Adolfo Briceno's before and after
Adolfo was one of the seven students for our first Intermediate Course.
At the bottom of this page are some of our students final works,
as well as a Class Report detailing our first "Unleashing the Power of Photoshop"

 CS2 has several incredible new features, including 'the Bridge,' HDR composites, new filters, and more. This is the perfect course to update and upgrade your skills!

Photoshop CS II: Unleashing the Power of Photoshop CS2
Applied Photoshop for the Photographer -

July 30-August 5, 2006




For students with a basic understanding of Photoshop
desiring both to advance to a higher level and to utilize your skills
to maximize the potential of your photographs and your creativity.

Limited to Nine Students
With 3 Instructors
Fee: $1,595 includes
Lab fees and supplies,
Food, and Lodging


Who should take this Course

This course is designed for those who wish to advance to a higher level of skill in Adobe Photoshop CS2 in order to make prints of higher quality, and to utilize Photoshop to maximize the potential of their photographs to convey both what they really saw and truly felt. Participants should have an interest in furthering their knowledge and understanding of image and color enhancement via some of the controls found in the Adjustment Menu (Curves, Color Balance, etc.) as well as learning more about the power of Levels, Channels, Masks, and Layers.
This course will have particular relevance if you wish to apply your Photoshop skills to your photography, Not only will we be showing you better ways to improve your print images, and to save time doing so, but we'll be showing you ways to make your photographs reflect what you saw or envisioned -- images that may have been beyond the capabilities of the camera to capture in a single shot. Limitations of depth of field or exposure latitude or angle of view can restrict a traditional image, constraining reality. You'll learn the techniques to convey reality, while increasing file size for even more detailed prints.

If you have a basic understanding of Photoshop and feel thay you know your way around the program well enough to do some image adjustments -- color corrections, sharpening, sizeing, etc., and you're ready to increase your personal data base on Photoshop's more sophisticated imagery controls, our intermediate course is for you.

If you realize the creative limitations traditional photography imposes - in terms of exposure latitude, angles of coverage, depths of field dilemmas, and you're ready to expand your photographic horizons, you're ready for this course.

If you want to be more creative with your photographs and make them more expressive, this course is for you.

The Intermediate 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, we are offering several courses DESIGNED WITH THE PHOTOGRAPHER in mind. Although Adobe Photoshop CS2 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 are 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 techniques.

