The Digital Edge - Beyond the Basics
Taking Photoshop and Your Digital Photography to


This workshop is designed to help you take full advantage of digital - both in the field with your camera, and in the digital darkroom on a computer.   Knowing what's possible in the digital darkroom affects how you shoot in the field. The digital era enables us to go beyond the limitations of cameras in many ways. For example if there's too much contrast in a situation, we can shoot several different exposures and combine them to create an HDR image closer to what our eyes can see - or even better! Similarly if we need more depth of field than what we can get using a single shot, we can shoot several images and combine them into one shot with an impressive range of focus. But there's still more that's possible on the computer. For example we can use various techniques to simulate studio lighting after the fact for nature photography!  So if the lighting is less than ideal on your subject, but you're not sure you'll be able to photograph the subject in better light another time, take the shot and then improve the lighting in Photoshop using one of the filters least used by nature photographers and/or by painting with light.
This course is designed for people who have already taken at least a basic course in Photoshop (or Lightroom or Aperture) and who are familiar with the basic operation of their camera.  We'll be spending some time in the field shooting as well as some time in the lab learning various ways to add impact to your images and take them to the next level. You'll be amazed at what you can do that's beyond the basic exposure adjustments you may be currently making!  We're going to have a lot of fun as you make your images come alive!  Everyone always wants their images to be just a bit better than the next guy's who was photographing a similar subject ... this course will give you the know-how to have the edge!

If you are comfortable with 15-25% of what
Photoshop has to offer, this workshop will expand
your knowledge into the remaining portions
that are useful to photographers


July 19 - 25, 2009
Limited to Ten Students
With 3 Instructors
Fee: $1,795 includes
Lab fees and supplies,
Food, and Lodging


The Excitement of CS4

Photoshop has been around for 11 updates, going from Photoshop 7 to Photoshop CS, and now is on its 4th version of CS. One could wonder how can this program improve any further, what more can it do, what more could I possibly want? I asked all these questions, and honestly considered not bothering with CS4 for my personal use ... until I tried it.

There are several new features that make CS4 a faster, more creative tool, and not all of these tools are intuitive, although they are easy to learn and master. And, there is no better person to help you master what you need to know than the principle instructor for this course, Ellen Anon, co-author with her son Josh, of the book Photoshop CS4 for Nature Photographers. Ellen knows Photoshop inside and out and is a masterful teacher.

But in this course we wanted to get passed the basics of learning Photoshop and instead explore its creative possibilities as they apply to digital photography. That's why we called this course 'The Next Step' because we want to take you beyond Photoshop, and beyond a straightforward recording of an image, on to a higher level of photography, one that will incorporate and implement traditional steps for making a great image even better, but also in exploring your creative side, and how Photoshop CS4 can help you with this expanded vision. It is a truly exciting concept!

Who should take this Course

This class is not for beginners but for those who want to delve deeper into the tools of Photoshop that will help you produce better pictures. You will need to know the tools, where the menus are, and how to create layers and adjustment layers.
If you feel you are comfortable with 15-25% of what Photoshop has to offer, then this workshop will expand your knowledge into the remaining portions that are useful to photographers, educators, lab technicians, and artists.
In this workshop we will approach Photoshop from a photographer's perspective, not that of a designer or a computer geek. Our emphasis will be upon practicality, what works for photographers and what methods, tools, and techniques you can use to improve your photography, both after using Photoshop and before, as you shoot images with Photoshop's powerful image editing features in mind.
Participants should have an interest in furthering their knowledge and understanding of Curves, sophisticated Sharpening techniques, selectively applying filters, Masks and Channel Masks, Color Management and Color correction, Advanced spotting techniques, and techniques for Compositing images to control depth of field.
This workshop is for the photographer who has been working in the digital darkroom but now wants to increase their skill level to the more advanced levels of Photoshop. A basic working knowledge of Photoshop CS is required.


This Advanced Level Course…

A brief bit of history first: For the past fifteen years Mary and I have been teaching our Complete Nature Photo Course and Advanced Nature Photo Course, creating what we believe to be the most intensive and complete instructional course on nature photography anywhere in the country.
In the last few years, however, as Adobe Photoshop and other imagery programs developed, and as digital cameras became more common and more sophisticated, we came to a realization - photography is changing to digital.
To some this is viewed as an abysmal turning point for photography while for others it is correctly viewed as a new frontier, one which will allow photographers to produce a whole new spectrum of images. While there is continuing debate about 'digital enhancement' or 'digital manipulation,' one thing is clear - digital imagery allows a photographer to truly capture all the tonal values of an image, something that film cannot do because of its more restricted exposure latitude. For that reason alone, digital photography has tremendous merits.
Embracing this new technology, and realizing not only the importance of Adobe Photoshop's powerful image editing capabilities but also its very real intimidation, all of our several courses are DESIGNED WITH THE PHOTOGRAPHER in mind. Although Adobe Photoshop is an extremely powerful and complex piece of software, and can seem frighteningly complex and intimidating to beginners, the fact is there are a rather limited number of tools and procedures a photographer must or should know to produce great prints, images for a web site, note cards, or even composites where two or more images are combined.
Our Digital Photography/Photoshop courses here at Hoot Hollow were designed with the photographer in mind, and are fine-tuned to provide the information you'll need to know and to master Adobe Photoshop at several skill levels - introductory or basic, intermediate, and advanced.

