Dressing for the Elements
How much photographic experience do I need?
Our programs are designed for photographers of all levels, but to make the most of your time, participants should be familiar with the basic operation of their camera (bring your camera's manual). For most classes, a single lens reflex (SLR) camera is recommended for speed of operation and versatility, but advanced compact cameras with manual controls for aperture, shutter speed and RAW capture mode are sufficient. For workshops focusing on digital imaging, some prior experience with Lightroom or Photoshop software may be required. Please read the specific workshop descriptions provided on the website for more detailed information.
What kind of arrangements are made for those with physical limitations?
The Ansel Adams Gallery classroom/restroom is ADA accessible to wheelchairs. Participants who are mobility-impaired can attend the classroom portions of the workshops with minor assistance entering and exiting the building, but ADA accessible transportation for field sessions will need to be arranged by the participant.
Should I bring a portfolio?
Most instructors encourage students to bring work to share. Depending on the type of class, the work may be in print or digital form and it may be shared with the instructor and/or with other attendees. Details on the type of work, when and where to bring it will be communicated to you once you have enrolled.
When do the workshop sessions start on the first day? And when do they end?
Each instructor sets his or her own schedule with most workshops starting at 9:00 am on the first morning. Start times on subsequent days depends on the type of workshop offered and the agenda of the instructor. Field sessions are typically scheduled early morning and late afternoon/evening to take advantage of the best light. Instructors often adjust the schedule to take advantage of changes in weather and may conduct additional/longer field sessions as conditions permit and inspire! The workshop typically ends around mid-afternoon on the last day.
Where do the classroom sessions take place?
Most classroom sessions will take place at The Ansel Adams Gallery in the heart of Yosemite Village, right next door to the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center. Our classroom building is housed in what was Ansel's former studio/darkroom directly behind The Ansel Adams Gallery retail operations. Unless otherwise noted, all groups meet in the classroom on the first day of the workshop and for all subsequent indoor sessions. Signs will be posted at the entrance to the Gallery to guide you to the classroom. A workshop assistant or instructor will also be on hand to meet you on the Gallery front porch. In the event that a workshop meets in a location other than our classroom, you will be given specific directions in subsequent workshop materials and emails.
Do we have access to restrooms?
The classroom has a newly renovated ADA compliant restroom. For field sessions, instructors can direct students to the nearest public restrooms.
How much time will we spend indoors and how much time outdoors?
While workshop schedules differ depending on the curriculum, instructors are alert and eager to take advantage of the best light and our unique location in what John Muir described as “Nature's Grandest Classroom” -- Yosemite Valley. Workshops that emphasize field sessions will spend roughly half the time outside the classroom.
How are meals handled?
You may choose to supply your own meals. However, to maximize time in the field and classroom, most participants will take advantage of the local food services. Instructors tend to favor a large mid-day meal with lighter breakfast and dinner. This permits students to be out before dawn and beyond sunset when restaurant services and prime photography hours conflict.
Most workshop eating schedules quickly settle into a rhythm that is satisfactory to everyone.
For example, organized lunches are commonly ordered after the morning field session from Degnan's Deli in Yosemite Village. A menu for the deli will be provided during the workshop.
Organized dinners may be arranged as the workshop progresses. Traveling companions are usually welcomed. As well, several of the instructors will invite participants and their traveling companions to a pre-workshop dinner at The Mountain Room Restaurant in the Yosemite Village area. These instructors will communicate with participants directly about the scheduling of this dinner.
Can a family member or friend join me in the workshop?
Our workshops are intensive learning opportunities tailored for participants only. However, some instructors schedule evening social time that is open to family members. Please check with your instructor for more information.
That said, there are many opportunities for family members and friends to enjoy their time in Yosemite while you participate in the workshop. There are organized art classes, Gallery photo classes, National Park Service walks, tours, and a wide variety of interpretive programs provided by all the Yosemite Park Partners. We would be happy to provide more information on all other activities available in the park during the workshop.
Can I arrive early or stay beyond the scheduled dates of the class?
Absolutely! We encourage you to do so. Scheduling additional time to enjoy the park allows furthering exploration of the landscape and creative concepts covered in the workshop. Your reservations agent can supply more information about room availability and rates outside of the workshop dates.
