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Spring in Arches and Canyonlands – Workshop Report



It’s been a few weeks since my return from the Spring in Arches and Canyonlands workshop in Utah, and my schedule has been full with work and personal demands, including two more sold out local workshops since then. Nonetheless, I did want to share some thoughts, photos, and a testimonial from one of the students.

Visiting and photographing in the southwest is always a profound experience, regardless of whether it’s the first time or the 10th time, as it was for me. Nature has a way of exposing our human fragility in a way that is humbling and profound, and the vast landscapes around Moab Utah never disappoint in that regard. The overriding sentiments I hear usually focus on basic questions and emotions such as; “How is this all possible?”, and “How do I photograph this in a convincing way?” Yet that is a perfect starting point for any creative work, and especially a workshop because it challenges and pushes boundaries. Fear of failure becomes magnified to a degree that seems hard to handle. It forces the basic question I always ask of students. “Why do you photograph?”


In the Spring In Arches and Canyonlands workshop, students faced this question, and as usual I saw their answers develop over the week we spent together. Images improved tremendously over a few short days, as well as confidence, and a clearer photographic vision. In order to achieve that, we discussed camera technique, composition, aesthetics of image making, and simple things like when and when not to use a circular polarizer. We also spent time learning how to follow your vision from the field into Lightroom where creative interpretation is so critical. We also had great laughs, enjoyed each others company at breakfast, lunch, and dinner (when we actually found time to eat!)




On our last day of the workshop, we didn’t have a classroom session in order to give everyone a break from instruction. I did however let everyone know I would be at my favorite cafe (Red Rock Cafe) for lunch to answer questions if they had any. To my surprise, almost every student showed up with their laptops and lists of questions, and we enjoyed more discussion on all matters photography.

To me that’s the best part of a workshop; developing meaningful relationships with people who share a common interest and passion for photography, nature, and life in general. That carries over to all of the time we spend together; a majestic overlook at Dead Horse State Park during sunset, a cool morning inside a sublime canyon photographing reflections in a lush stream, or having a hearty breakfast at the Jail House Cafe after having spent hours in the field. We come from our separate paths of life and embark on a short but significant journey of discovery and friendship. And this workshop was no exception. Thanks to all the students who attended for giving me the privilege to embark on another meaningful experience.


I also want to share what one student in particular had to say about the workshop and one of his images. Thanks Miles for the very kind and humbling words.

©Miles Josephson

©Miles Josephson

“After the first day of the Spring in Arches and Canyonlands workshop, my wife, Judy, and I knew we were in for something special. These two national parks and the surrounding areas were unique and as beautiful as any I had ever been to. The photographic opportunities were endless and Robert’s intimate knowledge of the area and planning before we got there allowed us to maximize the use of our time. Rising hours before sunrise and finishing the day after the sun had set was a commitment happily made by everyone in the group, nice easygoing people from many walks of life who shared a common goal. That was to enjoy the time and the place and to make better images. As hard as we worked, Robert worked just as hard or harder, both in the classroom and in the field.

Robert has often talked and written that it’s okay to fail in the process of learning. I am old enough to be cynical when people say things like that. But it was true. While I failed many times, particularly during the first two or three days, Robert was always there to help and encourage, but never to criticize in any negative way. And when that proverbial light bulb finally went off and my pictures began to reflect many of the things Robert had been drumming into our heads, I realized how much I had learned in such a short, but intense period of time. I had become more of a master of my equipment instead of the other way around. Robert helped me learn how to see and find images that had previously been invisible to me. And, starting from scratch on the first day, I learned enough about Lightroom to get the most out of the images I had made.
Robert, I want to thank you again for all your extra effort in making the workshop a truly incredible experience. Don’t say “it was my job”, because lots of people have jobs where only the minimum level of acceptable performance is given. You went far beyond that. The amount we all learned was extraordinary and we even had a few laughs in the process. You can’t ask for more than that.”- Miles Josephson, CT

Workshop Report From Moab Utah

Mesa Rise, Canyonlands

Mesa Rise, Canyonlands

I’m in Moab Utah for another 5 days leading the Spring in Arches Photo Workshop. So far it’s been a fantastic experience for me, with a great group of passionate photographers. We’re visiting Arches, Canyonlands, Dead Horse State Park, and a special  canyon in the area with beautiful running creek. Days are long, starting at 4:30am and we’re not in bed until 10pm, but the inspiration and magic of the area keeps us going.

