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Canada's 150th anniversary 1867 - 2017
How will you remember Canada's 150th birthday. Will you do something special to commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime event? It is such a young country, each generation has a hand in how the nation will be shaped. It is constantly changing and it's up to the artists, writers and photographers to document the Canadian landscape and the people. A century ago it was the Group of Seven painters who set out into the unknown and brought back images that shaped the public's perception and instilled a love for a Canada few would ever see. We will cross their paths. Artists like Tom Thomson had a vision of Canada just as photographers do today. Our epic Photography Adventures will define Canada beyond Ontario as we trek east and west in 2017. Be a part of the travels and be a part of the photography and multimedia exhibitions to follow.
PAST photographic weekends and multi-day treks
February 17-19, 2017 -- A luxury rustic weekend retreat and photography workshop, limited occupancy in 8 rooms at this unique wilderness lodge. Those who have been to the Sumac Centre with us know how special it is with wonderful nature scenes just outside the door. The newest addition is a huge 65" TV in a surround sound theatre where we will show our pictures.
Click to see photos from this trip.
The workshop will not include car travel, just some hiking breaks from our indoor editing work. Hearty meals are included in the price. Total package is $283 if you share a room, or $380 single occupancy. Sumac is about an hour due north of Napanee. We have had several super weekends here in the past but we were always overly ambitious, going "off campus" to Bon Echo Park and local towns, out early and late. This time we will slow down, enjoy, socialize and take advantage of the 600-acre property (which lies adjacent to a big wilderness) with lake and cascading waterfalls and dark night sky. The lodge is passive solar with wood stoves, very cozy, modern but rustic, with wifi internet.
Here is the cost breakdown: Non-refundable payment for photography workshop (1:00 Friday through Sunday) is $113. Add $56.50 if you want a single occupancy room. Plus, pay to Sumac, room rate $100 double occupancy for 2 nights or $140 for a single occupancy room. Plus meal plan $70 catered by the couple who helped build the centre and lives at the other end of the Little Beaver Lake. Paul Scott is Sumac's owner and his stories and opinions are worth the price of admission! There could be activities going on like wood splitting, ice fishing, ploughing the long lane and a dog coming and going. Lots to photograph. Snowshoes and skis recommended. Bears are sleeping now but coyotes and cougars have been sighted. Hoarfrost can occur on a still, foggy night around the lake, and the ice booms once in a while as it expands. Starry nights are incredible. A true wilderness experience.
As for the workshop itinerary, we will each bring a computer and images to work on. Everyone has dozens of photo shoots that we have never looked at the images! This is the time to get the best ones selected and tweaked in Photoshop. For the editing time, bring whatever snacks and drinks you want. Instructor Phil Norton will circulate and help with computer and programs one on one. He will critique your images and look at the IPTC metadata to know your exposure settings and suggest what you could have changed. Bring your best and worst shots to look at and work on. For the group Norton will give prepared slide presentations to inspire and instruct how-to techniques. There will be a demonstration to the group how to edit a shoot and general workflow from camera to web or online book publishing. Raw images that will be shown in Adobe Lightroom and how to select the good ones, crop and compose, brighten and darken and adjustments like contrast, black point, shadows, highlights, colour saturation, distortion tool and white balance. Also some fun cloning, trick photography and artistic filters. Manipulating images, creating montages and using text overlays. 3-D titles and logos can be created. Anyone who wants to learn Powerpoint and other slideshow programs on Mac or Windows can have a demonstration.
Post-processing (image editing) is half of photography. And if you work with that in mind you end up changing the way you shoot, that is, not aiming for perfection in the camera, just making an average image good enough to bring to perfection on the computer. We will look at each participant's photos, so bring many on a USB stick. The conversations around photography as art, as documentary, storytelling and shooting with a purpose are endless. That is what you can expect at the workshop, not only the instructor, but others sharing tips and solving problems, answering questions and setting you on a new course with a shooting and computer workflow system in your toolbox.
Phil Norton has been seeing life through a lens for 45 years and working professionally as a writer and photojournalist both on newspaper staff and freelancing for national magazines. Specializing in regional documentary, environmental issues and stock photography, he is no stranger to living on the road in pursuit of outstanding images from pre-dawn and into the night. But you won't be forced to work that hard!
