From My Journal – The Pt. Reyes First Horizon Class Experience

The seven photographers who came to the Pt. Reyes National Seashore First Horizons workshop arrived with diverse backgrounds, skill sets, and goals. First Horizon classes are about fundamentals, discovery, and new beginnings. Some students came to master their camera’s controls, and others came to learn about composition and visual narration; three had been in previous classes and wanted to renew their sense of visualization. And everyone wanted to dive into creative post-production.

As an instructor, I and my assistant, Martha Hernandez, stress fundamentals, such as ‘work the scene,’ ‘work the camera,’ and the principles of image segmentation in post-production. But our primary objective is to stimulate creativity and innovation and explore the deeper values in uniquely subjective images rather than those that are merely documentary representations. Thus, First Horizon students are encouraged to create images that are ‘about’ and not images ‘of,’ and capture an emotional range that is ‘beyond the lens.’

We were gratified to see everyone achieve their objectives at Pt. Reyes and want to share selected work from each of them.

Sharla Hicks

Sharla Hicks is a mixed media artist who came to Pt. Reyes to learn how to master the controls of her Nikon Camera, and she did. She left with an understanding of stack focus, exposure bracketing, and how to combine both techniques into one workflow for tack sharp front-back images. Her seascape has exquisite detail, including a lonely container ship on the horizon. 

I chose to display it because of its volumetric balance and use of negative space.This is an assembled composition of textures that Sharla unified with color. Well done, Sharla.

Ernest Hicks

Earnest is in the accounting and tax industry and is learning photography and post-production and wants to develop a deeper grasp of the creative possibilities and camera controls. He has an affinity for large-volume images and broad sweeping landscapes and captured this historic dairy barn at the Pierce Ranch. I chose the picture because of its classic documentary approach to a vanishing horizon and graphic balance. Moreover, the white wood with a yellow hue brought the barn forward against the blue sky, and the structure seemed endless and domineering.

Great beginning, Ernest!

Richard Johnston

Richard is a past Masterclass (Glacier) member and computer consultant and joined this class to continue his art photography development. While the rest of the class was shooting the iconic Cypress Tree Tunnel, Richard explored the outback of the historic North Beach Operations Center and created this ‘antenna farm’ image.

The innovative use of line, repetition, and his inspirational discovery of an Americana scene that reflects on times past are engaging. The viewer ‘feels’ a fundamental grid and matrix at work in this image, and Richard’s post-production color interpretation brings a sense of antiquity and historical representation.

Great Story, Richard!

Maxine Binn

Maxine Binn wanted to understand Lightroom and develop a workflow to create expressive photography. She began the class with some apprehension but left the class in love with her new tools. I chose this image of the historic North District Operations Center as a great example of several high dynamic techniques. 

The balance of shadows and highlights was achieved with an HDR dng and the delicate use of Lightroom masks resulting in contemporary composition. There is much to see in this work and much more to think about.

Good Stuff, Maxine!

David Moore

Dave Moore is an active art photographer and created this image of the iconic Cypress Tunnel. Photographed countless times, Dave concentrated on creating an image with exceptional front-to-back focus using the stack focus techniques learned in the First Horizon class. His point of view is classic but uses contemporary thought as he captured the upper arch with precision which created a firm sense of enclosure.

Thanks, Dave!

John Oliver

Architect John Oliver joined the First Horizon class with no post-production experience and quickly grasped the principles of visualization and how to empower his work with Lightroom. I chose the Red-Green Barn, which he captured at Pierce Ranch and then emphasized with color in post. His use of two primary colors, vital graphic elements, and rich texture blend into an image that is ‘about’ and not ‘of.’

Thanks for the Creative Thinking, John!

Gordon Rattray

Gordon is an accomplished art photographer and has two exhibitions opening this summer. He is a mentor program member, recently relocated to California from Idaho, and joined us at Pt. Reyes to explore seascapes for a future art photography portfolio.

I selected his image of the iconic Pt. Reyes Lighthouse because this image is not a pictorial document about something— the Lighthouse— but an image of something—the role of the Lighthouse in protecting and warning about the vast seascape. The high volume of blue Pacific gives the Lighthouse purpose and subjective narrative.

Thanks, Gordon!

Andi Gros

Andi is a medium and large format photographer working on film and brought a new and traditional perspective to the First Horizons Workshop. His work is at the lab, and NPPE will do a piece about his cameras, film, and the role that work played in his First Horizon Workshop in a subsequent blog.

Thanks, Andi!

About Author

Bob Killen is a nationally recognized Fine Art Photographer, Landscape Photography instructor, and artist. He is the Director of the National Park Photography Expeditions, President of the Mojave National Preserve Artists Foundation, a National Park Service Friends Group, a national speaker on landscape photography and an Adobe Certified Instructor. His thematic work explores Western Americana landscapes with a focus on man’s obsession to abandon structures, places, and things across a shared American landscape. His work is owned by collectors in 20 countries.

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(4) Comments

  1. Bonnie Blake

    It was great to remember my wonderful experience last year at Point Reyes and admire the work of the current crop of photographers. I’ve continued to take many wonderful landscape photographs in the past year. I redid my website recently and am doing my first portfolio review this week (virtually) with the Atlanta Celebrates Photography group. I hope you are great — so happy to keep in touch via your blogs. All the best, Bonnie Blake

  2. Sharla R. Hicks

    I seldom comment after a workshop, but I wanted to thank Bob and Martha for their attentive and patient efforts to make sure everyone came away knowing more than we came with. I have attended many workshops and found the emphasis on artistic possibilities while shooting and in post-production sessions that augmented the essence of each individual’s vision exceptional. Unique to Bob’s workshops is the 1-1 hands-on teaching offered during the post-production afternoon sessions. Sometimes we waited a while but knew we would get the same quality attention when our turn came up. Looking over the teacher’s shoulder during these teaching sessions was enriching.

    I am looking forward to the extra online post-production session to enhance my workflow choices.

    Thank you, Bob and Martha.

  3. Martha Hernandez

    What a great way to showcase the great work coming out of a First Horizons workshop. I am truly impressed with the creativity and great work from each student. I am always in awe of how we can go to the same place and see a new perspective, but to see those places through another’s eye is so – eye opening! Great work!!
    Martha

  4. Bob Killen

    This group of students focused on their goals and made this wonderful class to teach.

Comments are closed.

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