Join / Renew
CONTACT US FIND A PHOTOGRAPHER
Welcome to the new Viewfinder format!To keep up with the latest articles and news, be sure to subscribe to the Viewfinder! Subscriptions are provided at no charge! Click here to subscribe.
Please contact us with any questions you may have at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2020 (whole year) - Image Competition 80+ Score Images
Alison Carlino’s Night Skies Workshop: 10/10 highly recommend!
By: Megan Murray
Visiting Big Bend had been on my bucket list for years, and when Alison Carlino announced her Photographing the Night Skies workshop, I jumped at the opportunity. An escape from the city, beautiful scenery, photography, wonderful company, and a scholarship from PPGH – what’s not to love?
Before the workshop, Alison hosted a Zoom meeting to cover our itinerary, packing list, equipment & software requirements, and answer any questions. Once in Terlingua, the workshop was a mix of afternoon classroom time and late night photography under the stars. We covered three main topics: Milky Way, light painting, and star trails. Alison is an organized, thorough, and passionate instructor!
Although Alison had done all the preplanning legwork for this workshop, she taught us how to plan future astrophotography shoots by researching dark sky areas and moon phases and location of the milky way. Here’s a back-of-camera photo from the first night where we photographed the Milky Way over an old church in the Terlingua Ghost town:
The second night, we ventured into Big Bend Ranch State Park and photographed star trails at an old movie set along the banks of the Rio Grande. This was my very first attempt at star trails, and while far from technically perfect, I was happy with the end result:
But just to show you what’s possible, here’s an image Alison created right outside her AirBnB:
The next afternoon, we covered editing of night skies and learned how to combine hundreds of time-lapse images into one finished star trails image. The clouds rolled in, so instead of staying up late photographing on the third night, the group went on a sunset hike together. The conversation, climb, views, and candy-colored skies were the perfect ending to a fantastic workshop.
I loved the small group format of Alison’s workshop – plenty of personal attention and great company on those late nights.
And while at Big Bend, I did a little hiking too. With such wide open spaces and sparse population, it almost felt like I was on another planet.
In conclusion, I would recommend ANY class Alison teaches! Her enthusiasm is contagious, and she gives her students 110%. And if you’re longing for an excuse to get out in nature and try something different, the Night Skies workshop is just the ticket. Thank you PPGH for making this workshop experience possible with a photography education scholarship!
The Grip Gear 101 Workshop by Douglas N. Burns was an enlightening experience for all photography enthusiasts hosted by the Professional Photographers Guild of Houston. Mr. Burns, with his extensive background in both Film and Still Photography, shared a wealth of knowledge that left participants inspired and better informed about the often-overlooked role of a "Grip" in the industry. Throughout his many years of experience, he showcased how the responsibilities of a Grip in the Film industry seamlessly translate into the realm of Still Photography.
Mr. Burns' workshop began by answering a fundamental question: What is a Grip? He explained that a Grip plays a pivotal role in setting up, rigging, and dismantling lighting equipment on a set. Moreover, Grips are responsible for maintaining equipment and ensuring it remains organized. In the Film industry, the Key Grip serves as the department's boss, while Dolly Grips assist the Camera department by skillfully moving the dolly. This comprehensive overview shed light on the crucial behind-the-scenes work that makes both film and photography projects come to life.
But what truly set this workshop apart was Douglas N. Burns' commitment to practicality. He not only explained the concepts but also showcased various useful tools and items he has utilized in his commercial work, film projects, and even his own portrait studio. From different light modifiers available in the market to the ones he personally crafted through DIY ingenuity, Mr. Burns provided a treasure trove of insights. This workshop became a true goldmine for photographers, offering a plethora of ideas and tools to elevate their craft.
As a participant, I can wholeheartedly attest that this workshop was an absolute gem. Douglas N. Burns' passion for the subject matter was infectious, and his ability to bridge the gap between the Film and Still Photography worlds was invaluable. Whether you're a novice or a seasoned photographer, this workshop is a must-attend event that will undoubtedly enrich your skills and deepen your understanding of the art.
