McDonald Digital Nature Institute

The Complete

 Please read some of our testimonials for our Courses

Introduction to Lightroom 2
Importing, Organizing, Editing, Processing and Showcasing Digital Files

For digital photographers wanting an easier way …
Learn how to integrate Lightroom into your digital workflow, and when to turn to Photoshop for the best results

May 31-June 6, 2009
September 12-18, 2009

Limited to Ten Students
With 2 Instructors
Fee: $1,795 includes
All supplies,
Spectacular Food, and Lodging
at our Photographically-rich Farm B&B

Who should take this Course

This course is designed for those looking for an easier way to deal with most of their digital images. Lightroom is built from the ground up for digital photographers and provides an intuitive interface to enable you to accomplish many of your routine tasks such as organizing and editing your digital files as well as getting them ready for output including slideshows, web usage, and printing. Lightroom provides a powerful RAW converter through which you can make many of the global adjustments an image might need. And you can use the identical tools and sliders on your TIFF, JPEG, PSD or DNG files! In this course we'll teach you how to use all the features of Lightroom as well as when and how to turn to Photoshop for adjustments that can't be made in Lightroom.
Of course every time a major new piece of software is released it means a learning curve for those photographers wanting to use it. We'll be modifying our tried and true classroom workshop techniques, that we've been using with great success for years with our Photoshop workshops, to make it easy for you to learn Lightroom.
This course will help you bypass those frustrating moments of feeling lost as you try to learn a new program. We'll take you step by step through Lightroom so that you become confident in your ability to use it successfully. We'll help you use Lightroom to its full advantage and expedite your workflow, so that you'll quickly be back in the field making more photos!
If your goal is to have an easier way to manage your digital workflow, this course is for you!

The Course

A brief bit of history first: For the past nineteen 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.
In addition to our hugely popular Digital Nature Photography Course and Photoshop Courses, we are adding this new Lightroom course. The digital evolution is ongoing and to stay on top of it photographers must modify their workflow as new tools become available. For many, Lightroom will be a welcome addition to their workflow making it easier to do all the daily tasks associated with digital imagery.
All our Digital Photography/Photoshop courses here at Hoot Hollow were designed with the photographer in mind, and are fine-tuned to clearly present the information you need to know to master the software and enhance your photography.


About the Course…

Time Frame: Learning new software can be demanding mentally, and for photographers accustomed to being out in the field 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 or so. 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' every evening back at Hoot Hollow. Our instructors are always at the Lab, so even during our open computer time in the evening we'll be helping and assisting you, as well as reviewing.

Our Format: Our Format: The Lightroom Course is divided into several segments that will make learning fun and palatable and extremely productive. Our morning sessions will be devoted to lecture and demonstration, which will also include hands on practice by our students. Afternoon sessions will include instruction and practice time, although the exact format will be flexible to accommodate the needs of our students. 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. If you are familiar with how we run our Digital Complete Nature Photo Course you know our dedication and commitment to your understanding of our subjects, and we will follow the same philosophy and teaching methods of the D-CNPC in the Lightroom course.
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 take at least one 'break out session' to shoot a few subjects (defined below) that you'll be able to work with, digitally, during the course of the week. Evenings on 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, Pro Show Gold, 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 all of our Digital Photography and Photoshop 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 digital lab - rear view

Our digital lab - front view

Our Participants: This course is designed for photographers with limited or extensive experience with Photoshop, who want an easier way to manage your workflow. You will learn to use Lightroom and integrate it into your workflow. We will build your expertise from the ground up, explaining every step and every technique as we go along. New software can be intimidating, but only because it seems so vast and complex. You'll discover Lightroom is really easy to use.
It will be helpful if participants have some basic familiarity with Photoshop - or even Elements - since we will be showing you when to use Photoshop in addition to Lightroom. We'll show you how to make targeted adjustments in Photoshop and we'll explain some other circumstances where you may choose to use Photoshop that we'll cover step by step.

Preparation Beforehand: Although we'll have all the material you'll need to learn Lightroom, we suspect that you'd like to work on your own images to practice and for some of the other projects we will work on. Participants should bring with them a CD with images that can be opened in either Photoshop or in Lightroom on a PC platform. We hope that you're shooting RAW images and bring along RAW files. 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 eight 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 dinners are served at the farm.

