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The Zen of Thinking
October 17-19, 2014 ~ Yosemite National Park
This two-day course is an intensive exploration of how the mind responds to a scene and how the eye can find the photographic composition … intuitively.
With a complete disregard to the technical instruction, we focus purely on the visual challenges presented to each of us, compounded by the prejudices and existing mindsets that keep us from truly capturing the photos that place you in the same level of the masters, understanding what separates a photographer from an artist.
This course is limited to five students to ensure an intimate environment, fostering the best learning opportunities possible.
Certain course prerequisites are required for course registration; please see “Course Prerequisites” below for more information.
Leave your comfort zone to move beyond the photographic world you are locked into and go to a level of learning that you didn’t realize existed.
Understand that we don’t sell hype to the masses; we educate with sound, proven principles that are based on professional approaches and mindsets, providing the tools necessary for you to grow.
Push the boundaries of how the “industry” says photography is supposed to be done. Go beyond the mass conformity that “everyone” is doing.
Follow the mindset used by the masters of photography. It is only by accepting this open approach to the visual — trying something new — that one can expand their photographic potential.
Challenge how you see photographs by understanding that the visual component in photography reigns supreme.
Everyone has heard of the “rule of thirds” … and we take that concept and throw it out the window, moving forward to explore, challenge and apply far more extensive visual components.
Do you feel like you are stuck in a rut? Try as you may, you just can’t move beyond where you are, despite all the online reading, forum browsing and workshops that leave you thirsting for more?
Do you see other pictures but just don’t understand how the photographer ‘saw’ that scene? Do you wish to “see” and “read” a scene to the point that it becomes second-nature? Instinctual?
Are you tired of everyone focusing on the technical part of photography, as if the knowledge of how to use your camera functions will actually make you a better photographer? Do you want to move beyond the constant and seemingly endless chatter about megapixels, image quality, camera control, and gear talk?
Just as the classic joke goes about a chef being complimented that they must have nice pots in order to cook such a great meal … the camera does not make the photographer. A photographer that is true to the art knows that the make and model of the camera is irrelevant to the picture.
And that is how we approach this course. We don’t care what camera you bring. We don’t care how many lenses you want to carry. We don’t care about megapixels.
What we DO care about is if you have the desire, passion and focus to challenge yourself to improve your photography as an art form.
And that starts with understanding how a photograph is made. How it is created in the mind’s eye. Understanding that finding and creating the image is not analytical, but rather based on intuition. That a photographer true to the art listens to their heart—not their brain—when it comes to photographic inspiration. How to truly create a grand work of art.
The “Advanced Photography: The Zen of Thinking” course has a detailed curriculum designed to successfully elevate the photographer to a new level of visual and compositional understanding on the theories, mindsets and approaches to photography as an art.
The course curriculum includes lecture presentations, one-on-one instruction and critiques, on-site visual approach demos and analysis, and evaluative assessments of each photographer’s strengths, weakness, gear mindset, and areas for growth and development.
Topics and methods covered and addressed during this advanced course include:
- Study, deconstruction and analysis of mainstream photographs by masters in the field, addressing successes and failures, approach and balance, for each photograph.
- Review of the Rule of Thirds, with comprehensive application of the Golden Ratio and Divine Proportion in to the visual composition thought process, allowing for a greater understanding of the Art of Photography.
- A focus on removing prejudices and mass-conforming mindsets that limit the photographer’s ability to see new visual concepts.
Exercises in non-photographic art methods to challenge the mind’s approach and focus on the visual scene, resulting in stronger composition skills and scene assessments.
- Itinerary locations that include both popular scenes within Yosemite, as well as secret locations discovered by the masters of landscape photography and only shared with a select few. These locations both challenge the student and provide welcome scenes never before viewed, allowing for visual assessment free of existing prejudice.
- Repeated visits to certain locations which provides for repetitive practice and assessment through multiple critiques of the images throughout the day. This in turn allows for follow-up attempts to apply the additional knowledge … in essence “another chance” to see and apply the learned mindsets and approaches.
- A guaranteed, time-tested visual approach to learning how to truly read a scene and isolate the elements that construct a photograph, through methods used by all successful professional photographers
This course will have a base of operations in Wawona, located in the southern part of Yosemite National Park. Wawona is located approximately one hour south of Yosemite Valley, on Hwy. 41.
Students are encouraged to secure lodging at either the Wawona Hotel, Tenaya Lodge (located just outside the park entrance on Hwy. 41), or at the Wawona Campground. There are also several Bed & Breakfast options located in the community of Fish Camp, just outside the park entrance on Hwy. 41.
Please do not book your lodging in Yosemite Valley or other areas of the park as the driving distance to the shooting locations will be excessive and could impact the workshop experience.
As the workshop begins on Saturday morning, please plan on arriving to the Wawona area either on Friday evening or very early on Saturday morning. The workshop will conclude on Sunday evening, approximately one hour after sunset.
NOTE: This Advanced Photography course has certain prerequisites for all enrolled students.
Students must have a minimum level of experience and/or past workshop attendance with Michael Mariant.
As this course is intensive and with a curriculum that transcends both the technical and visual instruction found in most workshop offerings, students must be receptive to fresh, new thinking and approaches in the visual realm of photography, and willing to challenge their current ideals and mindsets. Flexibility in current thinking is a must for a student to embrace and implement this mode of thinking and shooting.
Technical proficiency must include the ability to comfortably and regularly shoot with ease in manual exposure, and a solid comprehension of the shutter speed, aperture and ISO scales along with their secondary effect aside from exposure control. Students should be knowledgeable and hold experience in using polarizer and neutral density filters.
Therefore, all students in this course MUST have either previously attended a workshop offering led by instructor Michael Mariant, or MUST provide a link to an online portfolio, a brief statement of intent, and have a brief conversation/web chat with the instructor PRIOR to class registration. It is imperative that all students are at the minimum technical experience level, while also being of the same mindset and acceptance to challenge their way of thinking, to graduate on to a new level of seeing in photography.
Alumni of previous courses and/or workshops led by Michael Mariant may register for this course at this time. If you have not previously attended a workshop led by the instructor, please email the instructor (mmariant @ nikonians.org) a link to an online portfolio, a brief statement of intent, and contact info for a follow-up conversation PRIOR to registering for this course.
Member prices are only applicable to Nikonians Silver, Gold and Platinum Members. Non-members can register as Nikonians members here. Nikonians Basic members can upgrade the membership level here. Membership payments help sustain the growth of the Nikonians community and its services such as the Nikonians Academy.