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Syllabus for SFW Online: The Art and Science of Landscape Photography


Dates and times:

June 7-24, 2022. Six class sessions, two per week, held on Tuesdays and Fridays, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time.


Online only

Sponsored by:

Santa Fe Workshops

50 Mt. Carmel Road

Fatima Hall, Suite F2

Santa Fe, NM 87505

Phone: (505) 983-1400



$595. Enrollment is limited to 12 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 online 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 get hands-on practice with their new skills and put their new knowledge to immediate use by undertaking assignments. These assignments can be completed anywhere: your backyard, the park around the corner, or a nearby city, county, or state park. This workshop will also provide a portfolio review to help students identify the strongest images in their current library and analyze why they have impact, with the goal of refining the student’s understanding of subject choice, composition, light, and timing, improving the student’s ability to create evocative landscape images. 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.

Classroom sessions will use free Zoom video-conferencing software. Students will receive complete instructions on using Zoom prior to the workshop.

About the instructor

Glenn Randall has been a full-time photographer, writer, and instructor for 43 years. Over 2,000 of his photographs have been published, including 88 covers, and he has sold over 10,000 prints. Rocky Nook published the second edition of his book The Art, Science, and Craft of Great Landscape Photography in spring 2020. It published his book Dusk to Dawn: a Guide to Landscape Photography at Night in spring 2018. Farcountry Press published three books of his landscape photographs: Rocky Mountain National Park Impressions, Colorado Wild & Beautiful, and Sunrise from the Summit: First Light on Colorado’s Fourteeners. Glenn has had 27 feature articles published in Outdoor Photographer, where he is a contributing editor.


Session 1: June 7, 2022, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. MDT

Lecture: "The 12 Principles of Scouting," which will provide suggestions on how to visualize, then find great images. The instructor will also teach students how to use the Photo Ephemeris Web and Sun Surveyor, two mapping apps, to plan photo shoots in great detail. Students who wish may follow along. Those students who have both a laptop and a desktop will find it easiest to follow along if they host the Zoom meeting on their laptop and display the Photographer’s Ephemeris on their desktop. Sun Surveyor is mobile-only (iOS and Android) so students can run Sun Surveyor on their mobile device and compare that screen to the Zoom meeting running on their laptop, where I will share my iPad screen running my copy of Sun Surveyor.

Assignment #1: Use the Photo Ephemeris Web and/or Sun Surveyor to plan and shoot one or more photographs where the position of the sun or moon is important to the composition. An example might be a photograph of the sun or moon rising in between two trees or buildings, setting into a saddle between two hills, or positioned in a pleasing relationship to a playground structure, public sculpture, or monument.

Session 2: June 10, 2022, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. MDT

Students will present between one and five images they shot for assignment #1. Instructor will offer suggestions and comments.

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 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. Instructor will use Lightroom Classic to demonstrate processing techniques for the various exposure strategies.

Assignment #2: Practice using the Limiting Factor exposure strategy, the Rembrandt Solution exposure strategy, and HDR exposure strategy in a high-contrast situation, either indoors or outdoors. Students will employ the three exposure strategies mentioned above to photograph their test subject, then process and analyze the results.

Session 3: June 14, 2022, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. MDT

Students will present the three images they shot for assignment #2, one from each exposure strategy. Instructor will offer suggestions and comments.

Instructor presentation on the art and science of light for landscape photographers.

Assignment #3: Students will locate a subject near home that gets moment-of-sunrise or moment-of-sunset light. If they are shooting at sunrise, they will choose a composition where they are looking west, with the rising sun at their back. If they are shooting at sunset, they will choose a subject where they are looking east, with the setting sun at their back. For a sunrise subject, begin shooting about 20 minutes before sunrise and continue until about 20 minutes afterwards, shooting at least one frame every two minutes. For a sunset subject, start shooting 20 minutes before sunset and continue until 20 minutes afterwards. The goal is to learn more about how the color of the light on the subject and in the sky changes during that crucial 40-minute window of opportunity.

Session 4: June 17, 2022, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. MDT

Students will present five images from the series of images they shot for assignment #3. Instructor will offer suggestions and comments.

Composition lecture and discussion. Discussion of focus-stacking in daylight and tilt-shift lenses.

Assignment #4: Student will hone their compositional skills by making the most evocative possible photographs of a tree near their home. Standing back and photographing an entire tree is relatively easy; it becomes challenging (and educational) when students try to isolate the single most interesting branch, section of trunk, or intersection of two or more branches. (Lacking trees, students could choose a complex playground structure, such as a jungle gym, or a public sculpture.)

Session 5: June 21, 2022, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. MDT

Students will present five images they shot for assignment #4. Instructor will offer suggestions and comments.

Instructor will demonstrate how to set up, shoot, and process single-row and multi-row panoramas in both low-contrast and high-contrast situations. The demonstration will begin with a discussion of how students can use their existing equipment to shoot panoramas, with certain limitations, then continue with a discussion of how the use of panorama tools such as a nodal slide and panning clamp will open up additional possibilities.

Assignment #5: students will set up and shoot a single-row panorama in a high-contrast situation. Students who already own panorama equipment, such as a nodal slide, will use it; students who do not own such equipment will choose a subject where the closest parts of the subject are 100 feet away or more. No purchase is necessary to complete this assignment.

Session 6: June 24, 2022, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. MDT

Students will present the completed panorama from assignment #5. Instructor will offer suggestions and comments.

Prior to this class session, students will select five landscape images for which they would like feedback and submit them to the course coordinator. The instructor will offer suggestions and comments on each student’s images. This is not a contest; the instructor will not pick winners and losers.

Complete written instructions will accompany each assignment.

All registration for this workshop is handled by Santa Fe Workshops.

Register for this workshop

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