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Where is The Ansel Adams Gallery?
The Ansel Adams Gallery is located in Yosemite Valley next to the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center in the National Park Service (NPS) administrative area of Yosemite Village. The closest Shuttle bus stops are #5 or #9 (Valley Visitor Center). Click here for a map.
Is parking available?
We suggest that you park at one of the nearby public lots (Visitor Center Parking, Day Use Parking) and walk or take the shuttle bus to The Ansel Adams Gallery (stops #5 or #9 are closest). The instructor may update you on parking protocol following the first day of the workshop. One ADA compliant parking space is available and marked behind the workshop building. Please contact our workshop coordinator via email at email@example.com for directions.
How do we get to locations during the workshop?
Since parking in Yosemite is limited, we typically carpool during each field session. Carpooling will be organized by your instructor. ADA accessible transportation for field sessions will need to be arranged by the participant.
How do I get to Yosemite Valley?
There are three routes into Yosemite Valley:
- Highway 41 from Fresno and Oakhurst
- Highway 140 from Merced and Mariposa
- Highway 120 from San Francisco and Groveland
Of the three routes, Highway 140 through Mariposa is considered to be the “all year-highway” as it sees the least amount of seasonal weather. Since this road does not climb above 3,000 feet in elevation until it approaches the valley floor (which sits at 4,000 feet) there is less likelihood of hazardous conditions. Please be aware, while each approach is on a paved mountain roads, additional travel time should be allocated for traffic and the natural winding character of the highways.
For up-to-date information on the current road conditions, you may call the National Park Service switchboard 209/372-0200. You will be prompted to press 1, and then 1 again to hear the roads report.
Aside from the aforementioned routes into Yosemite Valley, some park roads are closed at certain times of year. These include:
- Tioga Road (Highway 120 from Crane Flat to U.S. Highway 395) is closed from approximately November through late May or June. Temporary closures may also occur due to weather or natural phenomena (rocks slides, fire etc.) at any time of year. If you plan on traveling to Yosemite Valley over Tioga Road via U.S. 395 we encourage you to research an alternative route in the event Tioga Road is closed.
- Glacier Point Road is closed from approximately November through late May, conditions permitting. The first five miles of the road (to Badger Pass ski area) are open when the ski area is open (approximately middle of December through March).
- Mariposa Grove Road is closed from November or December until April, conditions permitting. When the road is closed, visitors may walk, ski, or snowshoe on the road (though it may be covered in snow or ice). Please note that at the time of this posting, the Mariposa Grove is currently closed for renovations.
- Hetch Hetchy Road is closed overnight. Hours vary by season, but the road is generally open during daylight hours.
What about chain restrictions in cooler months?
Chances are that the roads will be clear and dry for your entire workshop. Regardless, 4 wheel drive vehicles are convenient in the event of a snowstorm.
Although, even if you have a 4WD vehicle, NPS requires that you carry chains in your vehicle between November and March. This regulation is a safety precaution in the event that chain restrictions are put in place during a snowfall or icy conditions. For more information on these regulations, please see: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/chains.htm
Car rental agencies do not provide tire chains as part of the car rental package. Therefore, if your travel includes a rental car, you may need to purchase a set of chains prior to arriving in the park. When purchasing, you will need to know the tire dimensions of your vehicle to get the proper size.
The basic concept of supply and demand ensures that chains are less expensive the farther one is from where they are required. So acquiring a set as soon as possible will be easier on the pocket-book than trying to do so at the park entrance. Also, keep in mind that some rental car companies prohibit the use of chains on their vehicles. Please contact your rental car company about their specific policy on chains.
Few businesses “rent” chains. It may be possible to purchase a set of chains, and return them to the merchant (especially larger retailers) if they go unused. Check with the vendor at the time of purchase for their policy.
Furthermore, you may find independent contractors installing or selling chains alongside the highway during inclement weather. These operators will normally set up shop where chain restrictions are currently in place, but their activity/presence is not guaranteed. We advise caution.
Are there any ATMs in the park?
Electronic cash machines are located in most of the business centers in the park including the hotel lobbies and many retail shops.
Is there WIFI access in the park?
