Aperture Academy is a professional organization dedicated to safe, quality, positive experiences for our students, and a responsible stewardship for the breathtaking locations and beautiful wildlife we enjoy at every workshop.
We work with the United States Department of Interior, the National Park Service and the US Forestry Service to obtain all the proper permits to operate safely, conscientiously and legally. We carry much more than the required minimum of insurance, and our skilled instructors are certified as Wilderness First Responders, in CPR, as well as in the Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics program. They are qualified and rated to drive Class B vehicles. And, have we mentioned that each is an accomplished, successful professional photographer?
Every "ApCad" member is dedicated to ensuring our students receive the best care and guidance possible, so each of them have the opportunity to get the most remarkable, enjoyable and enriching photography experience available anywhere in the world.
- Your digital SLR camera. If you have two bodies, bring both. This is a digital photography class, but if you have a favorite point-and-shoot or old film camera you like, bring it along, and if time permits, you can use it as well.
- Lenses. Try to cover a range from very wide (17-20mm), for landscape images, to zoom ranges (100-400mm) for wildlife. It's not uncommon to see wildlife on workshops (even those structured for landscape instruction), so it's best to be prepared, if possible. We also encourage you to bring other lenses, like a macro or fish-eye lens if you have them, because there are always endless creative possibilities to be found on our workshops.
- Tripod. This is a necessity for ALL our workshops. It can be windy in many of the areas we take you, so the sturdier your tripod, the better. If you haven't purchased one yet, you can e-mail our instructors; they would be happy to assist you in selecting a tripod that is perfect for you.
- Filters. We do a great deal of work with filters in our workshops, so, if you have them, bring them. We highly recommend a Circular Polarizer, and a (3 or 4) soft-step graduated neutral density (GND) filter. We also use straight neutral density filters, which will help us get longer exposures in all times of day, but this isn't as important as the first two mentioned. We have a few extras that can be loaned out, but you're going to love what you see with the filters, and you'll want to have your own.
- Extra batteries. Bring at least 1 or 2 extra batteries. Cold temperatures and long exposures can drain batteries very quickly. There is no worse feeling than arriving at the last spot of the night for sunset and having a dead battery.
- Extra memory cards. Our instructors will show you the benefits of shooting in RAW format, which is a better method for photography, but takes up more space on a card. Having multiple memory cards will be to your benefit.
- Clothing & shoes. Bring layers of clothing you can add if/when temperature and wind conditions change, and they can! And wear good, comfortable walking shoes!
- Lunch, or money for lunch. And snacks. On two and three day workshops, we provide snacks and water. On one day workshops, we stop for lunch at a local food establishment where you can purchase food or eat what you have brought for yourself.
- Your sense of adventure! We want to teach you what it is YOU want to learn, and have you come away with some good images. And, since the nature of outdoor photography means we're subject to weather conditions, which we can't control, sometimes we must be flexible with the itinerary. So, come ready for anything. Because we are dedicated to do everything possible to ensure you're in the best places at the best times to get amazing images.
- Your Thinking Cap! Show up ready, because you're going to learn! Some tips: make sure to read the workshop details before you arrive, so you know what to expect, and what to bring; bring a list of questions you want to ask the instructors; check the weather forecast so you're aware of possible weather changes; and most importantly, show up with a brain that is ready for learning, and we promise we'll fill it up with as much information as you desire!
:: What should I expect? ::
All workshops are designed to help you learn how to take better photographs and offer a complete immersion into digital landscape and/or wildlife photography. You will learn important photography techniques such as how to properly expose a composition, when to use a filter for best effect, and how to understand and adjust camera settings for optimum results.
Class sizes are kept small (typically between 8-12 students) to afford each student one-on-one instruction and to maximize individual attention. The Instructor ratio is usually 5 to 1. Plan to bring some of your work with you, to give instructors an idea of the areas in which you excel and where you'd like to focus on improvement.
Also be prepared, as these workshops involve being outdoors in the elements, which can include rather severe or challenging weather conditions. All trips require walking, and usually some hiking, on uneven terrain. You will want to wear the right clothing, footwear, and keep in mind you could get a bit of a workout!
:: Why only Digital? ::
Digital photography offers unique opportunities for in-field photography workshops. By reviewing captured images as soon as they happen, we can examine exposure, composition and histograms, and instantly learn what works--and what doesn't.
:: What should I bring? What is required? ::
- All workshops require a Digital SLR camera and a tripod. (Note: Filters (Graduated ND and Polarizer) and a shutter release cord are not required, but highly recommended.)
- Bring a laptop if possible, as we will spend time, when not in the field, reviewing and critiquing images.
- It is advised for you to dress in layers, as all workshops are held on location and often temperatures and conditions can change rapidly.
- Food and beverages will not be provided, so please bring plenty of water and nourishment.
- All students are expected to arrive on-time and to work together as a group to learn, not only from instructors, but also from each other.
:: What kind, and how much, equipment should I bring? ::
Bring it all if you can! You never know what you might see. On many workshops we focus on landscape photos, but you never know when wildlife might enter the scene and provide the perfect opportunity to photograph them in their natural habitat. It's always better to go into the field with too much gear, rather than miss an opportunity because of not enough equipment.
:: Is transportation provided? ::
Each student is responsible for their own transportation to the workshop location. However, car-pooling during the workshop is encouraged both to minimize the number of vehicles at shooting locations and to get to know one another.
:: Can a non-photographer friend or spouse attend the workshop? ::
Non-photographer friends and/or spouses are welcome to attend, but will be subject to the full tuition fee based due to transportation availability.
:: Does weather ever alter or cancel events? ::
Only if conditions pose a safety risk. Often, poor weather can make for dramatic photographic opportunities, so if rain is forecasted, pack a light jacket or rain poncho and bring something to keep your camera dry (a hotel shower cap is ideal).
:: What happens if I have to cancel? ::
Because of the limited number of workshops and availability of one-on-one instruction sessions, once we schedule a spot, it won't be available for anyone else, therefore we can not offer a refund unless the cancellation is 90 days before the workshop date. This policy is necessary to assure us that those who sign up are serious about the adventure and will not back out, ruining the opportunity for someone else.
However, there is an exception to every rule. If, for some reason a workshop or one-on-one is cancelled by its instructor, you will be entitled to a refund, or may choose a credit for a different date. [Read our refund policy and other terms here]
:: Be prepared to take better photographs! ::
These workshops will help you develop skills, learn techniques and get to know your camera and equipment like never before. As a bonus, you will have a fun time and build friendships while learning to improve your photography technically. The result? You'll be capable of producing photographs as beautiful as any professional!