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Aperture Academy, how to be a photographer, Photography Workshops
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Mt. Shasta Photography Workshop - June 2009

On June 27th, thirteen students left Redding, California, for the 2009 Oachs/Rueb Mt. Shasta photography workshop...three of these students had already taken a previous workshop...and inexplicably, they had returned for more.

Their lives will never be the same.

The first stop was to watch the sun rise on Mt Shasta. The students had a vast area full of wildflowers and old trees for use as a foreground and a dominating view of the 14,000 foot Mt. Shasta in their background. A perfect way to start the day.

From there, a drive south led the workshop group to the Middle Falls of the McCloud River. This is one of the most scenic waterfalls in Northern California, and the timing was perfect, as we were able to spend a solid hour photographing the falls before the light became too harsh to continue. The rocks and foliage there provided many opportunities to come away with a memorable shot. We used that spot as an ideal place to work on longer exposures, and further work on helping the students bring the types of images they see in their minds to the screen in front of them.

Everything was still relatively sane at this point. As the day progressed, our group camaraderie continued to the group gelled, new friendships were made. This tended to loosen the group up, and before long...jokes were flying around, and everyone was having a good time.

At our third stop, one student...who we won't mention by name ("Mel")...dropped his camera into the water while photographing Hedge Creek Falls. This was after already dunking his foot in the same water seconds earlier. It was no surprise that, once we discovered his camera had survived the plunge and still worked, he never heard the end of it. Having your camera dunked in the water is VERY rare for one of our fact, this is the only time it's EVER happened.

Our fourth stop was the Tuscan-style Mt. Shasta Lavender Farm, where we found a beautiful view of the mountain, and a crop of lavender at its absolute peak. (While we can't control the weather for one of our workshops, we make every effort to make sure each destination is at its best when we arrive.) We spent a couple hours at the farm, where we provided the students with lunch, an opportunity to see the farm, and some time to rest and continue to visit with one another. As you can see from the students work, the photography opportunities weren't too shabby either.

Long hikes aren't normally a part of our workshops, but when the hike can provide an unmatched view...sometimes we go for it. The hike from Castle Lake to Heart Lake is, well, brutal...and takes some considerable effort to accomplish....but the view is SO worth every drop of sweat, and every mumbled curse word. We're very proud of every student for making it up the trail--and the images we'd seen from the top were worth it!

When you take a workshop with us, our goal is to provide as much instruction and opportunity to shoot as possible. We have a "shoot till you drop" mentality for our workshops, and by the end of day, most students are ready for the drop were our Mt. Shasta students...they had photographed all day at some amazing locations.

They needed their rest, as did we.

Day Two was just as much fun as the first.

We started off with a hike to Mossbrae Falls, which is another magnificent example of the diversity of landscape that Northern California has to offer. Being at Mossbrae is like being flown to a tropical paradise. Water flows out of the side of a lush green mountain, in hundreds of streams of various widths, into the Sacramento's truly a stunning place to photograph.

Our group spent as much time at the falls as the light would allow before heading back to Redding for a group lunch at a local restaurant and some time learning post processing techniques.

After lunch, our first stop of the afternoon was Burney Falls, a challenging, but beautiful, waterfall.

The students had so much fun trying out different compositions, and hiking through the brush to get new vantage points, that we lost track of time...and ultimately missed an opportunity to head out to Lassen Park. However, we were able to adjust the schedule to include a night photography lesson at the famous Sundial Bridge in Redding, where we again practiced composition, use of long exposure, and creative dance moves to balance out tricky bright spots.

If your instructors aren't dancing for your image improvement, you're in the wrong workshop.

All of our workshops have a listed "end time," but, if students are still photographing, we stay and make sure everyone gets that last image they see.

Even after the photographing was over, the students weren't ready to leave...the camaraderie built over a weekend like that is hard to leave. However, with "Steak Dinners" having been a popular topic of conversation amongst several of the students all day, when the shooting was completed, we held a wrap-up meeting at a local steak house that was kind enough to let us in.