He has explored many regions by car, bicycle, kayak and on foot and is anxious to share his discoveries and help you capture the scenes found in his own photographic portfolio. No matter the season or the weather, you will return home with an impressive collection of pictures made alongside a pro.
Depending on your level of experience we will get familiar with the basic buttons on your camera and review the exposure relationships between aperture, shutter, ISO, and light meter. Indoors and outdoors we will shoot with varied lighting conditions and use different lenses and shooting angles to improve composition.
Photoshop, Lightroom and archiving software instruction on the laptop with suggestions of the best workflow system for you. Artistic filters and Photoshop tricks. Bring along your favourite images for a gentle critique, and bring your failures that we will digitally turn into great shots. Audio, video, multimedia are all topics of interest. Norton studied basic graphic and web design at Concordia University in Montreal as well as the first Multimedia Summit workshop with the National Press Photographers Association in Portland, Oregon.
Exploring the backcountry, be prepared to walk and pack rain gear, snack, sunscreen and bug spray. Bring your telephoto lens for birds. You can always opt out of the rugged adventure and stay on the grounds at the lodge or explore elsewhere on your own. Any film or DSLR camera or point-and-shoot is acceptable; tripod recommended but not mandatory. Your photos can then be uploaded to an online gallery.
Stormy day options include local museums, photo exhibits and indoor photography tutoring.
What the participants are saying . . .
I enjoyed myself immensely and feel I learned a lot from you already.
Thanks Phil, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves (and the other participants)...it was good fun, a great place to hike, not to mention learning a good deal more about our respective cameras! . . . The weather could not have been better . . . !!
. . . all in all, a very nice outing. I can see that you're a natural teacher. . . .
Thanks so much for today.....it was Just Great and I never expected to take any photos with my little point-and-shoot camera that would be worth anything....but you showed me otherwise so I thank you so much for that!.
Hi Phil, thanks for a lovely evening, this is my first attempt at nighttime photos.
Thanks for everything. People such as you make life worth living.
Just want you to know that what you are doing is great! Everything you are offering is so wonderful . . . community-oriented, fun, stimulating, creatively inspiring, and essential.
It was great to get back "in the saddle" again - out in the elements with camera in hand, with a great group of folks with a like mind. Today was the first such outing I have been on in about 4 years and it was great.
I went into your blog the other day and I really like how it is looking. Makes our photos look great. Thanks for all your hard work.
We are having a great time getting back into photography. I have to pull my wife away from the computer where she is editing her images for hours on end. We are both extremely looking forward to utilizing our new equipment.
The outings have been incredibly good for me right down to my soul. It's put me back in touch with nature, brought out my love of photography (even though I still have soooo much to learn), gotten me out of my house and off of my butt, introduced me to some very cool people, de-stressed me and so on. What I'm trying to say is you've done an awesome job.
Thanks again for a spectacular weekend.
Our intrepid group that shares all kinds of crazy weather and wonderful adventures together; thanks to our talented and energetic leader Phil Norton.
Niagara Escarpment and Hamilton, Ontario
Springtime visit to the waterfalls mecca where hundreds of mini Niagara Falls run off of the rock ridge escarpment and with all of the snowfall, this will be THE year to see them. This unique natural area is right on the outskirts of one of Canada's most densely populated and industrialized urban corridors from Toronto to the USA border. We will photograph that diversity of landscape and people, day and night, with the usual fun food, drink and socializing and viewing each other's pictures. Please email if you are interested and watch this page for further updates about details. Click here to see a video of the region.
Ile St-Bernard and Montreal, Quebec
Our second weekend on Ile St-Bernard Island and tour of rural and urban Quebec has drawn a lot of interest from the Quinte Region and the Chateauguay Valley participants. We have 12 registered participants. Pricing for room and meals and workshop is under $300 at the Manoir d'Youville (see details on spring trip, below).
Click to view the photos from the trip.
A special demonstration and presentation will take place first thing upon our arrival with Scott Linstead who will fly his radio-controlled airplane drone with a video camera around the island then show us the results as well as a slideshow of his amazing wildlife photography featured in his new book.
The winter carnival Fetes des Neiges will be one of our stops as well as Mount Royal and street photography around Old Montreal, time permitting on Saturday. There is a photo exhibit to see on Ile St-Bernard and trails into deer and owl country to explore at your leisure. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing weather-permitting.
Montreal area photographers may attend the Friday afternoon session and supper and evening presentation for $25 (taxes included) plus meal ($15) and trail pass $3.75 (optional).
