Mount Everest makes a great gift.

Honestly, can you think of a cooler gift than the big mountain itself?  Give a trip that will change someone’s life this year, a Photo-Trek to Mount Everest Monasteries / Base Camp.

Once again, Joel Addams will head up the trekking and teach fine art photography along the way.  Joel’s Sherpa friends and porters will be on hand to make sure things are secure and safe.  Last year’s trek went beautifully, and this spring Nepal is an even better choice for adventure and learning.

Find all the details at ItalyWorkshops.com

Trekking in the Annapurna Region of Nepal in monsoon season brings clouds and views.

Trekking in the Annapurna Region of Nepal in monsoon season brings clouds and views.

Some places are actually “awesome”.

Wendy Janssen from Holland joined us for a Canyons photo workshop last week.  We were talking about words that are misused and overused in America… awesome

Utah Photo Workshops Canyons 2015

Utah Photo Workshops Canyons 2015

being the worst for Wendy.  Funny that soon afterward, we found ourselves standing in one place after another that no other word described better.  Awesome…

Let’s go to Nepal for a Photo Workshop

Holy men in Kathmandu's Pashupatinath Temple

Joel Addams came to me and said, hey, Let’s get some friends together and go photograph in Nepal. Before I could say “that’s a long way from Italy”, he had me convinced that photographing in the Himalayas and the temples around Kathmandu is a great compliment to the village photography we do in Italy. It’s not a hard sale because I’ve always sensed that my life (let alone my portfolio) wouldn’t be complete without photographing in the Himalayas.

So here we go…

Nepal, Kathmandu and the Annapurna Circuit Trek
August 20-September 1, 2015
$4300 all inclusive (except airfare)
$500 off for early registration (extended for Nepal trip to March 15)

There are currently 4 more spots open in this trip (limited to 10 participants)
For more details and registration information, click here

Joel Addams, is a world class travel photographer / documentary film maker with extensive experience in Nepal. He is a guest instructor at Italy Workshops when we’re lucky enough to get him.

See Joels work 

Pictureline posts about October’s Slot Canyons Workshop!

http://www.pictureline.com/blog/join-busath-and-team-on-canyons-photography-workshop/

The gang working in Upper Antelope Canyon

The gang working in Upper Antelope Canyon

Utah Photo Workshops, getting ready for October

— http://utahphotoworkshops.com/

Getting some smiles as I look through photos of last year’s Photo Workshop in Zion / Lake Powell / Antelope Canyons.  Getting ready to do it all again in October, and the best news is that the incomparable Randy Collier has agreed to join us again as Instructor.  Yay!

 

“Emptiness”, An Essay From Tuscany by Dr. Kit Smith

Dear Readers,

I’m posting this tongue-gently-in-cheek  journal entry from one of my favorite workshop participants, Dr. Kit Smith.  Tuscany Workshop 2012

The Abundance of Nothing

Emptiness, by Kit Smith

As I review my photos I come across a picture I took in  the last couple of days of a hole in the wall. It is nothing, an empty alcove, nothing more than a recess in a wall. I am sure this type of nook has a name, their numbers are legion, I have seen hundreds of such arched alcoves in fancy buildings and even humble churches filled with statues  but my memory of what it is called is as blank as the space in this patch of wall.  My recollection of where it was or why I took the picture is as empty as the nook itself.  Not even a wind carried leaf graces the flat surface. I search for a clue of an object removed, a mark, a smudge something, anything even a scratch on the marble flatness but the only evidence I can see supports  only a memory of void. It was obviously made for something, certainly something wants to be there,  and I expect someone wants something to be there I know I do, but there it is, bare,  desolate, deserted, void, abandoned, filled with zero, zip, zilch, nada, butkus, squat, even less than diddle-squat.  I look at this photo and remember Drake wants us to stop taking pictures of things, “take pictures of nothing like a Seinfeld TV show,” yes, am sure that was his instruction. Perhaps that is why I took the picture.  If I were to be graded for this photo I am confident I would get an A+ for nothing, as nothing is there but a hole, which by definition is the abundance of nothing, like the grade for my photos which will not be on the report card  Drake will not be giving out. This image is Seinfeld on steroids. The very essence of nothing, emptiness personified.  Richard talked about a wire that has to exist being forced to look at its beautiful surroundings, but the stuff  that live in this surrounding have nothingness, no  beauty to look at, they see only emptiness, they are not even graced with ugliness looking back at them.