Food, drinks, and lots of laughs were had by all. Stephen Oachs laughed so hard he almost "choked on his crouton." Thankfully, he didn't...and both instructors are alive and ready for the next round of workshops...are you?

Join one of our upcoming workshops and be part of the next adventure!

Until next time!

Stephen & Brian

If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.


Steve Davis - June 30th, 2009 (2:48pm)

Haha. I love how Mel got singled out. Poor guy.

I LOVED this workshop. It was my 2nd one with the guys and I will for sure be coming out as long as my wallet keeps allowing it. Totally worth it and really improves you skills. Plus you'll have a lot of fun! :)

Ellie Stone - June 30th, 2009 (3:26pm)

This was my first ever photography workshop & I am now "hooked"! What a fantastic experience. I can't stop talking about it & my friends & family can't stop talking about the pictures I took. Stephen & Brian are Fantastic. Not only did they get us to all the locations at the perfect times of the day for shooting, they are great instructors. I fell like my photography skill has gone to the next level, thanks to both Stephen & Brian.
Can't wait until the next workshop!

Anirudh - June 30th, 2009 (3:33pm)

Hi Stephen and Brian,

my wife and i had an excellent time at the workshop, we learned a lot of different techniques and really appreciate all the time you guys spent making this a fun event. we are planning on attending the San Francisco/Marin Headlands workshop in Aug.


Mel - June 30th, 2009 (4:29pm)

Stephen and, what a great time...and I am exhausted. You guys really did a great job ensuring everyone got the attention they needed. Always patient and always willing to take questions. Your teaching styles complement each other very well...what a great team. I would recommend your workshop to anyone and I hope to be a returning customer myself...sooner rather than later!

Wait...what am I saying, I will NEVER return after the fun you had at MY expense!! Ha! Look forward to seeing you guys again soon. Thanks for everything!

Signed, Crouching Tiger Hidden Camera (Mel)

Gabor - June 30th, 2009 (7:27pm)

Stephen and Brian thanks for the whole thing again I have a great time and fun. I learned a lot again after my 2nd workshop and I am looking forward to the next BLAST!!!!

Stephen Oachs - July 1st, 2009 (6:11pm)

Hello everyone! I'm glad to hear everyone had a good time. It was a great workshop and the group really was a good mix.

Check this out -- Steve Davis, one of the workshop participates, won Photo of the Day with the Castle Lake image he took after that crazy hike we did:

Congrats Steve!

Brian Rueb - July 1st, 2009 (7:08pm)

This workshop was a blast! I can't believe how dedicated, and just outstanding the whole bunch of you were!

Next workshop Mel teaches us all the 'mist' technique!

Brad Hoelting - July 2nd, 2009 (10:19am)

Stephen and Brian, the location was awesome! I learned so much from you and the other students as well. Everyone there was so generous in sharing their knowledge. I definitely recomend your workshops to anyone that wants to improve their skills and portfolio...even if you have to travel all the way from Texas.

Y'ALL really know how to git 'er done!!

Shon Peterson - July 4th, 2009 (10:20pm)

Wow Stephen and Brian,

Thank you so much for everything. You guys go above and beyond in planning your workshops!! I returned to Wyoming with a vast amount of valuable photography tips, great photos and most of all lasting memories/ friendships. I hope to be a returning client if the class is not "FULL"!!

P.S. I managed too make it to Lassen (Brian, I found the log and Mel the sunset on Mt Lassen was great!) I also went back to MT. Shasta and re-shot the sunrise with the filter. Wow what an amazing improvement. Ok, but the best moment of all was when I ended up losing a darn leg on that Cabella's tripod at Mt Shasta!! I recovered it fine and it was nothing a little 3M duct tape couldn't fix though!!

Mary Lynn Crowe - July 10th, 2009 (9:57pm)

I had a WONDERFUL time in this workshop- the group was great! Learning to use filters was really a bonus and I've become re-excited about getting back into photography - the tips I learned were invaluable for my trip to Yellowstone and the Great Tetons a few days after this workshop. Hope I can do another workshop someday. I'm still thinking about all the fun - thanks Stephen and Brian!

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