Dating back nearly 200 years, the transcontinental railroad line at Donner Pass is a stunning example of railroading over dramatic terrain. From tunnels bored through solid granite to bridges spanning tree-lined deep chasms, this workshop course hits all the stops along this fabled former-Southern Pacific line. And not to be treated lightly ... its neighbor to the north, the former-Western Pacific Feather River Route, offers equally remarkable photo opportunities: from the engineering marvel of the Williams Loop, where trains loop over themselves, to the remarkable Y-span bridge at Keddie, to a stop at one of the greatest railroad museums in the United States. Spend three full days exploring and photography the rail history and iconic locations of Donner Pass and the Feather River, along with a special opportunity to be the engineer of a classic locomotive!

Eventbrite - Rails Over Donner Pass & Feather River: Iconic Train Photography Locations

  WHEN: JULY 15- 17, 2016
  TUITION: $795

    400-Level: Specialized
Highly intensive, small group courses that focus on a specialized genre or medium within the photographic industry.

Light-duty, trails w/noticeable inclines/elevation changes, time away from cars

COURSE CAPACITY: Minimum 3 students, maximum 5


The Rails Over Donner Pass & Feather River workshop course is a unique opportunity to relish in the genre of train photography while at one of the most scenic and historic rail locations in the United States. The primary focus of this 400-Level: Specialized workshop is understanding the compositional challenges unique to rail photography, proper exposure controls in the difficult light scenarios, and mastering the equipment the is crucial to successful train photography.

A moving train along a fixed route is unlike any other photography subject. Understand and perfect the requisite compositional methods.
The key to successful train photography is anticipating the train movement and having your photo determined, before the train arrives.
Trains are a unique study that are extremely difficult to capture in harsh lighting. Understand and apply the natural light approaches necessary.
A comprehensive and immersive lesson in traditional tonal value determinations intertwined with natural light controls
Understanding and use of proper photo equipment will allow for highlighting the spatial differences and perspectives necessary for rail photography.
Understanding in photographic techniques and methods to capture locations and subjects that are historically sensitive.

This workshop covers a great deal of diversity in locations in three days. As par to the course for railroad photography, shooting locations are dependent on train movement & location, direction of travel and lighting. The course itinerary is subject to change due to the non-predictable scheduling of rail traffic.

The workshop begins at 8am with a requisite working breakfast orientation and the first academic lesson. The group then heads out to Donner Pass to start the course. Donner Pass is abundant with shooting locations: the "Big Hole" main tunnel under the Sierra crest, multiple brides and spans, the rail town of Truckee and the Truckee River Canyon, and capped with the historic wooden snow sheds that are no longer in use (see photo above).

The second day begins post-sunrise back on Donner Pass for morning photography at east-bound locations, before heading north to the Feather River locations. The afternoon and evening are spent at several iconic locations along the Feather River Route, including the Williams Loop and the Keddie Wye. Following last light on the eastern end of the route, the group heads back to Reno for late dinner and image review.

The final day begins back at the Feather River Route for photographic opportunities in extreme scenic locations. Post lunch, the group heads to the railroad museum in Portola for photography opportunities with one of the largest collections of rolling stock, capped off with a special optional opportunity to be the engineer on a working Western Pacific F-7 (seen at left) locomotive! The workshop ends at 6pm with retun in Reno.

Light-duty, trails w/noticeable inclines/elevation changes, time away from cars

PlaceholderImage_1x400TransparentWORKSHOP PREREQUISTES
This 400-Level: Specialized workshop course has specific prerequisites for all participants:

Requires understanding of camera operations & functions, standard photography principles of exposure & composition. Expectations of participants' level of experience is one where instruction in these areas is not covered in this course. Instruction picks up at this level and focuses on academic topics relative and unique to the subject matter and genre.

Please read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) in regards to specific camera equipment that is recommended for this course. Understanding of the use of the equipment is expected, while specific instruction in the equipment related to the genre and topic will be provided.

All participants must watch the episodes of HSW.tv on content matter specific to this workshop course, as directed by their instructor. While the episode titles might reflect subject matter that is basic or rudimentary, all participants must watch each requisite episode as it is expected you will be knowledgeable and fluent on the concepts presented. (Each episode is comprehensive and short, about two minutes in length.)

"Logo_HSWtv_250x94pxBut I already know about exposure, your very first episode. It's the combination of shutter speed, aperture and ISO. Do I really need to watch it?"

