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Syllabus for The Art and Science of Landscape Photography


April 4-8, 2022


Santa Fe Workshops

50 Mt. Carmel Road

Fatima Hall, Suite F2

Santa Fe, NM 87505

Phone: (505) 983-1400


Workshop fee

$1,595 plus an $85 location fee. This workshop is suitable for low-intermediate to advanced-intermediate photographers. It requires hikes of up to three miles round-trip, with 600 feet of elevation gain. Enrollment is limited to 13 students.

Course description

Glenn Randall's approach to teaching landscape photography can be summed up in eight words: master the craft, and the art will follow.

The craft of landscape photography goes far beyond understanding photographic basics like aperture and shutter speed. It includes the ability to locate promising subjects and plan shoots using topographic maps and computerized mapping tools. It includes concepts from geography, which tells us how the angle of sunrise and sunset varies throughout the year. It includes a working knowledge of atmospheric optics (the science of how sunlight interacts with our atmosphere.) Most crucially, it includes understanding how the complexities of human vision affect the way we see the world and the way we view art. Understanding how our visual system processes high-contrast scenes will help students produce realistically beautiful renditions of those scenes.

As students increase their mastery of the craft, their artistry will grow and their ability to produce creative yet realistic landscape photographs will be enhanced. This workshop will show students how creativity is not some rare talent possessed by exceptional individuals who sit in a darkened room and think profound thoughts. Rather, it is a talent possessed by every student which emerges when students make a new, unexpected, but suddenly obvious connection between seemingly unrelated bits of knowledge already stored in their heads.

Students will spend mornings in the classroom and digital lab and afternoons practicing their newly acquired skills at the many scenic locations found in and around the richly inspiring environs of Santa Fe. Students will not only receive the solid foundation in craft that they need in order to flourish as artists, but also have the opportunity for a one-on-one portfolio review. By the end of the workshop, students will understand why good landscape photographers today must have the brain of an engineer and the heart of a hopeless romantic.

About the instructor

I’ve been a full-time photographer, writer, and instructor for 42 years. Over 2,000 of my photographs have been published, including 88 covers, and I’ve sold over 10,000 prints. Rocky Nook published my book The Art, Science, and Craft of Great Landscape Photography in spring 2015 and published the second edition in the spring of 2020. It published my book Dusk to Dawn: a Guide to Landscape Photography at Night in spring 2018. Farcountry Press published three books of my landscape photographs: Rocky Mountain National Park Impressions, Colorado Wild & Beautiful, and Sunrise from the Summit: First Light on Colorado’s Fourteeners. I have had 27 feature articles published in Outdoor Photographer, where I am a contributing editor.

Tentative schedule (subject to change due to ongoing covid closures, weather, and other factors)

Note: students should bring their camera gear to class every day, as we will be leaving for field sessions directly from the classroom, without taking a break to return to hotel rooms.

Monday, April 4, 2022

  • 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Introduction and discussion of participants’ prior experience in photography, expectations for the course, and photographic goals. Guided discussion: "Landscape photography looks so easy." Six ways in which viewing a print differs from viewing the real world. Lecture: "The 12 Principles of Scouting." Instructor will also demonstrate the use of Photo Ephemeris Web and Sun Surveyor, free or inexpensive, easy-to-use computer programs that makes it much easier to be in the right place at the right time.

  • 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Lunch

  • 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Students will use Photo Ephemeris Web to plan the afternoon and evening shoots. Basic settings for digital landscape photography (a quick refresher to make sure everyone is up to speed), plus overview of the "universal exposure strategy" and discussion of instructor's pre-shoot checklist.

  • 2:30 p.m. Leave for Bandelier National Monument, a beautiful canyon containing many ancient cliff dwellings.

  • 3:30 p.m. Arrive at Bandelier National Monument.

  • 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Spend one and a half hours photographing Bandelier National Monument.

  • 5:00 p.m. Leave Bandelier National Monument.

  • 5:30 p.m. Arrive at White Rock Overlook, which offers a spectacular view of the Rio Grande River 800 feet below.

  • 5:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. Dinner picnic at White Rock Overlook.

  • 6:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Shoot sunset. Sunset is at 7:27 p.m.

  • 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Drive back from White Rock Overlook; arrive in Santa Fe around 8:30 p.m.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

  • 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Discussion of exposure, exposure meters, the dynamic range of digital sensors, exposure danger zones, the four basic exposure strategies, and the universal exposure strategy. Instructor presentation on light and how to control it. Instructor slide show on how our visual system processes high-contrast scenes and how to use that knowledge to create images that appear to have a greater dynamic range than they actually do. 

  • 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Lunch.

  • 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Editing session in the digital lab.

  • 3:00 p.m. Leave for a privately owned ranch near Plaza Blanca, a site favored by famed painter Georgia O'Keefe.

  • 4:15 p.m. Arrive at Plaza Blanca.

  • 4:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Shoot late afternoon and evening light at Plaza Blanca. We will eat a dinner picnic in the field. Sunset is at 7:28 p.m.

  • 7:30 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. Drive back from Plaza Blanca; arrive in Santa Fe around 8:45 p.m.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

  • 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Discussion and demonstration of the HDR editing capabilities in Lightroom Classic. Lecture: “Keeping it Real with HDR.” Composition lecture and discussion.

  • 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Students will practice using Lightroom LrC’s HDR utility with the images they shot at Bandelier National Monument, White Rock Overlook, and Plaza Blanca.

  • 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Lunch.

  • 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Editing session in the lab.

  • 2:15 p.m. Leave for Ghost Ranch, an education and retreat center that was once home to famed painter Georgia O'Keefe.

  • 3:30 p.m.  Arrive at Ghost Ranch.

  • 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Explore and photograph the park until sunset at 7:29 p.m. We will hike the Chimney Rock trail (three miles round-trip, with 600 feet of elevation gain) and shoot sunset from a scenic overlook. We will eat a dinner picnic in the field. We will be hiking down after sunset, so be sure to bring your headlamp and your trekking poles!

  • 7:30 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. Return to Santa Fe at approximately 8:45 p.m.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

  • 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.  Demonstration of the use of tilt-shift lenses. Demonstration of how to set up single-row and multi-row panoramas using a panoramic tripod head. Discussion of the best procedure for shooting and processing a high-contrast panorama, one in which the dynamic range of the scene exceeds the dynamic range of your sensor. Editing session where students can work on their images.

  • 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Lunch.

  • 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Editing session.

  • 2:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Drive to Pecos National Historic Site.

  • 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Explore and photograph Pecos National Historic Site until 4:30 p.m. Return to Santa Fe at approximately 5:00 p.m. Students will eat dinner on their own in Santa Fe.


Friday, April 8, 2022

  • 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. The Bombs Versus Best-Sellers Game: Students will view a selection of 16 of the instructor's images. Some are best-sellers (more than 100 prints sold in their lifetime). Some bombed (less than 10 copies sold in their lifetime). Students will not be told, initially, which images fell into which category. Students' task will be to identify which images are best-sellers and which images bombed, then explain why they voted the way they did. After the discussion, the instructor will reveal which images succeeded and which failed.

  • 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Students will continue work on editing their images.

  • 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Lunch.

  • 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Students will finish editing their images from the week and select the best half-dozen for presentation in the concluding group slide show. This culminating slide show will celebrate what everyone has learned and accomplished during the week. It is not a contest; the instructor will not pick winners and losers.

All registration for this workshop is handled by Santa Fe Workshops. Register online or register by calling Santa Fe Workshops at 505 983-1400.

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