About the Course…

Time Frame: Photoshop can be demanding mentally, and for photographers accustomed to being afield shooting images, time spent behind a computer might be drudgery. Our time frame will hopefully alleviate some of this, by providing plenty of time at the computer while still giving you, the photographer, some time to shoot or relax, or if you wish, to use the computer lab to your full advantage.
Our formal classroom instruction will begin at 9AM and continue until noon, where we'll break for lunch (served at Hoot Hollow), and followed by an afternoon session that will continue to 5PM.
There will be a break for dinner (served, along with breakfast, at your farm bed and breakfast, the Mountain Dale Farm), followed by 'open computer lab time' most evenings back at Hoot Hollow.

In the evening, after our formal class sessions conclude before dinner, we meet again for this open computer time. Sometimes we'll continue with a confusing or hard-to-grasp Photoshop topic we covered earlier, or review principles and concepts covered earlier, or we'll simply allow you to practice and work, with the instructors in attendance to provide guidance and help. On at least one evening we'll also do a Participants' Portfolio, where we invite our students to bring along as many as 40 digital images that we'll project and share with the class. This is always fun and popular, and is often a great way of sharing ideas on photography, on places to travel, and on subjects other folks may wish to film. For those that request it we'll also critiquely review 10 images as part of this review. These evening sessions are optional (everyone always comes, however) and we try to conclude formally by 9PM to give the instructors some time off, but the lab remains open as does our meeting area and open bar where most folks gather to talk and relax after a rewarding day.

Our Participants: This course is designed for photographers who are seriously interested in furthering their knowledge of Adobe Photoshop CS and in applying their knowledge and skills in meaningful ways. Although we mentioned this earlier, this workshop is for the photographer who has been working in the digital darkroom and has a basic working knowledge of Photoshop CS. You must have some basic knowledge to attend this class - you need to know the tools and their location, where various menus are located, and. how to create layers and adjustment layers. If you are not comfortable with these requirements we'd strongly suggest that you consider taking our Intermediate Course first!
This is a course for those with experience and an understanding of Photoshop and who are now ready to further their skills to produce better images. This class is not for beginners but is for those who want to delve deeper into the tools of Photoshop that will help you produce better pictures. We will build your expertise by explaining every step and every technique as we go along, and often showing the cross-referencing Photoshop has for doing any procedure in more than one way.
Photoshop is an extremely powerful program. Users often feel as if they've mastered the program when they have learned the basics, sometimes feeling that the rest of Photoshop is unnecessary or too complicated to be worth knowing. If you are comfortable with Photoshop, if you feel that you know 15-25% of what Photoshop has to offer, then you're ready to go further, with this workshop. While there is much in Photoshop that is devoted to the graphic artist, there are a huge number of tricks and secrets that the photographer can apply.

Preparation Beforehand: Although we'll have all the material you'll need to learn Photoshop, we suspect that you'd like to work on your own images the other projects we will work on. Participants should bring with them an external portable hard drive, a thumb drive, or a personal CD or DVD with images that can be opened in Photoshop on a PC platform. Most CDs, if written in one session, should have no problem being opened on a PC if written on a MAC, or vise-versa should you write a CD at Hoot Hollow and take home with you.
Location: All of our courses are taught on the grounds of the Hoot Hollow Institute of Nature Photography, in either our studio or in our computer lab. Hoot Hollow is located in central Pennsylvania, northwest of Harrisburg, east-southeast of State College, and near RT 522 between Lewistown and Selinsgrove, Pa. The nearest full-service airport and car rental is in Harrisburg.
Lodging is at a farm vacation bed and breakfast located about six miles from Hoot Hollow. It is a 'target-rich' shooting environment in a rural area rich with landscapes, farm scenes, farm animals, and nature subjects. Breakfasts and diners are served at the farm.
Price: The tuition for the Digital Photography Courses are $1,795 and includes all instruction, lab fees and supplies, meals (you will not go hungry!), and lodging based upon double occupancy from Sunday through Friday nights. The fee does not include transportation to, during, or from the course.


In this course we will be covering the advanced features of Photoshop that will enhance your images and you will become intimately acquainted with these features. We will be working with several menus and palettes that may be new to you, or at least intimidating. We'll be working Curves, the History Palette, Channels, Filters, Masks, and Adjustment Layers.

Learn the power of Curves, How to use the History Palette for more than just 'undos,'Learn sophisticated Sharpening Techniques,Advanced Spotting Techniques,Learn the power of Adjustment Layers,Learn how to selectively apply Filters, Color Corrections, and Contrast Controls without making time-consuming selections. We will cover Layer Masks and Channel Masks and Color Management.We'll cover the techniques necessary for Compositing images to control depth of field and to provide exposures beyond what film could ever hold, truly giving you the ability to capture, or to create, the images that YOU ACTUALLY SEE. We'll discuss Production Features such as Keyboard shortcuts, creating Actions for repetitive tasks and streamlining workflow. We'll also address the individual needs of student's Workflow.

