Epilogue: Visionary Moab

The Visionary Moab group before Balanced Rock, Arches NP

The Visionary Moab group before Balanced Rock, Arches NP

Guy and I concluded our Visionary Moab photography workshop just under a week ago.  It was another successful workshop with a great group of participants, and it’s a strong testament to our program and teaching when 50% of the participants are returnees (thank you, Bob, Paige, Ron, and Tina!). Visionary Moab explored fifteen unique locations and provided great shooting opportunities with diverse subject matter. Everyone in the group was able to enjoy the three mile roundtrip walk to the world famous Delicate Arch (in Arches NP) for a sunset shoot (great job, guys!). Although we visited a few well known locations (Delicate Arch, Grandview Point), our focus is otherwise on placing participants in less obvious, quiet, and photographically rich environments where one can stretch their skills and creativity. Daily shoots were combined with field classes, field exercises, portfolio assignments, and classroom time where we examined the tools and techniques to creating our art.

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Guy instructs

The core tenets of the Visionary program are intended to induce a quiet and thoughtful practice into ones work. Some educators and photographers engage in a “spray and pray” approach to image making. Visionary workshops recommends the exact opposite: slow down, quiet the mind; be completely present and in this moment; consider and deliberate; quality over quantity. Spray and pray is a mindless path to lucky captures and editing nightmares; quiet and thoughtful deliberation is a path to creative imaging and expression.

In the Window before sunrise

In the Window before sunrise

Free yourself from external influences: bills, obligations, and chores will pollute your experience every time if you allow. Bring your baggage to the field only at the risk of failure-to-see. Photo buddies are fun to hang with but can provide obstacles to photographic growth; practice working in solitude (quiet your mind).

Be observant of your entire surroundings. Take visual inventory of your “materials”, of what you have to work with to create your images. Compose away from the camera and viewfinder; use your mind and vision (photographer Edward Weston stated “composition is the strongest way of seeing“). Don’t get locked into the arbitrary 2:3 or 4:5 aspect ratio of your camera. Your camera has no brain; use the one you’ve been gifted with.

Guy instructs during one of our classroom sessions

Guy instructs during one of our classroom sessions

Be an expert; know and photograph your subjects better than anyone else. Honor, love, and dignify; meaningful relationships with your subject matter will often result in compelling and sincere photographs. There are no shortcuts to artistry, but there is a direct correlation between input and output. If you love photography and strive to become a better photographic artist, do more of it and make it more than just a spare-time pursuit; make it your life.

Our next Visionary workshop takes place November 21-26 in Death Valley and we hope that you’ll join us for stimulating and inspirational discussions and engaging photography in one of the planets most extraordinary places!

You’ll find eight additional images from Visionary Moab below this entry…

You are visiting the blog of fine art landscape photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website. You can also find Michael on TwitterFacebook, and Google+.

We enjoyed everywhere the beautiful aroma of Mahonia...

We enjoyed everywhere the beautiful aroma of Mahonia…

Yucca, wide open

Yucca, wide open

Mesa Arch?

Mesa Arch?

Sweeping sandstone

Sweeping sandstone

Reflected light

Reflected light

We explored and photographed lots of rock art

We explored and photographed lots of rock art

Guy, Ron, and Tom discuss the detailed rock art behind them

Guy, Ron, and Tom discuss the detailed rock art behind them

Washer Woman Arch

Washer Woman Arch

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Upcoming Workshops

Come join me in the Eastern Sierra for two exciting workshops!

October 5-8, 2010 Eastern Sierra Autumn Color Tour
All camera formats and experience levels welcome! Limited to only six photographers. Join me on this incredible and photography intensive three-day tour of California’s Eastern Sierra, Owens Valley, and the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. Come enjoy and photograph California’s finest autumn colors in one of the most breathtaking settings on the planet! For more information and registration….

