Desert Southwest Workshop with Adam Barker & Mylo Fowler, Oct. 11-13 2013

Desert SW Teaser

Preliminary Itinerary. (Weather permitting.)
• Location: Page, Arizona and Navajoland of Northern Arizona. Home area of Mylo.
“Mylo will always have the supreme upper hand in photographing this area of Northern Arizona. It’s his home!!! He has access the outside world doesn’t. For that reason and his knowledge of land, light and landscape photography mechanics, one may jeopardize his photographic visit if not with Mylo.” Name Withheld for Intended Purposes
(Photographer and Owner of Multiple Galleries on the Las Vegas strip and other locations).
• Workshop Host Location: Courtyard by Marriott 600 Clubhouse Drive. Page, AZ 86040.
• When: October 11-13th 2013 Three (3) full days. One of the only places where a workshop can use all the available light provided in a day. This isn’t a sunrise/sunset only photographic location. Adequate classroom work and rest will be provided. You won’t burn out.
• Where: 10-12 locations. Colorado River, Slot Canyons, sand dunes, sage and Navajo sandstone formations. How to use clouds to your advantage and how to create stunning images with severe clear –no cloud filled skies. (Weather permitting ☺)
• What: The Field Work. We will cover using an assortment of filters, composition, and artistic emotion in the image, why your best friends name is Histogram, tripod usage and creating panoramic images. A lot of hands on, one on one field work from award winning photographers Adam Barker and Mylo Fowler. They will always be in reach of assistance for help, review and critiques.
• Taking your photography to the next level: 5 to 6 Classroom Sessions: Conference Room setting. We will dive into exposing great images and creating stunning fine art with post processing software. We will cover creating exceptional compositions, controlling all elements of light, sharp as tact depth of field images, color renditions and high quality creativity from your camera. How to create a few supreme images instead of hoarding 5,000 images from a location you will never use.

One of the highlight classroom sessions will be the group critique sessions. Why? This will allow you to see your work from a different perspective. IF you want long lasting friends in the photography world, this is where a lot of the friendships start. Heck, even some marriages! For you single lads and ladies, this isn’t a place to find your future love. Actually, it is. Your love of photography will grow on this workshop! All in all you will get a chance to express your views, speak the same language with fellow photographers that your other friends and family just don’t understand….
• Who is this for? This workshop excursion with Adam and Mylo is for someone who:
➢ …Just bought or was given a digital camera last Christmas and wants to KNOW how to use it and what all the options mean in easy, understandable terms.
➢ …Has less than 5 years of photography experience.
➢ …Is a seasoned amateur or professional looking for the premium guide to the sweet places of Northern Arizona.
➢ …Wants to create 40” prints of stunning desert formations and slot canyon colors.
➢ …Wants to increase their photography IQ.
➢ …Likes hands on teaching. It is for someone who doesn’t want to read the 600 page Owners Manual and for someone who wants to get to the good and juicy elements of creating Award Winning Images.
➢ …Wants to return home knowing more about their camera, equipment and REALLY understanding the camera they bought and had all along.
➢ …Uses film or digital image capture systems. From Cropped sensor, full frame, 35mm, medium and large format film cameras.
➢ …Uses Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Sony and other systems.
➢ …Wants to expand their image design with various filters from Singh Ray and tripod systems.
➢ …Is getting ready to go on another world class trip and wants to know what to do on their trip. Trust me. You won’t believe how many people come on workshops so they know what to do in Italy, Alaska or in Antarctica. You will be better prepared for your next trip!
• Most importantly, you will have a safe and fun few days in the Desert Southwest! You will be able to create stunning images even in the wildest weather conditions.
The Area: The Colorado Plateau provides an array of image capture and composition. From Page, AZ to Mylo’s home which is about a 35 minute drive South of Page, you will climb over 2,000 feet in elevation. There truly is beauty all around. You will be able to photograph the butte’s that surround Lake Powell, Navajo Mountain that peaks at 10,387’ and other desert formations. October could provide some of the most interesting weather patterns. Snow, lightning, rain, puddles, fog, warm afternoons and incredible cloud formations are very likely. These are the ultimate natural elements in creating 5 star images. You will visually get a full access pass to the workflow, image capture and image creation of Adam Barker and Mylo Fowler. Ultimately, you will build upon your unique foundation and take your photography knowledge, presentation and portfolio to the next level.

