You haven’t been on a photo workshop until you’ve been on our Oregon workshop
I lost my heart somewhere on the Oregon Coast. While some may think this is a bad thing, I do not mind routinely visiting to try and find it. I have lived on the East Coast in Delaware and the West Coast in California, but never in my life have I seen such a magical coast like the Oregon Coast. My wife and I drove the entire stretch of the West Coast for our Honeymoon (long story) in 2010. That’s when I lost my heart, just after I gave it to my wife… imagine that. I knew that one day I would have to conduct an Oregon Workshop!
The difference between the Oregon Coast and many of the coasts I have seen is its magnificent presence. It’s not the type of beach you sip Mai Tai’s on while basking in the glow of the sun. It is the type of coast you go to when you want to ponder how small we are as humans, how overpowering Mother Nature is, and our ethereal connection with the vast ocean. We, Jake and I, really try to show you all of this on our Shutter Click Adventures Oregon Workshop.
Some back story about the Oregon Workshop
I think it was around March or April when Jake McCluskey contacted me about his Photo Workshop website, Shutter Click Adventures. He dropped the note to me rather subtly in an email, it was like a carrot dangling in front of me really. He said something along the lines of, “I have this business you may be interested inlet me know if you want to chat.” From time to time I receive these emails from random strangers and they don’t pan out into anything, just people trying to get one over on an entrepreneur. However, there was something different about Jake’s approach.
After talking on the phone several times, for several hours, we decided to try out an Oregon Workshop to Cannon Beach. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into really. Jake had this idea to make really small workshops, 6 people max, all living in a condo where we eat together, learn together, and grow as artists. I will be honest, my initial thought was that this would never work. Within 18 hours of the launch, our first Oregon Workshop was full and the dream was a reality!
Jake and I met in Portland a few days before the attendees arrived. We took some time to drive through the Gorge, shoot some waterfalls, and get to know each other in real life rather than as 1’s and 0’s on the web. He is much bigger in person than you see on the internet. Have you ever seen the movie My Giant? That is what it is like when we walk next to each other.
What to expect on the Oregon Workshop
During our initial discussions about these Workshops Jake stressed the importance of the community aspect and how powerful that could be on a workshop. For that reason, we keep these workshops intimate, not in a mushy kissy sort of way, but in a learning experience way. We all live under one roof in various areas of a condo (or similar arrangement). We eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together. We shoot together, we learn together, and we grow as artists together.
The experience was really incredible actually. Every day we shot images, I taught post processing courses (1-4 hours per day) and we critiqued each other’s images. It may be better to show this visually so you see how intense this Oregon Workshop really was. The typical day went something like this.
|7:30 AM||Breakfast around the table together|
|8:00||Off to the first location for shooting|
|11:30||Lunch around the table and course prep|
|12:30 PM||Post Processing Lesson|
|2:30||First assignment given and self-study time|
|5:00||Dinner around the table together|
|6:00||Optional second shooting location for sunset|
|8:00||Critique Session of images shot that day|
|10:00||Optional Night shooting / Quiet Hours begin|
Aside from educating you about photography in any way we can, Jake and I do all the messy stuff. The cooking, the cleaning, and we even disputed lost luggage with American Airlines for an attendee. When you read all inclusive, we mean all inclusive… and the food, man, Jake can cook!
Be ready to learn and grow in one week
I don’t think many people realize the extent of photographic growth you can go through in one week. Frankly, I didn’t think I’d grow much either, but holy cow was I wrong. The first night we had everyone bring their two best photos into the room for a critique. We looked at them as a group and discussed them freely, keeping many things in mind from composition to meaning, artistic versus technical, and what was working and not working. At first everyone preferred to remain anonymous, but as the critiques ensued the anonymity was out the door. By the end of the week, the critique sessions proved to be the most valuable aid in the photographic growth for the week.
You will also learn quite a bit on the Oregon Workshop. This was the most difficult part for me I would say because all of my teaching was on the fly and solely based on what we shot that day. I would base all of my post processing courses off of the same shots everyone else took. For those learning it was great! The post processing courses were showing you how to make your daily shots better, more dynamic, or more artistic.
We discussed many topics throughout the week:
- How to post process long exposure photos
- How to merge a long exposure shot with a bracketed series of HDR images
- How to create wild images using textures shot on location
- How to use the Zone Systems effectively
- The difference between Tone Mapping and HDR and when to use which techniques
- How to setup your Photoshop interface for maximum efficiency
- How to use ND Filters for long exposures in broad daylight
- How to critique images in a round table setting
Places we shot on our Oregon Workshop
Sometimes it is best to go in without a plan and see what happens as the breeze passes. That is what we did on our last Oregon Workshop. We didn’t do this because we hate planning, I am a planner! We did this for two specific reasons.
The first reason for not planning much was because we wanted this Oregon Workshop to be what the attendees wanted. I know when I set out to a new part of the World to shoot I say, “I would really love a shot of xyz while I’m here and I’m not leaving until I get it!” We had several people in the group that had specific things they wanted to shoot. One wanted water and rocks, another fog in the trees, and another wanted lighthouses. I am glad to say we checked all of those boxes and more!
The weather is another reason we didn’t plan much for the Oregon Workshop. If you have ever been to the Oregon Coast you know that the weather is hit or miss and it seems no one can really predict what it is going to do. The first day we were there it rained all morning, we wanted to head to Ecola that day, but that wasn’t going to happen. Instead we did a three hour post processing session around the table and headed out to Fort Stevens (about 30 minutes North of Cannon Beach). It worked out perfectly!
Here is a list of places we photographed during the Oregon Workshop:
- Ecola State Park
- Indian Beach (in Ecola State Park)
- Short Sand Beach
- The Rain Forest on the hike to Short Sand Beach
- Fort Stevens
- The Peter Iredale Shipwreck
- Haystack Rock
- Thor’s Well (will be substituted for another location on future trips)
- Yaquina Head Lighthouse
- Tillamook Lighthouse
Where to next?
After such a successful first trip to Oregon, Jake and I will be hosting this workshop again. As a matter of fact, this may be an annual trip until we get sick of it. However, if the Oregon Coast is not your thing or you have thousands upon thousands of rocky coast images, there are other places we will be going throughout the year.
To find out more, head over to Shutter Click Adventures and see what’s next on our list. There are a bunch of trips revolving on the site from some phenomenal photographers other than myself.