TRADITION AND TECHNOLOGY FEEDBACK
The following story was written by Graham Budd who
attended the September 2007 Tradition and Technology workshop in Canmore with
his wife Marg. This workshop is designed for beginner and intermediate
photographers who want to understand how to use their cameras and Photoshop.
The workshop is run twice a year.
" So you’ve received that brand-new digital SLR camera
as a gift and now, if you can just figure out what all those buttons are for,
you could start taking pictures. Or perhaps you’ve moved up from a point and
shoot camera and you’re ready to take the next step toward producing better
images. Perhaps you already understand the basics of camera use and
composition and you would like to learn how the pros use Photoshop to produce
stunning images. No matter whether you are a digital SLR newbie or an aspiring
amateur with lots of experience, Richard Berry’s, Tradition to Technology
Workshop has something to offer everyone.
The six-day workshop is held in the spectacular Rocky
Mountain setting of Canmore, Alberta, about an hour’s drive west of Calgary.
Accommodations are plentiful and there is a nice RV park for those that prefer
bringing their home with them. As an extra bonus, Richard was able to arrange
a discount for workshop participants at one of the local hotels. For those of
you that are not familiar with the Canmore area, be sure to leave some extra
time to sight see either side of the workshop, for as you will see later, you
won’t have the time or the energy during the workshop itself.
Things got started on Sunday afternoon when everyone
met for the first time at the community college located in the Provincial
Building. The meeting room is essentially a computer lab where participants
each get their own computer preloaded with Photoshop CS3 and Richard uses a
digital projector along with an excellent note package as his primary teaching
aids. We were surprised to see there were only six participants including
ourselves, but Richard has a reason for everything which we were to find out
early the next morning. This first get-together serves a very critical
purpose. It provided us the opportunity to set up all of our equipment and to
have Richard check it, to ensure that everything worked as it should and that
we had everything we needed to take good images. Richard had a good supply of
filters, tripods, holders and other accessories that we would need. Most of
these were for sale and can be preordered but he also had a few loaner
specialty items as well. For those that were missing critical pieces of
equipment that he did not have, he quickly placed a rush order to The Camera
Store in Calgary for delivery the next day.
Richard Berry has led an interesting and diverse
life. A confirmed bachelor he spent his time traveling the world, becoming a
commercial pilot, mountain climber, scuba diver and professional
photographer. That was until one day he met a young lady while climbing a
wall in Banff. Now he lives and works in Canmore along with his wife and two
small children where he hikes, climbs and travels, teaching aspiring
photographers how to take great landscape and wildlife photographs and how to
enhance them using Photoshop CS3. Professionals often do not make the best
teachers as they often have little patience with amateurs. Fortunately,
despite his accomplishments Richard loves to share his passion for photography
with others and he does so with empathy and understanding for those of us who
have never taken a camera off automatic.
When we gathered for our first field trip at 5:30 a.m.
on Monday morning, I saw one reason for the six participant limit as we all
piled into Richard’s surprisingly roomy seven passenger van and headed off to
photograph Mount Lougheed. As the first early-morning rays of sun touched its
peak, I learned the importance of failing to properly test all of my equipment
the day before. The window for taking images early in the morning is
surprisingly short. You have about 20 minutes set up and get organized
followed by about 20 to 30 minutes of stunning light. I watched helplessly as
the beautiful red light gradually turned to a harsher daylight as I fumbled
hopelessly with the ball on my tripod. By 7 a.m. we were heading back to
Canmore anxious to see our creative efforts but before that, Richard pulled in
to one of the many local establishments he would take us to, where we enjoyed
a hearty breakfast replete with lots of great coffee.
Shortly after eight o’clock we were back in the
classroom learning how to offload our images from the camera and to import
them into Adobe Bridge. The process that we began on Monday became a template
for the rest of the week. Once the images are offloaded, they are reviewed,
rated and the better ones are set aside for processing in Photoshop. Other
than a one-hour break at lunch, each day is spent learning the fundamentals of
camera operation, the use of filters and flash, the elements of composition
and of course, digital workflow using Photoshop. The learning curve is steep
and at times felt overwhelming but as the week progressed and our skills
improved, mutterings of “now I get it” could be heard arising from behind
computer screens. In addition, Richard displayed great patience with those of
us who insisted on asking him for the fourth time “how do curves work again or
where do I find the clone button?” At four o’clock each day we finished our
classroom work and rushed off to make good use of the following two hours to
catch a nap and grab a bite to eat before meeting back at the college for the
evening field trip.
Thankfully, really early mornings are limited, as
Richard has set things up so that the shorter trips take place in the morning
while most of the longer ones are left to the evening. Weather in the
mountains is hit and miss at the best of times, so participants will need to
be flexible. Sometimes it can be dry in Canmore only to find it is pouring
rain 15 km away, washing away any opportunity to take images. That said,
Richard is very knowledgeable and seems to have a good sense as to what
conditions are likely to be at the various locations. That evening, as we
drove along a mountain road in the rain, Richard slowed down and asked us to
scan for wildlife noting that this particular spot was where the migration
path for bears, moose and others, intersected with the road. As the clouds
lowered and the rain continued we reluctantly turned around and headed back to
a rain free Canmore. That evening we finally rolled into bed around 10 p.m.
setting the alarm for 4:30 a.m. the next morning.
The pattern that we established on Monday was repeated
throughout the week with early morning trips to photograph spectacular
mountain vistas, rivers and lakes, followed by classroom work during the day
and an evening trip with opportunities for photographing wildlife and
landscapes. Fortunately the weather co-operated the rest of the week and in
addition to some great landscapes we were able to photograph elk, birds, moose
and deer at various times and locations during the week.
Each day in the classroom, we would submit some of our
better images to Richard who would project them on the screen and then provide
a critique. At first, everyone seemed quite anxious about having their
mistakes projected on the wall for all to see, but Richard conducts the
process in a very constructive and non critical manner that left everyone with
their ego intact. As the participants grew more familiar with their cameras,
the use of filters and basic composition, it was remarkable to see the quality
of some of the images that were being produced. By mid week we were asked to
select four of our best images and to work on them for the following two days,
after which Richard offered to print them out formatted 19 x 12. The results
were truly amazing. It’s hard to believe the quality of the images we were
able to produce after just 3 or 4 days working with him.
The week just flew by and Friday came upon us before
we knew it. Our last morning was spent photographing the Bow River and the
mountains surrounding it. The light was spectacular and everyone worked
feverishly to apply everything they had learned to this last set of images.
One more classroom session to add the finishing touches and we were done. As
we said goodbye to one another I marveled at the high quality of the work we
Over the course of the week, most people shot between
100 and 150 images per day and survived on about six hours sleep per night. Of
those images, about 10% were rated either five or four star by the
participants, so each of us took home about 50 to 75 that we would be proud to
You will never set your camera on “automatic” again.
Small class size - lots of individual attention.
Expect to produce some great images
The workshop is inexpensive and great value.
Richard does all the driving.
Fantastic setting and scenery.
You won’t get much sleep.
Steep learning curve.
Expensive shopping list. During the week you will find out about lots of
Addictive. Wait until you see all the exotic places that Richard holds
workshops – Galapagos, Hawaii etc....
Graham Budd. August 07
Three Sisters, Canmore. By Graham Budd
Young Male Elk, Canmore. By Graham Budd