Register for True North: Photographing the Interpretive Landscape

True North: Photographing the Interpretive Landscape

  • Seán Duggan
  • August 12-18, 2012
  • $6,950

Seán Duggan

Join Seán Duggan, co-author of Real World Digital Photography and The Creative Digital Darkroom, and Photoshop Artistry for an amazing week in Iceland which we will venture beyond our regular routines and embark on a journey to discover and photograph the breathtakingly beautiful landscapes of Iceland.

With our digital cameras, as well as imaging techniques in Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, and other software, we will immerse ourselves in a week of inspiring creativity, adventure and stunning landscapes.

The focus of the class will be on creating compelling and memorable images and during 7 incredible days, you will improve and hone your camera skills, learn to read the light in a scene, refine your eye for composition, and streamline and enhance your digital darkroom technique.

Our workshop will begin at the Grand Hotel in Reykjavik with a discussion of personal goals for the week as well as sharing some of our previous photographic work with the landscape. We’ll consider some of the many different approaches to photographing the landscape to help stir the creative cauldron of ideas and as well as review some important camera techniques for crafting images that faithfully capture the scene or that take the interpretation of the landscape beyond the literal. We’ll also spend some time reviewing essential Lightroom workflow techniques to prepare for the images you be making during the week.

Then we hit the road and head off into the wilds of Iceland in search of great photographs. During the workshop we will focus on the many aspects that make a good image, including composition, lighting, timing, concept, pre-visualization, camera technique, and digital darkroom processing, with an eye towards becoming more proficient in all of these areas.  Seán will provide both group and one-on-one instruction on composition and camera technique in the field, as well as post-capture processing workflow and creative enhancements.

Each day will include a review and constructive critique of the day’s images with an eye towards recognizing aspects of your photographs that can be improved, identifying visual and conceptual threads in your work that you may want to pursue further, or simply appreciating the fine imagery that the group will be creating.

Specific techniques that we will be exploring during the week include:

  • Understanding the differences in how you see vs. how the camera sees and learning to effectively and creatively translate those differences into the photograph you want to make.
  • Utilizing an efficient organizational workflow in Lightroom that includes the use of keywords, metadata and collections so that you can easily find any image in your archive.
  • Develop an effective processing workflow that allows you to quickly make your images look their best, as well as explore creative enhancements.
  • Capturing the best Raw exposure possible and exposing two or more shots to record an extended range of contrast.
  • Using Photoshop layering or HDR processing techniques to combine multiple shots into a single image that includes the entire tonal range of the scene.
  • Mastering the colors, contrast and brightness in your images and creating beautiful translations to black & white.
  • Creatively using multiple shots to break free of the traditional rectangle with panoramas, diptychs, triptychs, or Hockney-esque collages.
  • Treating the initial image as a point of departure for further creative enhancements and transformations in Lightroom or Photoshop.

It will be a fun and exciting week. We will explore the diverse geography of this island, following the sweet light as it leads us to waterfalls, rainbows, mountain valleys, geothermal hot springs, volcanoes, glaciers, icebergs and exquisite views of the sea and sky. Specialized all-terrain vehicles will allow us to reach areas that are inaccessible by a regular car.

We will seek out new ways to portray the landscape, from the immensity of far vistas, to the delicate, often overlooked small details off the beaten path. Through proven methods utilizing effective composition, visual depth, and creative exposure techniques, we will practice interpreting the scene, and designing the image, rather than just taking a picture. We will strive to see the image possibilities in any situation, to look for the extraordinary in the ordinary, and to seek out uniquely personal ways of interpreting a scene.

What to Bring to this Workshop

You will need a digital camera, and a laptop computer. A small portable USB or Firewire hard drive is also highly useful for storing images you will be making during the week (a 2nd hard drive is recommended for back-up purposes so that you always have two copies of your photographs).  Software for organizing and processing your images, such as Adobe Lightroom or Apple Aperture, is a must (if you do not have Lightroom, you might consider using a 30-day trial version). In addition to Lightroom, Seán will also be demonstrating creative techniques in Adobe Photoshop, NIK HDR Efex Pro and Photomatix, but those programs are not required. You do not need to be a digital darkroom expert, but a general understanding of digital processing techniques is helpful. When the week is over, you will know a lot more! The most important thing to bring is a sense of adventure and discovery and an openness to be creatively challenged as you take your photography to the next level.

– Seán Duggan

Seán Duggan bio.

Seán Duggan is a fine art photographer, author, educator and an Adobe Certified Photoshop Expert with extensive experience in both the traditional and digital darkroom. Through his writing and teaching, he has been helping photographers master digital photography and digital darkroom techniques for over 15 years. His core teaching philosophy is to help students see the image possibilities in any situation, to look for the extraordinary in the ordinary, and to seek out uniquely personal ways of interpreting a scene.  A key component in this approach is to develop a mastery of the tools (the camera), so that technical settings can take a back seat to creativity and vision.

Equally at home with both low-tech and hi-tech approaches, his own visual tool kit includes everything from primitive pinhole and plastic toy cameras to the latest digital SLRs and advanced digital darkroom techniques.  In the ever-evolving quest for a good photograph his explorations have taken him snowshoeing high into the mountains of the Sierra Nevada, on desert treks at White Sands and Death Valley, and wading through waist deep waters in a cypress swamp in the Florida Everglades.

Sean is the co-author of Real World Digital Photography, 3rd Edition (Peachpit Press, 2010), The Creative Digital Darkroom (O’Reilly, 2008),  and Photoshop Artistry (New Riders, 2006). His Lightroom Tips & Tricks column can be seen in every other issue of Photoshop User magazine. He develops and teaches online classes on Photoshop and Imaging for Photographers at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University, and leads workshops at venues across the country such as the Maine Photographic Workshops, the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, the Palm Beach Photographic Centre, the University of Hawaii, and the Mesilla Digital Workshops in southern New Mexico. He also offers customized private and online consulting sessions on digital photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, and digital workflow issues.

Sean Duggan website

Sean Duggan blog



Register for True North: Photographing the Interpretive Landscape