Creative Journeyat Tonglen Lake Lodge

Tom Walker's Photographic Workshop

Field Trip on the Denali Highway
Denali the Golden Eagle from Bird TLC and his handler, Marybethe Wright, providing a photo opportunity.

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A couple of years ago I acquired a digital SLR camera, because I always wanted to do nature photography. I was intrigued by the stunning images of renowned photographers that captured the beauty of my Alaskan home. To preserve a special moment, landscape or wildlife encounter was going to be my passion. Fast forward two years and I still hadn’t taken a single picture in manual mode. The camera user guide was 370 pages thick and I got lost somewhere around page 45. I didn’t understand the language of aperture, f-stops, RGB and ISO and was intimidated by the many dials and fancy modes. I ended up setting the camera to “auto” and dealt with mediocre picture quality ever since. I knew this camera could so much more, but was afraid I’d never learn how to use it. All that changed last weekend!
I attended a three-day photographic workshop at beautiful Tonglen Lake Lodge, just outside Denali National Park. The class was taught by Tom Walker, one of Alaska’s most accomplished and accredited nature and wildlife photographer. The small class size of five students with skill levels from beginner to advanced, allowed for a very personalized experience. After an introduction to the sound fundamentals we stepped outside the classroom for a first “test” shoot by the lake. Not really knowing how to properly apply what I had just learned, my first photos still turned out mediocre. I initially questioned my ability to ever learn the ropes. I could not possibly have imagined that by the end of that very first day, I would be shooting pictures with perfect exposure every single time! The seminar combined classroom presentations with on-site shooting demos and field trips to nearby scenic locations. Beyond the technical aspects, we learned the art of seeing, composition, artistry and macro photography. Day three emphasized on image processing with Adobe Photoshop© techniques. Tom’s expertise, fervor for the subject and determination in assuring that each student achieved the highest level of advancement in their individual skill level made for one outstanding learning experience. At the end of the seminar, I was not merely confident to operate my camera, but learned to see nature’s splendor through the eyes of an artist; empowered with the knowledge to shoot and process high quality images and capture memories of my own.    

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