Fresh Eyes: Recent Images from a Nikon D800 Workshop

In late July, I taught a 2-day Nikon D800 photography workshop at the Santa Fe Workshops here in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The name of that workshop was the “Nikon D800 Intensive: Get the Most from your Camera.” It was an intense two days where we covered all of the basics functions of the camera and many of the more advanced functions as well. We also put the camera to use out at the Eaves Movie Ranch right here in Santa Fe.

The Eaves Movie Ranch was set up in the 60s as a working movie set by none other than Gene Kelly. Since then, over 40 movies have been filmed on the ranch including such notable films as The Cowboys, Silverado, Wyatt Earp, The Lone Ranger, Young Guns and Easy Rider among others. Needless to say it is a “classic” looking 1880s town. When you step on set you feel as if you have traveled back in time. The set has everything a small town in the west would have: a saloon, a hotel, a church, a livestock area, a blacksmith and every other western accoutrement.

The intent with taking my workshop participants out to the Ranch was to put into practice all of the techniques we had discussed in the classroom. To that end, I set up an Elinchrom Ranger strobe with a huge 6-foot Octabank on it inside the saloon. Our model for the afternoon, Thomas, was a local actor who has appeared in a quite a few westerns over the years. I had him positioned at the bar and dial in the lighting for our participants. After the work-shoppers had finished shooting, I couldn’t resist the opportunity and worked with Thomas for three or four minutes to create the images you see here in this blog post.

Interestingly, earlier in the workshop, before we headed out to the Eaves movie Ranch, I spoke with some of the course assistants who had been working all summer at the Santa Fe Workshops. They had asked where we were headed to during the course of our workshop and I mentioned the Eaves Movie Ranch. A few of them had apparently been there several times that summer and numerous times the summer before. One of them remarked “fresh eyes” always make a place look new and exciting. And well, my “fresh eyes” were certainly excited by the Ranch since I had never been there. I was naturally quite excited to see it and have an opportunity to shoot on the ranch – especially considering its history. In fact, I would go so far as to say that these are some of the best portraits I have produced in quite a while and I will certainly be setting up some other shoots out at the Ranch here before too long.

This location, and our model Thomas, was perfect for showcasing the jaw-dropping resolution of the Nikon D800. This was the reason I chose the Eaves Movie Ranch as our location. And Thomas was not only a fantastic looking model for our images but he was the perfect crusty cowboy as well, keeping the troops entertained throughout our time on the Ranch.

My thanks to Thomas, the Eaves movie Ranch, the Santa Fe Workshops and of course the participants in this workshop for making it all happen. As a side note here, we will be offering the Nikon D800 workshop again in 2014. There will be a few 2-day versions in locations around the United States and a 4-day hands-on, in-depth, version hosted here in Santa Fe at the Santa Fe Workshops. Stay tuned for locations and dates for those workshops.

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