Death Valley Workshop Review
Review by Lawana G. (Workshop Attendee)
It is early and the sun has yet to appear. With headlights glowing in the early morning twilight we soon park, shoulder our camera backpacks and head off cross-country toward a photographic icon that we had heard about for years … Death Valley’s world renowned Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. Our goal was to create the most eye-catching images possible of the dunes and their shadowy ripples. We succeeded beyond our fondest hopes.
Rob Dressler, a fellow workshop attendee from Chicago, taking the workshop for the first time, said, “The materials and concepts presented at the workshop exceeded my expectation in every way. I was able to put the ideas presented to immediate use in the field, which is by far the best way to learn.”
I was excited when I learned that Gamache and Webster have been inspiring nature photographers for more than a decade with their unique ‘Wandering Around Outdoors’ Landscape Photography Workshop program. I signed on and I have not regretted a moment spent with them.
“Making an informed creative decision is not a chance act. It is a skill that can be learned and perfected,” declares Gamache as he discusses potential scenarios, shares insights and gentle reminders on the way out to the dunes.
It is evident that they designed the easy to learn curriculum to resonate with photographers at all levels. As promised … the learning experience was truly an eye opening survey of the ideas that landscape painters and photographers have used for centuries.
Gamache and Webster are intimately familiar with North America’s hottest, driest, and lowest spot having begun working there more than 30 years ago offering two workshops per year.
During the workshop we worked in many stunning locations including water-carved canyons, multi-colored badlands, wind-swept craters, vast expansive overviews, snow-covered peaks, water-filled ponds and creeks, historic venues, high elevation woodlands of juniper and pinyon, and much more.
Taking a landscape workshop with instructors like Gamache and Webster who are versed in and familiar with the ever changing lighting conditions was important to me and every student. But more importantly - the ultimate goal for each of us was to enhance our artistic eye. Van Webster got us thinking … reminding us that, “The camera only takes the picture; the photographer makes the picture.”
Once directed … we were encouraged to freely wander-about and create images based on our own artistic style. Gamache and Webster’s enthusiasm and constructive guidance was never far away. Yet, both were equally confident and happy to just step back and let us clarify what we saw in our own unique manner.
Looking back … I am amazed how quickly this field learning experience demonstrated the significance of “seeing” over simply “looking” and among the many other concepts that I have put to good use since the workshop is how to “visualize” and use “layers” in translating the actual 3D world into my own “attention-getting” 2D images. It all really works. I never thought that one workshop could increase my confidence as it did, jump-starting me from "auto - take a picture - mode” to laying the foundation to the development of my own individualized resources to communicate my ideas as an artist.
All rights reserved. ©2005 Tom Gamache Photography.
All images are the property of Tom Gamache Photography and may not be reproduced without express written permission.