Our Spectacular Fall Foliage Weekend Workshop

Walton, New York is not the easiest place in the world to get to, but people came from Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to spend a beautiful fall weekend with the Kelsh family to, first, make new lifelong friends, and secondly, become better photographers and that is exactly what happened.

Several of the attendees have used the word “magical” to describe the weekend and I have to agree. We had so much fun and so many laughs and I would put this weekend right up there with not just my favorite photography events, but with my all-time favorite weekends…personally and professionally.

As I write this, we are making plans to do a Nick Kelsh Photo Weekend Workshop once a month in the United States for the next year. Soon we will announce several of those locations and dates. I am finding my groove and I am loving it.

It’s always a roll of the dice when you bill an event as a Fall Foliage Weekend but luck was on our side. The glory of upstate New York was alive and well and only enhanced the joy of spending the weekend with our cameras and each other.


Photo by Anne Kelsh


Photo by Anne Kelsh


This was the view from our meeting room at a yoga facility just a few miles from Walton, New York. I shot this with a cup of coffee in one hand in my camera and the other— 7:15 AM.


I spent a lot of time helping people wrap their head around how to properly expose pictures when shooting with a digital camera. It’s very different than film. There is a trick to maintaining detail in the shadows and the highlights. The pond at grandma’s house was a perfect place to practice all weekend. Thank you, Linda! You are the very best mother-in-law ever! I really, really mean it. Really.


Maintaining detail and puffy white clouds requires a little bit of thought when you are exposing your photographs. But if puffy white clouds are overexposed a digital photograph can be a train wreck. Detail. Detail. Detail. I was relentless about detail all weekend.


I also sounded like a broken record when it came to composition. Never, ever, ever (well, almost never) put your subject in the middle of the frame. It’s easier said than done. Old habits are really difficult to break, especially when real life is happening in front of you.


Here is Tara Mock sharing another “funny” picture of yours truly as I try to set up my camera for another self-timer group shot.       photo by Anne Kelsh

I’ve probably taken a few thousand photographs of my boys playing baseball so it’s a little awkward, and humbling, to say out loud that Brenda and Tara has produced the best photograph/photographs of Teddy playing baseball that exists. This is hard to believe, but they were standing next to each other for our action photo lesson! These two photos were taken by two different people. (Look at the backgrounds.) Unbelievable! Teddy and his brother, Alexander, came along as models and athletes to help the attendees master their focusing modes and camera settings for outdoor sports. I can’t stop looking at this photograph! Look at how his feet are beautifully off the ground. The timing is just exquisite here. Teddy, a rather well-informed baseball historian, said that it looks just like The Catch, Willie Mays classic game saving catch in right field. photos by Tara Mock (left) and Brenda Mitchell


Alhough Chris Morgan did not have the highest level camera equipment at the retreat, he seemed to have produced one of the finest action photographs anyone shot over the whole course of the weekend. The format for the weekend was this: We would talk about what we were going to do, then we would go outside and do it, and then we would go back into the meeting house and look at the photographs on the screen improving them with cropping and editing. It is so much fun to watch your photographs come alive 15 or 20 minutes after you push the button!      photo by Chris Morgan


After we had “mastered” outdoor action photography and evaluated our successes and mistakes, we reset our cameras for the challenge of indoor, low-light actions. Alexander and Teddy were happy to pummel each other repeatedly in the interest of public education. I shared my secret formula for dealing with squirmy, misbehaving children and helped Trudy turn the this picture into the picture below minutes after she took yet another photograph of my children that I love – taken by one of my students.      photo by Trudy Johnson


It may not be apparent here, but Teddy has Alexander right where he wants him. He is in total control. Love this photograph. Taken in an extremely dim lighting situation, by the way. Technology works!        photo by Trudy Johnson



Photographers are actually great photo subjects.      Linda Kennington by Nick Kelsh


One of the benefits of registering early for our weekend is is a Nick Kelsh portrait session.     Trudy Johnson by Nick Kelsh


Linda Kennington by Nick Kelsh



Our new neighbor…her family loved the area so much they bought a vacation house!    Mihaela Teodorescu by Nick Kelsh.


Tara Mock by Nick Kelsh


The only other male at the workshop, Chris Morgan, and friends.


Future workshops will include a sizeable component about lighting with a speedlite. As digital cameras become more and more sophisticated, I’ve become more convinced that you can light almost anything with a speedlite. I shot this as a “bounced lighting” demo photo.


This is the “before” shot of an outdoor speedlite demonstration.


And the after shot.


My eagerness to convert to black and white became a running gag as the weekend. In this case, I do believe I was right. Fantastic shot of an American Bison.       Photo by Linda Kennington


Photo by Linda Kennington


It’s difficult to beat the comedy classics, isn’t it? That old “Whoops! I dropped my camera while I was taking a picture out of the covered bridge” is always a crowd-pleaser. Anne, my wife, insisted that I do it repeatedly so she could shoot some kind of definitive video version. No one has seen the video to date, that I know of.           photo by Tara Mock


It was just a coincidence that Brenda’s sweater was a perfect color match for the roof on the covered bridge. I find a new visual possibilities for this covered bridge every time I go there. What a gem! As a man who drove through the bridge said to us as we were taking pictures, “Welcome to our baby!” We are sending him photographs.


She’s still got it! Anne did a heel click for us to shoot a silhouette without an injury.


I told the attendees that you could actually run a portrait business out about covered bridge—the light is so exquisitely be beautiful in there. Anne and I don’t get photographed much, but the portraits we walked away from this weekend were more than appropriate. We celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary the day before the weekend started. I still love you, Annie.        photo by Tara Mock


Photo by Tara Mock


We stopped at an incredible barn and the star of the show was the goat on the stone wall. That’s how photography works. Good photographers know when to change gears.


Another wonderful neighbor, Mr. Tweedie, left, loves it when I bring other photographers to his wonderful corner of rural America.


Honestly, I could do an entire photo workshop weekend out Mr. Tweedie’s barn. That’s Tara Mock shooting a detail.


Another black and white conversion.       Photo by Tara Mock


Photo by Tara Mock


Mr. Tweedie, the owner of this incredible barn, was even looking for props for us to photograph. Thank you, Mr. Tweedie! Your are a gem!      Photo by Brenda Mitchell


Black and white? Not this time. Look at that color! There’s are blues, greens, yellows, and evern purples buried in that wood.      Photo by Tara Mock

A local pumpkin patch provided us with plenty of unexpected visual treats.That’s Linda


White “Ghost Pumpkins” in the beautiful natural light of a barn.


I was caught by one of the attendees placing this leaf in “just the right place”. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. : )


Mihaela generously loaned us her children for an exercise in panning and blurring backgrounds to create a sense of motion. To make a long story short, Mihaela and her family fell in love with this upstate New York country at our first weekend workshop and bought a house in the area that very weekend. The kitchen is already renovated. What a wonderful addition to the neighborhood! We are beyond thrilled.        photo by Mihaela Teodorescu


Seriously, look at this exercise in color. Amazing.



I never get tired of creating abstract compositions with fall color…never.


We will soon be announcing 12 Nick Kelsh Weekend Photo Workshops.  Come join us!


Nick Kelsh by Anne Kelsh


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