Tag Archives: Florence Photographic Workshop

Gilmore car museum – Lake Michigan Lighthouse workshop Aug 9-12

The hood ornaments of cars has have fascinated me since I was a kid and going to car museums is a fun way to bring back a little nostalgia while I photograph these works of art.

The Gilmore car museum on the west side of Michigan has one of the country’s best collection of antique cars and I am looking fwd to visiting the Gilmore which will be one of the stops on my Lake Michigan lighthouse workshop this August.

Gilmore Car Museum

Gilmore Car Museum

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Traveling takes you to extraordinary places bringing home memories that last a lifetime

When traveling I find what is ordinary for Europeans in their ancient villages, is extraordinary. Often in Europe I have rounded a corner and entered into a wonderful piazza and hear an opera singer or talented cellist playing their instruments. When I enter a piazza where these talented entertainers are performing for a small audience I capture the memory with my cameras and buy their CD’s so I can listen to them while working on images. The performers and beautiful places are more vivid in my memories as the years pass. Having a visually beautiful piazza or fountain combined with the music leaves a lasting memory. The memory of  this young woman singing opera in front of the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence is one the comes back to me often.

Young woman singing opera in front of the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence.

Young woman singing opera in front of the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence.

To edit this image my basic processing was done in Lightroom and then exported file to Topaz B&W Effects 2 and created a black and white image with a look of a hand black and white.

Topaz B&W Effects 2

Topaz B&W Effects 2

Manarola Tapestry – Cinque Terra

Each year one of the most important art fairs for an art fair artist is the Ann Arbor art show which starts on the 16th of July. For me I always try to bring out new work that I think is not only artistic but marketable. While looking over some of the images that I captured while teaching last Octobers Italian workshops I liked this image which shows the tapestry of homes from Manarola in the Cinque Terre along Italy’s rugged Ligurian coastline.

Tapestry Manarola Cinque Terre

Tapestry Manarola Cinque Terre

My booth is in front of Real Seafood on Main Street #198

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Tumble Weed – Antelope Canyon – Topaz Labs Complete Collection $199.99

During the Southwest workshop I was able to spend time in Antelope canyon on the Navajo reservation near Lake Powell Arizona. The area is laced with wonderful slot canyons where the light dances off textured sandstone walls painting them with muted colors that the Southwest is famous for and gave Georgia O’Keeffe the subjects for the painting that made her famous. When you are standing in these canyons it gives me the feeling that I am in another world and I cannot wait until I return to explore more of our canyons and parks.

Tumble Weed - Antelope Canyon - Processed with Topaz Software

Tumble Weed – Antelope Canyon – Processed with Topaz Software

After I captured this image I made a few adjustments in Camera raw before opening it into Photoshop.

Tumble Weed - Antelope Canyon - Camera raw

Tumble Weed – Antelope Canyon – Camera raw

Next I created a layer and opened it in Topaz Labs Clarity and in the Landscape Pallet I added the Sunny Day setting.

Tumble Weed - Antelope Canyon - Clarity Sunny Day

Tumble Weed – Antelope Canyon – Clarity Sunny Day

Then I added sharpening by adding Topaz Labs InFocus

Tumble Weed - Antelope Canyon - Topaz Labs InFocus

Tumble Weed – Antelope Canyon – Topaz Labs InFocus

The right side of the tumbleweed was a little light so I selected a circular gradient layer and used Multiply in the Blend mode to darken the light area. This technique is similar to selective burning I used countless times in the darkroom.

Tumble Weed - Antelope Canyon - Circular Gradient Layer

Tumble Weed – Antelope Canyon – Circular Gradient Layer

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Siena Farmhouse – Processed using Photoshop Elements 9 and Adobe Camera Raw 6.1


Last fall I spent 2 weeks teaching Photographic Workshops in the Chianti area of Tuscany, Italy. We stayed at a Agriturismo that was  an working vineyard south of Florence, each day we started with a sunrise shoot then head back to the Agriturismo for breakfast. After breakfast we would explore nearby villages for more images and a little shopping. I find that my best images are normally captured at sunrise and sunset except when you are lucky enough to have scattered showers thought the day. When everything is drenched from a fresh rain it enhances the colors. If you are luck enough to have partial overcast, as in this image, your colors are not washed out from the bright sunlight. The mix of blue sky and clouds helped to give this image it’s finishing touch.


Raw CR2 File

Siena Farmhouse – CR2 Raw image

Siena Farmhouse – CR2 Raw image


This histogram looks good but the image looks a little dark. In the Basics Pallet, I  start with the Exposure slider by moving the slider to +0.20 to brighten the image. This changes the Histogram by shifting the information to the left and created a little clipping in the highlights. To compensate for the clipping, I shifter the Recovery slider to 11 which shifted the highlighted area back to the right and eliminates the clipping.


The next step is to adjust for White Balance, this can be done by manually adjusting the Temperature and Tint sliders or using the dropdown menu. Using the dropdown menu to check the presets, with this image I liked the Daylight preset of 5500 Kelvin and +10, this added the warmth you normal see during daylight hours. 


The next adjustment I made was Clarity which adjusts midtone contrast. This is a wonderful adjustment which brought out crisper detail in this vineyard image. With the Vibrance slider  I added +40  to bring out the saturation in the midtones. I love this adjustment, it adds a much subtler saturation than you can achieve with the Saturation slider. In this case it enhanced the blues in the sky and richened the tones throughout the image.