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 initially seem to be drudgery. Our schedule 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.
Our Format: The Intermediate Course is divided into several segments that will make learning fun and palatable and extremely productive. Our morning session will be devoted to lecture and demonstration, which will also include hand's on practice by our students. Afternoon sessions will include instruction and practice time, although the exact schedule will be flexible to accommodate the needs of our students. If more time is needed to demonstrate the powers of Curves, or to illustrate Blending, or whatever, we'll take the required time and not be held to a strict timetable.
Some topics are simple to cover and to demonstrate, and for students to practice. Others, we realize, are more complex and may require several small doses before the concept is fully realized. Repetition and practice are the keys to fully understanding a complex topic and we'll be giving you plenty of both. Some of the practice will initially be on examples we provide, but you will have plenty of opportunities to practice on your own images as well.
If you are familiar with how we run our Complete Nature Photo Course you know our dedication and commitment to your understanding of our subjects, and we'll be following the same philosophy and teaching methods of the CNPC in all of our courses on Photoshop.
Breakfast is served at 8AM at the farm, which will give participants time in the morning to photograph, if they wish, or to review handouts and reading material before class. We will have at least one 'break out session' to shoot that you'll be able to work with, digitally, during the course of the week.
Evenings, most days, will be 'free' in the sense that students can come and go, to work in the computer lab (which is likely) or to simply crash (which is possible) on any given day. Since everyone attending will be photographers, we will devote one evening, and perhaps a part of another, to slide, print, or digital image sharing - a slide show of some of our work and THAT OF OUR PARTICIPANTS. We'll be covered with all mediums - 35mm slide projection and digital projection (you'll need a CD of your work compatible with Power Point or your own laptop).
In short, between our class time, your practice time, the intermittent shooting times, and our slide sessions, you will have an extremely complete week. One added advantage our CNPC and ANPC students have enjoyed and commented upon was the unity of our groups, since all meals are shared either at the Mountain Dale Farm or at Hoot Hollow. These informal group times provide the opportunity for a tremendous amount of information sharing - on other workshops, on techniques and equipment, on places to photograph, and other diverse topics.
Our Participants: This course is designed for photographers who are seriously interested in furthering their knowledge of Adobe Photoshop 7 and to begin applying their knowledge and skills in meaningful ways. Photographers who use Photoshop Elements or an earlier version of Photoshop will benefit, of course, but we'll be teaching the latest, state-of-the-art developments which we suspect all digital-oriented photographers will eventually incorporate. For that reason, our teaching will be centered around Photoshop 7 or the latest upgrade of that program.
This is a course for those with experience and a basic understanding of Photoshop and who are now ready to further their skills to produce better images. Further, we see the need to teach ways that your Photoshop skills can be put to use, either through the making of better prints, the production of promotional images for editorial use, and for digital presentations with programs like Power Point 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. 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 to make prints or to do some of the other projects we will work on. Participants should bring with them either 35mm slides that can be scanned and imported into the computers, a Photo CD prepared by Kodak or others, or a personal CD with images that can be opened in Photoshop on a PC platform. Most CDs, if written in one session in ISO 9660 format, should have no problem being opened on a PC even if written on a MAC, or vise-versa should you write a CD at Hoot Hollow and take the CD home with you.
We'll also have a few photography homework assignments that we'd love to have you do beforehand, although these shoots can also be done during the course to be imported into the computer for some of the teaching exercises.
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 $1,595 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 the Intermediate Course we will be covering the tools, menus, and palettes that will enhance your images and you will become intimately acquainted with same. Much, but not all, of our work will be working with various color and exposure adjustments, via Levels, Curves, Hue/Saturation, and Color Balance. We will also be working with various Selection methods, Blending Modes, Masks, both Quick Mask and most importantly, Layer Masks, and Channels. The Text tool is important for some print applications - like sales promos, and may be useful in PowerPoint, too, and we'll cover the nuisances of this tool. Further, we'll be applying this knowledge to produce better prints, to produce sales promotional material for editorial use, and for incorporating into digital presentations. Through lecture, drill, quiz, practice, and application in an interactive, hands on computer environment you will learn the tools and techniques required to master these skills in Photoshop in a satisfying and productive manner. In short, you will learn what you need to know to advance your skills in Photoshop CS2 to cover the objectives stated above as well as to apply your skills in other mediums. Some of the topics we'll cover include:

Preparing Your Photoshop Environment - We'll do a quick review of Photoshop's tools, with a special emphasis upon the tools, palettes, and menus necessary for a deeper understanding of Photoshop. We'll cover memory allotment and RAM, monitors, monitor calibration, and color management, setting up Photoshop's preferences for maximum efficiency and workflow, and desktop arrangement of your workspace.
Basic Image Editing - We'll review the basics everyone needs to know, assuring ourselves that we're all 'on the same page.' We'll cover image sizing and cropping. We'll be reviewing cropping and sizing, switching modes, and basic color enhancement and selection features.
Color Enhancement - Regardless of the method a digital image is imported into a computer, there are usually some adverse effects. Color is one of these, and we'll cover a variety of methods that your images can be improved and your color perfected. We'll be exploring the power of Curves and color channels, Levels, Color Balance, and Hue/Saturation. There are multiple ways to improve color, and we'll be showing, and you'll be practicing, with several. With Photoshop, there are often several, and sometimes many, ways to approach and to solve a problem. Some methods are more practical or intuitive for some students, while others find another technique more useful. We'll expose you to a number of different methods so you can choose what's best for you.
Layers and Masks - Image enhancement is often best done in small measures, or in ways that can be corrected easily. We'll thoroughly cover the Layer menu and the Layer Palette and Adjustment Layers, as well as covering selection methods for using Layer Masks and Channels. We'll cover blending modes and the use of brushes to fine-tune selections for masking and adjustment.
Text with Images - For personal greeting cards, business cards, or sales promotional sheets text is an obvious necessity. Photoshop 7 makes using text easy, and we'll cover both text and using layer effects to enhance and jazz up your text effects.
Expanding your Photographic Horizons - Film has limitations that restrict our abilities to capture the world as we see it. Photoshop's tools allow us to capture reality as it exists - using the digital darkroom to create images that are otherwise difficult or impossible to obtain. You'll be working on combining two or more images of varying exposure value to make the perfectly exposed image and you may be combining multiple images to create panoramic images not possible with conventional photography. You'll do several projects using either our images, or your own, to combine images with a wide range of exposure values and also for a panoramic perspective.
Printing and Writing CDs - Of course, you will be outputting your images as you make fine prints and write CDs, and we'll review all the procedures required for making great copies of both.