It’s about having a memorable time and maybe you will have a life changing experience. Both Adam and Mylo have guided and provided similar workshop services for years. Mylo has guided slot canyon excursions and exotic landscape workshops that number into the thousands. He has worked with many camera makes and models, television companies from National Geographic to Weekend Explorer, publications from Outdoor Photographer Magazine to Arizona Highways. He was recently sought out to assist with Phase One (PODAS) and called on by some of the world’s finest Master Landscape photographers.

He is highly recommended by the Navajo Nation as a steward of the land and caters to personalize all experiences of high caliber companies, networks and the photographer’s experience.
• BONUS: 1.5 – 2 hour Session: Mylo will cover a “How To Create Fine Art and Do Well” class. He will dive into how to create Fine Art images. From creation to presentation. This is usually one of the highlights of the event. Mylo will share with you hot points, important aspects of fine art and how to create images you will be happy to display in your home or gallery. Especially if you are thinking about creating an extra income doing what you love! Taking photographs. He will share with you how to invest in your work. Roma Mouldings will be a sponsor of this classroom session.

We will have demo gear on hand for workshop attendees from the following sponsors: Singh Ray Filters, Manfrotto/Gitzo Tripods, Arc’teryx Outerwear, Clikelite Backpacks, Suunto Watches and Canon

Questions??? Contact Adam at 801-550-9141 or adam@adambarkerphotography.com.


Desert Southwest Workshop Fee



Photography: Vision & Problem Solving

The Osguthorpe Barn near Park City, UT. Captured by Adam Barker Photography.

For those of you who live in or near Park City, UT, you will quickly recognize this barn. It is certainly one of the more photographed structures in northern UT. And rightly so! The Osguthorpe Barn (or McPolin Barn depending on who you talk to) has greeted visitors and locals alike traveling in to Park City since 1921. Simply put, it is a classic.

I have photographed here many times before, I’ll

do so many times in the future. It is the utmost in Americana, and I enjoy the challenge in finding new ways to capture the barn and its surroundings.

I arrived at this location later in the morning, and low fog was just beginning to thin out. I was excited to be at this spot with conditions I’d never seen before! I worked through several compositions, but none of them really worked as a whole.

Finally, I settled on a wider angle image, utilizing cattails as my FG subject. I’ve shot from this exact location before in the winter, but this time the grouping of cattails seemed more elongated towards the barn, and a vertical composition seemed more appropriate.

I actually began composing this image with my 16-35mm lens. I wanted to incorporate a more complete wide angle foreground, but I still wanted to maintain emphasis and hold the viewer’s attention on the barn itself. With the 16-35mm stopped down for maximum DOF, the scene felt busy, and my eye simply wouldn’t settle on the barn as I’d like it to.

Finally, I chose to pull out my 24mm tilt shift lens. By both tilting my plane of focus and shooting at a wide open aperture of f4.5, I was able to have my cake and eat it too.

The cattails are selectively blurred, giving context and providing the FG filler that I was looking for. Yet the sharp contrast in sharp vs. blurred takes the eye directly to the barn. Why didn’t I just shoot my 16-35mm wide open? Being a super wide angle f2.8 lens, it wasn’t giving me quite the separation that I needed from a DOF standpoint. Why didn’t I throw on a longer lens and utilize a shallow aperture to achieve that separation? Throwing on a longer lens would have effectively flattened this scene. I would have gotten that separation, but I would not have achieved the depth I get from a wide angle composition–I would not have that immediate, engaging FG element grab the viewer in the same way it does from a wider angle approach.

Much of photography is about simple problem solving. It all begins, however, with a clear vision of what you hope to capture. Know what you want out of a location. Know what type of image you hope to come away with. This will serve as your mental blueprint as you work through the small problems to achieve your final photographic goal.

Are you creating teasers or pleasers with your landscapes?

Sunset image with storm light in Lake Powell, UT

Are your landscape images teasers or pleasers? I ask this question of my workshop students all the time, as it really requires us to think about HOW we construct an image, and ultimately what kind of viewing experience results.

Think of each image as a visual journey. Just simply associating your image with a journey implies that there is a destination at which the viewer will arrive. Does this destination live up to the journey?

