Saturday, February 15, 2020

NEW WORKSHOPS - Bosque del Apache, NM & White Sands, NM, December 2020


TWO EXCITING NEW WORKSHOPS JUST ANNOUNCED! 


Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico, 

famous for its tens of thousands of Snow Geese 

and Sandhill Cranes, incredible sunrises and 

sunsets, and unique photo opportunities. 


And White Sands National Park,  New Mexico, 

known for its pristine white sand dunes, 

undulating abstracts, and wild beauty. 


At Bosque del Apache, one of my favorite places for bird photography, you will have numerous opportunities to witness and photograph the famous awe-inspiring lift-off at dawn of thousands of Snow Geese, plus the graceful flights of the beautiful Sandhill Cranes. Improve your bird photography skills, learn tips and tricks to get the best shoots, and learn artistic creative techniques that result in images that go beyond the ordinary. We will shoot lift-offs and flight images in the mornings and late afternoons / evenings. Mid-day hours will be filled with classroom sessions for Lightroom and Photoshop techniques, plus image critiques.

At White Sands, a beautiful and surreal location with dramatic photo opportunities in every direction, we will photograph in the mornings and afternoons / evenings in order to capture the best directional and most beautiful light for sand dunes, and spectacular sunsets. Mid-day hours will be filled with classroom sessions for Lightroom and Photoshop techniques, plus image critiques.

These two workshops run back-to-back. Take either one, or both. The Bosque workshop runs from December 1 - 5, followed by the White Sands workshop December 6 - 9.


BOSQUE DEL APACHE Wildlife Refuge details:

WHEN: Tuesday, December 1 through Saturday, December 5, 2020

WHERE: Our base will be Socorro, New Mexico, about a 20 minute drive from the Refuge

LIMIT: maximum of 12 photographers

FEE: Early sign-up fee of $1995 if you register by March 20. After that date the regular workshop fee of $2495 will apply. Special Combo rate of $1695 for each workshop if you take both workshops. Must register for both workshops by March 20. Fee includes all entry fees to the Refuge, in-depth training and coaching for bird photography, breakfasts (at the hotel), personalized attention, creative techniques, guide service, and image reviews and critiques. [Not included are lodging, lunches, dinners, transportation, and personal incidentals. Special hotel rates are being arranged.]

DEPOSIT:
A $500 deposit will reserve your space.

ITINERARY (subject to change):
Tuesday, December 1 - Workshop begins with a Welcome and Teaching session at 7PM in our hotel.
Wednesday, December 2 - early morning start so we can be on location before sunrise to catch the famous Snow Geese lift-off. Return to the hotel between 9AM and 10AM for breakfast, optional nap, download and edit images. Lunch on your own around noon. Afternoon classroom teaching session will run from 1:15PM until approximately 3PM. Return to the Refuge by 3:30PM for late afternoon / sunset shoot.
Thursday, December 3 - same as above
Friday, December 4 - same as above
Saturday, December 5 - early morning shoot at the Refuge, then return to the hotel for breakfast and a  final workshop wrap-up session. Workshop will end by 11AM.


WHITE SANDS National Park details

WHEN: Sunday, December 6 through Wednesday, December 9, 2020

WHERE: Our base will be Alamagordo, New Mexico, about a 20 minute drive from the park

LIMIT: maximum of 12 photographers

FEE: Early sign-up fee of $1995 if you register by March 20. After that date the regular workshop fee of $2495 will apply. Special Combo rate of $1695 for each workshop if you take both workshops. Must register for both workshops by March 20. Fee includes all entry fees to the National Park, in-depth training and coaching, breakfasts (at the hotel), personalized attention, creative techniques, guide service, and image reviews and critiques. [Not included are lodging, meals, transportation, and personal incidentals. Special hotel rates are being arranged.]

DEPOSIT:
A $500 deposit will reserve your space.

ITINERARY: (subject to change)
Sunday, December 6 - Workshop begins with a Welcome and Teaching session at 6PM at our hotel.
Monday, December 7 - leave the hotel early enough to reach the Park when it opens at 7AM. Shoot until the light is no longer good, return to the hotel for breakfast, optional nap, download and edit images. Lunch on your own around noon. Afternoon classroom teaching session will run from 1:15PM until approximately 3PM. Return to the Park by 3:30PM for late afternoon / sunset shoot.
Tuesday, December 8 - same as above
Wednesday, December 9 - early morning shoot at the Park, then return to the hotel for breakfast and a  final workshop wrap-up session. Workshop will end by 11AM.