I’ll be sharing more photos from students and stories in the coming weeks…

Canyon Tree

Canyon Tree

Improve Your Landscape Photography – Beyond the Lens Photo Workshops 2012

Landscape Arch, Arches National Park

Landscape Arch, Arches National Park

 The Beyond the Lens Workshops for 2012 have been listed on the website for a few weeks now, but I thought I would mention them here as well and go into some specific details for those who are interested.

First, I’m really happy to be leading a 5 day workshop  in one of my favorite locations, Moab Utah. We’ll be visiting several fantastic locations in the region including Arches National Park, Canyonlands, Dead Horse State Park, and weather permitting the La Sal Mountains. While this is a very popular location for landscape photography, my many visits have proven time and time again that there are endless possibilities for image making. It will be an intense and exhausting week, but the rewards will be worthwhile I am sure.

• Download the Spring in Arches Workshop Guide ebook

The Adirondack workshop will be taking place in September this year to take advantage of classic fall color conditions. We’ll be based in Lake Placid once again, and students will have plenty of opportunity to photograph pristine lakes, mountain views, and get a strong feel for intimate forest landscapes.

There are several Lightroom workshops, and I’ll probably be teaching Lightroom 4 as it looks like it will be officially released by the time the workshops are held (if not I’ll cover it anyway). I’ll have an upcoming post soon about my favorite new features in this latest version, they are worth the upgrade!

As always, my priority is to create a fun, relaxed, and stress free environment, where the focus is on you and your photography. I’m happiest when you’re happy and making real progress – there is nothing more important for a successful workshop experience. Past students receive a 10% discount on any future workshops – email me for the code.

I’m working on some new workshops for 2013, including Prince Edward Island in Canada, and The Smoky Mountains in North Carolina -stay tuned.

Any questions or concerns, please let me know in the comments below – thanks for reading!

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2012 Limited Edition Wall Calendar Now Available

The 2012 Light and Landscapes Wall Calendar has finally arrived and available for purchase. This is a limited edition calendar since I only make a a small quantity, so if you’re interested in getting one, order soon. So far the reception has been great, and I thank all of you who have placed orders already. The calendar features images mostly made during the past 12-18 months, part of my year long assignment to photograph for the upcoming calendar. Locations include the Hudson Valley, Adirondack’s, Utah, and Nova Scotia.

It’s hard to believe this is my 6th calendar, but they are great fun to design especially selecting the images and matching them with my favorite inspirational quotes. The calendar is also bigger this year than in the past, at a size of 9″ x 12″.

Order yours here!


50th Armonk Outdoor Art Show

This weekend is the 50th Annual Armonk Outdoor Art Show in Armonk, New York, where I’ll be exhibiting for the 3rd straight year. This is one of my favorite shows due to the incredible quality and variety of art on display.

Amazing artists come from near and far to participate, and the photography section in particular is very strong. In addition there is an incredible showing of painting, mixed media, sculpture, and other art forms. It took me several years of applying before I was accepted, so I am really grateful to have the opportunity to show my work in such great company.

What makes this show special for me however are the people who attend, which always seem interested and receptive to whatever you have on display. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you will sell, but if you can create a response or reaction, those chances go up significantly.

Esopus, Hudson River

What I’ve learned after five years on the art festival circuit, and especially at his show is that a buyer is only interested in one thing – whether the work speaks to them or not, that makes a connection. Everything else is rather irrelevant – camera, lens, paper, location, and many times even the asking price. If someone is interested in these things, they are probably not going to make a purchase. I often fail at making a connection, but I learn and try again – in my composition, my printing, my presentation, and most important my attitude. Failure means I’m doing the work, gaining experience, and pushing my limits. In this crowded environment, there is no other way.

If you’re in the neighborhood, stop in and say hello. I’m always eager and happy to talk about the work and answer questions, even about gear!