Quotes

It’s not that we need new ideas, but we need to stop having old ideas.

Edwin Land

Frosty Morning at Cades Cove, Great Smokey Mountains National Park

Day three of my recent Visionary Wild workshop came with a prediction of freezing temperatures at sunrise, and that had me on the lookout for frost. I thought the open fields of Cades Cove would be our best chance, so we headed out early that morning so we could be at the gate when it opened, and hurried towards a spot my fellow instructor Tillman Crane said would let us see the sun rising over the mountains. The frost was incredible, with delicate crystals and structures from the night’s freezing temps. We knew we have to work fast because the sun would melt this incredible scene all too quickly. 

I decided to use the Sony FE 12-24mm f2.8 GM lens that Sony had lent me for the trip because  I wanted to fill the bottom half of the frame with the incredible detail of the frosty grass and still show the mountains in the distance. This lens is incredibly sharp, and I knew it would hold all the detail in frost crystals across the frame at f11. 

When I’m making a picture, I’m usually thinking of what it will look like as a large print, and as a result, some of the things you’d experience at say 16×20 inches or larger are lost on the small view we get with social media platforms. So I’ve included a detail section that shows the frost detail that will be evident when this is printed. It’s this detail that drives my choice of lenses to produce the detail and resolution I’m used to from my years using large format film.

I also did a virtual split neutral density on this by using a darker frame made at 1/90 second , about 2.5 stops darker, for the topmost part to hold some color and tonality in the sky. 

Technical: Sony A7RII with Sony FE 12-24mm f2.8 GM lens, 12mm f11 1/15 sec 100 ISO

Last B&W Class Until Fall

F-1 Engines, Saturn V Rocket, Huntsville, Alabama
Sony A7RII, Sigma 35mm f1.4 ART lens

In the last year, I’ve helped hundreds of photographers improve their B&W processing through my talks and workshops, and I’d like to help you, too. Tuesday, May 11, I’ll be starting another round of my popular four-session Zoom class, Classic B&W Processing with Digital.

My recent talk at the B&H Photo Event Space provides a great (and free!) introduction to the workshop. It touches on many of the subjects this class will explore in greater depth. 

Every time I teach this class, it’s rewarding to see how the participants improve their photography and processing skills each week. Here’s what my students have to say about the class:

I have found the class to be outstanding, not only for learning techniques that are new to me in creating a B&W image, but also the creative ideas to draw the viewer into the scene.
– Brad K.


I want to thank you for your classes and all the extra effort you’re devoting to your students. The information is worth far more than than the price of admission.
– Al H.


This class has introduced me to new tools for vastly improving my images.
– Dennis W.

We’ll meet for four online sessions, each Tuesday through June 1. Each session lasts two hours. The first hour is live instruction, where I teach the techniques I use. During the second hour, I show how I apply those techniques to YOUR photographs, providing insight and critique that will help you learn and grow. 

Each session will be available to re-watch online for two weeks after the class, allowing you to go over the content again, or watch at a different time if you have a schedule conflict. 

This will be the last offering of this class for several months because I’ve blocked off this summer to develop new classes on topics ranging from color processing, Photoshop workflow, exposure, and color management. 

Sign up today, then keep chasing the light!

One Hour Talk with Atlanta Photo Group

Join me at the Atlanta Photo Group tomorrow night for my one hour presentation on Classic Black and White Photography. I’ll share why this approach is so inspirational to me as a way to tell my stories, and give you insight into how I process for gallery quality photographs.

A special thanks to Hahnemühle USA, who’s sponsorship for making this possible.

Check out the Atlanta Photo Group event page for complete details and to register.

Free B&W Lecture March 16 with Glazer’s Camera

Teaching workshops for me is about creating moments where the “light goes on” in a students head…where they gain a new understanding of photography that helps them better express themselves and enjoy the craft more. It always exciting because with new participants every time, no two workshops are the same, and their photos are always new and unique!

If you’re ready take your black and white photography to a new level, I’ll be giving a free online talk Tuesday night with Glazer’s Camera of Seattle where I’ll introduce you to the foundational principals I use in my B&W processing. The talk is free but registration is required, so sign up today if you think you’ll be able to attend.

This talk is the introduction to my more in-depth four session workshop where I’ll show you my process and techniques, as well as deliver hands-on live critiques and demonstration using your photographs. Working on your photographs provides powerful insight into the craft and vision of making expressive B&W photographs that will stretch and grow you in exciting ways.

Here’s what past participants have had to say about the experience:

I want to thank you for your classes and all the extra effort you’re devoting to your students. The information is worth far more than than the price of admission. 

Al H

This class has introduced me to new tools for vastly improving my images.