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO REGISTER,

EMAIL

or  CALL 757-773-0194


Monday, February 10, 2020

Happy Surprise



I was happily surprised to start the day with a notice from the North American Nature Photography Association  (NANPA) that this image is being showcased on their homepage this week. Here is the link http://www.nanpa.org

When you get to the homepage, several images will cycle through so you may have to wait a few seconds for this one to come up.

I was thrilled that this image was selected as one of the Top 100 Images Of The Year.

Here is the caption that goes with the image:
"This pair of Horned Puffins posed themselves beautifully on their rocky perch during breeding season. While their colorful bills were beautiful, and their black and white feathers in lovely contrast to one another, this monochrome artistic rendering brings out the texture and contrast more clearly than what our eyes see in a color image., Bird Island, Cook Inlet, Alaska"

TECH SPECS
1/1250 sec at f/8, ISO 800. Canon 100-400mm f.4.5-5.6L IS II lens set at 400mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "All photo competitions are a gamble. You never know how your images will do. It is best to accept the wins with humility, and the losses with grace."  --Mollie Isaacs 

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Small Touches Make a Difference


I am still enthralled with all the sights and sounds of my December trip to Antarctica, and penguins top the list of appealing subjects. They are gawky and comical on land, but sleek and elegant in the water.

This Gentoo penguin had been fishing and was just returning to the nesting area. While this is a simple, basic shot, several things help elevate it to a higher level.

First, the composition. The penguin is nicely separated from the background. The color of the water, along with the horizontal ripples, are a nice counterpoint to the smooth black and white body. And the slant of the rock creates an oblique angle which is an added element of visual interest. Also, the hint of a reflection adds a sense of depth.

Next, there are several small details that help this image. There is a sense of motion created by his foot being raised, ready to step on the rock. And because he was just exiting the water you can see water droplets on his head and bill if you look closely.

Finally, the color contrast between the cool tones of the water and the warm tones of his bill and foot are the finishing touches.

So the big question is - did I have any control over these elements? Clearly the answer is "no." BUT we always have a choice regarding which images stand out above the rest. If you look for small details in each image that sets it apart from others, and determine whether the composition is appealing, you will be able to find the images that stand out from all the hundreds or thousands you shoot. And to maximize your options, it is best to shoot a lot of images of each subject from different angles.

TECH SPECS
1/1600 sec at f/8, ISO 800. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens set at 100mm, on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "No photographer, no matter how talented or trained, has a 100% success rate. If you take 1000 images that result in 50 good ones, consider that a great success."  --Mollie Isaacs

Friday, January 24, 2020

Abstracts Are Awesome


Abstracts can be incredibly creative. Any subject will do - wildlife, scenics, buildings, flowers, you name it and then create it!

There are no rules or restrictions when creating abstract images. Just go with your gut and see what you can find that will work well as an abstract.

This is an early morning scene at the shore. The sun was not yet above the horizon, so the lighting was soft and even, and the colors were beautiful. A long exposure allowed the movement of the breaking waves to appear somewhat mushy and almost cloud-like.

Next time you are out shooting, look for things that might work as abstracts. Look at the entire scene or entire subject, and then "zoom" in with your eyes to find an abstract shape, or a series of lines, or colors that merge well.

The best approach is to shoot a lot of different subjects, each time allowing your eyes to view small details of the whole, and then put the camera to your eye to see how best to frame the shot. Not all your attempts will be winners. But you will end up with some amazing images if you allow yourself to just let go, and look deeper into the subject or scene for an image within the image.

TECH SPECS
1/2 sec. at f/11, ISO 800. Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens set at 70mm on Canon 5D Mark III body. Gitzo tripod with ballhead.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "To get into your Creative Zone, view your subject quietly, and slow down. If you do that, the image will almost create itself." -- Mollie Isaacs




Sunday, January 19, 2020

JUST ANNOUNCED - Creative Flowers Master Class


If you love flowers and want to catapult your creativity to the next level, this Master Class is for you. Don't let the name intimidate you. You do not have to be a "master' to take this workshop, but you will be well on your way to that level by the end of the week.

This is a full-immersion experience where you will discover how to tap into your creative core like never before. Soar past the mundane and the traditional, and begin to see things in a whole new light. You will see the world with fresh eyes, and will learn how to break the rules effectively.

And you will gain the experience and freedom of shooting without a tripod.

Each day will be filled with shooting, helpful critiques, personal attention, improving your Lightroom skills, and lots of information you need in order to create more beautiful and compelling flower images. And all of this will take place at one of the world's most beautiful gardens, Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

Throughout the week you will learn a wide variety of creative ideas and approaches. You will learn how to recognize "good" light, how to use line, shape, and color, how to control the background, and so much more.