One-on-one computer and camera tutoring each evening in the common room. View photos of winter in Montreal by Phil Norton.
Ile St-Bernard and Montreal, Quebec
On Mother's Day weekend we journey to the Montreal region and stay at Manoir d'Youville, a former Grey Nuns convent-turned-inn. It is situated on an historic island, first settled by the French in 1673, at the mouth of the Chateauguay River where it joins a wide point in the St. Lawrence known as Lake St. Louis. See the aerial photo.
Our hosts are French-speaking but very good in English too. I lived in the City of Chateauguay for 10 years and the rural Chateauguay Valley for another 16. I worked as editor of The Huntingdon Gleaner founded in 1863 and was a photographer and writer for Le Soleil and L'Information Regional newspapers, a photography tutor at Vision newspaper at the high school, and photojournalist for The Montreal Gazette. Chateauguay's current mayor, Nathalie Simon, was one of my journalist colleagues in the 90's.
I am anxious to share this region I love, the historic French city of Montreal, so scenic day and night and culturally diverse, and the political epicentre for Canada....and the Chateauguay Valley where I lived and owned an apple-maple syrup farm. See the calendars I published with scenes of "Montreal" and the "Upper St. Lawrence". Fresh bagels, Mount Royal and the Old Port...
A special treat is our Friday evening introduction to Ile St-Bernard by superb nature photographer Dominic Gendron, someone I have known for many years and watched him develop his awesome portfolio, primarily with wildlife subjects on Ile St-Bernard island. We will meet him at the Pavilion theatre near our hotel for a slide presentation. At the Pavilion: Francois Dupont photo exhibit starts May 10th.
Local photographers will join us for this presentation and socializing at our hotel and a slide presentation and review of your portfolios on Friday and/or Saturday evening...with some outdoor night sky shooting and along the river's edge. There is also an ancient stone granary, formerly a windmill, and the nuns' cemetery that will lend well to some trick lighting at night.
Saturday will be our day in the big city and Sunday we will explore the Valley. Leisure time can be spent on the island. If we're lucky the apple orchard will be in blossom and mid-May is peak season for warbler migration...so we will likely meet some serious birdwatchers and see some long camera lenses on the trails.
Wireless interent is available in the common spaces and possibly in some rooms. There is no in-room TV and you have the option of sharing a bathroom with other rooms. See the rooms.
All meals are included, buffet-style. Supper includes soup & salad bar, vegetables, 2 choices of meat and one vegetarian dish. Juice, iced tea and coffee are included, as well as dessert. They also provide a snack-time twice a day with fruit, homemade cookies, juice, tea and coffee.....and if we are going out for lunch, we can get brown bag lunches packed for $5 a day. Breakfast on Sat. and Sun. of course.
Total cost varies depending on your choice of room and seniors discount. Single and double occupancy options as well as private or shared bathroom. I will provide all of the details for those who register. For example, for 2 people in the same room with a private bath and all meals included for 2 nights, including photo workshop fee = $488 plus tax.....which comes out around $280 per person....taxes included. Another example....2 seniors in one room, shared bath....about $250 each. If you would like to attend, please let me know as soon as you can and I will provide more details and help you book the room in advance.
Click on any photo above to see more details about these trips.
County Outings is planning a 4-day trip to Point Pelee National Park and the world's first oil well in Petrolia, Ontario. Please let me know now if this interests you for May 2016.
Prince Edward County Birding Festival mid-May each year. Watch for details about back-to-back outings offered during the peak of warbler and waterfowl migration. Driving and walking tours all around the horn of this unusual land jutting into Lake Ontario.
Newfoundland June 15 - 20, 2015. The Avalon Penninsula and Cape St. Mary's gannet colony with many lighthouses and fishing villages guaranteed. Hopefully icebergs too. Click to view photos by the participants from this trip.
Sumac Retreat Centre - March 27 - 29, 2015
Spring thaw will provide a torrent below Little Beaver Lake through the rocky canyon on the Sumac property. As the season warms, the maple sap will run and the locals will be on-site gathering it and boiling it down to syrup. There is also a larger, commercial maple syrup producer that we can visit down the road.
Besides the usual good eating and evening computer photo editing, portfolio reviews and group slide shows, we will venture out on foot to Bon Echo Provincial Park with its magnificent Canadian Shield rocks and cliff face across the pristine lake. Perhaps the early migratory waterfowl will be there too.