Take this image for example. Photographed during a particularly dramatic evening in Lake Powell, I was ecstatic when the storm clouds parted on the horizon and allowed for several minutes of intense gap light.

This visual journey begins in the lower right hand corner of the frame, winding up and through the image, finally arriving at the climactic “destination” of intense light on the sandstone butte above.

Think about the visual journey in each of your landscape images, and you’ll be creating pleasers, and forgetting the teasers.

Long Lens Morning: Cascade Peak & Middle Provo River

Winter image of Cascade Peak and Middle Provo River by AdamBarkerPhotography

Banger morning. Middle Provo River. Cascade Peak.

The quick and dirty:
Perfect comp for a long lens shot with engaging elements from front to back of the frame. Think of your photographic frame in three-dimensional terms as a loaf of bread. Long lenses squish that loaf of bread, putting the back slice right up against the front slice. Additionally, this was shot at exactly 90 degrees to the sun, allowing me to utilize the Singh-Ray Filters LB warming polarizing filter to the fullest, deepening the sky, and giving the snowy peaks extra pop.

When to Tilt Shift???

Manhattan and 42nd St. at dusk

Tilt-shift lenses were initially created for architectural photographers looking to counter the distortion that occurs when pointing a camera up or down (keystoning/pincushion distortion). You’ll notice in your images where you are pointing your camera up or down that vertical lines/shapes tend to lean in or out. The solution??? Unless you’re shooting with a view camera, the solution is a tilt-shift lens.

TS lenses, however, have creative applications as well. By tilting the plane of focus, the photographer is able to achieve a miniaturized or snow globe effect, manifested in the majority of the image having a blurred, dream-like or soft focus feel while a certain slice of the image remains sharp. It’s cliche, it’s trendy and it’s fun. Most importantly, however, it’s useful and extremely effective if not over utilized and when done correctly.

So–back to the question at hand–when/why tilt-shift???

Old Town Park City, UT

1. Creative Freedom–it’s different than the typical approach to imagery. It’s fun and it can lend an interesting, artistic and quirky look to your images. It might be the tool that helps you see many of the same old shots in a new way.

Trail Runner at Alta, UT

2. Visual Impact/Subject Isolation–TS lenses are a fantastic manifestation of the power of selective focus. Many times, I will be shooting wide angle imagery where I’m unable to achieve the very shallow DOF (depth of field) that I’d like to separate the subject from its surroundings. Without the use of a TS lens in images like that of the trail runner above, the subject would be completely lost in the frame. By using the TS effect, I’m able to provide a huge amount of context in the image, and still draw the focus directly to the activity/subject.

Fisherman on the Weber River, UT

3. Editorial/Commercial Spreads–it takes a certain type of editor or art director to actually use TS images, but when it’s right, it’s right. As mentioned above, TS images can make negative space out of filler that would have otherwise been busy and unusable. Words and logos pop off the page when placed on soft backgrounds. (why do you think that “blur” tool exists in PS???) TS images can work well for full bleed editorial spreads where the copy is placed directly on the image.

Pret Helmets Commercial Shoot

4. Product Highlighting–and really, highlighting anything else for that matter. It’s a great way to draw attention to specific parts of a product like a logo or any other cool feature, while still including the whole product.

Wildflowers at Willow Lake, UT

5. Depth of Field without stopping down–this is yet one more fantastic advantage to a TS lens. By tilting you plane of focus correctly, you can achieve greater depth of field without stopping your lens down. Essentially, you’re able to render both FG and BG objects sharp, while some of the middle elements remain somewhat soft. This is especially useful when you need depth of field, but can’t accommodate the longer shutter speeds required when stopping your lens down to those smaller apertures. Example? The above image of wildflowers at Willow Lake. In short–windy evening. I wanted both the flowers in the FG, and aspens in the BG to be sharp. Stopping the lens down in the typical manner of achieving this DOF gave me long multi-second exposures. By tilting my plane of focus with my TS lens, I was able to get this DOF while shooting at f5.6 and keeping that shutter speed in check.