Here is a sneak peek of one of the creative techniques you will learn.
This is the original RAW file of the image at the top of the Blog. Notice the messy background, and the extra stem showing. This was shot at Longwood Gardens in one of their nursery areas, and was the closest I could get to this flower with the lens I had handy. But the orchid was so perfect and beautiful that I had to shoot it in hopes that it could be turned into something creative and worthy of its beauty.

 It is quite a transformation, using simple techniques in Lightroom and Photoshop.

In the workshop you will learn easy ways to add new backgrounds or textures, as was done in this image. You will take control of your images in new and exciting ways. And you will begin to find the artist within you by the end of the week. All of this will take place in an easy-going and stress-free environment.

The best news is that this is like two workshops in one - improve your artistic vision AND learn new, easy, and creative ways of working with Lightroom and Photoshop.

WHERE: Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

WHEN: April 27 - 30

LIMIT: 12 photographers

FEE: Regularly $2495, but register before February 29 for the Special Discount rate of $1995. 

FEE INCLUDES: Personalized attention, daily instruction, image critiques, creative ideas and approaches, Lightroom tips and tricks, Photoshop techniques, and all garden entry fees.
NOT included are lodging, meals, transportation, and personal incidentals. Special lodging rates have been arranged.

ITINERARY: 
Monday, April 27  -  Workshop begins at 7PM with a Welcome and Teaching Session
Tues., Wed., and Thurs.,  April 28, 29, and 30  -  each day is filled with creative shooting time at the Gardens, Lightroom and Photoshop instruction, image critiques, discussion of creative techniques, and fun! Workshop ends at 5PM on Thursday, April 30.

TO REGISTER:  Call or email Mollie with questions or to register. I hope you can join me!


TECH SPECS:
1/640 sec at f/6.3, ISO 400. Sigma 15mm rectangular fisheye lens on Canon 7D Mark II body, handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Creativity doesn't wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones."  -- Bruce Garrabrandt

Friday, January 10, 2020

Approaching Antarctica


Actually seeing Antarctica for the first time is about as exciting as it gets. As we approached, we could see the leading edge of its islands. This scene was reminiscent of drawings of the mythical Atlantis. The mountains seemed to rise straight out of the water, almost floating on its surface.

Because our winter is the southern hemisphere's summer, we experienced 24 hours of daylight. The sun never dips below the horizon. This was shot at about 10PM, and you can see just hints of pale sunset color.

The water was incredibly calm, and the reflections added greatly to this image.

Reflections, light quality and light direction can make or break an image. Whenever possible, look for directional or dramatic lighting. When the sun is relatively low in the sky, it enhances the strength and the beauty of whatever you are photographing. Conversely, shooting in the mid-day sun provides flatter, less exciting lighting.

Don't get me wrong. I am not saying to avoid shooting at mid-day. For wildlife photography in particular, we have to shoot when the animals are visible and exhibiting some sort of behavior, no matter the time of day. But when you can, look for beautiful directional light. It will make your images come alive.

TECH SPECS
1/320 sec at f/11, ISO 400. Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS II lens set at 24mm, on Canon 5D Mark III body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Success is where preparation and opportunity meet."  --Bobby Unser

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Drama Queen


While I was in Chile I saw some absolutely beautiful flowers. This columbine was blooming in the garden on one of ranches ("estancias", as they are called) where we stayed. The flower was perfect and beautiful, but the surroundings not so much.

So I used the LensBaby Sol 45 to add a creative blur which certainly helped. But as you can see in this Before version, even that was not enough to make the flower the star of the show.
BEFORE
So Lightroom came to the rescue. I wanted the flower to stand out, but I also wanted the tall stem behind it and the mottled background to add to the story.

The strong sunlight caused the leaves in the background to appear almost white, and they needed to be toned down in order to not take attention away from the flower.

And overall, the background competed with the flower and also needed to be toned down.

Here are the tools used in Lightroom to change this image into a more dramatic rendition of the scene. But first a word of caution - this degree of drama changes the look of the actual scene and might not be allowed in certain photo competitions. So if you plan to enter nature competitions, be sure to check the rules and make sure that these sorts of major changes are allowed. Note that nothing in this image was actually changed or eliminated, but even so, it does render the scene completely differently from the original. In this case I was going for a dramatic look, and not a standard shot of the scene itself.

