Learning photograph in the great outdoors … university workshops Essay

Lost in concentration, people study the carefully arrangedcompositions they have divined in their view finders. Tripods areadjusted, meters checked. An instructor watches a student, offers quietadvice.

Shutters click. The shooting continues until daylight fades.At night, talk around a campfire considers light, film, subject,exposure.

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Some people plan the next day’s shoot; others photographthe starry skies. These are scenes from a visual vacation: aphotography workshop. The workshops are a good opportunity to spend two or more daystaking pictures with other photographers of varied skill levels whilegetting expert instruction. They’re a great way to improve yourphotographic eye while focusing your lens on old Victorian, craggycoastal cliffs, stark desert plains, or undulating sand dunes. Most participants work with 35mm SLR (single-lens reflex) camerasand color slide or black-and-white film, but larger-format cameras areusually welcome. Instructors stress fundamentals and may demonstrateadvanced and experimental techniques with a variety of film formats andmaterials. Usually a critique session is scheduled during or after theworkshop.

Some of the best and most relaxed outdoor workshops are offeredthrough extension programs at several public universities in the West,as listed here. These classes tend to be relatively inexpensive andwell organized, and there’s always time to take a breather andsimply enjoy the outdoors. Some involve overnight camping or lodging; others are day classes.Except where noted, fees do not include travel costs, accommodations,food, or other expenses. Some programs offer college credit.CALIFORNIA UC Berkeley Extension, 2223 Fulton St., Berkeley 94720; (415)642-4111. Travel Photography with Robert Holmes, five sessionsemphasizing 35mm color; April 27 and 28 (Bay Area field trips) and April18, 25, and May 2 (evenings); $110.

Photography in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest; July 11 through14; $180. UC Davis Extension, Davis 95616; (916) 752-0880. Delta California:documentary, landscape, and architectural photography; meet in WalnutGrove; April 26 through 28; $215, includes hotel lodging, four meals.

Architectural Photography, a master seminar with UC Santa Cruz,meets in Monterey, Pacific Grove, and San Juan Bautista; May 17 through19; $100. UC Irvine Extension, Box AZ, Irvine 92716; (714) 856-5414. NaturePhotography for Beginners; Orange County locations include beaches,canyons, marshes; April 13 and 14 (9 to 4 daily); $85. UCLA Extension, Department of The Arts-Photography, Box 24901, LosAngeles 90024; (213) 206-8503. Nature Photography for Beginners; May 18and 19 (9 to 5); $135. Photographing the National Georgraphic Way;April 27 and May 4; $135.

Working Vacations: Taking Travel Photos forPublication; May 2, 4, and 11; $140. The Desert Landscape of JoshuaTree; April 27 and 28; $135. UC Santa Barbara Extension, Santa Barbara 93106; (805) 961-4200.Hidden Valleys and Lost Ranges, held in Saline Valley near Yosemite;March 6 through 10; $165. Nature Photography for Beginners, in LosOsos, near San Luis Obispo; March 23 and 24; $105, lodging included. Waterfowl Photography, in San Diego Wild Animal Park; March 30 and31; $105. Death Valley; April 11 through 14; $115.

Coastal and Wildflower Photography; April 19 and 20; $95.Photographing Mono Lake; June 21 through 23; $125. UC Santa Cruz Extension, Santa Cruz 95064; (408) 429-2971. TheLonesome triangle; April 1 through 5; $125. Photographing in Other Cultures; April 20 and 21; $95. Water andPower in the Owens Valley; April 26 through 28; $95. Indian Rock Art; May 3 through 5; $95. Architectural Photography; May 17 through 19; $100.

UrbanLandscape; May 10 through 12; $90. Women and the Landscape; May 17through 19; $120, includes model. Yosemite; June 1 and 2; $85.

NEVADA University of Nevada, Division of Continuing Education, Reno 89557;(702) 784-4046. Workshops at Lake Tahoe and Death Valley are planned;write for details. University of Nevada, Division of Continuing Education, Las Vegas89154; (702) 739-3394. San Diego Zoo, San Diego waterfront, OwensValley, Grand Canyon, and Zion National Park are usual overnightworkshop sites. Write fordetails.

OREGON University of Oregon, Continuation Center, Room 333, Oregon Hall,Eugene 97403; (503) 686-4231. Oregon Photography Workshop; Devils ElbowState Park, Columbia River Gorge, and high desert of central Oregon nearBend; July 28 through August 16; about $1,000, including lodging.WASHINGTON University of Washington, University Extension, GH-21, 5001 25thAve. N.E., Seattle 98195; (206) 543-2310.

Nature Photography: San JuanIsland; March 15 through 17; $115, includes double-occupancy housing andfive meals.

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