“You Had Me At Woof!” Review -Brenda Kieso
I recently had the pleasure of attending Megan Murray’s, “You Had Me At Woof!” workshop dedicated to capturing stunning dog portraits, and it exceeded all expectations. Safety was paramount throughout the workshop, with Megan emphasizing the importance of creating a comfortable and secure environment for both the dogs and the photographers. She provided valuable insights on safety, dog behavior, posing, and incorporating pets in your family portraiture.
Safely photographing dogs requires a combination of patience, respect for the animal, and photography skills. First and foremost, it's essential to approach the dog calmly and gain their trust before attempting to capture their image. Megan does this at her consultation appointment, whenever possible. She discussed how to make the dogs comfortable and how to keep the dog from becoming frightened by the equipment. She also discussed ensuring proper lighting to highlight the dog's features and using a fast shutter speed to capture their playful or serene moments effectively.
Megan also taught us how to recognize the dog's body language and signals. Understanding dog behavior played a pivotal role in being a successful pet photographer. Megan shared invaluable insights into canine body language and attention getting ideas, allowing her to anticipate the dogs’ actions and capture candid, heartwarming moments with our models, Shiner, Chance and Penny.
One of my favorite aspects of the workshop was the focus on posing, and of course, the models she provided! Megan demonstrated how to position dogs in ways that highlight their unique features as well as how to work with different energy levels and personalities. She demonstrated various angles and simple, effective lighting setups, resulting in a diverse range of portraits that truly captured each dog's character. Whether it was a playful puppy or a wise old dog, the workshop equipped its participants with the skills to showcase each dog’s individuality through photography.
In conclusion, “You Had Me At Woof!” was a fantastic learning opportunity. Megan’s fun and engaging approach to teaching kept all participants enthralled. Her emphasis on safety, posing techniques, and understanding dog behavior made it an exceptional experience for photographers of all skill levels. We left the workshop with not only a newfound appreciation for the art of pet photography but also a set of valuable skills that will enhance our ability to capture our four-legged friends through the lens and add pet photography to family sessions whenever possible. I highly recommend this workshop to anyone passionate about both photography and dogs.
Texas School 2023: John Hartman Light Painting Class
I was excited to attend John Hartman’s Light Painting class at Texas School this year thanks to a generous scholarship from PPGH!
John is an extremely good teacher who is super easy to follow. Our class enjoyed three light painting projects that both challenged and intrigued us.
For Project 1, we watched John work his magic on a bright yellow Porsche Cayman S! The car’s owner, who was a previous race car driver, welcomed us into his garage full of high-end vehicles. It was a sight to behold. John selected this yellow Porsche because it was a difficult color to light paint. He shared with us the nuances involved in lighting the car’s fine details just right to enhance its best features, while preserving its true color. This photo is only one of many exposures captured to showcase this awesome car! You can see John’s final version (done quickly of course) on Facebook here: (1) Facebook
For Project 2, we all brought in personal items that we set up on tables and learned how to light paint ourselves. Some of us learned (meaning me) how important it is to be sure nothing in your still life set up moves or your light painting project will have to begin all over again! Also, it is best to keep it simple (I added way too many items into my scene!) Here’s the best I could do since I bumped my camera before finishing my project.
It was meant to be a representation of things captured. The top half of the project is unfinished because that is where things moved. But hey, I know what I did wrong! And have such respect for the level of detail that goes into this process. It was super fun coming up with the concept, learning how to light each element to tell the story, and working on it with oversight by John and his awesome wranglers, Dori and Lowell. I can see so many applications for this approach in compositions for print competition as well as client work and just fun personal projects.
For Project 3, John light painted an Indian motorcycle that belongs to Ron Nichols (of ProSelect fame). Ron actually brought the motorcycle to our classroom on the Renaissance Hotel’s second floor! John showed us how to highlight the intricate details like logos, how to extract it and place it in a more appropriate environment, and how to pose a person with their bike. You can see his final version here: (1) Facebook
I thoroughly enjoyed his class and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to try something new and add a little magic to your toolkit.
