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I had a great time this past Saturday as 7 students joined me for my Spring Hudson Valley Photo Workshop. Single day workshops can be quite risky with regards to weather and other unpredictable conditions, and I’m always apprehensive the week  leading into one. One advantage however, is being able to change locations at the last minute to provide students with the greatest potential for favorable light and subject matter. So after scouting several locations during the week, and checking the weather forecasts regularly, I chose one of my favorite places, the Mohonk Preserve in upstate NY.

With a meeting time of 5:15AM, it was a normal start for me, and I was quite inspired to see most students waiting and ready to go when I arrived at our meeting location. Sunrise is all about light, so our first destination was the Millbrook Ridge trail, offering bird like views west from the Catskill Mountains to the mid Hudson Valley directly east of us. After a short but steep climb (not exactly what the students described it as…) we were ready for whatever nature had to offer and she didn’t disappoint. Once I had made suggestions as to where to find the best vantage points and angles that make for good images, students dispersed along the ridge to find vistas and subjects they preferred. Rising 2000 ft. above sea level, the Shawangunk Ridge provides awesome views!

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I prefer to give students space to experiment and find the things that inspire them to setup a composition. I then move from student to student,  helping them in whatever area I feel can best improve their photography. This is where the real fun begins for me since I’m just as excited about the moment as they are, and love seeing the smiles on their faces as they realize how much fun they’re having as well.

We then headed to the Coxing Kill (stream) area to photograph waterfalls, streams, and maple forests.  Our final destination was Minnewaska State Park and site of the 20+ ft Awosting Falls, which was at full capacity due to the recent spring rains. Students again dispersed and improvised quite well given the changing weather, which was now cloudy and starting to drizzle. Again we tried different ideas, and I gave suggestions for working in challenging weather and lighting conditions.

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We then headed back to my studio where we had a well deserved lunch, and I then developed a few of the students images in Lightroom. I also gave a slideshow presentation of some of my latest images, explaining the creative process I follow when working in the field. As always, I was happy to answer questions covering everything from sensor cleaning, to lens selection, and printing. Nine hours after our early start, everyone seemed like they had a perfect day – I know I did. A big thanks to all of the students.

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For a great and totally different perspective, student Clark Thompson has written about his workshop experience on his own blog – read it here.

View photos from students here.

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