Steps used in Lightroom:
- reduced Whites and Highlights to tone down the bright leaves in the background
- used the Green luminance slider in the HSL box to tone down the greens in the background
- used the Purple luminance slider in the HSL box to brighten the tone of the flower
- used the Graduated Filter tool to tone down the background even more
- used the Brush Tool to darken small areas in the background that the Graduated Filter tool missed
- reduced Noise to 30
- increased Clarity to 30

That's it. It doesn't sound like much, but those few steps in Lightroom helped to turn this image into a much more dramatic scene.

TECH SPECS
1/320 sec., f/3.5 (fixed aperture on LensBaby Sol 45), ISO 400. LensBaby Sol 45 lens on Canon 5D Mark III body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."  --Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

HAPPY NEW YEAR!


A New Year. A fresh start. What better way to illustrate this than with a young animal. This baby guanaco and its mother walk in perfect step, protected in the safety of Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia Chile.

The following beautiful and insightful New Year’s greeting was sent to me by a friend. She does not know where it originated, but found it long ago and kept it. I have modified it slightly, but essentially it is as written. It struck a chord with me, so I am passing it along to you. 

"May we break down boundaries, tear down walls, and build on the foundation of goodness inside each of us.
May we look past differences, gain understanding and embrace acceptance. May we reach out to each other, rather than find reasons for division.
May we be better stewards of the earth, protecting, nurturing, and replenishing the beauties of nature.
May we practice gratitude for all we have, rather than complain about our needs.
May we seek cures for the sick, and help the hungry, the needy, and the lonely.
May we share our talents, give our time, and teach our children about love and tolerance rather than hatred and division.
May we take action to seek justice for all who inhabit our planet.
May we hold hope for the future very tenderly in our hearts, and do all we can to build for bright tomorrows.
And may we love with our whole hearts, for that is the only way to love."  --origins unknown

Each new year gives us the chance to start fresh, to rethink and reset our goals, and to make it a better year than the one before. I thank each and every one of you for helping to make 2019 such a stellar year for me personally, as well as for Awake The Light Photo Workshops. 2020 will be even bigger and better!

I wish you a spectacular 2020, filled with joy, wonderful photographic opportunities, good health, great times, and a touch of whimsy.

---Mollie

TECH SPECS
1/400 sec, f/16, ISO 800. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens set at 189mm, on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Holiday Greetings


MERRY CHRISTMAS

HAPPY HANUKKAH

HAPPY KWANZAA

I returned home today from my travels in Patagonia and Antarctica. What a trip. It was superb and beyond my wildest dreams! Because of limited internet service I was unable to post a Blog while I was away, but I did post some images on Facebook. You can check them out at this link
https://www.facebook.com/Awake-The-Light-123508281034128/

The image in this blog was taken in Antarctica on a beautiful day with calm seas and blue skies. Antarctica is the most amazing and breath-taking place I have ever been. Its pristine beauty, expansive wildness, its wildlife, soaring mountains and massive icebergs have made a deep and permanent mark on me. I am already dreaming of going back.

I wish each of you a joyous and peaceful holiday season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, I hope it will be filled with warmth, and the love of family and friends.

At this special time of year it helps to think back and appreciate all the wonderful things in our lives. I am grateful for all the opportunities and spectacular travels that photography has provided me. And I am also grateful for your support and encouragement. I cherish my family and friends, my clients, and this amazing planet that sustains us. May we preserve and nurture Mother Earth since she is the only home we have.

TECH SPECS
1/2500 sec. at f/11, ISO 400. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens set at 120mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on our blessings and seek out ways to make life better for those around us."  --Terri Marshall






Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Off To The Ends Of The Earth



I leave today for the ends of the earth. I am headed to Patagonia and Antarctica, two places I have never been before. It is an exciting scouting trip for possible group trips in the future. 

These are two locations I have always wanted to see. Will spend about a week in Patagonia photographing the sweeping landscapes, glaciers, and wildlife like puma and guanaco. Then will spend about 5 days in Antarctica photographing icebergs and various penguin species, and possibly whales and other wildlife. Antarctica is one of the last pristine areas left on Earth. It is largely untouched and unpopulated.

Since I have never been in this part of the world before, today's image is a closeup of an iceberg in Alaska. 

I will be in some remote areas with minimal internet service so it might be awhile before I can post another Blog entry. Will try to update you when I can.

TECH SPECS
1/1000 sec. at f/8, ISO 400. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens set at 300mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "If Antarctica were music, it would be Mozart. Art, and it would be Michelangelo. Literature and it would be Shakespeare. And yet it is something even greater; the only place on earth that is still as it should be. May we never tame it."  --Andrew Denton