Most importantly, we will be photographing during this course as well, and our location provides a wide variety of photographic subjects from macro and flowers to forest landscapes and waterfalls, from reptiles to livestock. We'll be with you on your photographic quests, suggesting and helping with your technique, and always thinking about the digital potential we will cover and exploit in our classroom hours.

Your Course Syllabus, in brief…

Sunday: Welcome dinner and orientation. Introduction to Hoot Hollow and a review of the objectives for the week's course.
Monday through Friday: In the field photography and Computer Classroom Lab time with Ellen Anon and Joe McDonald where we will cover the topics listed above. Depending upon the field work time, the Lab time is generally from 9-5 with a lunch break, served here at Hoot Hollow.
Saturday: Question and answer session followed by graduation. Conclude by 11AM.

Please note - the exact, daily itinerary is subject to some change and modification based upon the group's progress. All of the above topics will be covered, but we do not want to be held to a fixed timetable - your comprehension and understanding is more important to us than a set schedule. If some topics require our teaching during the evening, we'll do so.


About Your Instructors

Joe McDonald has been a full-time professional wildlife and nature photographer since 1983. He is the author of six books on wildlife photography and another on African Wildlife, as well as a how-to video produced with his wife, Mary Ann, on Photographing on Safari. His work has appeared in every major nature and wildlife publication published in North America. Along with operating their own stock photography business, Joe is represented by over a dozen stock photo agencies worldwide, including Corbis, Animals Animals, Auscape, Okapia, and others.
In addition to maintaining an active and informative website,, Joe is columnist for OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHER, writing the 'Big Game' column, and Joe and his wife Mary Ann are Field Correspondents for NATURE'S BEST Magazine, and KEYSTONE OUTDOORS, writing a photography column, and Joe Van Os's web magazine, where they write a regular column on wildlife and nature photography.
For over fifteen years Joe and Mary Ann have been teaching photography courses and leading photography tours and workshops. Their very popular photo tours and safaris have them afield for over twenty-five weeks each year. Joe has worked with Photoshop for several years, mainly for creating sales promotional material and for web site use. Now, with the advent of digital cameras, he is using Photoshop nearly daily. He is a member of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals.

Ellen Anon is a freelance photographer who specializes in all types of outdoor photography. She is the author of the highly acclaimed 'Photoshop CS4 for Nature Photographers (as well as the similar titles dealing with CS2 and CS3!). Her images are poetic statements, vivid in color and intent, imaginative in their portrayal, and comforting in their beauty, and are included in collections in several countries. Ellen earned a Ph.D. in psychology and is a clinical psychologist who evolved into a professional photographer in the mid 1990's. She is represented by a stock agency in Japan and her photos have been used in numerous books (including Sierra Club's "Mother Earth"), articles, calendars, posters, promotional items and billboards. In addition she has been Art Morris's teaching assistant for several years on his larger bird photography workshops.
In recent years she has become increasingly involved with the various aspects of digital photography from scanning film images to using digital SLR cameras to using Photoshop to enable her to make her gallery prints at home. She has attended courses at the Lepp Institute of Digital Imaging. She has begun sharing the knowledge she has acquired via individualized instruction and now these workshops, so that other photographers can make the transition into the digital world with ease and fun. Ellen is a member of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals.

Rick Holt has been involved with photography for over twenty years. In the last three years he has become a Photoshop junkie. After taking courses at the local art schools and colleges he found that many Photoshop courses were too oriented towards graphic artists as opposed to the photographer. Feeling unfulfilled, he took a workshop with George Lepp which as just the beginning. Rick now teaches "Photoshop for Photographers" classes at local colleges in the Lehigh Valley. He continues to attend workshops throughout the country to "keep up." In the last year he has attended workshops with industry leaders like Tim Grey, Sean Duggen, and Dave Cross. Rick believes that the digital darkroom has brought the creativity and control, once recognized by black and white photographers, to any photographer with a computer. You can go beyond the limits of film and recreate what you saw and felt when you recorded the image. In Rick's past life he was co-founder and CEO of Fiberoptic Medical Products.
Rick is a member of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals.

Our Educational Commitment - a note from Joe McDonald

If you've read the above biographies, you'll see that all of us are dedicated photographers that are interested in sharing our knowledge and helping people. I've been involved in teaching my entire adult life, from teaching assistantships in graduate school to a six-year stint as a high school biology teacher before starting my career as a wildlife photographer and photo workshop instructor. Ellen has taught college level courses as well as individual instruction, and has been assisting Art Morris with his birding workshops for years. Rick is actively teaching Photoshop right now, and feels, as both Ellen and I do, that knowing Photoshop will take you (quoting from Rick's bio) "beyond the limits of film and recreate what you saw and felt when you recorded the image."

I intend to make our Digital Courses every bit as successful, in terms of the knowledge conveyed, the quality of the experience, the intensity, and, just as we've done with our CNPC and ANPC courses here at Hoot Hollow.