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 is $1,695 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. A single rooming supplement is available ($100 for a room in the house, $175 for a cabin). The fee does not include transportation to, during, or from the course.


In the Lightroom Course you will not only be 'introduced' to the tools and menus and palettes in Lightroom, you will become intimately acquainted with the same! Through lecture, drill, quiz, practice, and application in an interactive, hands on computer environment you will learn the tools and techniques required to integrate Lightroom into your workflow in a satisfying and productive manner. In short, you will learn, really learn, what you need to know to get started in Lightroom! Some of the topics we'll cover include:
Importing Images - Learn how to have your images managed by Lightroom in the Library or leave them elsewhere on your computer and allow Lightroom to reference them. Learn to use Collections. See how to quickly rate and sort through a group of images in a shoot, zoom in for a closer look and even compare multiple images to find the best one. Develop your favorite images by making nondestructive changes to your RAW files to quickly improve the exposure tonality and color. Use these same sliders to adjust other file types without accessing a new interface. Learn to use the tools that are unique to Lightroom such as Tone Curve, Luminance and Compressions sliders, Split Toning and HSL Toning. Create stunning Slideshows, using creative layouts and more. Prepare Web Pages that are ready to upload and Prints. In addition we'll consider when to use Photoshop in conjunction with Lightroom and learn how to make adjustments to just part of an image.
Since the best way to consolidate learning is to practice it over and over, we'll not only have you try the techniques all week long, at the end of the week we'll have you spend some time photographing and then using Lightroom just as you will when you return home.


Your Course Syllabus, in brief…

Day 1: evening: Welcome dinner and orientation. Introduction to Hoot Hollow and a review of the objectives for the week's course.
Day 2: Introduction to Lightroom and the tools and Menus that will be covered. Digital workflow, if required. Setting up for Lightroom's Preferences. Monitor calibration.
Day 3: Importing images, understanding the Library, Collections, Ratings, Views and Quick Editing Tools.
Day 4: We'll turn to the Develop Panel and learn to Optimize images both for tonal adjustments and color adjustments. We'll use the Tone Curve, Split Tonal Adjustments and HSL Toning.
Day 5: We'll learn to make targeted adjustments in Photoshop using Layer Masks and other tools we might want to use in Photoshop.
Day 6: We'll spend the morning photographing an assignment and then practice what we've learned all week by using Lightroom to prepare a Slideshow of our best images from the shoot.
Day 7: morning: Question and answer session followed by the Slideshows and 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.

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 …"

A long time has passed since that trip, and Mary and I and our digital instructors Rick Holt and Ellen Anon have all switched completely to digital photography, and have loved every minute of it. Our photographic visions have expanded, our abilities to capture what we've really seen, and our just plain enjoyment of photography has increased immensely. Photoshop has certainly been a valuable tool in broadening our vision, as it will your's as well.
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. We're excited about this tool! Read our Classroom Report at the end of this page (blue type) that describes our very first class.

About Your Instructors

Rick Holt has been passionate about photography for over thirty years. Along with co-authors Mary Ann McDonald and Joe McDonald, Rick is the author of the book "Digital Nature Photography - From Capture to Output." He has worked as a professional instructor for the past 10 year, teaching digital nature photography and Photoshop courses at the McDonald Digital Institute and at other digital institutions and classrooms around the country. Rick also maintains a digital classroom near his home base in eastern Pennsylvania. Prior to his immersion in the world of digital, Rick founded an innovative medical business centered on applying plastic fiber optics for treating newborn jaundice. After selling his business in 1996, Rick taught courses at Lehigh University while, at the same time, dedicating his efforts to learning as much as possible about emerging digital technologies. 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 was just the beginning. In addition to all his photo course teaching, Rick also teaches "Photoshop for Photographers" classes at local colleges in the Lehigh Valley as well as several other digital institutes across the country. Nevertheless, Rick continues to attend workshops throughout the country to "keep up" and he has attended workshops with industry leaders like Tim Grey, Sean Duggen, and Dave Cross. Rick is a member of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals. Rick will be teaching the Lightroom Course.

Joe McDonald has been a full-time professional wildlife and nature photographer since 1983. Along with co-authors, Mary Ann McDonald and Rick Holt, they are the authors of "Digital Nature Photography - From Capture to Output." Joe 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.

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 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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