We all catch the bug the same way. We pick up a camera, snap a few photos and low and behold...they're not that bad! I started developing my skill by studying images that appealed to me and trying to emulate what I saw that I liked. It got me a long way, but I've always felt that my technical understanding could use some honing. And like all photography fans, I welcome exploring somewhere new.
Last year, I visited my sister in Florida in mid April, and picked up some materials on the Florida Birding & Foto Festival. I'd missed it by a week....but I made a mental note that THIS was something I wanted to take advantage of. It's been a long year of waiting, but finally...tomorrow...I will get on a plane and head down for a week of family, and long weekend of workshops that will (hopefully) make me a better photographer.
The Festival is anchored in St. Augustine and takes advantage of the birding opportunities in the area. It is sponsored by both Audubon and Outdoor Photographer Magazine. There are four days of workshops and field trips led by some well known names in nature photography. I was able to schedule a nice mix of classroom sessions focusing on technical knowledge along with some field outings that I hope will provide outstanding photo opportunities.
I'm very excited to spend a few days with accomplished photographers and to get some insight into how they create their phenomenal images. It would be very tempting to fill the time with field outings as they are many and varied. But, I know I will benefit from attempting to expand my technical understanding. I joke that I "use the Force" to find my settings. It often works. However, when I consider what I have paid to put the latest high tech equipment in my hands, it seems foolish not to try and learn to use it to its full potential.
I'll be starting my adventure bright and early Thursday morning in a class on "The Power of Raw." I often shoot in raw, but I don't know how to make the very most of those humongous files. I'm looking forward to discovering what can be done with all that data. I'll be following that up with a 2 hour workshop entitled "Light Illuminates, Shadow Defines."
On Friday morning, I'll attend my first field outing. I'll be going to a "before hours" visit to the wood stork rookery at the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens. I expect to see a wide range of birds at this location and it concerns me that I'll end up with more files than I'll be able to manage. I guess that's the one downside of digital....that you can take more photos than you can look at in a lifetime.
I'll be posting a synopsis of my adventures, along with photos both here and at my own photoblog "In My Dreams I Can Fly..." I look forward to sharing my experiences along with some tips and tidbits that I pick up along the way. In preperation for my trip, I've been spending a lot of time here on Long Island seeking out and photographing birds. I've been concentrating specifically on birds in flight and I've got some practice shots up on my journal. I hope you'll stop by...and please leave me a comment to let me know you've been there.
Now, I've got to finish packing!