Dennis W

I hope you’ll be able to attend. See you Tuesday!

Tell Adobe to Add Local Tone Curves to Lightroom

If you’ve taken one of my workshops, you’ve seen how valuable tone curves are in Photoshop. So why can’t you do the same thing in Lightroom? Because not enough people have requested it!

If you’d like to see this feature added to Lightroom, click here and tell them!

Lots of other programs from other vendors allow local tone curves, like On1 and Affinity Photo, so it’s time Adobe adds this. Until then, you have to use Photoshop or switch vendors to get it. But I’ll let you in on a secret. Photoshop isn’t as hard as people make it out to be, and once you spend the time to learn it, it’s faster and offers more control than Lightroom. So either bark at Adobe to add it, learn Photoshop, or switch applications…those are your options for now if you want local tone curves.

February 24 Classic Black and White with Digital Workshop

I’ll be returning to Looking Glass Photo in February to teach my four session class on creating the Classic look of Black and White using digital tools.

Black and White photography offers us so many unique ways to communicate. Removing color can be a good thing, as it helps us focus more clearly on the shapes, lines, and forms that can be used to tell our story. It’s been a central part of my journey since the first time I saw a print “appear” from the developer in my friend’s basement around 1984. I continue to find new and exciting ways for black and white to tell my stories, and the materials continue to reveal new qualities and possibilities.

I teach these classes using Photoshop, which is my preferred tool, but I focus on fundamental concepts that transcend what software package you use. Every software package gives you tools to address the fundamentals I’ll teach.

You can book the full class use this link:

4 Session Classic B&W Class 2/24, 3/3, 3/10, 3/17 $196

Or book sessions individually:

February 24 – Contrast and how to use it

March 3 – RAW processing and converting to B&W

March 10 – Local Control Dodging and Burning/Brushing

March 17 – Navigating Print Choices

Click on the links above for an extended description of what will be covered in each class.

My thanks to Jon and Jen at Looking Glass for having me back. Camera stores like Looking Glass are an important part of a vibrant, healthy photo community and I encourage you to support them when by purchasing your equipment and supplies through them, and dealers like them, that support the photo community.

February Update

I haven’t been posting as many articles lately because because I’ve been working on curriculum for my online classes. Zoom has turned out to be an amazing way to teach my processing classes online, but repurposing and reformatting everything to fit into four 2-hour sessions does take a bit of effort!

What’s great about these Zoom classes is they offer bite sized opportunities to learn and engage in an ongoing conversation about the tools and process of making great photographs that fit with most people’s schedules and our need to follow COVID guidelines.

My Classic Black and White with Digital class is a chance to learn how I approach the decision making process to make a photograph that achieves a “gallery quality” black and white print. Of course we learn some tools and how to use them, but the “why” we do something, and “what” we should do to our photographs is always central to the process.

I’ll be adding a color class soon that will draw on the lessons I learned helping make hundreds of thousands of prints at West Coast Imaging that will help you take greater control over your own photographs.

Join my email list over on the top left column of my page if you want to receive notification of new workshops and join me for one of these new online workshops! Looking forward to seeing you on Zoom soon!

Great Smokey Mountain Workshop April 20-24

I’ve just been added as an instructor on Visionary Wild’s spring Smokey Mountain workshop, and there is currently one spot available if you want to come along.

Tillman Crane and I will be leading you in the amazing opportunities spring presents us in the Smokies from blooming dogwood trees, roaring rivers, and hopefully some misty morning vistas.

If you haven’t seen Tillman’s website, be sure to check out his amazing B&W work that he prints in platinum from digital negatives made with a digital camera. I’ve long admired his work and look forward to instructing with him and seeing more of his prints in person.

Visionary Wild’s leader Justin Black taught in the Smokies last fall and has put together an excellent plan so we can be COVID safe and still learn while enjoying this magnificent landscape. We’ll be visiting mid week which should help us avoid the crowds too!

Check out the Visionary Wild page for this class to learn more and to register.

Free Presentation Tonight

A new photo to get you excited for my presentation tonight! I made this at the start of summer at Kennedy Space center. It was a super challenging subject to photograph because of the spotlit white tiles and the black tiles hiding in the shadows. Really made me push the limits of the camera. 

Tonight’s talk is an free introduction to my four week class with Creative Photo Academy on creating classic B&W photographs with digital tools. I’ll explain what the classic look is, and give you a sneak peak at the tools and thought process I use to create it.

The talk starts at 5 pm PST (California time!) but you need to sign up now at https://creativephotoacademy.com/events/richseiling/ to get the zoom invite.

Looking forward to seeing you all tonight!