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The T3sk3y Defenestrator

Three Days with Jon Cornforth – the Prelude

We can sleep and eat when we get home – Jon’s Travel Photography Philosophy

Both of these quotes (supplied by Jon Cornforth in the days leading up to our photo adventure) proved prophetic during my three day private nature photography expedition to the Olympic Peninsula.

My wife decided to give me a trip to a photography seminar after listening to me talk for months about how I’d like to go on one. I roped my friend Ross Simpson – another pinball and photography nut – into joining me on the trip.

We started looking for seminars and got a little disappointed to find that most of the spring seminars were either too long (a full week) or already full. My problem was that I had a very narrow window of opportunity between when the weather improved for the spring and the birth of my second child (forecast for May 5th). After doing a lot of digging, Ross found Jon Cornforth‘s advertisement for private lessons on – and he was able to accommodate our desires and our time frame.

I was specifically looking for a very hands-on trip where most of the time was spent out shooting and learning. I didn’t want one where we spent the morning in a classroom learning technique before going out for an hour or two on a field trip where we’d get dumped off and picked up later. I also wanted something that was a little more advanced – I know how to use my camera and understand basic photographic principles.

After an initial “get to know you” phone call, we were convinced that a private lesson was worth the additional cost over a group seminar and that Jon was the right guy. I think it was his philosophy of focusing our efforts to get one perfect image rather than a bunch of average images that hooked me.

Jon gave us a shopping list as well as a reading assignment to complete prior to arriving. Our reading list was:

I bought all but the large format book – being a digital shooter, I couldn’t quite see the point. All the books were pretty good – but I think the Hill & Wolfe book was the best.

For a gear list, we had to be sure to have the following gear in addition to our camera:

  • A wide angle lens (check!)
  • A sturdy tripod and ballhead
  • Polarizing filters
  • Graduated neutral density filters

Of those items, I only had the wide angle lens. I had to do a lot of research to figure out what gear to get.  I ended up getting a Bogen 190XPROB tripod with a Manfrotto 486RC2 ballhead, a B+W 77mm Slim MRC polarizer, and a set of HiTech GND filters.

Jon gave us a few possible destinations to choose from – and we chose to go to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.  Since we wanted to have power to recharge our laptops and our cameras, we elected to stay in Jon’s camper in a campground with electricity rather than roughing it camping or staying in a hotel.  Jon made us reservations in the campground in La Push – right on first beach.

Jon also handled all food arrangements.  This is when I started to see Jon’s Travel Philosophy in motion.  Instead of wasting time in restaurants, Jon did all the grocery shopping so we could eat on the road or in the campground.  Aside from banning “Super-Fruity-Choco-Sugar-Bombs” from the breakfast menu – he took our food requests and lined up lots of yummy things of his own.

In the next installment – the trip begins!

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