Wifi is available in Yosemite Valley. Guests staying at a hotel property will have access to wifi in a common room or in their hotel room. Wifi is also available for a fee at Degnan’s Deli. Please note that service is slow in the park and activities that require a lot of bandwidth may not complete quickly or smoothly.
What sort of cell phone service coverage is there?
There is limited cell phone coverage in Yosemite. The strongest cellular signals tend to be found in the populated areas of the park such as Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows, Wawona, and Crane Flat.
AT&T customers will find a cellular signal for the full length of Yosemite Valley on Northside Drive (Yosemite Village to Pohono Bridge), at Tunnel View, and some areas on Highway 120 that have a line of sight view to the cell tower located near Sentinel Dome.
Verizon customers can often receive a cellular signal in many areas of Yosemite Valley as well as Crane Flat and Wawona.
There is a weak signal for cell phone services in The Ahwahnee Hotel (most likely due to the steel understructure). The possibilities of cell service may be improved by standing inside at the southwest facing window or outside on the southwest side of the hotel behind the dining room.
In the high country outside of Yosemite Valley, there may be a strong signal at the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge and a sliver of a signal at the west end of the Olmsted Point parking lot and the Lembert Dome parking lot.
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I understand that a group of rooms has been reserved in the park for each multi-day workshop. Where will I be staying?
Once you are enrolled in a workshop, you will receive a welcome email, which includes a lodging code to secure a hotel room set aside for workshop attendees. Most of the allocated accommodations are in the heart of Yosemite Valley within one mile of The Ansel Adams Gallery. These accommodations will be at either Half Dome Village ($140.00-$260.00 per night) or The Yosemite Valley Lodge ($260.00-325.00). Once you have booked your room, you may be able to change your accommodations within the Yosemite Hospitality (Aramark) reservation system as you see fit.
Can I see what the rooms look like online?
Yes! Please follow the link provided.
Can I share my accommodations with a family member or another participant?
It's always nice to share! You are welcome to share your room with whomever you choose.
Most of the workshop programs have full days with little free time. Therefore, a great amount of your visit will not be in the hotel room. You may consider sharing expenses with a roommate. We will be happy to notify other workshop participants and put you in touch with any that are interested in sharing a room.
Can I choose to stay someplace else?
Yes, but we do encourage you to stay in Yosemite Valley. One of the greatest advantages to our programs is that our classroom is in the middle of Yosemite Valley, just steps away from some of Ansel's favorite photo spots. That proximity is critical when moments make the difference between a memorable image and a missed opportunity. By staying in Yosemite Valley, you minimize travel time to and from the classroom/field sessions and place yourself already on site during the best light. In short, acquiring accommodations in Yosemite Valley will maximize your time photographing.
Can I choose to camp?
Certainly, though we have no affiliation with the campgrounds, so you will need to book your campsite reservation through the same system that the general public uses. In peak season, this will be a challenge. For additional information, see http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/camping.htm...
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What kind of camera should I bring?
35 mm and medium format film and digital cameras are welcome. Please consider that if the workshop is not specifically geared for view cameras, the pace at which most groups move is not ideal for larger formats. We suggest in this case that you enjoy the larger format camera before and after the workshop since it may prove unwieldy during normal field sessions. Also note that certain workshops’ emphasis is towards the utilization of digital cameras.
Do I need to bring a computer?
Due to the continuous updating of computer hardware and software, we require that you bring a computer to the workshop. We also believe one of the best ways to learn and retain the valuable information provided for digital darkroom and printing is by using the computer you’ll be using at home. Towers with monitors, as well as laptops, are welcome! Please contact us if you cannot bring a computer and we will do our best to provide one.
Do I need to use a tripod?
Most of our instructors favor the use of a tripod as a stable platform for your camera.
With so many makes and models available, the bottom line is to find the balance between a tripod that provides stability for your camera coupled with your longest lens, but does not weigh so much that it inhibits your desire to photograph. One way to ensure stability is to select a tripod that places your camera at eye level without extending the center column. Equally helpful is a tripod which has legs that spread out to permit quick work at ground level.