Creating Historical Portraits
Presenter: Michael Crawley
Workshop Review by Lauren Harrell
This workshop consisted of learning how professional historical photos are taken. We had the opportunity to learn how reenactment photos are organized. We learned how to search for photos for inspiration and use multiple sources.
Students had the opportunity to photograph models and experiment with different model poses, camera settings, and lighting.
It was helpful to learn various tools and resources such as Nik and how to apply filters to edit photos into a historical effect.
Photographing the Night Sky
Presenter: Michael Crawley
Workshop Review by Ron Vachon
I enjoyed attending Michael Crawley’s workshop, Photographing the Night Sky. Astrophotography has been one of my interests for quite some time. Even as someone with experience, I learned several new techniques and it refreshed my memory on others.
Michael discussed several useful websites and cell phone apps including Photopills which I agree is worth the money. … Just buy it!
He discussed some of the essential equipment for photographing at night; this list far exceeds a flash light, camera (or two), wide angle fast lens and a tripod. He discussed websites to find good locations, especially those with dark sky.
He showed us images of historical sites he’s researched and has photographed at night with the Milky way as the backdrop. He even discussed light-painting structures to add an extra point of interest to the image. Since I’m going on a road trip to a dark sky area later this year, I’m going to use some of what I learned to find some ghost towns or other historic sites.
Michael taught us how to setup our camera for night photography, including recommended white balance, F-stops, shutter speeds and focusing using the hyperfocal table in PhotoPills.
I found the section on comets & meteors very interesting. He had some great stories to tell and images to show, and he reminded us of some of the meteor showers coming later this year.
Another of the computer applications he showed us was Starstx which post-processes star trails. He demonstrated loading multiple images taken a few minutes apart each can be combined to make a beautiful image containing star trails. It was really neat to watch it as it created the trails.
So, if you’re up for some night sky photography later this summer, I’ll be glad to join you. Just don’t forget your red head lamp, lens warmer, intervalometer, cable release, snacks and a comfy chair.
SO, YOU THINK YOU KNOW LIGHTING AND POSING
PPGH has some wonderful photographers. They come from all walks of life and experience. Twice a year Professional Photographers of America offer a one-day merit class and some of them are taught by those very same people. Mrs. Sonia Farhana Ahmed, CPP, is one of those fine instructors. Her class was entitled – MASTERING THE ART OF LIGHT AND POSE, ELEVATING YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY SKILL. I took her class, and all that title is misleading, it should be – SO YOU THINK YOU KNOW LIGHTING AND POSE. We started off with getting to know Mrs. Ahmed, how she started her business and her studio. She then began to explain how she has a formula she sticks to – her go to shutter speed, f-stop and ISO and lighting sets for all of her work. She then told how she looks at her client and how she will light them during their first meeting but also will ask her client if they have a certain style or mood of lighting they want to be photographed in, all this and in her mindset, she is looking at a persons’ features and how to best pose them. We moved into her studio where she started with why one light, then two, three, well you get the idea all offer different looks and moods. She showed how to set a white balance and why it is important and when using a meter how it helps to get everything right on camera. We then went on to how to set the lights and distance. She then used a model to demonstrate how and why it all works so well. While doing this she began to show how to pose, how to talk with your client to get them to move, how to ask permission for touching when it is proper and not, she then the difference for a woman and a man and how a simple change of a wrist, hand or move of the head or adding a prop can make a big difference in a portrait. We had a beautiful model attend and Mrs. Ahmed showed that with just a few changes of hands, legs, and facial expressions what can be done to make some beautiful images. She explained all this and more in a very short period of time. The last part of her class was how she finishes her idea in PhotoShop and her thoughts on what to look for to make an image the client will be thrilled to have. I came away with a better understanding of how just important it is to know your equipment, how to stay with what works but to also understand when to change. I know putting in a class and talking in front of people is not for everyone, but she did it with ease, experience and confidence and I would like to recommend that if you are having problems with any of these areas that Mrs. Ahmed would be a go to person to learn. What a great day!
