The Upcoming Workshop in Los Osos

Before I return to my photo adventure in Italy, and while I’m preparing for my B&W workshop at Light Photographic, I thought I’d share some thoughts and B&W images of the beautiful locations in and around Los Osos. More information about the workshop is here. Enter the code: “Varissummer” to save $200 on the workshop fee!

Morro Bay Sunset

Even a sunset image can be effective in B&W with the right treatment

One of my major interests in photography is tone and contrast control. This is a foundation for my work on the Digital Zone System and my 10-Channel Workflow. If you have seen any of my lectures or seminars you know that I consider tone—the lights and darks in any image—to be much more important than color. Without the lights and darks to anchor the image, you are left with nothing but abstract color! Lights and darks establish photographic reality and provide the essential impact of the captured image. So… mastering tone and contrast is one of the foundations of photographic technique.

San Luis Obispo Mission Crucifix

There are many unique photo opportunities in nearby San Luis Obispo

One of the best ways to truly master tone and contrast in your photography, is to really learn to work in Black and White! Ansel Adams is considered to be one of the greatest photographers of all time and he is primarily known for his work in B&W. He developed the Zone System as a method of tone control for film based image capture and printing. Today, digital technology makes process control much easier, but the principals of tone and contrast, and their contribution to photographic imagery, remains as valid now as it was since the birth of photography.


Early morning light can transform the ordinary into extraordinary photography.

I hope to enhance students understanding of photographic image quality through a workshop that is devoted to B&W exclusively. The idea is to introduce concepts in the classroom, and then immediately apply these ideas in the field, with an extensive photo tour of the picturesque locations in and around Los Osos, home to Light Photographic Workshops, on the central coast of California. After a full day of photographing land and seascapes, we dive into the digital darkroom where students get one-on-one training in all aspects of B&W conversion and image enhancement in Lightroom, Photoshop, and Nik Silver Efex. Student also have an opportunity to print their masterpieces on high-end Canon Inkjet printers!

After the intensive digital darkroom training, we return to the great outdoors for one last photo adventure, where students capture images for use in their homework assignments. Personal consultation and portfolio development is an integral part of the workshop experience.

Montana De Oro

Montana De Oro State Park is just down the road from Light Photographic's facility in Los Osos.

Success in B&W photography depends on developing a sensitivity to the value structure (lights and darks) of a particular scene. It is all too easy to become “seduced by color” and fail to expose and compose with tone and contrast in mind. Specific exercises help to guide the student in developing the essential pre-visualization chops that ensure the best results in B&W and color photography. Students gain experience photographing landscapes, seascapes, architecture and environmental portraiture, all with the goal of converting into B&W and producing stunning prints. Topics include:

• Digital Zone System – pre-visualizing for contrast and tone
• Best RAW processing strategies for B&W
• B&W conversion techniques
• High-Pass Overlay techniques – Clarity on steroids!
• Advanced Blending Options – selectively alter images without masking
• Color Toning – various techniques for adding color tones to B&W images
• Luminosity Blending – using B&W images to enhance the color originals
• Advanced techniques with Nik Silver Efex Pro that offer a range of looks in a comprehensive plugin.

The next workshop is being held June 13th through 16th in Los Osos— details and registration information here —I plan on having similar workshops in the near future so stay tuned for news about upcoming workshops and be sure to sign up for my email list.

See more B&W images from Los Osos in a gallery here.