A tripod with a ball head is favored over a pan/tilt head or the video style head found on many inexpensive models. Carbon fiber tripods, though more expensive, are lighter. And the final feature to debate is the choice of twist lock legs vs. cam lock legs.
The Ansel Adams Gallery has a limited supply of tripods for rent should you choose to travel light en route to the park. Please check in advance for availability and the determination that the offered tripods meet you needs.
What kind of filters should I bring?
For black and white photography, a full filter set will be useful.
For color photography, the typical filter pack includes three or four filters, Many professionals are opting for the style of filters that slide in and out of a filter holder on the front of the lens. Advances in digital imaging software have reduced the demand for some filters, but these are still useful:
- Polarizer filter
- Graduated Neutral Density filters: 1-Stop (.3) Graduated Neutral Density, 2-Stop (.6) Graduated Neutral Density, the two previous filters may be combined to create a 3-Stop (.9) Graduated Neutral Density, and 4-Stop (1.2) Graduated Neutral Density
- Simple or Variable Neutral Density filters for lengthening exposures as much as 8-stops
- 81A or 81B “Warming” filters for color film applications
What sort of digital media is available?
The Ansel Adams Gallery carries a selection of memory card types. If you have a camera with hard to find memory cards, we suggest that you stock up before the workshop or call The Ansel Adams Gallery prior to your arrival and verify inventory availability.
We are often asked “How much digital media do I need?” This depends on the pace at which you make images, the size of your image sensor, and your available back up options. Most instructors take breaks during the day that permit workshop attendees to charge batteries and offload digital media to redundant storage devices and laptops. As a ballpark recommendation, it seems that 8 to 32 GBs is a good amount of temporary storage to serve most workshop attendees during a field session with no worry of reaching maximum capacity.
In the end, more memory is always better than less.
Will you have batteries to fit my camera?
The Ansel Adams Gallery stocks universal standard battery sizes. Unfortunately, the variety of proprietary camera batteries on the market today is beyond what we are reasonably able to inventory. Therefore, we encourage you to bring spare batteries for your camera.
Should I bring my camera manual?
Yes! Due to the vast offering of cameras on the market these days, keeping up with the subtle difference in each brand's operating menus can be a challenge. You do not want to miss out on a special photo because you and your instructor are working to unlock the secret setting for capturing a unicorn in low light or the camera is flashing some strange error message. We've seen a lot, but each workshop always brings us something new. So, just in case, bring your camera's manual!
Some of the settings we will access frequently during digital workshops include:
3. Auto Exposure Bracketing
4. Exposure Compensation
5. Continuous Mode
6. Noise Reduction
How do I keep my batteries charged?
The classroom is equipped with power strips so that you may charge your equipment between daytime field sessions. Since groups often meet at locations other than the classroom for sunrise sessions, overnight charging of equipment is best accomplished in your overnight accommodation. Remember to bring your battery charger!
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Dressing for the Elements:
How should I pack for my trip?
Professionals know that it is difficult to concentrate on creating photographs when they are not comfortable. Proper clothing goes a long way in allowing photography to be a pleasant experience. Depending on your elevation and the time of year, weather in Yosemite can run the gamut. Since the lowest regions of the park are at an elevation of 3,000 feet and the Tioga Road climbs to nearly 10,000 feet, it is possible to experience three seasons in the same day.
Most of our workshops are held in Yosemite Valley where extreme weather shifts (exciting!) are possible, especially in the shoulder months of autumn and spring. In the winter, sunny days in the seventies (Fahrenheit) can be followed by six inches of snow, only to have it melt in a couple of hours when the sun returns. It can be cold. It can be sloppy. But take heart! Some of the finest photographs are made when conditions are challenging. Come prepared for a full spectrum of experiences and increase your chances for capturing that “special image.”
Given the variable nature of Sierra weather, mountain residents, photographers and backpackers have a lot in common. They all embrace the strategy of “layering” clothing. As temperatures increase or decrease, a layer is shed or added to maintain comfort.
Mornings can be chilly, often with frost, so a warm hat, gloves (fingerless or finger-mitts are an advantage) and comfortable waterproof pants and footwear can be the difference between happiness and misery, success and failure. The conditions should not distract or inhibit your creativity. They should excite you!
For starters, consider:
- Clothing for cool and warm weather conditions.
