Category Archives: Workshops/Training

Badlands Photo Safari Report

Participants on my Badlands photo safari take in last light

I’m back from my Photo Safari to South Dakota’s Badlands National Park, and it was a fantastic trip. To start off, I have to say that the best part of these adventures is the people that I meet. Once again, I had a great group of participants, all of whom were excited to be outside photographing one of the most interesting landscape locations in the United States. Summer days in the Badlands are long. To catch sunrise, you need to be at your location well before 5am. Sunsets don’t really get going until 8:30pm, and you can keep shooting twilight for another 30 minutes or so. That means you’re going to be faced with a lot of time during the day where you’ve got mid-day (crummy) light.

Fortunately for our group, we had several activities planned to make use of the “bad light” times (including naptime). I was able to give classroom demonstrations of all the latest software tools, including HDR Efex Pro and Silver Efex Pro 2. We also looked at workflow using Photo Mechanic and Lightroom. I also had some mid-day shooting locations planned, just in case people were up for it.

As an outdoor photographer, you have to be prepared for nature. As the old saying goes, “Nature is a Mother.” Capturing those amazing moments requires being at the right place, at the right time, and getting lucky. We were out with our gear on Pinnacles Overlook at 4:40am, ready for the soft pastel colors of a South Dakota pre-dawn sky. Except we didn’t expect the fog. Thick, soupy, can’t see past your windshield, fog. We had to come up with Plan B. So we went to another spot, hoping the fog would burn off enough to let us do some shooting in reasonable morning light. Except the fog persisted. Thick, pea-soup fog as far as you could see. So we went to Plan C: drive through the rest of the park and see if it got any better at different elevations. Still, the fog persisted. It was clear that we wouldn’t be doing any serious landscape shooting in these conditions (we did make some snapshots for the fun of it), so we headed back for breakfast. By 10am, the fog was finally starting to lift, being replaced by patchy blue skies and clouds. It was time to implement Plan D. We headed over to a preserved 19th century sod house and spent a few hours photographing it, old farm equipment, and prairie dogs.

While it was nice to be out shooting, we ran into a classic problem with outdoor photography– mid-day light is notoriously harsh. Our solution was to convert our shots to black and white or try HDR techniques to deliver a more artistic end-product. Otherwise, our shots just looked like well-composed snapshots.

By the end of our trip, we accepted the reality that weather reports for South Dakota are simply random rivulets of meteorological thought, pulled out of the dark recesses of someone’s head. “Sunny” could mean cloudy, or foggy. “Cloudy” could mean amazing clear skies. So we turned to the best weather reporting system we had: looking out the window. On our final afternoon, the weather was showing thunderstorms in the area. We decided to give it a whirl anyway and hoped we’d catch some interesting light. While shooting in a thunderstorm isn’t very good, shooting distant thunderstorms can be amazing. Nothing spices up a landscape shot like serious weather. We headed back to Pinnacles Overlook, a high-elevation spot where you could survey the prairie for miles. Sure enough, the sky turned black, and it started to rain. But we decided to hang out in our vehicles for a little while to see if the storm would pass through. Sure enough, after about 15 minutes the rain started to subside and the clouds began to loosen up on the western horizon in front of the sun. And with that, we had the trifecta of landscape photography: the right place, the right time, and luck.

Save 15% off any Nik Software USA product, including HDR Efex Pro and Silver Efex Pro 2 by shopping with this link!

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2011 Photo Safaris with Jason P. Odell

Reflections of fall colors in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

I’ve recently added some new and exciting photo safaris to my workshop schedule. I’m deliberately keeping the attendance low at these events so that you will get maximal contact time. We’ll not only be photographing some wonderful places, but you’ll have time for personal image review/critique sessions and post-processing instruction. I hope you can join me on one of these exclusive tours this year.

Fine Art Landscapes in Colorado Springs, May 13-15, 2011.

Photograph Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods May 13-15, 2011

This “landscape weekend” will have us photographing Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods park at sunrise. We’ll also learn how to do panoramic photography and HDR. We’ll also cover post-processing techniques for making fine-art images and prints. This class is limited to only six (6) participants, so you’ll get extra instructor attention– perfect for beginners!

South Dakota Badlands Photo Safari, June 9-12, 2011.

Photograph Badlands National Park June 9-12, 2011

On this trip, you’ll photograph some of the most unusual and interesting scenery in the western USA. We’ll be based out of Wall, SD, and we will cover all major digital landscape techniques, including HDR, Panorama, and Black & White. I’ll also be covering several Nik plug-ins, including HDR Efex Pro and Silver Efex Pro 2. Limit 10 participants.

Fall in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, September 18-22, 2011

Photograph Bear Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park Sept. 28-22, 2011

This class is limited to eight participants, and we’ll be photographing the stunning landscapes and wildlife of Rocky Mountain National Park. We’ll have five days of shooting in amazing alpine locations, including Bear Lake, Moraine Park, and the cabins at the Holzwarth historic site. You’ll have opportunities to master all the necessary field and post-processing technique for producing fine-art landscape images in one of the most amazing places on Earth.

To register for any of my upcoming workshops, please visit my workshop page.

See you in the field!

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Everglades Birding Safari Roundup: Participant Images

My students captured fantastic images during the Everglades Photo Safari, including this fantastic shot by Kim Cook. Check the gallery below to see more student images.

At the conclusion of my Everglades Birding Photo Safari, I asked each student to try to find their three best images for a group review. Finding three good images is hard when most of the students had at least 20 good images to choose from! After the class, each student submitted their favorite image (not necessarily their “best” image). I’ve posted them below (Click on any image to enlarge it).

Join me for a Photo Safari or workshop in 2011.

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Photo of the day: Osprey!


Good morning, osprey! (Click to enlarge)

I wrapped up my Everglades Birding Photo Safari last night, and so I had some time to go through more of my shots. The other morning I took the group down to Flamingo, where our main location was the Eco Pond area. Before we arrived at the Eco Pond, however, I pulled to the side of the road and stopped. My class thought I was nuts; there didn’t seem to be anything there. Of course, I had scouted the area before and knew that an osprey had its primary territory right next to the road. Sure enough, this individual was perched only 50 feet away. We set up shop and waited for sunrise to light the bird.


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Photo Safari: South Dakota Badlands June 9-12, 2011

Join me for a landscape photo safari in South Dakota, June 9-12, 2011.

Given the current NASA budget, we won’t be sending anyone to photograph on the moon anytime soon. However, you can photograph the next best thing if you join me this June for a Photo Safari to the South Dakota Badlands.

We’ll be based out of Wall, SD– about an hour from Rapid City. We’ll be shooting some of the most interesting landscapes in the United States at a time of year when the weather should be pleasant and the possibility of an occasional thunderstorm will make for even more interesting scenery. I’ve reserved a block of rooms at a discounted rate for this trip, and the limit is 10 photographers. We’ll cover all the major field techniques for Digital Landscape Photography, including panoramas, HDR, and Black & White with both Silver Efex Pro and Capture NX 2.

Thursday, June 9th: Check-in and meet for orientation in Wall, SD. Evening shoot in Badlands National Park.

Friday, June 10th: Sunrise and sunset shooting in Badlands National Park. Mid-day sessions on post-processing and workflow.

Saturday, June 11: Sunrise and sunset shooting in Badlands National Park. Mid-day session for image critique.

Sunday, June 12th: Sunrise shooting in Badlands National park (Schedule permitting), followed by departure home via Rapid City.

Register by March 31, 2011 and save $100 off the tuition fee.

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