doesn't cooperate, you'll still learn a lot and have fun with the group and staffers of DLWS. This is the shot that I was probably most pleased with from the workshop. I have others that I really like, but I love this one because of the fall colors.


12 Replies to “DLWS Wrap Up”

  1. I’m amazed that people go surfing on Lake Michigan in late October. That’s dedication!

    I love the fall colours. I don’t see those in Bangkok, but I am definitely used to rain.

    Could you share one landscape you picked up?

  2. Hi,
    Sorry for posting this here I couldn’t find your contact details. I’m currently contacting some photographers for some advice so if you think someone else could help could you pass this on please.

    I work for a non profit group setting up a training facility for teenagers to learn all about using CS4 and other such software (for free) to be able to enhance their computing skills before they get to college. A new section to our free courses will be digital photography and we need to kit ourselves up to be ready for it. We have budget of around £7,000 ($10,000?) and need to get equipment for different set ups.
    Band portraits
    Live music
    Extreme sports
    & studio setup

    The only thing we currently have on the list is a Canon 5D Mk II. Any recommendation for glass, flash, tripod, lighting and extras would be a great help.

    Lat year a group produced a music magazine which you can see here http://issuu.com/clincar/docs/clincar2 The next class hope to produce all the band shots themselves + the mag is moving into covering extreme sports as well as music and trying to promote looking after the environment without being patronising.

    So anything that you could recommend would be highly appreciated.

    Kind regards
    Iestyn, UK

    1. Hi Iestyn,
      Although I’m not a Canon shooter, I would definitely suggest you look at their 70-200mm lens for starters. I use my 70-200mm most of the time. Also check out something in the 24-70mm range at f/2.8 or faster if they’ve got it. As far as lighting goes I use Elinchrom and Westcott. So if you do a search here on my blog for Elinchrom or westcott, you see the products I recommend. Also if you search for tethered you’ll find my tripod rig. Hope that helps!

  3. Hey Terry,

    In the photo of Laurie teaching a student, that student is me. Any chance you’d let me have/use a copy of the photo? If this is possible, I would love it if you would email a copy to me. Either way, it is quite cool that you choose this one for your blog.

    Thanks in advance.

  4. Terry,

    I’m doing a review of a program called PhotoAcute Studio and I thought I’d let you know that there’s a version for cell phone cameras. What you do is take multiple images of the same scene, same exposure, and gives you back an image that you won’t believe how good it looks. Increased resolution and less noise. There are three versions, one for cell phones, one aimed at compact cameras and the Pro version which handles RAW (through Adobe DNG) and does a few other things.

  5. I am a retired advertising creative director mainly on car accounts and during my 30+ years shooting on location with some of the best photographers in the world. It was a great opportunity to learn from the best. I completely agree with you about attending workshops.

    As for dragging myself out of bed for sunrise shoots, especially on days when the weather was in doubt, I had a firm rule: NEVER CANCEL A DAWN SHOOT FROM A WARM BED. That rule served me very well for all my years in the business. You would be surprised at how many great photos of cars we shot in the rain or fog.

    The sign of a true professional is always being able to come back with a great photo. No excuses.

  6. Hi Terry… am a big fan of landscape shots. Am growing my portfolio from traveling around South Africa. All above is fantastic knowledge to take with. Quick one… how can I get the same ADOBE jacket you wearing?

    Thanks 😉

  7. Terry,
    Reading your blog always inspires me to do more. Would you please share with us about your new additions regarding rain gear please? I am not motivated to shoot when it comes to rain, and I certainly don’t have what i’d need to keep dry. Thanks so much for your blog!

  8. Hi Terry,
    Don’t know why it took me so long to discover your blog and the Detroit area Mac Users group. I plan on joining as a fellow Michigander, Detroiter, Mac User, and photographer – seems appropriate eh?

    Anyway, glad to see some others discovering what Michigan has to offer. Have been a fan of McNally’s work for awhile.

  9. Hi Terry,

    I live 30 miles north of Traverse City and would like to explore the same DLWS photo shoot locations since they were almost in my backyard. Do you remember the area names and where is that school or house that is in the first photo? I thought it would be fun to round up a few of the Traverse Area Camera Club (TACC) members and make it an outing. A friend mentioned DLWS had this workshop, of course it was after it took place. Is there a way to get on a listing, so I am kept informed on future workshops? Next time, I will also make sure all the TACC members are aware that this is happening in our wonderful area.



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