It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, NO it’s a DRONE
A review of Michael Reiland - PPA Merit Program: Commercial Drone Photography by MIchael Crawley
I started out the day knowing just a few of the basics of flying drones and commercial drone photography and left trying to keep myself from running out and buying a new toy. Michael’s passion of photography and drones brought life to this merit workshop and the day FLEW by.
We started the day indoors with a presentation, and Michael showed us how he got into the world of drones and a few of his failures and crashes. But just like Michael, he didn’t give up on his flying dreams, and he show us how he has built a successful business flying drones for many of his commercial clients.
From how he grew his business, we moved into the most intimidating, at least for me, part of flying commercially, earning your part FAA 107 License.
This is one of the many things that has kept me from purchasing a drone and using it to make money. Michael quickly put us all at ease as he discussed the test and licensing procedure. He shared several great classes, books and apps to prep for the test, as well as briefly touching on each of the five sections found on the test. I definitely have a much better idea on how to start studying now.
Lunch found us at Carl’s BBQ where we enjoyed great food and continue chatting about all the things, we learned that morning. After lunch things began to FLY, or at least Michael and his drone did. As we launched the drone into the air behind Carl’s, we began the practical part of the workshop. We lifted off and photographed two buildings in the area, did a drone group shot and made several videos as well. Michael covered the basics of safe drone flying, how to avoid running into objects during flight and how he would proceed through a typical commercial project capturing both images and videos. From there we checked out a park and a golf course trying different things during each flight. We ended the day back at the office watching and doing a few brief edits to the several videos and photos that we captured during the afternoon. Michael demonstrated putting together a panorama picture in Lightroom, showing us a sky swap, and discussed his process for putting together videos.
Time really did FLY by on Saturday and before we knew it, we were out of time for the day. Michael provided us a drop box link so that we could review our notes, watch the videos and see some of the fabulous images from the day.
What an OUTSTANDING day. If you are at all interested in getting into drone photography, I recommend that you take this workshop in the future.
Workshop Review of GO PRO: Lighting First, Posing Second
Today’s lighting workshop with Sonia Ahmad from ETM Portraits was incredibly informative.
Sonia’s organizational skills shined through from the moment we entered her home studio.
She’s created a functional space in a room approximately 450 sqft with every lighting tool a photographer may need. She skillfully maximizes every space to house every item while keeping everything visibly appealing and within easy access.
Sonia organized the course by first explaining and walking us through one light, two light, and three light set ups. She demonstrated which light modifiers to use, how and why. We were also able to see how she reached her light power and chose her camera settings. I’ve always been intimidated by the technical aspects of strobe and flash photography; it took me three years to venture into studio lighting because of this reason. In fact 8 years in I still didn’t understand the need for light meters. However, Sonia has an accessible way of teaching technical processes in a way that’s easily digestible for someone with my brain. In the past I could just feel my eyes glossing over from being overwhelmed and checking out; yet here I was fully engrossed in learning tech stuff!
After fully walking us through the light set ups and demonstrating on different skin tones, it was time to watch her photograph and pose with a model.
9 year old Bella first model in a pretty dress for a fine art portrait in which Sonia played with different color gels. She explained color choices and placement, and produced some of the most beautiful child portraits.
We enjoyed a working lunch followed by some fun tween fashion posing. To end our day Sonia went over the light set ups again using graphic visuals and invited us to ask more questions.
We finally went outdoors to play with speed lights and see how flat, bright, or dark natural light can be better utilized by incorporating off-camera flash.
Overall I can surmarize by saying that this class is amazing for all photographers at all levels. If you’re thinking of starting your studio at home or are looking to organize a smaller space, you’ll gain so many tools from taking this class. If you’re intimidated by technical aspects , this is absolutely the class to take, and finally all of us need a refresher from time to time and observing a great photographer la process your is invaluable for our continuous education.
I am excited to attend more PPGH events and growing with our community.
Review by Maria Arellano
Vendors - Caught Ya Looking!
Let's talk about this space...
webmaster at ppgh dot org