Your Course Syllabus, in brief…

Sunday: Welcome dinner and orientation. Introduction to Hoot Hollow and a presentation of the objectives for the week's course.
Monday: Review of Photoshop settings, color calibration, and basic workflow. Then, on to looking at the power of Levels in detail -- going beyond the basic adjustments in Levels.
Tuesday: We'll begin by learning when to turn to Curves and how to make this seemingly complex tool work for you. Then we will turn our attention to numerous ways of making selections and more workwith Masking, including Layer Masks and the Quick Mask Mode, as well as extractions.
Wednesday: We will continue talking about Masking techniques along with Enhancing Color., Levels, Curves, Hue/Saturation, and Color Balance. Then we will be putting it all together to start making pictures that accurately represent what you can see with your eyes but may not be able to photograph in a single shot.
Thursday: We will talk about a variety of ways to Sharpen your images, as well as working with Text, Layer effects, and the Cloning and Healing Brush tools. In the afternoon we will have some review exercises.
Friday: We will demonstrate a variety of ways to make your photographs more expressive and creative. In the afternoon you will work on some of the images you brought with you or that you photographed here at Hoot Hollow while your instructors are available for help and consultation.
Saturday: We will have a show of your finished images that you made during the week and, particularly, made on Friday.Graduation follows! 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.

A Personal Note …

On a trip to Chile in December of 2003 I used a 35mm camera and the full potential of Adobe Photoshop. When shooting landscapes exposure values between foregrounds and backgrounds were often extreme, and far beyond the capability of film to record accurately, even with graduated neutral density filters. Sometimes the distance was too great for depth of field to cover both a foreground and background. In traditional photography, these scenes that I could enjoy with my eyes and senses were not recordable. Yet the scenes, the views, the subjects all exist in reality, but film, with traditional photographic methods, could not record the reality!
On this trip I shot for Photoshop on many occasions, taking two exposures of the same scene to incorporate into Photoshop later to produce an image similar, or identical, to what I really saw. I shot multiple images with telephoto to create panoramic views of scenes I'd normally be forced to cover with a wide-angle.
To quote from one of my friends on this Chile trip: "…I think the landscape images will be significantly boosted by application of the "digital blending technique" that you so kindly put forth to us. I consider this to be a ground breaking technique that will be as important to me as when several years ago, at Hoot Hollow, you explained how manual exposure and middle gray fit …"
Photoshop is not just image manipulation. It is a tool that will broaden our vision as photographers and one that all of us should learn to incorporate into our future work.

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. Her images are poetic statements, vivid in color and intent, imaginative in their portrayal 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, group presentations, 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 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 importantly, the amiability and fun, that we've done with our CNPC and ANPC courses here at Hoot Hollow.

Contact us by e-mail.

Or FAX us at: (717) 543-6423.

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Below is the classroom report I did following our very first Intermediate Course, as well as a follow-up testimonial from one of our participants. I think it will give you a great idea about what students learned, the fun they had, and the entire classroom environment.



TOP ROW: Bill Kemmerer did a colorization of a B&W -- originally a color image and David Shollenberger did a promo collage of the bluebirds living in his neighborhood. SECOND ROW: Howie Schwartz did a tremendous amount of color correction for an image of a northern lake, and Mary Thompson did a promo piece of a beautiful but simple landscape of a tree in Lancaster, Pa. THIRD ROW: Rich Fisher did plenty of color correction, cloning, and dodging to clean up a somewhat distracting screech owl, and Wayne Lasch (who did our intro page) followed similar techniques for his tricolored heron chick. OK, I did the last 'promo' sheet -- kind of a cross between a glamour poster for the old Vincent Price movie, The Fly, and a .... well, I had fun, anyway!

