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AdventurAfrica Photo Workshops


ColorThink

It is impossible to speak of modern photography without speaking of the technical and cultural revolution introduced by Ansel Adams and Group f/64 in the early '30s. Until that time, photography was the prerogative of few artists who practiced it more as a graphical art, through which they expressed their aesthetic sense, than as a technique at the service of -yes- an artistic vision, but still subject to the rules of a predictable and repeatable process. With the manifesto of the seven founding members of Group f/64, published on the occasion of an exhibition at the M.H. de Young Museum in San Francisco, on November the 5th, 1932, modern photography was born.
Ansel Adams, Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park, 1944.
A typical example of the extreme quality and clarity of image pursued by the members of Group f/64.
The scornful repudiation of pictorialism and of the claim that photography would have to emulate painting in order to achieve the same artistic dignity, placed Group f/64 in an avant-garde position, which could be sustained over time only through the creation of new instruments to support the idea at the base of the manifesto: the necessity, that is, to represent reality through a pure photographic process, characterized by uncompromised quality and clarity of image. It is only through the painstaking work of Ansel Adams and the introduction of the Zonal System in 1941, the adoption of the reflected-light meter and the application of densitometry to film processing and printing, that a systematic photographic method, predictable, repeatable and teachable on a large scale, was finally delivered into the hands of any aspiring photographer. With the publication of the famous trilogy "The Camera", "The Negative", and "The Print", in which he divulges all the details of his technique, Ansel Adams delivers himself in history as the first, and arguably the greatest, instructor of photography. From Ansel Adams onwards, having overcome the problem of poor predictability of the photographic result, photography becomes a powerful and gentle technique that anyone can learn and put to the service of his/her own artistic sensibility. With his writings, Ansel Adams chooses full disclosure over jealous custody of knowledge, marking the beginning of the American tradition of teaching and sharing of the photographic technique. From Ansel Adams to our time, through influential people like Galen Rowell and Mac Holbert, just to name a few modern players, this tradition has flourished uninterrupted.

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"On the monitor at home my photos are beautiful, but on the monitor at my office they have a blue cast and appear overexposed."
"I had the photos from my last trip printed and they all turned out too green."
"I have also tried to print them at home with my printer, but I've been unsuccessful at making them turn out like what I see on the monitor."
Does this all sound too familiar?
Consider the following example: imagine calling your friend in Japan and asking him, over the phone, to bring a quart of distilled water to the temperature of 132 degrees. You have no doubts that, given a scale, a simple burner and a thermometer, your friend will succeed at executing to perfection the easy task.
Now imagine holding in your hands a tile characterized by a beautiful salmon-orange color and asking your friend, always connected by phone from Japan, to create a new document in Photoshop and to color it the same color of the tile in front of your eyes. Things are getting complicated, aren't they? You bet...
These few examples summarize the essence of color management, which was born in the '90s with the explosive spread of personal computers, and with which we can today communicate, in a definitive and not subjective way, information about colors between different operators and machines.
Over time, color management has become an industrial standard, and thanks to multiple agreements signed by the major players of the color technology industry, today it is possible to employ a "managed workflow" which guarantees predictability, reproducibility, and communicability to the colors of our images, from capture to print.
In practice, color management for the digital era is the equivalent, revisited 50 years later, of what the Zonal System has been for film at the times of Ansel Adams.
Today, it seems imwise to work professionally in the field of digital imaging without a solid understanding of color management and the employment of a series of procedures designed to maintain the colors of our images under control and reproducible.
Color management is not an opinion, it is a technique based on an exact science and a mature technology, yet it remains hardly understood, if not even ignored or feared, subject.
Projection of the AppleRGB color space in the CIELab space.
Concepts such as the difference between color mode, color space and color profile, RGB vs CMYK for printing, device gamut, the CIELab space, monitor calibration, color settings in Photoshop, the RAW conversion and custom profiles for printers can often create confusion and frustration in those who encounter these concepts for the first time.
Nevertheless, managing colors on a computer without understanding color management is like using a map without knowing its scale. For example, we can calculate that the distance between two points on a map is 500, but without knowing whether that number -500- represents meters, kilometers or nautical miles, this information will be of no use.
Color management, in practice, is a metric of color and if deeply understood, grants photographers of every level an impressive leap of quality. It allows, in fact, an accurate control of every phase of the photographic process, from capture to post-production, all the way up to printing. During capture, color management allows us to choose the in-camera color space that better suits our needs, if we are shooting JPG, or it allows us to postpone the decision to a later time if we are shootingRAW. When we import our files on the computer, having the correct color settings in Photoshop (or in Lightroom, Aperture or CaptureOne) allows us to open our digital files without loss or modification of the original colors. This will obviously require, at the same time, an accurately calibrated monitor and profile, which, in turn, requires the use of a colorimeter or, better, a spectrometer. Editing images in Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture, also requires a calibrated and profiled monitor, as well as an accurately managed workflow. Finally, for the fine-art printing, it will be essential to use printer and paper color profiles.
All the hardware, software and procedural apparatus of color management can not be taken in pieces. Everything must be simultaneously present and utilized in concert to guarantee accurate results. If we have the patience to fully understand every phase of color management and to accurately manage our RGB workflow, the results will be far superior to anything previously obtained and, above all, they will be predictable and repeatable.
It is up to us to master color management and to put this technology to work for our artistic vision.

