When I was planning out my trips for the year, I never expected to attend another National Geographic Expeditions trip or head back to New York so soon, but it ended up working out perfectly. This trip to New York marked my third trip with National Geographic, and I decided to step it up a bit with the advanced level class. Our assignment for the weekend was to capture the people of New York experimenting with light and flash. This assignment was kind of a lot out of my comfort zone, but it really pushed me to try out things I had never considered before with this art.
Our first location was the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain in Central Park. This section of Central Park is considered the heart of the park. It provided the perfect backdrop for capturing tourists, locals and street performers. The best way to access this part of Central Park is from the 72nd Street Station, and just follow the path for Strawberry Fields and the Lennon Mosaic.
That evening, we headed to one of New York’s more iconic locations, Times Square, to continue our lesson on street portraits. Let me tell you it is no easy task to approach strangers for thier portraits. Additionally, Times Square is one of the more challenging locations to shoot due to all the bright and changing lights.
For our second day, it was unfortunately raining, but we made the most of it and headed to Grand Central Station to practice movement with people and light. Grand Central is one of my favorite places in New York. Not only does it make for some people watching, but it is a spectacular piece of architecture.
What are your favorite places to people watch in New York?
Our assignment throughout the weekend with the workshop was to create a sense of place. The first location for our field assignments was the Texas Capitol building. They say everything is bigger in Texas and this includes the capitol building. Construction started in 1882 and it is the largest state capitol building in the US. The central dome was my favorite part, as well as all the original fixtures in the House and Senate. It is truly a spectacular piece of architecture.
I particularly loved the details of the capitol. Definitely be on the look out for all things “Texas” when you visit.
To keep with our theme of creating a sense of place, our little group also walked around Lady Bird Lake in the morning light to practice our motion with the runners, bikers and rowers. If you need a sense of quiet and piece in the middle of the busyness of the city, definitely take a sunrise stroll around the lake. It’s beautiful!
After our morning at the lake, we mosyed on over to the local farmer’s market. The colors and the people interaction were fantastic.
After doing a little exploring in Albuquerque, I headed up to Santa Fe! Having never been to the southwestern portion of the country before, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but the South West certainly has its own unique beauty and I couldn’t wait to get started with the workshop and exploring this part of the country!
Our workshop was fast-paced, intense, but so much fun! I learned a lot from our instructors, Nevada Wier and Carlan Tapp. We also had the opportunity to explore some pretty cool spots around Santa Fe.
On our first full day, after a morning full of class, we headed off to Canyon Road. Canyon Road is a half-mile stretch where a lot of fine art galleries, shopping, and dining is located in Historic Santa Fe. After learning all about CLAP (Color, Light, Action, Pattern), we were tasked to photograph Color and Pattern with several limitations. Everything we did challenged us and definitely stretched our creativity.
After spending several hours wandering up and down the road, we headed back to the classroom for our first round of editing and critiques. I was surprised by what I was able to capture, and it was fun seeing what everyone else captured as well. We all walked the same stretch of road, and we all saw it differently. After the critique, we were provided with our evening and early morning projects – working with light!
After a delicious dinner at Blue Corn Cafe, some of the ladies and I headed down to the plaza to work with artificial light and blue hour. The next morning we rose early, like 3:45 early, to get ready and head up to Old Fort Marcy Park, which overlooks Santa Fe, to capture the sunrise. Luckily the clouds cooperated with us and we were able to get some great images. I learned later this was just an average Santa Fe sunrise. I’ll definitely have to go back and see what a “real” Santa Fe sunrise looks like!
For Day 2, we headed out to Ghost Ranch in Abiquiú (almost 50 miles north of Santa Fe). At one point in time, Georgia O’Keefe called Ghost Ranch home. It is now used as an eduction center and retreat by the Presbyterian Church. Several movies have also been filmed there including Red Dawn, Lone Ranger, Cowboys and Aliens, and 3:10 to Yuma. It’s a beautiful ranch! My little group opted to hike the Kitchen Mesa trail, about a 4.6-mile hike that loops around the massive red rock formation before climbing up a crevasse that goes to the top of the mesa. We didn’t realize the trail went up (thanks to the trail not being on the map), so we got slightly lost, and ended up taking a detour through a dried up river bed. As we were taking the trail in front of the mesa, the sun decided to finally come out and Kitchen Mesa showed off all its stunning colors! It made for some pretty incredible images!
Our third day’s assignment took place on Eaves Movie Ranch, which is just outside Santa Fe, and our task was multiple types of portraits. Built originally as a Movie Ranch, Eaves Movie Ranch has had more than 50 movies filmed there. I thought this was going to be my least favorite day, but I absolutely loved it once I got started!
After our morning of working with our models, we headed back to the classroom for our last lesson and for our critique. Not ready to leave, some of us headed back in town to grab lunch before heading our separate ways, and I would be remiss not to mention this adorable little restaurant we tried (thanks Enterprise lady for the recommendation). If you are ever in Santa Fe, you must try La Boca!