November 6-7, 2010 Introduction to Large Format Photography
Alabama Hills, Eastern Sierra (just outside Lone Pine, California). Limited to only 5 photographers. NO previous large format experience required! My teaching methods and techniques are direct and easy to comprehend. At the completion of this intensive two-day workshop, you will be able to efficiently and confidently compose, focus, and expose your own large format photographs! For more information and registration….

I am happy to answer any questions you may have regarding these workshops/tours. Previous workshop participants can enjoy a 10% discount on tuition! Thank you for your interest.

You are visiting the blog of fine art photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website.

High Sierra Trip Report; NEW Tour Announcement

Mt. Goode in morning light

Mt. Goode in morning light

I returned home from the High Sierra earlier this week after concluding a private photography tour for my client, Balaji, who hails from California’s Bay Area. This tour was initially slated to include a few of Balaji’s friends, but illness and schedule conflicts left Balaji alone with me to endure the incredible light and beauty that only the Range of Light can offer. Due to snowpack this year that
Mosquitoes!

Mosquitoes!

was 143% of normal, bountiful snow still lingered at moderate elevations and the mosquitoes were like I’ve never seen them before in the Eastern Sierra. We were surrounded at times by virtual clouds of them!

Long Lake and Saddlerock Lake

Long Lake and Saddlerock Lake

Our tour began on the Eastside at South Lake and would take us over Bishop Pass and into the Dusy and Palisade Basins of King’s Canyon/Sequoia National Park. “Would” being the key word, as Balaji contracted Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) on our second day out, which forced us to move to a lower elevation and ultimately off the mountain sooner than planned. Without medication (Acetazolamide) or proper acclimatization (a slower and more gradual ascent to altitude), Balaji would be unable to continue climbing higher without suffering further ill effects of AMS.

Balaji photographs the Sierra

Balaji photographs the Sierra

A number of photo tour and workshop leaders have written recently about the importance of choosing a tour/workshop guide who is properly insured and carrying proper permits, yet many of these articles omit what to me should be an even more serious concern: is your guide first-aid and CPR trained and certified? Do they have the experience and awareness to spot something like AMS? Is your guide an experienced mountaineer and navigator who can guide you confidently and safely through the most difficult situations? Had I not been able to correctly diagnose and know how to treat Balaji’s condition, I could have ushered him to even higher altitudes and might have seriously endangered him (AMS can elevate to High Altitude Pulmonary Edema [HAPE]). Before you hire a photography guide to lead you into remote locations, make sure that they can provide a YES answer to these questions! When remote, help is often a long way away and cell phones may not be operable; you need to be able to trust your guide to make the right decisions on your behalf and to do so while under pressure.

Water and Granite

Water and Granite

After diagnosing Balaji’s condition, we descended back to our first night’s camp on the shore of beautiful Long Lake. Although he was not yet out of the woods, Balaji’s AMS-induced fatigue prevented him from making it all the way back to the car that evening. We spent a restful night at Long Lake, and although Balaji reported feeling great in the morning, it was evident to me on the walk out that Balaji was still afflicted with AMS. Medication will likely be his only solution to again returning to higher elevations. A rigorous acclimatization process can help (“climb high, sleep low”, and with slower ascents to altitude), but rarely fits well with ambitious plans and a restrictive number of annual vacation days (damn you, American employers! :)).

Evening clouds over the Sierra

Evening clouds over the Sierra

After most of Balaji’s group had signed off the trip, I offered a couple of openings to interested parties, although it was too short of notice to have any takers. Many persons wrote me expressing great interest in this outing, so I am again offering this High Sierra photo tour on August 25-29, 2010 (Wednesday through Sunday). Eligible participants must be in very good to excellent physical condition; must have previous backpacking experience; and must have experience at high altitude (12,000′ will be our
Mt. Agassiz, 13,891'

Mt. Agassiz, 13,891'

maximum, with an option to climb higher during downtime). This tour is open to only three participants; register now! I look forward to sharing the beauty and wonder of the Range of Light with you!

Many THANKS to Balaji for another great outing to the High Sierra! I look forward to getting you back into this region in 2011!

You are visiting the blog of fine art photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website.