The second of the 2010 SIGMA Nature Photography Workshops was enjoyable for the participants and workshop leader, Sigma Pro photographer Dave FitzSimmons. On March 15th, fifteen participants gathered in southern Indiana at Clifty Falls State Park and the beautiful Clifty Inn to learn about landscape, waterfall, and macro photography. We had a great time!
Under fair spring skies, I lead the workshop around the extraordinary gorge cutting through Clifty Falls State Park, one of Indiana’s natural gems. The gorge cuts down to the Ohio River near Madison, creating sheer drop offs and numerous watery plunges, the largest of which is Big Clifty Falls.
In the morning session we talked about fundamentals of landscape and waterfall photography, focusing on techniques for expressive images. We looked at examples of how to use line, texture, color, depth-of-field and other techniques to improve photographic composition.
After the morning classrooms session, we hiked to overlooks of Big Clifty Falls, Cake Rock, and Little Clifty Falls, practicing slow shutter speeds for blurred water. The weather was quite fine—maybe too fine!—as we had to use polarizing filters and neutral density filters to bring the sunny-sky intensities down enough for ¼ second or slower exposures.
Sigma shipped a variety of loaner lenses for participants to try in the field. Many in the group enjoyed playing with the super wide angle lenses—such as the full-frame and circular fisheyes—as well as various zooms and macro lenses. (Please see some of the participant photos within this blog.)
After a lunch at Clifty Inn, I discussed advanced techniques and macro photography, demonstrating two of my favorite programs (besides Photoshop, of course)—Helicon Focus and Photomatix Pro. Helicon Focus allows for infinite depth-of-field by means of combining multiple images focused on different planes. Photomatix Pro is generally accepted as the best HDR imaging program available and can be a great help in photographing all kinds of landscapes, including waterfalls.
We then headed back into the park, hiking along the trail from Tunnel Falls, past the abandoned train tunnel (which is temporarily closed to protect the park’s bat population from the spread of a fungus called white-nosed syndrome), and back up to the Lily Memorial overlook.
We ended the fun-filled, educational experience with drawings for over $400 in prizes, including on Lowepro photo backpack, one license to Helicon Focus, one license to Photomatix Pro, two Wimberley Plamps, and a number of Sigma goodies. Everyone was a winner!
A special thanks goes out to Sigma dealer Roberts Imaging of Indianapolis for their support of the Clifty Falls Photo Workshop. Roberts, the sixth-largest camera store in the nation, provides not only excellent gear and accessories but also outstanding customer service. Thanks to Jody Grober and Mary Jane for all their help.
If you missed this workshop, there are more ahead. Registration is still open for the following David FitzSimmons 2010 Photography Workshops sponsored by Sigma:
7/24 Insects of Madera Canyon, AZ
10/22-24 Mohican State Park, OH
We are appreciative of our workshop series co-sponsors:
• Lowepro, who leads the industry in making exceptional bags and cases for photographers.
• NEC, whose projectors and displays help greatly in making my work and the works of many other photographers always look good.
For more information about my FitzSimmons Photography SIGMA Photo Workshops, go to www.fitzsimmonsphotography.com and select Workshops.