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The first of the 2010 SIGMA Nature Photography Workshops was a smashing success. On March 13th, sixteen participants assembled at Point Reyes National Seashore to learn about seascape photography during two classroom sessions and hours of shooting along two spectacular beaches.

Our workshop group, posing with authority at Point Reyes National Seashore. © 2010 David FitzSimmons

I lead the workshop, with the assistance of Bay-area photographer Patrick Smith. In the morning session I talked about fundamentals of landscape and seascape photography, focusing on how photographs communicate ideas and emotions. We looked at composition elements—such as line, texture, symmetry, and depth-of-field—talking about how these aspects of photographs help to convey thoughts and feelings to viewers.  

After the morning classrooms session, we headed to Drake’s Beach (named after Sir Francis Drake, who was believed to have anchored off shore), where, with guided instruction, we photographed the beach, rising cliffs, crashing waves, and a variety of birds along the strand.  

Drake’s Beach © 2010 Tamer Michiel (workshop participant)

Raven Love 2 © 2010 Sue Petterson (workshop participant)

 Sigma shipped in two dozen lenses (in a variety of mounts) for participants to try in the field. Many enjoyed playing with the super wide angle lenses—such as the full-frame and circular fisheyes—as well as various zooms and macro lenses.   

McClures Beach © 2010 Brian DiCola (workshop participant)

California Poppies © 2010 Brian DiCola (workshop participant), photographed with a Sigma loaner lens

 After a delicious lunch at Priscilla’s Pizzeria & Cafe in Inverness, Patrick Smith talked about advanced seascape techniques, particularly his slow-exposure method for sunsets: using low-to-the-ground perspectives, graduated ND filters, and shutter speeds slow enough to highlight waves in motion. We then headed to McClures Beach for sunset. While the daytime skies were brilliantly clear, scattered clouds began to move in for sundown, a recipe for spectacular skies. As the sun settled toward the horizon, the heavens didn’t disappoint. The sky became emblazoned with pinks, oranges, and yellows, which contrasted with the foamy blue sea.

McClures Beach at Sunset California Poppies © 2010 Brian DiCola (workshop participant)

McClures Beach © 2010 Tamer Michiel (workshop participant)

Using the techniques we discussed during the workshop and a number of the SIGMA loaner lenses, the participants produced some exceptional work. Included here are a number of images captured by the workshop participants. What can I say but…WOW! 

McClures Beach © 2010 Sue Petterson (workshop participant)

Finally,  a shout-out to our workshop series co-sponsors,  Lowepro and NEC, for their support in helping make this lecture series possible.

And let’s not forget workshop prizes, which included SIGMA swag, a Lowepro backpack, one free license for Helicon Focus (and discounts to all participants), and Plamps from Wimberley. 

If you missed this workshop, there are more ahead (each with SIGMA loaner lenses and even more giveaways, including one free license and discounts for Photomatix)! Here’s the remaining schedule: 

David FitzSimmons 2010 SIGMA Photography Workshops: 

5/15 Clifty Falls State Park, IN 

5/22 Watkins Glen State Park, NY 

6/12 San Diego Zoo, CA 

6/13 San Diego Zoo, CA 

7/24 Insects of Madera Canyon, AZ 

10/22-24 Mohican State Park, OH 

For more information about my FitzSimmons Photography SIGMA Photo Workshops, go to and select Workshops.

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