My two biggest rules with TS lenses? ALWAYS check your focus at 10x zoom (if possible) on your live view display. If you don’t have live view, check it on your LCD after clicking the shutter. The margin for error when shooting TS lenses (especially at larger apertures) is very slim. You may think you’ve gotten exactly what you want, only to find that the sharpest part of your image is slight off from what you had hoped for.

Secondly, don’t overdo it. TS should be the exception rather than the rule. It can quickly lose it’s effectiveness when over-utilized. Make it your icing on the cake, instead of the other way around. TS lenses don’t come cheap, but they are tons of fun and extremely effective when used correctly. If you don’t own one, try renting one for a day and see if it’s something that fits in with your creative and technical needs. Have fun!

All of these images were captured with Canon cameras and the 24mm TS-E lens.

Best Photog Watch Ever???

As a landscape and active lifestyle photographer, I spend as much time looking at sunrise/sunset times as a wall street junkie spends checking the DOW. It dictates when, where and how I shoot. It is one of the single most useful and vital pieces of information to getting my job done, and getting it done well. If I could, I would hotwire my brain to the big eye in the sky and I would just know when that sun would rise and set each day. That would be too easy…

Nearly just as easy, however, would be having that information on your wrist each and every day. Enter the Suunto Core Extreme Edition Everest. With over 400 pre-programmed locations worldwide for determining sunrise/sunset times every day of the year, it is certainly one of the handiest tools I’ve discovered out there for making good on the cliche of being at the right place at the right time. Sure you can look up the same info on your phone, iPad or any number of other devices, but I am all about simplifying and minimizing. The easier it is, the more useful it will be. And how often do we find ourselves wondering this info where phone service and/or wi-fi is nowhere to be found?  If you’re serious about getting serious images, check out this watch. There’s a host of other features you’ll find useful as well (altimeter/barometer, compass, storm alarm, depth meter, etc.), and the extra super bonus feature? It looks rad. ‘Nuff said.

Better Fall Photography

Storm clouds and fall color in northern Utah's Wasatch Mountains.

Storm clouds and fall color in northern Utah's Wasatch Mountains.

Fall is quite possibly my favorite season. Perhaps it’s because the change in the air is so dramatic. Color, crispness, cooler temps–it’s allllll good. Fall pushes photographers everywhere to dig out both their camera and their personal commitment to creating meaningful imagery. It’s exciting to see the lanscape change so drastically, and quite honestly–there’s beauty in nearly every direction. Nothing fuels a photographer’s fire like gorgeous subject matter at a stone’s throw from nearly every canyon drive.

I’ve had opportunity to get out quite a bit with several workshop students and shoot some of fall’s finest here in northern Utah. The weather, however, has been challenging for the most part, with clear skies and warm temperatures. It has forced us to get creative and really search for meaningful shots without dramatic skies. We did luck out one morning with fantastic storm clouds, and we took full advantage, knowing it was a gift.

An AdamBarkerPhotography workshop student shoots first light at Silver Lake, Brighton, UT.

An AdamBarkerPhotography workshop student shoots first light at Silver Lake, Brighton, UT.

While gorgeous in their own right, colorful leaves don’t themselves a memorable image make. I imagine you, just as countless others, have come home from your fall photography forays only to find your images were flat and struggled to convey the sense of grandeur that you witnessed in person. The challenge, is depth. Conveying depth in our fall images is what really helps to take the viewer “there”. A flat mountainside with pretty leaves just won’t cut it. Sure, it’s pretty. But does it have impact? Probably not. Read below for a couple of tips on creating fall images with depth.

Fall color in Utah's Wasatch Mountains.

Fall color in Utah's Wasatch Mountains.

1. Establish compositional zones. Find foregrounds, middle grounds and backgrounds for your images. Longer lens shots fall images here in the Wasatch are particularly well suited to this, with intersecting ridge lines and areas of strong color.

Late light long lens landscape at Snowbird, UT

Late light long lens landscape at Snowbird, UT

2. Search out broken light. Spotty clouds cast spotty or broken light. This random placement of lit and shaded areas carries viewers through the frame and creates that near/far perspective that helps to convey three dimensionality.

An AdamBarkerPhotography workshop student waits for evening light amidst swirling storm clouds.

An AdamBarkerPhotography workshop student waits for evening light amidst swirling storm clouds.

