Photography Workshop – Winter Landscapes

We learned so much at the photography workshop we attended Saturday! National Geographic Traveller award-winning photographer Mark Unrau offered advice on how to meet the challenge of winter landscape photography, with a focus on techniques to create awesome black and white images.

The workshop seemed to be a joint effort between Mark’s Photography School of the Rockies and Ski Louise.

During the morning classroom session, Mark covered several concepts:

  • how to use evaluative metering to set your “meter in the middle” and then use spot metering to minimize clipping of whites or blacks;
  • how to determine and work with(in) your camera’s dynamic range; and
  • the zone system” developed by Ansel Adams.

While C was already familiar with most of this, it was new to the rest of the family.

As the morning classroom session wrapped up, it started snowing. Hoping the sky would clear within an hour or so, we headed to the Northface Bistro to enjoy lunch. Under the direction of Chef Bruce Edmondson, the staff did a fabulous job of accommodating K’s allergies. Mr. GeoK went back for a second serving from the pasta bar and Mrs. GeoK practiced a few words of Korean when she was served by a staff person from Seoul. Overall, it was way better than I expected from ski hill dining!

Jason, our Ski Louise liaison, made sure everyone was kitted out with snowshoes (we brought our own) and then we all headed for the Grizzly Express Gondola. It was still snowing as we sorted ourselves into 3 cabins and settled in for the approx. 12 minute ride, gaining more than 700 meters elevation along the way. By the time we disembarked, the sun was breaking through, but there was still more than enough cloud action to keep the sky interesting during our 90 minute photo shoot.

While not quite at the highest point in the area, Ptarmigan Ridge is high enough to offer unobstructed views of almost a dozen named peaks in the Canadian Rockies. Throw in the skiers and snowboarders and there’s plenty to photograph. Some recent visitors have been lucky enough to spot a couple of lynx in the area. We didn’t see the lynx – perhaps we were too busy trying to put into practice all the things we’d learned that morning…

K and Mr. GeoK getting ready to apply the morning's lesson

K moves to a different position along the ridge

Click on any of this next group to view as a slideshow…

K said he learned a lot! Here are a few of his photos…

Watching Dad get ready to shoot

Along Ptarmigan Ridge to the Bow Valley

K's best sun shot

NOTE – C has been too busy to even download his photos and Mr. GeoKs’ computer is out for repair, which is why this post doesn’t include any of their work.

Our practice time came to an end all too soon. As we rode the gondola back down for the afternoon classroom session, it started to snow again. The weather fully cooperated – with both photographers and skiers/snowboarders!

During the remainder of the workshop, Mark gave us an overview of his processing workflow (Lightroom and Photoshop) and took us step-by-step through how he processed a couple of his images. Unfortunately, we ran out of time before we had the chance to start processing our images from that day’s photo shoot, but we did pick up on a couple of features we didn’t know about in Lightroom and with the motivation to at least consider using Photoshop.

Total time of the workshop was 6 hours (plus an hour for lunch). The $100 registration fee included lunch, the Gondola ticket, snowshoe rental (if needed), two classroom sessions and one-on-one tutoring during the photo shoot, which we considered a terrific value!

If you’re in the area and want the opportunity to practice your winter landscape photography skills, Ski Louise offers guided snowshoe outings to Ptarmigan Ridge. And Mark offers fully-customizable photography instruction via his website. We’re hoping to book him for another session over spring break.

3 thoughts on “Photography Workshop – Winter Landscapes

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