If pictures tell a thousand words then the above portfolio is worth pages of text. Our second course offered by our Digital Nature Institute here at Hoot Hollow was a resounding success. We had all levels of skill -- some fairly new in PS, some far advanced, but everyone advanced to all new skills. As mentioned elsewhere, Ellen Anon was our primary instructor for the Intermediate Course, with Rick Holt acting as the monitor and troubleshooter for students with problems and assisting Ellen with alternatives and suggestions. I played Devil's Advocate, following along as a student and asking questions that I'd always been foggy about or had had trouble with, as well as helping Ellen and Rick with personal assistance.

Our lab is set up with PC/Windows computers with 1 gig of RAM, 120 gig of Hard Drive, 19" flat screen CRT monitors, all networked together with a server where images can be downloaded, uploaded, and shared. Each student has a memory card reader and shares a printer, and Epson and Canon both supplied printers (Epson 1280s and Canon S9000s) that allowed students to see the color differences, speeds, and qualilty both delivered.

The course began with an introduction to the power of digital imagery and Photoshop by Ellen Anon, the primary instructor for this course, where Ellen demonstrated the true "unleashing of the power of Photoshop" by several demonstrations of before and after imagery. That was enough for our first evening! On the following days our students combined classroom time with a little shooting time to work on the sequential lessons Ellen presented, including a contrast/masking and a panorama scene. However, most of the time was spent behind the computer -- students arriving at 9AM, working until noon when we broke for lunch the Hoot Hollow way, with Mary and her team of cooks serving a great lunch served on our porch. One of the advantages, we feel, that Hoot Hollow offers is simply the fact that everything is self-contained and included -- all meals, drinks, etc., both at the Digital Nature Institute here at Hoot Hollow and also where they spend the night at the Mountain Dale Farm. We feel that the camaraderie and 'family' that developes from sharing meals (the group eats breakfast and dinner at the Farm, too) is an important aspect of the entire experience. Students get a chance to unwind, of course, but to also ask questions and discuss PS or photography outside of class. Most evenings concluded with our 'open bar' where we gathered around, drinking soft drinks, wine, beer, or (on two special occasions) Mary's Margaritas!

After the hour lunch break we return to the lab for more demonstrations, practice, demonstrations, and practice. On some days the afternoon session ran until nearly5:30PM (that's dinner at the farm!), especially when students were involved with a project they'd just photographed with their digital cameras. After a dinner break, students returned to work on what they've learned, with both Ellen, Rick, and me (Joe) in attendance and offering help. This was the first time I've worked as closely with other instructors other than with Mary and it was, to put it simply, just great. Each of us evolved into our most effective roles and all of us were able to provide viewpoints, alternatives, and applications that hammered home the principles Ellen was teaching. Students usually stayed until 9 or10PM working, but the social hour often extended long after! It made for long days that were broken up by various tasks and great sharing -- both of photography and of life.

The key to Photoshop is realizing that there are several, or multiple, ways to arrive at your destination and while they all work, one or more may work best for you. By offering (at times) two or more methods, and presenting the reasons why, our students received a pretty thorough treatment on the how's and the why's of any procedure offered. Having three instructors available for one-on-one sessions was invaluable, too.

I must close by simply thanking our first participants to our Intermediate Course-- they were a great bunch, and my team of phenomenal instructors -- Ellen Anon and Rick Holt -- who did a truly professional job. Long hours, tremendous patience, great senses of humor, clear thinking and delivery ... it sounds like bragging but they were sooo good I just have to share my excitement.

Next year we'll be offering at least two Intermediate-level Courses -- and we hope to see YOU here!

And last - a Testimonial from a participant of our last class....

Thanks Joe, Ellen and Rick. You really have helped me understand Photoshop.
I have had the chance to trace back all what we have learned thanks to Ellens's detailed book and my notes.
Thanks to Mary's image of the Yellow-Crowned Night Heron I am able to share with you some of the step-by-step enhancements that I have made using the techniques that we all have learned at the Intermediate Photoshop Course.

1. Selected the bird using the magnetic lasso, then inversed the selection to work on the background first.
2. Made some minor color adjustments with the Hue/Saturation and brought the lightness down.
3. Reselected the image and inversed the selection to work on the bird using the .... (levels and adjustment layers).
4. Cropped the image
5. Flipped the image horizontally.
Adolfo Briceno