8 rooms with double occupancy are available, or pay more for a private room. Sign up to receive the County Outings E-newsletter for more details: email@example.com
Mont St-Hilaire and Montreal - Feb. 13 - 15, 2015
Just east of the metropolis rising out of the flat St. Lawrence plain is one of the Monteregian Hills where we will stay at the Mont St-Hilaire retreat centre. We rent 2 complete chalets with a kitchen and living room for our workshop, slide shows and computer/camera tutoring times. Each room has 2 bunk beds but you can have a room to yourself or double up to save money. The mountain trails are incredible for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing and walking right outside your door, with a volcano-like middle filled with a lake and a dramatic lookout from the top of a cliff. See photos from this trip.
It is less than an hour's drive from Montreal centre-ville where we will tour too. Each chalet has only 4 rooms so sign up quickly and if we have enough participants we can rent the other chalet. Bring home great images and Montreal bagels! For more details... firstname.lastname@example.org
Sumac Retreat Centre - Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, 2014
A relaxing weekend at the Sumac Centre near Mountain Grove and Sharbot Lake for a late autumn retreat before the snow flies. If you have never been there, this is only an hour and a half drive from Picton and it is at the end of a long dirt road, dark sky area overlooking Little Beaver Lake surrounded by hundreds of acres of bear country, marshes and rocky streams. The Land O' Lakes - Frontenac Arch region, within an hour's drive of Bon Echo Provincial Park. It is a spacious conference centre, a mix of rustic and modern and owner Paul Scott is a fun host. Approximately $250 per person depending on single or double occupancy plus bring-your-own food. This will be a workshop retreat with a difference. No intense travel schedule to shooting destinations, although you are free to take a drive on your own. So we will stay on-site and explore the local area at your leisure with camera shooting instruction ongoing and one-on-one computer sessions for portfolio reviews and how-to post-processing….also group sessions to look at each other's photos and slide shows on Paul's new big screen TV. To keep expenses to a minimum, bring your own food to prepare in the huge kitchen. Priority will be given to double occupancy reservations and regular participants of our County Outings program. There are 8 rooms for guests.
Ottawa and Gatineau Park, September 19-21, 2014
A weekend photography workshop in the nation's capital region during the start of coloured leaves. Destination: Ottawa, Ontario and the Gatineau Park on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River. Approximately 4 hours' travel time each for our Prince Edward County, Ontario and Chateauguay Valley, Quebec members. If interested contact email@example.com
Click to see photos of Gracefield and the Gatineau Valley taken in August 2014. View more photos: http://www.facebook.com/countyoutings
Algonquin Park in August 2013
August 24 - 25, 2013 -- A 30-hour excursion for photographers and naturalists into the wild and relatively unknown northeastern sector, leaving from Picton-Belleville around 5:00 p.m. and returning next day by 11:00 p.m. Cost: $49 plus tax per person plus gas, accommodations, park admission and meals. Photos taken on this trip: click here.
I explored this area recently mostly on foot and then some kayaking, but all of the points of interest are accessible on foot, such as the rocky point where Tom Thomson of the Group of Seven painted "The Jack Pine", and the canyon overlook.
The drive is 3 hours+ via Route 41 north of Napanee via Bon Echo Park. For accommodations, Pembroke is nearby on the Ottawa River. We will enter the park by 8 a.m. An Ontario Parks pass is valid if you have one for Sandbanks / Presqu'ile Parks. You can view some photos taken before the trip: click here.
Sumac Centre, Ontario -- October 4 - 6, 2013
Autumn splendour in the Frontenac Arch region, rocky Canadian Shield country. A repeat of our winter getaway (see below). Must book it now before the leaf-peeping tourists get there first. Please RSVP your interest immediately.
Mountain Grove, Ontario -- February 1 - 3, 2013
Group Of Seven winter weekend retreat to the Sumac Centre lodge in the wild "Land O' Lakes" region. Indoor camera/computer sessions and portfolio reviews on the screen along with outdoor shoots on the 600-acre property as well as a day trip along the Frontenac Arch back roads and in small towns, including North of 7 country which was made famous by the Group Of Seven painters. Bon Echo Provincial Park and the village of Sharbot Lake, Ontario. Rooms with a view. Click to view photos.