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Wake-robin (Trillium erectum). Cornell Plantations, Tompkins County, New York. Photo by Dave FitzSimmons. Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Lens. f/16, 0.8 sec. at ISO 100. Sigma 77mm circlular polarizer.

by Dave FitzSimmons

After a highly successful fall workshop in conjunction with Cornell Outdoor Education, we planned two Cornell events for 2011: a spring wildflower and waterfall workshop (April 30 – May 1) and an October waterfalls and fall foliage workshop (October 8 – 9).

Cornell Outdoor Education photo workshop participants photograph Ithaca Falls, which drops 150 feet on the edge of the Cornell University campus. Dave explained professional techniques used to create creamy looking waterfalls under any skies. Cornell professor, scientist, and philosopher Carl Sagan once lived in a house perched right above Ithaca Falls. Photo by Dave FitzSimmons. Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Lens. f/25, 1/6 second at ISO 100. Sigma 77mm circlular polarizer.

The spring event, just completed, was exceptional! We hit the spring ephemeral wildflowers at their peak, enjoying various species of trillium and violets, bellwort, Dutchman’s breeches, skunk cabbage, spring beauties, trout lilies, hepatica, and a variety of other spectacular species. In the field we practiced macro photography techniques at a variety of locations, including the Mundy Wildflower Garden, part of extensive natural areas under the auspices of Cornell Plantations. The Mundy Garden includes a large deer exclosure fence, allowing native species to thrive in profusion.

What a great workshop group! Pictured in the front are the leaders Jeff Deutsch and Jake Rudin of Cornell Outdoor Education and Sigma Pro photographer Dave FitzSimmons. Photo by Dave FitzSimmons. Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC lens f/16, 1/50 sec. at ISO 100.

In addition, over the two day workshop we hiked to a variety of waterfalls, including Ithaca Falls, which drops 150 feet (and is even wider than it is tall), and Taughannock Falls, which, at 215 feet, is not only taller than Niagara Falls but also the largest waterfall drop east of the Mississippi River. We also ascended the gorge at Buttermilk Falls State Park, where one beautiful cascade is followed by another and another….

A small cascade along Hwy 86, just north of the town of Ithaca. Forsythia was in full bloom in the region. Photo by Dave FitzSimmons. Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC lens f/8, 1/8 sec. at ISO 100.

Beyond our field time, we discussed landscape, waterfall, and macro techniques in the Cornell Outdoor Education classroom and, following shooting each day, uploaded, examined, and critiqued images in a Photoshop-equipped lab on the Cornell campus.

Black capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) entering a hole in a species of maple trees called boxelder (Acer negundo). Mundy Wildflower Garden, Cornell Plantations, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. Photo by Dave FitzSimmons. Sigma APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM lens, f/5.6, 1/100 sec. at ISO 100.

Sigma provided a variety of lenses for participants to try out, including one of my favorites, the 10-20mm zoom, which is featured in my recent Outdoor Photographer article.

We also had on hand the whole range of Sigma macro lenses. (By the way, I can’t wait to try the updated OS version of the 150mm f/2.8 macro lens. The 150mm macro is one of my all-time favorite lenses.) The loaner gear gave people the chance to play with lenses for a variety of subjects, especially for photographing waterfalls and wildflowers.

 Thanks to Sigma, Cornell Outdoor Education (especially Todd Miner, Chris Leeming, Jeff Deutsch, and Jake Rudin), and our other workshop partners, Lowepro, NEC, and Red River Paper, for putting together this great event!

Large-Flowered Bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora). Mundy Wildflower Garden, Cornell Plantations, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. Photo by Dave FitzSimmons. 150mm F2.8 EX APO DG HSM Macro lens, f/16, 0.6 sec. at ISO 100.

If you missed this spring event, we hope to see you October 8th & 9th at the peak of fall foliage in and around Ithaca. As I tell my audiences across North America, the Ithaca region, I believe, has the greatest concentration of waterfalls in the 48 states. Here are upcoming workshops:

Dave FitzSimmons SIGMA Photography Workshops

Dave FitzSimmons SIGMA Photography Workshops

Aug. 2 – 4 Telluride, Colorado w/ Telluride Outside Outfitters & Ah Haa School for the Arts
Oct. 8 – 9 Ithaca, New York w/ Cornell Outdoor Education

Click here for a PDF of Dave’s 2011 photo workshop schedule.

Also, don’t miss David’s acclaimed exhibition “Curious Critters,” which debuted at the 2010 Telluride Photo Festival. You can see the two dozen 24” x 26” prints at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, Jamestown, New York, from June 1 to September 5, 2011. A special opening reception and exhibition presentation will be held on Friday, June 3rd at 5:30 PM.

And, speaking of these Richard Avedon style animal portraits, Dave’s Curious Critters children’s picture book is coming out soon. Watch for an announcement in July!

For more details, to register for an upcoming workshop, or to see more of Dave’s work, visit

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