Five Ways to Learn Bird Photography

Like to photograph birds but need some help turning snapshots into great shots? Here are three options:

1 - Attend my free bird photography seminar on April 7 at 7 PM at Teatown Lake Reservation in Ossining, NY.

2- Check out my Master the Art and Craft of Bird Photography on-line class - and save $10 with this code until March 31: rs2015. That code also works for my Landscape photographs class – and the Nature Photography Lovers Bundle (same page).

3 - Join my December Bosque del Apache, New Mexico photo workshop.

4 – Check out my Make Better Bird Photographs blog post, which features tips on sharpening, daylight fill-in flash and links to some educational videos.

5 – Read this post: Best lenses for bird photography.

Explore the light,

Woodstock Photo & Music Retreat Planned for Summer 2016

If you play guitar and take pictures (as I do) - and want to have a blast playing and photographing, this event is for you!

I am planning a summer 2016 photo & music retreat in Woodstock, New York. It's not like one of my standard photo workshops – where there is lots of photo instruction and processing time. Rather, the three-day weekend will focus on sharing music and photo ideas . . . while we are taking photographs and jammin'.

Videos with my friend/photographer/musician Chuck Pierce:
Samba Pa Ti

Some of my fun music videos:
One Minute with My Martin
Landscapes & Seascapes
From Boring to Beautiful Chords
Developing Your Creative Vision

And speaking of Creative Vision, I'll be giving a seminar on that topic based around my new book, Creative Visualization for Photographers. I actually talk about how music relates to photography in the book.

From the publisher: "The difference between seeing and looking is essential—much like the difference, in music, between hearing and listening. In Creative Visualization, professional photographer, photo educator and photo instructor Rick Sammon presents his proven methodology for creative digital photography. His signature inspiring and motivating approach opens creative avenues for photographers in a variety of genres.

"With easy-to-follow examples, Sammon shows you how simple changes—with visualization, composition, post-processing, and more—can mean the difference between a snapshot and a great shot. This book, illustrated with more than 300 of Rick’s photographs, includes invaluable information about exposure, composition, subject choice, lighting, mood, and depth."

Shoot me an email if you'd like to get on the mailing list for this awesome event. I think the event will be popular, but I don't think you'll hear on the news: "The New York State Thruway is Closed, Man!"

That's Chuck Pierce playing with me after one of my seminars. He'll be at the Woodstock event - and you will be blown away by his talent!

Keep shooting and strumming,

P.S. Woodstock, the 1969 rock event, which I attended (I think), was actually not held in Woodstock. :-)

Sit Back, Relax and Enjoy Some Landscape and Seascape Photographs – and Mellow Guitar Music

I just put together a video featuring my favorite landscape and seascape photographs, along with some mellow guitar music that I've been playing lately. Open D tuning by the way.

If you want to learn about landscape and seascape photography, check out my on-line class, Master Landscape & Seascape Photography. Save $10 with this code: rs2015.

Explore the light,

Today's Guest Blogger Jim Hardiman Takes Us to Nova Scotia

 First, I want to thank Rick for inviting me to do a guest blog post.  I have taken several of Rick’s seminars and continue to learn from his teaching.  Recently, when talking with Rick I spoke about the photographic opportunities in Nova Scotia, Canada where I live.  So, Rick asked me to write a post about shooting in the beautiful province of Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia is known as Canada’s Ocean Playground.  As a result, there are lighthouses - lots of them!  With over 160 in the province there is plenty to shoot and many of them are very accessible.  This image was shot in Five Islands.  I like to shoot on stormy days with angry-looking clouds where these structures look right at home.

Often with these older buildings I like to bring out all of the detail.  I usually do some micro-contrast adjustments and some creative sharpening.  I do this selectively as I do not want it applied to the clouds and other elements where sharpening would ruin the mood.

Lighthouses are best known for the warning that they provide to seafarers.  With the large lights this works best at night.  They make great subjects for light painting, or in this case shooting after dark with available light.  I love the rich blues that are captured with today’s digital cameras after dark.  This lighthouse is found in Cape Forchu, Yarmouth.

For the image above, which was shot in complete darkness, I made sure that I had long exposure noise reduction on in my camera.  I shot at the lowest possible ISO that would allow me to capture the image to reduce noise.  I also took advantage of a car parked off to the left to provide some light to the left of the lighthouse.  With lighthouses at night and long exposures, it is important to keep an eye on your histogram (or highlight warning - blinkies) to make sure that you have not blown out the highlights created by the large light on the lighthouse.  Oh, make sure that you have a small flashlight to make it easier to operate your camera in the dark.

The coastline of Nova Scotia varies from sandy beaches with some of the warmest saltwater north of the Carolinas (in the summer), to breathtaking rocky shores that defy the power of the ocean.  This shot was made in a small community on the Bay of Fundy called Baxters Harbour, where you will find the highest tides in the world.  To get a shot like this you must arrive during low tide and get right out on the ocean floor.  Taking the shot during sunset is also important to get the warm light that bathes this outcropping.

From one end of Nova Scotia to the other you will find quaint fishing villages which burst with colour.  The homes and fishing buildings are often painted with vibrant and varied colours.  This makes for unlimited interesting photographs.  This shot was taken in Stonehurst, a small community near Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.  The opportunities vary with both the light and the tides.  I took this shot at low tide which emphasized the structure supporting the building and created some interesting angles between the boat, the ramp and the red building.  It would look entirely different at high tide.

So there you have it, a quick idea of what there is to shoot in Nova Scotia.  It is a beautiful place with wonderful photographic opportunities. 

If you would like to learn more about me and my photography you can visit my web site where you will also find additional links to information about Nova Scotia.

Rick's Backyard Digital Photography Workshop - Learn Digital Photography From Start to Finish

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Each year I offer an intimate (10 photographers) digital photography workshop in my "backyard" – Croton-on-Hudson, NY. It's one of my favorite workshops of the year- and I have been running the workshop for 6 years.

Cost for the two-day workshop, which includes a fun welcome dinner, is $600.00. (Private lessons in my backyard are available, too.) 

2015 Dates: July 16 - 18 and October 8 - 10. Click here for info.

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We shoot along the Hudson River at sunset and at the New Croton Dam. I teach lighting and composition – two ingredients that make a good picture. I also talk about the value of thinking like a painter, which frees us up from the limitations of photography.

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I take the students to the largest Buddhist Temple in the United Sates. We shoot indoors and outdoors. We make straight shots and HDR images.

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I show the participants how to shoot and process panoramas, too.

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We have plenty of time to process our pictures using Photoshop and Lightroom. We also cove creative plug-ins. The group slide show/critique is the highlight of the workshop.


I stress the importance of making pictures rather than just taking pictures. Making pictures is way more fun and creative. 

Left Photograph: Jeremy Pollack. Right: Photograph by Joe Brady.

Left Photograph: Jeremy Pollack. Right: Photograph by Joe Brady.

We also have portraits sessions, during which you'll learn about speedlites and fill-in flash.


I hope you can join me someday in my "backyard" for a rewarding digital photography learning experience.  Please keep in mind that these workshops fill up very fast.

Places to Stay
Comfort Inn (15 minutes from Croton)
Bed and Breakfast (in Croton). Our recommendation.

All my workshops are listed on 2015 Workshops page.  I hope to see you on one someday soon.

Explore the light,

P.S. I call the opening image – an in-camera HDR image taken with my Canon 5D Mark III and enhanced with Nik Color Efex Pro – "Sunset in the Park with Rick."  Yes, the title of the image was inspired by the play, "Sunday in the Park with George," a musical inspired by the painting by Georges Seurat, "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte."