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 at least 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 to set aperture, shutter speed and equipped with RAW capture mode are sufficient. For the digital imaging workshops, some prior experience with Lightroom or Photoshop software is recommended but not essential.
What kind of accommodations are made for those with physical limitations?
The Ansel Adams Gallery classroom is accessible to wheelchairs, however is not fully ADA compliant. Participants who are mobility-impaired can attend the classroom portions of workshops with minor assistance opening doors and entering the building, but would require their own vehicle or means to get to field portions of the workshops.
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 classes starting at 9:00 am on the first morning to permit students traveling long distances to the park to arrive the prior night and settle in. Start times for subsequent days are based on the type of workshop offered and the operating hours of local services (restaurants). Field sessions are typically scheduled early morning and late afternoon/evening to take advantage of the best light. Instructors often adjust the schedule take advantage of changes in weather to conduct additional field sessions as conditions permit and inspire! The workshop typically ends the afternoon of the last day.
Where do the classroom sessions take place?
Unless otherwise noted in a workshop's description, indoor sessions of our workshops take place in Yosemite National Park's Yosemite Valley. In the center of Yosemite Valley is Yosemite Village. The Ansel Adams Gallery is in the heart of Yosemite Village, adjacent to the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center with views of Half Dome, Glacier Point and Yosemite Falls. Our classroom is in a building directly behind the Ansel Adams Gallery retail operations in what was Ansel's former studio/darkroom. Unless otherwise noted, all groups meet in the classroom on the first day of the workshop and for all subsequent indoor sessions. Signs are posted at the entrance to the Gallery to guide you to the classroom, and either a workshop assistant or instructor will be on hand to meet you on the Gallery front porch.
Do we have access to restrooms?
The classroom has a 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?
Class schedules differ depending on the curriculum, but universally, our instructors are eager to take advantage of our unique location in what John Muir described as “Nature's grandest classroom” --Yosemite Valley. Classes that emphasize field sessions will spend roughly half the time outside the classroom.
Can a family member or friend join me in the workshop?
While the workshops are intensive learning opportunities tailored for participants only, some instructors schedule evening social time 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 free 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. Many of our photographers recommend that students schedule additional time to enjoy the park after the class so you can explore at your own pace and permit creative concepts you've covered in the workshop to percolate. The reservations agent that books your room will be happy to assist you in securing a reservation (if available) prior to or following a class. A different room rate may apply.
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Where is the Ansel Adams Gallery?
The Ansel Adams Gallery is located in Yosemite Valley just east of the 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) though stop #4 (Degnan's) and #10 and #2 (Village Store) are also nearby. Click here for a map.
Is parking available?
Parking is limited at the Ansel Adams Gallery. To ensure that there is space for our staff to park, delivery trucks to get in and out of our small lot, we suggest that you park at one of the nearby public lots and walk or take the shuttle bus to the Ansel Adams Gallery (stops #5 or #9 are closest) until the instructor has oriented all participants to protocols to ease movement as a group.
How do we get to locations during the workshop?
Since turnout space at many of the locations we photograph is limited, we typically car pool to our non-local field sessions.
How do I get to the park?
Yosemite Valley sits at 4,000 feet in elevation. There are three routes into Yosemite Valley:
• Highway 41 from Fresno and Oakhurst
• Highway 140 from Merced and Mariposa
• Highway 120 from San Francisco, Groveland.
Of the three routes, route 140 through Mariposa is considered to be the “all year-highway” since it doesn't climb above 3,000 feet in elevation until it gets to the valley floor, and consequently is the least likely to have snow in a given season. Please be aware, while these are each well-designed mountain roads, additional travel time should be allocated for traffic and the natural winding character of the highways.
For a recording of current road conditions, you may call the National Park Service switchboard 209/372-0200, and when the call goes through, press 1, then 1 again to navigate to the roads report.
Aside from the three routes into Yosemite Valley, some other park roads are closed at certain times of year. These include:
- Tioga Road (Highway 120 through the park) is closed from approximately November through late May or June, depending on conditions. Temporary closures may also occur if snow falls in the high country earlier or later in the season.
- Glacier Point Road is closed from approximately November through late May, depending on conditions. The first five miles of the road (to Badger Pass ski area) are open when the ski area is open (approximately mid December through March).
- Mariposa Grove Road is closed from November or December until sometime in April, depending on conditions. When the road is closed, visitors may still walk, ski, or snowshoe on the road (though it may be covered in snow or ice).
- 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. The Valley loop on which most of the class travel occurs is fairly flat. Regardless, 4 wheel drive vehicles are especially nice if it snows when one is out early in the park before the plows have cleared the turnouts and a repeat of Ansel's “Clearing Winter Storm” is underway!
Regardless, NPS requires that your vehicle carry tire chains between November and March, in the event that chain restrictions are put in place during a snowfall. For more information on these regulations, see http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/chains.htm
Car rental agencies don't provide tire chains as part of the car rental package. So, if your travel includes a rental car, where does one obtain them?
Few businesses “rent” chains, so one typically needs to purchase a set for the vehicle.
During snow storms, there are often “chain monkeys” installing and occasionally, selling chains alongside the highway at traffic control points that save you the bother of putting them on and removing them from your vehicle.
The safest option is to purchase a set at a store. You'll 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 in California's San Joaquin Valley will be easier on the pocket-book than at the park entrance.
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.
How are meals handled?
You may bring your own meals, but to maximize time in the field and classroom, most participants take advantage of local food service. 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 service and prime photography hours often conflict. Most classes quickly settle into a rhythm that is satisfactory to everyone, typically meeting for a quick cup of coffee and breakfast at Yosemite Lodge Food Court when it opens, so the group can be out the door by 7:00 AM to work with the first direct light of the day.
Lunch is normally ordered at the first morning break for pick-up at Degnan's Deli in Yosemite Village just before noon, and dinner as a group or on your own after dark at the end of the evening field session.
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 to guests of the Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite Lodge and Curry Village, and non-guests may pay a fee ($5.99 for seven logins or seven days-whichever comes first) for access at Yosemite Lodge. For those without their own laptop or smart phone, Yosemite Village Internet kiosks are available near the front desk at Yosemite Lodge @ $1 for three minutes.
What sort of cell phone service coverage is there?
There is limited cell phone coverage in Yosemite, with the strongest signals in the populated areas of the park, including Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows, Wawona and Crane Flat.
AT&T has a good signal in Yosemite Valley on Northside Drive for the full length of Yosemite Valley (Yosemite Village to Pohono Bridge) and up at Tunnel View and some locations on Route 120 with a line of sight view to Sentinel Dome, which is near where the cell tower is located.
There is a weak signal in The Ahwahnee hotel (most likely due to the steel understructure) that can be improved by standing at a southwestern facing window, or outside the southwest side of the hotel behind the dining room.
In the high country outside of Yosemite Valley, there is a sliver of a signal at the west end of the Olmsted Point parking lot, the Lembert Dome parking lot, and a strong signal at the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge.
Verizon customers can often connect at Crane Flat and Wawona as well as most areas of Yosemite Valley.
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-$260.00 per night) or The Yosemite Valley Lodge ($260-325.00). 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 very long days, with little free time. You will find you are not spending a great deal of time in your room. If you would like to find a roommate to help share expenses, we would be happy to let the other participants know, and put you in touch with anyone interested in sharing a room.
Can I choose to stay someplace else?
Yes, but we 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 class and place yourself on site during a clearing winter storm rather than on the way to your destination. In short, by staying in Yosemite Valley, you maximize your time photographing.
Can I choose to camp?
Certainly, though we have no affiliation with the campgrounds, so you would 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.html
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What kind of camera should I bring?
35 mm and medium format film and digital cameras are welcome. Unless the class is specifically geared for view cameras, the pace at which most groups move is not ideal for larger formats. We suggest that unless your class features the use of view cameras, you enjoy your larger format camera before and after the class, because you may find it unwieldy during normal field sessions.
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 if there will be any processing or viewing of your images.. We also believe one of the best ways to learn and retain the valuable information provided for digital darkroom and/or printing is by using the computer you’ll be using at home. Laptops will be more than adequate, don’t take up much room for travel, and will allow for more space at your workshop station. 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 one that provides stability with your camera and the longest lens you would use, but doesn't 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 one that has legs that spread out to permit one to quickly work at ground level.
A tripod with a ball head is favored over pan/tilt heads, or the video style heads found on many inexpensive models. Carbon fiber tripods, though more expensive, are lighter, with the final feature to debate being twist lock legs vs. cam lock. The Ansel Adams Gallery has a limited supply of tripods for rent should you choose to travel light en route to the park, but you should check in advance to determine if the tripods we have will meet your 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, with most pros opting for the style of filters that slides in and out of a square filter adaptor on the front of the lens. Advances in digital imaging software have reduced the demand for some filters, but these are still useful:
- A polarizer
- Graduated Neutral Density filters are useful for Yosemite's landscape where foreground is often in the shade while the background is in full sun. A 1-stop (.3) Graduated Neutral Density and 2-stop (.6) Graduated Neutral Density can be used individually or in tandem (to create a 3-stop filter).
- Simple, or Variable Neutral Density filters for lengthening exposures as much as 8-stops can also be a creative tool.
- For color film users, add an 81A or 81B “warming” filters as well.
What sort of digital media is available?
The Ansel Adams Gallery carries a selection of memory cards, and has the ability to offload images onto CDs and DVDs should you exhaust your supply of digital storage cards. If you have a camera with storage that is harder to come across in stores, stock up before you arrive, or at least call the Ansel Adams Gallery ahead of time to make sure they have what you need.
Folks often ask, “How much digital media do I need?” It depends on the pace at which you make images, the size of your image sensor, and what sort of back-up option you have. 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 about 8 to 16 GB is a good amount of temporary storage to serve most people during a field session with no worry about running out of storage.
In the end, more memory is always better than less.
Will you have batteries to fit my camera?
The Ansel Adams Gallery stocks standard battery sizes. Unfortunately, the variety of proprietary camera batteries on the market today is beyond what we could reasonably stock. Therefore, we encourage you to bring spare batteries for your camera.
Should I bring my camera manual?
As was mentioned earlier, there are so many cameras these days, keeping up with the subtle difference in each brand's operating menus can be a challenge. You don't want to miss out on a special photo because you and your instructor are struggling 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 class always brings us something new. So, just in case, bring your camera's manual! Some of the settings we will access frequently during digital classes include:
- Auto Exposure Bracketing
- Exposure Compensation
- Continuous Mode
- Noise Reduction
How do I keep my batteries charged?
The classroom is equipped with power strips so that you can 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 hotel room.
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Dressing for the Elements:
How should I pack for my trip?
Most pros know it is difficult to concentrate on making photographs if they are not comfortable. Proper clothing goes a long way to make photography 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 classes 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 comes back out. 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, including 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) even umbrellas, and plastic bags for your camera.
- Comfortable walking shoes for when conditions are clear, (though waterproof still helps since the edges of meadows and some of the trails can be damp).
- For “sloppy” conditions (as in a fresh snowfall) warm, calf-high boots such as Sorels with leather uppers and rubber bottoms are helpful.
- A water bottle to help you stay properly hydrated.
- Energy/snack bars to keep you fueled between meals.
Here's a more specific list 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
- Polartec inner layer pants
- Polartec inner layer top
- Polartec fleece outer jacket
- gloves (Fingermitts 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 ziplocs (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?
Go to the workshop you are interested in on our web site. Below the advertised tuition fee you will see a pull down menu for tuition options. Pick either (full tuition or $150.00 deposit) and select ‘Add to Cart'. Then follow the steps to register as a customer if you have not already, and continue the check out process. If you choose to put down a deposit, that will hold your place in the workshop. The balance of the tuition is due within 45 days prior to the start of the workshop.
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 services hotel reservation form that you must either fax or mail in prior to 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?
After we receive your online registration and either a $150.00 deposit or your payment in full for the workshop of your choice, 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 with you. 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 didn't get accidentally intercepted. If you still are unable to locate it, call the store toll-free and ask to speak with a shipping department representative who can retrieve your confirmaton number and re-send the confirmation. The toll free phone number is 888-361-7622 (within U.S.), or see our web site for a complete list of ways you can easily reach us at email@example.com
When will I hear from the Instructor?
Your instructor will send an email approximately 2 to 4 weeks before the workshop to all the participants. That email will provide details on everything you need to know to get the most from your workshop experience, including what you need to bring, weather conditions, and where and when to meet the first day.
What if I need to withdraw from a workshop?
We rely on your attendance to make important arrangements for the workshop. If a participant needs to withdraw from a workshop, he/she must inform us in writing no later than 45 days prior to the first day of the scheduled workshop. Notices must be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail/courier to The Ansel Adams Gallery, Village Mall, Yosemite, CA 95389. Refunds cannot be made for withdrawals initiated within 45 days of the first day of the scheduled workshop. Refunds cannot be made for participant no-shows. Providing that timely notification has occurred, we will refund your deposit or tuition, whichever is applicable, minus a $100 cancellation fee.
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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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