California Photo Festival 2013

Click 4

I am just recovering from my week at Click 4, the 4th annual California Photo Festival, in the central coast area. I now find myself rapidly preparing for the big east coast photography convention, Photo Plus Expo and I thought I’d squeeze out a blog post before I leave.

The festival takes place in October, generally over the Columbus Day weekend—this year it happened during the week, from Oct. 7th thru Oct. 11th—5 days of fun packed workshops, seminars and photo safaris. I taught 12 workshops & seminars, exhausting but very fun. The festival is very well managed by the amazing (and this year, very pregnant) Victoria Schmitt, and there were few glitches save for the inevitable weather cancelations. I always have a lot of fun at the festival and I get to hang out with some amazing photographers and instructors!

Every year, one of the first workshops, or photo safaris is the “Horses on the Beach” group shoot. This is so popular that it has become almost a cliche and most attendees manage to get a great shot of horses and riders running along the waters edge at sunset. I am usually tasked with finding some alternative subject to shoot and this year we had a group of belly dancers that modeled for us…

Belly Dancers

The belly dance group had great colorful costumes and they were a lot of fun to photograph

As it turned out, this year it was overcast the evening of the shoot, so there was no sunset. However, this did not pose a problem for my group and we got a lot of cool movement shots of these colorful dancers.

Saundra Twirling

I blended three shots of Saundra, twirling on the sand – shot from a lifeguard tower at 1/10th of a second.

Another surprise outcome for one of my workshops was a sunrise outing at the “Oaks Reserve” in Los Osos. This location is a wonderful oak grove with lots of old twisted oak trees, but it is a very difficult place to get good photos because the environment is visually chaotic. Last year I was rained out, and this year it was very overcast, gray and dark. The assignment was B&W landscape and the subject and conditions were already monochromatic. The irony is that, to get really good B&W images, you generally have to start off with a more colorful subject because it gives you more options during the conversion process. This year I managed to get some interesting photos—though most of my students got better shots than I did—and in the afternoon post-processing workshop the images went through a radical transformation to arrive at something resembling infrared B&W. You can see some of my B&W techniques in this post: B&W and Beyond


The twisted tree landscape of the Oaks Reserve transformed into a surreal infrared B&W with dark branches displayed against pale leaves.

One of the most popular workshops was my still life workshop. We had 21 people shooting 5 different setups, all lit with flashlights! After a somewhat shaky late start, due to missing backdrops & props, we all got a chance to shoot “light-painting” table top setups. In the afternoon I showed how to assemble multiple shots into a seamless whole using Photoshop layering techniques.


This image is a blend of two different exposures, lit with a single flashlight waved into the background at 6 seconds exposure.


A little Halloween themed still life assembled from multiple shots with lighting from different directions.


I brought some of my favorite musical instruments, assembled into this still life. The final shot is the result of blending 10 different shots into Screen or Lighten layers

Finally, I demonstrated my “False Color Technique” for the glassware shots to create this RGB fantasy – find out more about this technique here: New False Color Technique


Separate lighting directions were placed into the separate RGB channels to create this colorful effect with white light flashlights.

The last full day of workshops had me doing a seminar/demo on Hollywood style glamour photography. I was fortunate to have the amazing Amanda as my last minute model substitute! You can see how I achieve some of my glamour effects here: A Better Glamour Image


Amanda Valena was my model for the Hollywood Glamour workshop where I shot, retouched, and applied several special enhancements in a 3-hour session.

My last workshop was a sunset walk on the beach with the amazing Amanda as my model again. As is usual for me with these sort of workshops, my students all got many more good shots than I did…

Amanda with Blue Umbrella

Here the sunset light is being bounced back into the shadow side with a silver reflector. The Pismo Beach pier is in the background.

Amanda on the Beach

On final sunset shot as the sun drops behind a cloud back on the horizon.

The California Photo Festival is always a blast, and I look forward to sharing it with you all next year. If you’ve never sampled the pleasures of California’s central coast, make it a point to join me next year at the Click 5 festival.











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