Kings Canyon is a certified favorite place for me to shoot and through the years I've bookmarked my secret places and times to create images.  When It was time to lead the summer workshop through the park, I was super exited to show this group of students the wonders of the park.  Due to several last minute cancellations our group was small, but that just meant the remaining participants received an even more immersive experience. 

We kicked off the shooting Friday evening to the likes of a stunning sunset.  As we worked through the fading light, the class was getting a feel for balancing the extreme dynamic range associated with sunsets.  By the end of the session we were even experimenting with multiple exposures for blending.

 

skies were dark enough we headed to the giant sequoias of Grant Grove.  This was one my special surprises for the group.  Experiencing the enormous ancient trees under a dark sky is truly magical.  We reviewed the keys to astro-photography; namely ISO sensitivity, lens and aperture selection, the important effects of shutter duration, and eventually moved on to a light painting tutorial.  After several demonstrations, I had the group experimenting on their own.  We spent two hours wandering under the Sequoia canopy working through compositions.  The group excelled during this session and went through the whole artistic process and captured images that were truly their own.  I was extremely proud and blown away by several of their final frames.

 

Day 2 lead us into the core of Kings Canyon.  Since the group was small we agreed that doing a longer hike to our afternoon/evening shooting destination was a possibility.  After a mid day dunk in the river, we headed for Roads End and the Paradise Valley trail.  This trail is a gateway to many popular backcountry zones and the scenery is spectacular.  In fact, Kings Canyon is often referred to as the cousin of Yosemite and this particular area proves just that.  Our 3.5 mile hike led us into a giant glacier carver canyon where glorious soft light greeted us.  I helped the students explore compositions of the stunning canyon view directly in front of us.  Cascading to our left was the Lower Kings River and it offered us plenty of options too.  After pointing out several suggestions, Zac experimented, refined, and shot until his last battery died, but not before bagging one of the weekend's best shots.  As dusk arrived we began our exit, but not before seeing 2 bear sightings!  Needless to say, nature was in full effect this day.


Kings Canyon was nothing short of stellar this round and this student images were excellent.  The diversity of terrain accompanied by clear night skies really offers a great photographic learning environment.  Hope to see you all on the next one!

- Chris