3. Use a polarizing filter. Even better, know where and how to use it most effectively. A polarizer will help to reveal full color in the foliage, by removing the natural sheen or reflection. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly (especially on those boring, crystal clear days), a polarizer will deepen skies, helping to add depth and interest to your fall photos. A polarizer is most effective when shot at 90 degrees to the sun–find those compositions that help the polarizer help you!

Dawn light and fall color at Park City's iconic Osguthorpe Barn

Dawn light and fall color at Park City's iconic Osguthorpe Barn

4. Change your angle to the sun. Fall color takes on a completely different look, depending on your angle to the sun. Front lit aspens can appear dull and washed out, but as soon as place that light source behind them, they glow with life. This is a technique you can use to capture stunning imagery even into the mid-day hours.

An AdamBarkerPhotography workshop student, enveloped by backlit aspens.

An AdamBarkerPhotography workshop student, enveloped by backlit aspens.

5. Use Grad ND Filters. Not sure what they are? Search this blog or get on the Google. I use Singh Ray filters–the best! There’s absolutely no better tool out there for balancing difficult dynamic ranges and allowing you to capture dramatic skies.

Storm clouds and lightning bolt at first light over Utah's Wasatch Mountains.

Storm clouds and lightning bolt at first light over Utah's Wasatch Mountains.

6. Get out there. The golden rule of landscape photography. Simply being there will allow you to make magic. It’s too easy to stay home and wait for what you think might be the perfect conditions to capture that five-star fall keeper. How do you know that you haven’t already missed it? Nothing helps to get the creative juices flowing like being out in nature. You’re sure to find something that floats your boat, and then some. Forget the boring weather forecasts or lackluster color-get out there and find a way to excel behind the lens.

Interested in putting this into practice in the field with yours truly? Check out my workshop page for details.

Photography: Subjective by Nature

Sunset light in the high country at Devil's Castle, Alta Ski Area, UT

Sunset light in the high country at Devil's Castle, Alta Ski Area, UT

It’s late, and I’ve got photography on the brain (what’s new). So hold on for what’s sure to be a semi-coherent rambling on a topic that has been covered by countless photographers the world over.

I posted this image on a well known photography forum the other day. I regularly try to post on several forums to both participate in photo-centric communities (online) and drive a bit of traffic to my website as well. It’s a great opportunity to see good, and sometimes great work, as well as get a feel from the photo public out there as to what they think of my work. In the end, there’s a lot of back patting, ego padding, armchair quarterbacking, pixel peeping and the occasional solid critique with well thought out criticisms and compliments. It must all be taken with a grain of salt, and, depending on who you are, it may have more effect on some than others, as to what they think of their work, and how they approach new imagery in the future.

Which brings me to a question that every photographer asks themselves over and over throughout the course of their career. Do I care what others think of my work??? To say no would be a bold faced lie. To give an outright “yes” would be misleading. My answer? Yes. Sometimes. Kind of. It depends. Perfectly clear, right???

Let me preface the rest of these thoughts by saying this–no matter where you are in your career and how accomplished you are with your imagery, I think you can ALWAYS benefit from critique. Whether it be positive or negative, it is always well worth it to hear what others think of your work. What you do with that critique really depends on who is giving it. Do I care what the amateur photographer thinks of the work I just submitted to “X” magazine? Probably not. Do I care what the editor of that magazine thinks? You’d better believe it.

Do I care what the editor of “X” magazine thinks of the fine art/scenic work I just did? Maybe. Do I care what the amateur photographer enthusiast with a penchant for photo workshops thinks? Yes I do. Do I care what the editor of “X” magazine and the amateur photographer enthusiast think about the edgy personal work I just did? Actually, yes. Because in the end, everything I put out there reflects my ability to perform behind the lens. It is a reflection of me. My brand. We all have a brand, whether you understand it or not.

The key is this: while I care what others think, I will never, NEVER be able to please everyone. And neither will you. And that’s just how it works. Once you have found your personal style and have become comfortable with that, the criticism will sting less and the truly worthy critiques will shine through. It’s important to give ample attention to what others think of your work. It’s even more important to understand when your personal and creative vision trumps the mainstream minds of…the mainstream.

