Posts made in Events & Happenings


Another Great Visit to the Northern Lats!

The Northern Lights, Ice Carvings & The Iditarod in Alaska, 20131x570-LtGrey

AK2013_denali1I’ve just gotten back from my 5th Winter shooting trip to Alaska having had, as always, a great time.  The Aurora Borealis, the International Ice Carving Championship, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, and the usual collection of potpourri and other things Alaskan.

I organized this trip for 6 of my photography friends, not as a true workshop, but more as a guided tour to some of the venues and events that might be a good basis for a workshop next year.   Fairbanks was the main base of ops this time, with a few days in and around Anchorage and along the Iditarod Trail.

Of course, the winter months are best for viewing the Northern Lights.  This is not because of any “season” as some mistakenly think, but primarily due to the far north’s long, dark nights and cold, clear skies.  The aurora phenomenon can and does occur year-round at both earth poles (Aurora Australis at the Southern Pole), but the lack of total darkness at these far-north (or south) latitudes during other times of the year make viewing them essentially impossible (unless, of course, you are on the Space Station).AK2013_aurora1

I’ve been completely addicted to the aurora since I first saw and photographed them in 2001.  They are mezmerizing and one of the most beautiful, yet mystifying, experiences I’ve ever photographed.  AK2013_aurora2

Scientists say that the sunspot activity (at least as related to the earth’s positioning), generally runs in 11-year cycles.  2013 is at, or near, the peak of this cycle (called “SolarMax”).  Sorry for being a little nerdy here, but all of that is just background for my observation that so far, this has been a relatively weak (and  underwhelming) peak.  In any case, the timeframe while we were there, we had pretty sketchy light shows. But, I did manage to capture a few that are maybe worth seeing.  (See blue button at the end of the post for more aurora images.)

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Photoshop World – What a Blast!

I’ve just returned, very tired but very inspired, from Photoshop World 2012 in Las Vegas.  PSW is a semi-annual (Orlando in the Spring, Las Vegas in the Fall) event of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals.  If you don’t know about NAPP and you’re into photography, design, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom and video, you definitely should look into NAPP and all its programs, events, training and other benefits ( ).

Anyway, event-central was the Mandalay Bay Resort Hotel.  The Mandalay is a fantastic venue for something like this, although I’d hate to think about how many miles I walked INSIDE the hotel complex during the 4 day event.  The main event was Photoshop World, but actually, the hotel itself offered some interesting details to shoot.

I’ve been to more than my share of professional and trade shows and conferences, and for the most part, I’ve found most to be boring at best, and more often a waste of time and money.  Most are primarily a vendor trade-floor with a few breakout sessions or speakers that might be worth attending.


Classes were packed, 2 or 3 concurrently, starting at 8:00 and going into the evening.  And, although I obviously couldn’t attend more than one for each slot, I might’ve if they were spread over more days and times.

OK, enough PSW and NAPP propaganda already!  What about a few of the more inspirational and instructive highlights, of which there were many.

One of my favorite instructors is Julieanne Kost , actually of Adobe.  She is not only a really terrific instructor with an engaging wit and dozens of voices and sounds to punctuate her sessions, but she is a fantastic photographic artist.  Check out her website ( ) for a huge collection of tutorials and instructions, all really easy to follow, and FREE.  Don’t miss her Blog and Portfolio tabs.

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The “Great American Horse Drive”

EPN Horse Drive & Sombrero Ranch — Craig, Colorado

I just returned from an absolutely great photography workshop trip in northwestern Colorado. The event was centered on the annual gathering and 62-mile drive of about 450 horses from their winter range home in Brown’s Park Ranch southeast of Dinosaur National Monument, to the 20,000-acre Big Gulch Ranch, west of Craig, Colorado. Big Gulch Ranch is one of the numerous ranch holdings and stables in Colorado, Wyoming and Arizona which are owned and operated by the family-owned Sombrero Ranches Company, and its herd of about 2,000 head is said to be the largest single horse herd in North America.

Somewhat more of a photo event rather than a true workshop (not a huge emphasis on instruction), this is an event organized under the banner of the Equine Photographers’ Network ( No great surprise that the focus was on horses, more horses, wranglers with some long-horns and ranch scenery thrown in.

Not having done much in the horse photography world before, I was very intrigued when I first learned of the “Great American Horse Drive”. After reading the background of the horse drive and EPN’s related workshop, my expectations were fairly high on being able to be amongst horses, real ranch hands and in an exciting photo shooting environment. And, I hoped that I might even be able to catch sight of some of the wild Mustang horses that roam the open federal lands in Northeastern Colorado and Southwestern Wyoming. But this event far exceeded even my best expectations.

Yes, the instruction was a much lesser part of the workshop than the actual field shooting, but there was still no shortage of helpful technical guidance, tutoring, discussions (topics: digital workflow, what equine clients look for, business Q&A, etc.), and even a very good critique. Scott Trees ( ,who is widely recognized as one of the preeminent equine photographers in the world, was the main professional instructor. Also providing both photographic and technical guidance were EPN’s founder, Carien Schippers (, also a highly recognized equine photographer in her own right, and Mark Kettenhofen of Nikon Professional Services who brought lots of Nikon toys for us to use and who introduced us to Nikon world of video capture.

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