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Photography workshops are planned and organized in order to broaden and deepen the knowledge of the participants through a balanced mix of theory and practice. By participating in a workshop, you will learn not only from the teaching, but also, and much, from the interaction with other participants and as a result of being, so to speak -forced-, to reflect aloud upon your personal approach to photography. The dynamic of the group promotes direct experience and constructive criticism through which everyone will be able to find prompts for reflection and skills improvement. Precisely because we deem the workshop to be a very effective method for increasing skills and knowledge, we believe that we should adequately prepare ourselves for it, by setting clear learning objectives and by establishing in advance what we want to learn. In practice, we consider it very useful to have a ready response, well thought out and non-trivial, to the question: what do I want to obtain from participating in this workshop? After deciding to participate in a workshop, you should also begin asking yourself which type of course you desire. Do you want a course of one or more days? Do you want someone who will accompany you to a photographically interesting place and then leave you to your business of photographing alone, or would you rather want someone ready to guide you step by step, from selecting the composition to taking the shot? Do you want a very practical course or one with more emphasis on theory? A course on shooting, post-production, fine-art printing or color management? Do you want a program that combines the pleasure of a trip with the opportunity of photographing in wonderful locations, or do you prefer a course in a classroom setting? These, and many others, are the questions which should be answered in order to begin to find your bearing in the ever-growing online offering of photographic workshops.
Another critical aspect is the selection of the photographer who will conduct the workshop. Eventually, every professional photographer tends to specialize in a particular type of photography; therefore, it will be important to choose a photographer experienced in the type of photography you intend to study. Keep also in mind that for a workshop to be successful, it is fundamental the ability of the teacher to explain and convey, in clear and comprehensible ways, concepts and techniques which can be quite complex. It is therefore necessary to choose photographers who are not only good "technicians", but who are also effective communicators.
The best way to evaluate an instructor is to begin with a thorough search on the internet. Look for traces of their work; look for articles which have been published on important photography sites or magazines, look for pages which talk about the photographer, without being written by the photographer him/herself, or by some obliging friend or business partner. Look for, if they exist, testimonials written by other participants before you, who can provide an objective evaluation of the technical and educational capabilities of the photographer 'under scrutiny'. For the testimonials to be credible, they must be signed and clearly show the email of the person who wrote it, so that the author can be privately contacted and maybe requested of an opinion unbeknownst to the photographer.
Do your research, don't be afraid to ask and to investigate; the workshop market is a real market, open and competitive. The offer is ample and various, and as a client, you have the sacred right, we would almost say the obligation, to make deliberate and informed choices.

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Our specialty is nature photography and color management, and our workshops are informal and intensive courses.
During the game drives and the safaris we will focus on the techniques involved in photographing wild animals in their natural setting. We will thoroughly discuss:
    Pre-visualization techniques Use of light and exposure theory Supertelephoto lense technique and use of projected beams of light Exposure control through image histograms, using RAW and other formats Theory and practice of composition for landscape photography and for ambient portrait of wildlife in its natural setting Bracketing strategies and correct use of the camera for wildlife photography The creative approach to photography and how to develop a personal style
When we are not busy photographing, typically in the hotter hours of the day and in the evenings, we will focus on post-production work, studying color management, practicing digital files acquisition and editing them within a color managed workflow. We will discuss in depth:
    Introduction to color management The RGB color model The CIELab color space The RGB workflow Selection of color spaces The difference between color spaces and color profiles Use of color profiles Monitor calibration Color profiles for printing Color management architecture in Photoshop Color settings in Photoshop Analysis and interpretation of a digital file histogram Use of layers in Photoshop RAW conversion Use of Curves for black and white point adjustment Use of the Curves in luminosity mode for local and global contrast correction Global and local color correction A creative approach to edge burning Software for sharpening Making a master file Output-dependent sharpening Tonal correspondence between printer and monitor Fine-art printing with color profiles
During our courses we will be constantly at your disposal to photograph WITH YOU, and not FOR US.
We often see photographers more focused on shooting for themselves than on assisting and helping the participants of their workshops. It is already very difficult to ensure an equal level of attention to all participants, especially in those "hot" moments, where an unusual and fleeting photo opportunity presents itself. If in those moments the photographer is selfishly focused behind his/her own camera, the whole concept of guided workshop is lost. We believe that during a workshop the field leader should leave his equipment in the bag, and focus completely on his clients' photography.
This has always been our style, and this is what you'll get from us.

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The best way to avoid disappointment is to nurture realistic expectations.
If you think that by participating in a workshop all your doubts will clear up, you are likely to remain disappointed.
If someone promises you that by participating in their workshop you will learn to photograph like a pro in a few days, surely they are taking you for a ride.

Photography is a mix of "eye" and technique. The technique can certainly be learned through studying, the reading of books and manuals and participation in workshops and seminars, but the "eye", or the photographic sensibility, is an incremental process, in part innate, and in part acquired through years of practice and attempts.
No workshop can substitute the personal journey of constructing your photographic sensibility, but a quality workshop will supply you with new stimuli to grow and improve, and will give you new tools to expand your photographic universe, keeping in mind that passion and perseverance will -always- be your best teachers.

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