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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!

Clifty Falls State Park workshop group posing on the deck above Tunnel Falls. Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM lens. Photo © 2010 Dave FitzSimmons

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.

Big Clifty Falls. 120-400 mm F4.5-5.6 DG APO OS HSM lens. © 2010 Dave FitzSimmons

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.

Clifty Falls HDR © 2010 Thomas Jones (workshop participant)

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.)

Beetle on Multiflora Rose © 2010 Cybil Cole (workshop participant)

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.

Beardtongue Snapdragon (Scrophulariaceae sp.) along Clifty Creek. 150mm F2.8 EX APO DG HSM Macro lens; three shots processed in Helicon Focus for increased depth-of-field. I demonstrated the easy-to-use software during the afternoon classroom session at Clifty Falls. © 2010 Dave FitzSimmons

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.

Abandoned Train Tunnel HDR © 2010 Frank Steinhart (workshop participant)

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.

Wingstem Macrophotograph © 2010 Lee Collier (workshop participant)

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 and select Workshops.

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  1. So good to see decent people going about decent artistic documentation!
    Madison is the location for a film I’ve long wanted to “re-make” having visited for a few days 20 years ago and always wanted to return. I have a very interesting idea for a possible film in and around Madison and anyone interested can feel free to contact me, indeed I’d very much welcome it.
    Dr. David Woods

  2. It’s good to see this park again. As a young Boy Scout I spent many weekends hiking in this park and when you become so very familular with the area you forget to see the beauty. I am looking forward to going back this summer. One note, you should look at the Turkey Run park or Spring Mill State park. All very beautiful in their own ways.