Nick Carver Photography Blog

Photography Tips, Tutorials, & Videos


Photography Classes Orange County: Camera Filters


Photography Classes Orange County: Camera FiltersThe next session of my Filters for Outdoor Photography class is on Saturday, February 8th at 10:00am. This Orange County photography class meets just one Saturday at 10:00am-12:30pm. From UV filters, to polarizers, to split ND filters, to white balance, this class will teach you how to use all the most important camera filters for outdoor photography. I consider camera filters my most important tools for creating great landscape photos and they are an integral part to almost every type of outdoor photography. I've structured this class to not only teach you how to use these filters, but also to help you sift through the countless options at the local camera store so that you'll know exactly what to buy and what to not waste your money on.

Don't be fooled by the marketing of software companies - camera filters are just as useful in digital photography as they've ever been! Find out what filters Photoshop can never replace and which filters are most important to keep in your bag. Learn how to avoid blown-out skies in your landscapes with split NDs, how to get richer colors with a polarizer, how to mimic a warming filter with your white balance, what the real advantages to RAW files are, and more!

With a small class size of only 12 students max, you'll get personalized attention and you'll never be left behind. Plus, my photography classes Orange County are highly rated amongst previous students. Please browse through my Yelp reviews or read the testimonials on my website here to see what previous enrollees had to say.

Here's what a previous student had to say about my classes:

"I have taken a course at our community college and a few on line courses and have not found any to be as informative and easy to understand as Nick's instruction."

- Sheri P.

Don't wait until this class fills up! Reserve your seat today for just $39! More details about this course including enrollment information can be found here.

Saguaro Cactus in the Superstition Mountains

Saguaro Cactus in the Superstition Mountains of ArizonaSaguaro Cactus in the Superstition Mountains
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I love the desert. And it seems every time I visit it, I fall deeper in love. The open space, the geology, the weather, and the unique flora and fauna of the American deserts never fails to pique my curiosity and my creativity. On a recent trip to Scottsdale, AZ, I had the pleasure of visiting the Superstition Mountains - a beautiful stretch of stately peaks dotted with saguaro cactuses. Ah, yes, the saguaro cactus. There are few silhouettes in nature more iconic than the saguaro cactus. That unmistakable outline with its central pillar rising out of the landscape like a Corinthian column, arms held staunchly to either side; it just screams American Southwest. They encapsulate the whole vibe of the desert that appeals to me. So when my companions and I ventured out on a short hike to visit some ancient petroglyphs deep in the Superstition Mountains, I seized the opportunity to photograph some impressive specimens of the saguaro cactus.

I brought my medium format Mamiya RZ67 camera because I knew I'd be able to create some extra-shallow depths of field with its wide-aperture 110mm f/2.8 lens. Despite how impressive the Superstition Mountains appeared towering over the desert floor, I opted not to do any of the traditional high-color, high-contrast, wide angle, sweeping landscapes I typically gravitate towards. Instead, I wanted the saguaro cactus to be the star of the show. I wanted to create "portraits" of this desert succulent much like I did with the Joshua Tree over the summer (check those out here). My plan was to approach these cactus like I was creating a traditional black and white portrait of a person. I envisioned a shallow depth of field, a simple straight-forward composition, and side lighting to help bring out the subtle textures of these magnificent saguaro cactuses.

For the tech junkies out there, I used a wide aperture on these photos at either f/2.8 or f/4. A polarizer helped me create some separation between the clouds by darkening the blue sky. The film was Ilford Delta 100 professional developed N+1 (per the Zone System). I wanted these shots from the Superstition Mountains to have a timeless look, a gritty vibe, and an understated representation of the beauty in this landscape. But rather than continue talking about what I wanted these photos to capture, I'll let the shots speak for themselves. Thanks for reading.

Saguaro Cactus in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona

Saguaro Cactus in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona

Saguaro Cactus in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona

Photography Quotes: Gregory Crewdson

I read a lot of books about photography and I watch just about every documentary I can find about photography. These books and documentaries are rarely about the technical aspects of photography but more about the philosophical, emotional, and intangible facets of the art form. I really enjoy those lesser-discussed aspects of it. In the course of my studies, I often come across great photography quotes that I note down for my own encouragement and guidance. And rather than keep these gems all to myself, I thought I'd start sharing these photography quotes with my blog readers and give my 2 cents behind it - why I like the quote, how it can help improve your photography, etc. So here is the first in a new series of blog articles simply titled "Photography Quotes." Enjoy!

Photography Quotes: Gregory Crewdson
Photo by Gregory Crewdson

There is a phenomenal documentary called Brief Encounters that follows visionary photographer Gregory Crewdson as he creates photos in his "Beneath the Roses" series (here's the book of images). This photo series is truly groundbreaking with budgets and production values that rival many Hollywood movies. Just head on over to Google and search "gregory crewdson beneath the roses" to see what I mean. His photos are much more than pretty shots of nature. They tell a story better than any photos I've ever seen, they incite a deep emotional response, and they hold the viewer's interest like a tractor beam. The documentary Brief Encounters shows how some of these photos were made. It's a great film for the average person and an even better one for photographers. To see the work that goes into his photos is truly humbling. It was available on Netflix streaming last I checked, so go check it out!

In the documentary, Mr. Crewdson casually crafted one of the best photography quotes I've ever heard. It goes as follows:

"The process of making pictures is so deeply connected to failure. You have an expectation, you have a dream of what your picture is going to be, and then something always necessarily goes wrong. When things go wrong in the right way, it adds a certain unexpected mystery to the picture and transforms your original expectation of things. But often things go wrong in the wrong way, and then you just have to understand that there are going to be pictures that you make that just don't work in the end. The risks exist on many different levels, but you have to put all that aside because if you're not going to make the picture, no one else will."

- Gregory Crewdson, Brief Encounters

It seems everyone wants to eliminate failure in their photography. It's all about getting better, getting more control, getting the perfect picture every time. But as Gregory Crewdson pointed out here, something always necessarily goes wrong. Sometimes it goes wrong in the right way, but many times it goes wrong in the wrong way. If you're anything like me, you may drive yourself nuts trying to prevent anything from going wrong, because if the photo doesn't turn out exactly as you hoped, it can be really discouraging.

This is one of my favorite photography quotes because when I look at the work of a photographer like Gregory Crewdson, it's easy for me to think, "Oh well that guy is on a completely different level than me. He's got it figured out. He knows how to make important images." And then I find myself not taking certain photos I want to take because I don't think I can execute them correctly or I don't think anyone else will like the shot or I don't think my artistic vision is good enough - there are a thousand risks a photographer must take when creating a photo and putting it out for the world to see, the biggest risk being the risk of criticism and invalidation. But what I love about Gregory Crewdson's quote is that it reminds me to put those risks aside and just make the photo anyway. Things may go wrong and the picture won't work. Then again, things may go "wrong" and the picture turns out better than I ever hoped. But whatever the case, I can't let an aversion to risk stop the creative process. Because if I don't make the photo, no one else will.