- Rain Gear. Rain coats or ponchos, rain paints (even if it isn't raining, you'll often find yourself kneeling down in the cold damp stuff), umbrellas, towels and plastic bags for your camera.
- Comfortable walking shoes for clear weather conditions. Waterproof shoes may still be helpful since the edges of some meadows and trails can be damp.
- Warm, calf-high boots such as Sorels with leather uppers and rubber bottoms are helpful in “sloppy” conditions like fresh snowfall.
- A water bottle to help you stay properly hydrated.
- Energy/snack bars to keep you fueled between meals.
Here's a more specific list of what a backpacker might bring along:
- warm hat/headband
- extra socks (in case one pair gets wet)
- thermal tights
- long-sleeved thermal turtleneck zip up
- base layer pants
- base layer top
- fleece outer jacket
- gloves (finger-mitts are handy for photography)
- rain jacket
- rain pants (useful for kneeling and strolling through wet and frosty environments)
- hat (shade your eyes or your lens)
- hiking boots (for field sessions, waterproof snow boots are even better)
- camp shoes (to give your feet a break after a long day)
- hip or daypack
- flashlight (help you see the trail and your camera settings in low light)
- lip balm
- miniature binoculars for wildlife observation and scouting
- empty Ziploc bags (for garbage and to cover cameras in wet conditions)
- water bottles/water bladders (keep your energy up by staying properly hydrated)
- alarm (for early photo sessions and afternoon naps)
- moleskin or second skin (for hot spots and blisters)
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How do I register for a workshop?
Navigate to the workshop you are interested on our website via the “Photography Education” heading, add the desired workshop to the cart via the “Add to Cart” button, and check out through the shopping cart. You will receive an order confirmation email and will be contacted by our workshop coordinator with additional materials.
After I sign-up for a workshop, how do I make a room reservation?
Our workshop coordinator will send you an email confirming your reservation for a particular workshop. That email will also provide instructions for making your room reservation and a special group code. You must make your reservation 45 days before the workshop starts to secure your room. See the accommodations section for additional information.
What should I expect after I sign up for one of the workshops?
We will send you a confirmation email with a 5-digit order confirmation number. Within a few days you will receive another email containing the general workshop information packet, including park information, a list of accommodations inside and outside the park, camping information, and a list of items to bring. Detailed information about the workshop itself will come directly from the instructor 2-4 weeks prior to the start date of the workshop.
What should I do if I do not receive a payment receipt email?
If you do not receive a confirmation email, please check your spam folder to make sure it did not get accidentally intercepted. If you still are unable to locate it, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and the workshop coordinator will resend the confirmation.
When will I hear from the Instructor?
Your instructor will send an email approximately 2 to 4 weeks prior to the workshop. This email will provide details on everything you need to know to get the most from your workshop experience, including what you should bring, weather conditions, and where and when to meet on the first day.
What if I need to withdraw from a workshop?
We rely on your confirmed attendance to make important arrangements for the workshop. If you need to cancel, please notify us no fewer than 30 days prior to the first day of your workshop for a refund of your tuition, less a 10% non-refundable charge. Refunds cannot be made for cancellations initiated within 30 days of the first day of the scheduled workshop, or for no-shows, for any reason. If you are concerned with this possibility, please consider purchasing travel insurance. Workshop registration is NOT transferable.
In the extremely rare event that The Ansel Adams Gallery needs to cancel a workshop, we will let you know at least 14 days prior to the first day of the scheduled workshop, and immediately refund your full tuition. However, we will not be responsible for non-refundable airline tickets or lodging reservations. (Lodging reservations made through DNC Parks & Resorts are fully refundable 14 days in advance). Please do not purchase airline tickets or make non-refundable deposits on lodging that cannot be canceled 14 days ahead of time.
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What is the best way to contact you if I have more questions?
We want to provide the best learning experience possible. Please do not hesitate to contact us by email. If we are unable to answer your question we will forward it to the instructor or appropriate party. You can expect to hear back from us within 24 hours, or a few days at the very most. Our email address is email@example.com
The Ansel Adams Gallery
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The Ansel Adams Gallery is an authorized concessioner of the National Park Service.