But wait, as I look at  nothing looking back at me and turn 180 degrees once and then once again, nothingness begins to morph into somethingness,  I begin to see images  of essence with apparition like arms wafting  out to me.  Substance evolving just like Drake the Zen Master said it would. Ideas come slowly and begin to  trickle in filling the void. What should be there? What does it mean to be empty? Am I missing something, could I be empty, thick in thin things? I do not think so but could I be unaware of my own unawareness, could all my know-how be naught? This could not be, but is this the message of the nothingness in my photo? Is it possible that the emptiness I see  was intended. Some of these walls have been here for a thousand years. Could this nook have remained empty for that long. Is is possible that what is before me is a cornucopia of significant truths, a hole full of  nothing but profound missives.  I am trying to remember where this niche of nothing was, certainly if it was in a hotel lobby this nothingness would not be have such deep meaning, hotels are not centers of wisdom. But if on hallowed ground, a place of learning were difficult questions are asked and answers sought….yes I am sure that is were it must have been. On the wall of sacred space, a masterful missive of majestic magnitude for those who can crack the code.  Yes, indeed life, to be good need not be full of adornments, spareness also has great merit. This image of emptiness has become one of my favorite, for its nothingness overflows with fullness, truly the best things in life are not things at all. Yes Zen Master the fog of unawareness is clearing from this humble  grasshopper’s eyes.  You are indeed full of wisdom, I must  continue my pilgrimage in search of the great treasure,  the abundance of nothing.

Kit Smith

Cinque Terre, Italy Photo Workshops and Village Tours

Puglia, Italy \ Photo Travel Workshops and Village Tours

In Lesina, on the Adriatic coast in the Puglia region of Italy, I was fascinated by the white stone streets and the reflections they create at night. This is one of those scenes that 5 years ago, I wouldn’t have even attempted because it’s so high-contrast.

The bright street lamps create a high degree of contrast, and the moon would just blow out completely, so the scene is impossible to capture in one exposure.

Here I did a 5-image bracket, one stop apart, then chose the 4 darkest exposures to combine with High Dynamic Range software, (in this case NIK HDR Efex Pro).

The B&W conversion was done separately, in Lightroom 4, in the HSL Panel, where I converted to BW, then tweaked the luminance of each separate color.

I added some warm tone using the Split Toning Panel in Lightroom 4. My recipe for warming the shadows is Hue 40, Saturation 20.  Finally, I take it into Photoshop for some burning and dodging, and sharpening.

A personal note:  As the son of a photography studio owner, I was practically raised in a darkroom.  I worked my way through high school processing large format film and printing B/W.   40 years later, here I am again, only without the chemical smell.  Thanks, dad, for the great Black & White tradition.

Puglia in Black and White, Italy Workshops, Photo Workshops and Village Tours

I find myself drawn to these crusty old back alleys and I love that they don’t get cleaned up and whitewashed very often, whatever the reasons are.   This is in the town of Rodi, in the Puglia region of Italy.  I was traveling with writer Ray Ownbey and photographer Luigi Barbano.  Another impossibly high contrast scene well served by a 5 stop exposure bracket and HDR. 

A Misgiving Glance

This street portrait makes me think of the title of Joel Addams book “Power of the Glance”. It was a series of glances, really, a conversation we had without very many words. I found myself sitting across the narrow road in Montalcino, Italy from this gentleman. We were both on a break and we shared a nod and an expression of exhaustion after climbing the same steep hill. A little bit a of a smile, then the camera came out he knew I wanted something from him. I’m not the first visitor to want it. Rather than be sneaky, I just raised and shot, resulting in this portrait of misgiving. Afterward, we had a nice chat about his life, post-war and even got some laughing portraits. My mission in May is to find this man and share a print with him, and hopefully continue the conversation. Drake

A Misgiving Glance