Yesterday, I’ve got a chance to listen to George Lepp speaking at the Linn Area Photography Club meeting. I have known about Gorge Lepp through his column in Outdoor Photographer magazine and appreciated his work, in particular the willingness to share his knowledge and experience. So when I read on Facebook (via Cedar Rapids photography store ProPhoto, I believe) that he is going to be giving seminar in the vicinity, I signed up right away. The event was sponsored by Canon USA’s Explorers of Light Program, so other then few bucks for lunch and 20 miles drive, it was free.
The “Innovative Techniques for Outdoor Photography” is George Lepp’s new program, exploring in depth tools and techniques like GigaPan, time laps or extended focus or HDR and their application to landscape and nature photography. “Wildlife photography: Stories from the fields” book by George and Kathryn Vincent Lepp is a great accompaniment to the seminar, and includes many photographs and stories discussed in the seminar. While not all photographs are presented in the seminar, the book does not have the technique part, so both things go perrfectly hand in hand.
The seminar itself was delivered in almost completely darkened room. There were only dimmed lights to the sides. It would probably be difficult to take notes by hand, luckily I was using an iPad with backlit screen to draft this post. I hope my neighbors didn’t mind. It also deprived us from observing the facial expressions of the speaker, something I, a non-native speaker find especially useful in following the presentation. But it had a bright side to it (pun intended) as it was easier to focus on some really stunning images showing up on screen one after the other. Accompanied by many “ooh” and “aah” from the audience. I especially enjoyed some of the landscape work, including the sunrise panorama of Tetons, followed by a story I found really funny. Another of my favorites in “One day on the Serengeti” with a giraffe and a calf in bright, warm environment (I believe the reproduction in the book has a different color balance, and I do not think it is a fault of my screen!).
The presentation consisted from four parts, with breaks for snacks and questions. There were no interruptions during the speech. Although I can understand the reasoning behind it, as those questions on each and every slide could go for hours, it limited our learning experience to the questions each of us had, and we could not extend our knowledge to the questions posed by others. The solution to that was keeping close to George Lepp during the breaks, and just listen to everybody interacting with him and what they talked about.
I feel I learned a lot during those six hours. I extended my toolbox with at least one technique I have not tried previously- the extended focus of many images put together later in the software like Helicon Focus or even Photoshop CS5 (Layer Blending option). I am sure to be sharing some images utilizing that sometime in the future. At the same time, I was wondering about esthetic need for some many technical tools. And how it all would fit in my shooting style. After all, the GigaPan or extended focus are about incredible detail and sharpness. I tend to rather open my lens wide or even use Lensbaby to achieve just the opposite effect. But many tips George Lepp shared were universal like working the subject, looking the other way then everybody else and try adding lit.
If you want to learn more from George Lepp, check out his monthly column in Outdoor Photographer or web site he is contributing to at Pixiq.com.
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