Basic Pallet

Siena Farmhouse – Camera Raw 6.1 Elements 9 Basic Pallet

Siena Farmhouse – Camera Raw 6.1 Elements 9 Basic Pallet

The next adjustment I made was in the Camera Calibration pallet, to bring out the colors in this fall vineyard image. Using the Camera Profile dropdown menu I selected Camera Landscape, to bring out all the colors I remembered seeing in this wonderful image near Siena in Tuscany.

Camera Calibration

Siena Farmhouse – Camera Calibration – Camera Landscape

Siena Farmhouse – Camera Calibration – Camera Landscape

The Last adjustment I made was in the Detail Pallet. Right click on your screen and bring the image to 100%. By bringing the image to 100% you will be able to see the effect the sharpening is having on the image. On this image I set the Sharpening Amount at 100 with the pixel Radius at 1.1 and the Detail at 25, which are the setting I use 90% of the time.  With most images I find that if I set the Amount between 75 and 150 with the pixel Radius between .75 and 1.5 and the Detail amount at 25, I achieve my best results.

Detail Pallet


Siena Farmhouse – Detail Pallet – Sharpening

Siena Farmhouse – Detail Pallet – Sharpening


With just a few minuets of processing in Adobe Camera Raw 6.1 in Elements 9 we have a printable image that will bring out the beauty of  this Siena Farmhouse.

Adobe Camera Raw 6.1 - Elements 9 - Siena Farmhouse

Adobe Camera Raw 6.1 - Elements 9 - Siena Farmhouse

 I will work with this image for several more hours to bring out the colors and clone out antennas and other distractions but for all practical purposes this image is ready for printing.

Pisa Chianti and Rome Workshop Tour – Oct. 24-31 2012

        Pisa, Chianti and Rome 

                      Oct. 24-31 2012

                      $795.00, Limited to 8 Students

Tuscan Vineyard

Chianti Farmhouse in the Mist

Pisa famous for its Leaning Tower and the Piazza dei Miracoli is a great place to spend our first day capturing images. In the Heart of the Tuscan region we’ll be capturing images while staying in the Chianti countryside that boasts impressive Etruscan roots, with time for wine tasting a cooking class and some Photoshop work. Ancient Rome beckons to be photographed from the Vatican to the Colosseum and so much more. Our field time will be spent on composition and proper use of light. We will spend some time processing images using Photoshop and Nik Software to help you with your processing skills. There is a training video at my website that you will be able to reference when you are processing images at home. Our goal is to teach you how to capture beautiful images and explore how to create the images that continue to inspire.

Workshop Information

In these workshops we will capture landscape images that excite and move, images that trace where the mind has been and form a unique vision that will last a lifetime. These workshops are about applying new skills learned daily and sharing our collective knowledge to take that next step in a supportive environment. We hold a deep passion for the places we travel to, and will help you explore how to create the images that continue to inspire. What takes time to create, time respects, good images don’t just happen. Most often, our best images lie just beyond our greatest failures. We believe through photography and an open mind the best is yet to come.

Paul James is a published, award winning photographer from Southeastern Michigan who offers the best in personalized photographic instruction on every level; whether you’re just beginning or a seasoned veteran. Paul takes great pride in his work, and this translates to some great teaching techniques. He has vast experience in both the artistic and technical aspects of photography; he is adept in Digital, Medium and Large format Cameras, which includes a large range of camera brands and models. He welcomes photographers of all formats and skill levels; however, this class will be geared for the digital photographer.

Brief Itinerary:

Day One–5pm get together in Pisa to go over equipment and if time allows Photograph at sunset.
Day Two–Photograph at sunrise in Pisa and drive to farmhouse in Chianti for afternoon and sunset.
Day Three–Five: Photograph at Sunrise and Travel to Rome for afternoon and evening images.
Day Six–seven: Photograph at sunrise and sunset and when the light is right.
Day eight: Photograph Sunrise and go over final thoughts before saying goodbye or taking guided tours with Steve and Grazia where we will be capturing more images.

• Learn tips and tricks used by the professionals to create impressive photographs.
• Discover new viewpoints, interesting details which might be overlooked, see the world
• Learn to sense the direction of light and how to capture the magic moment.
• Improve your photographic technique.
• Learn your camera and how to get the most out of it.
• Have fun!

A Journey shared is truly a Journey remembered

The October 2012 Florence Tuscan and Roma photographic workshops trips were a great success. Each groups came home with some wonderful images and some wonderful memories. I have been posting some of the new images on the website and hope that you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed taking them. Many thanks to my two wonderful friends Steve and Grazia who helped make the Rome workshop very special. For anyone traveling to Roma for a holiday, taking one of their personalized day tours is a must.

St Augustine Harbor

On the drive to ArtiGras in Jupiter Florida for my first art festival of the year I as able to visit my good friend and fine art jeweler Paul Albritton at his studio in St. Augustine, our country’s oldest city.  I only had time for dinner and capture a few morning images before leaving for the show but hope to explore the city more this winter and perhaps schedule a workshop there in the near future.

St Augustine-Sunrise

St Augustine-Sunrise


St Augustine-Awakening

Two Sleeping Travelers

St Augustine-Lighthouse

St Augustine-Lighthouse


The three images from St Augustine have been processed using Color Efex Pro™ 3.0  one of the Nik Software programs. On the Lighthouse I added a texture effect to give it an Old Time photo effect.

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