Care what others think. You have to care to some degree to see success in this business. But we all know that the path most traveled is worn for a reason. There are times when you must leave the comfort of the well trodden path, buck the unfounded criticisms and venture off into your own photo-topia of sorts. I can remember the first portfolio review I ever received. I took my work to one of my professors (I didn’t study photography in college) who was a former photojournalist. I got ripped apart. Torn to shreds. Can’t recall one positive thing said about my work at that time. And I am now so grateful for an honest eye. I cared then, and I care now. But the extent to which I let the critique of others direct my work has changed to some degree. I know what I want, and I know where it will take me. I know my style, and I know what I want to convey when I shoot an image. This will always serve as my internal creative compass. Let’s hope it points me in the right direction!

Instinct: Use It

Lupine Wildflowers and sunstar at sunset along the Duchesne Ridge, UT

Lupine Wildflowers and sunstar at sunset along the Duchesne Ridge, UT

Simply put, last night was a gift. It was amazing. It was perfect. It was everything you could ever want behind the lens bottled up into four minutes of ridiculous organized chaos and color and mosquitos and sore knees and…wonder.

I wondered if I captured “it”. I wondered how “it” could be so overwhelmingly gorgeous. I wondered if anyone else had seen “it”. I was certain no one else had seen it like I had. It was impossible. In fact, it was UNpossible. There was no way that anyone else in the world had witnessed nature in such harmony as I had.

At least, that’s what I was telling myself. And I believed it.

Instinct is what you rely on when logic leaves your brain. And believe me, when you get conditions like this in front of your lens, logic will depart. In a hurry. You’ll be left with the most beautiful scene anyone on this earth has ever laid eyes on, and you’ll be bumbling around like a teenager in a Victoria’s Secret store.

Take a deep breath. And rely on what you have done so many times before. Which brings me to my point–if you haven’t done it “so many times before”, you’ll not have much to fall back on when things hit the fan in a good way.

Practice really does make perfect. And in the end, it is a simple practice of sorts that will capture moments like this for all of time. The more you shoot, the more you learn. The more you learn, the more capable you are of handling whatever happens to present itself in front of your lens. Interestingly enough, we only think of practice coming in handy when things go bad. But what about when things go…good??? When conditions are best for capturing five-star imagery is when you will feel the most pressure to perform. Because there’s no reason you shouldn’t come home with something spectacular. And really, there’s no excuse if you’ve done your homework and have…practiced.

Shot with Canon 5D MkII, 16-35 2.8 II, Singh Ray 4-stop Reverse ND Grad, Gitzo tripod

Create More Dynamic Images

A hiker backpacks through the Mt. Timpanogos Wilderness Area, UT

A hiker backpacks through the Mt. Timpanogos Wilderness Area, UT

If you follow my blog posts, Facebook posts, or have ever been to one of my seminars or workshops, you know that I use the word “dynamic” like nobody’s business. I talk about creating DYNAMIC images to no end.

What does that mean in layman’s terms? Sure it’s a nice word that sounds legit, but what does it mean to create a dynamic image? Let’s examine this image a bit and see what it is about it that makes it dynamic (IMHO–of course).

1. Light. This image sings with life because of the broken light highlighting both the hiker in the FG and distant rolling hills in the BG.

2. Subject. The hiker is dressed in appropriate clothing for the activity, and most importantly, he’s wearing colors (including the backpack) that help him to stand out and draw the viewer’s attention. It was simply good fortune that the colors on him happen to match the colors in his surroundings to a T, but I’ll take it!

3. Composition. By getting low to the ground, I’m able to include another element of color and shadow adding depth and dimension to the overall scene. I always look for areas of contrast within the frame that will carry the viewer through the image. We see that here with a shadow/highlight/shadow/highlight pattern from FG to BG. Additionally, the subject has been placed in one of the thirds intersects of the frame, giving it aesthetic balance and plenty of context for where the hiker is headed.

4. Exposure. I intentionally underexposed this image by a 1/2 stop or so to give it a bit more drama and to make sure and not overexpose the greens in the flowers. Additionally, this underexposure deepens the shadows and emphasizes the contrast between bright and dark areas of the image.

The next time you’re out shooting, write the word “dynamic” on the back of your hand, and give yourself a little reminder!

Shot with Canon 5D, 70-200 2.8IS, Singh Ray LB Warming Polarizer