That's the extreme basic misconception about exposure. If you come to the workshop with that premise and not what Episode #1 details, then you will be behind right from the start. All students need to be able to understand the instruction presented by the instructor, based off of the principles in the HSW.tv episodes listed below.

For this workshop course, your instructor has requested that you watch and familiarize yourself with the following episodes:
  HSW.tv SEASON ONE: Episodes #1 through #11

PlaceholderImage_1x400Transparent Michael Mariant is a travel & documentary visual journalist based in California. And for this Lake Tahoe workshop, it is a coming home ... Michael is fourth-generation Tahoe, with ancestry in Virginia City dating back to 1870!

Following several years as a newspaper photojournalist and desk editor, Michael moved away from local and regional coverage and up to wire service photography. For over a decade, Michael has been a contract photojournalist for The Associated Press, responsible for coverage of the Central Coast of California along with sports and entertainment assignments in Los Angeles, notably anchoring the agency’s coverage of the Michael Jackson trial from 2003 to 2005.  Michael is also the consultant & multimedia coordinator for the Semester at Sea study abroad program, providing lectures & instructions to the college students while shaping the direction of the programs multimedia efforts in video & still photography through social media. While still taking on editorial and Associated Press assignments, Michael has shifted his shooting focus to commercial video & his B&W landscapes. Outside of shooting, Michael leads educational travel photography workshops as well as university & industry lecture engagements.

View Your Instructor's SlickPic Gallery  |  Your Instructor's Website

The workshop base of Reno, Nevada is located in western Nevada, at the junction of Interstate 80 from California and Utah, and Highway 395 from Southern California and Northern California/Oregon.

Reno/Tahoe International Airport (RNO)

Travel time from the Reno/Tahoe International Airport to downtown Reno is approximately 10 minutes. There are car rental operations located on-site at the airport.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO), via Interstate 80 and Highway 50, is approximately 3.5 hours.
Sacramento International Airport (SMF), via Highways 50, is approximately 2.5 hours.

Carpool arrangements will be reviewed and discussed in the workshop forum discussions

For the Rails over Donner Pass & Feather River workshop, it is recommended workshop participants make their lodging reservations at the workshop base of Silver Legacy Resort, in downtown Reno.

There are countless additional hotels and casinos in the greater Reno area, and participants are free to stay at lodging of their choice. The morning meeting/departure and evening return will be at the workshop base hotel.

• Silver Legacy Resort

NOTE: Participants should plan on arrival to the hotel on Thursday evening for our Friday morning start time. The workshop will conclude with return to the Silver Legacy on Sunday evening.

In order to balance the various individual meal and budget preferences, time is allocated for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day at one of the various dining establishments in Reno and near the workshop locations. While we will eat as a group, meals are the individual responsibility of each workshop participant. Each dining establishment is chosen to provide a wide variety of meal options to satisfy multiple dietary preferences.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Q: How big is the group? How many students are there in the workshop?
    A: This workshop is strictly limited to only 5 participants, to ensure the one-on-one educational environment in our 400-Level: Specialty courses.
  2. Q: Is there a deadline to sign-up for this workshop? Does it sell out? Will you add more room if it does?

    A: The workshop registration closes one week before the start date. And space is very limited. We inevitably receive emails from those who waited until it was too late, inquiring if more spots can be added. Unfortunately, to keep the small group size and to ensure the critical one-on-one educational environment between the instructor and student, we do not add additional seats.

  3. Q: Is there any special camera gear I need to bring?

    A: There is absolutely no requirement on which camera you bring. All cameras will work within the workshop curriculum.

    A sturdy, solid tripod is required. It can be anything from a Manfrotto aluminum tripod to the expensive carbon fiber tripods. We strongly advise against a “low-budget” tripod (in the sub $100 range), as they have never made it through any of the High Sierra Workshops. They are not designed to withstand regular tripod use, do not have the features and movements of higher quality tripods, and rarely if ever are solid and sturdy.

    As for lenses, that is always dictated by one’s own personal preferences and budget.

    We do say that, in general terms, you will  need a wide angle lens to medium-length lens to long telephoto lens for the workshop. Essentially, something in the range from ~16mm on the wide side to ~200mm on the long side. How you choose to fulfill that is at your discretion. Would an 18-200 work? Absolutely. Would all prime lenses work? Absolutely.

    NOTE: You will need a long telephoto in the 300mm to 400mm range. You can achieve this using a teleconverter on a 200mm lens or through the use of APS-C sensor sizes, either in a mirrorless or DSLR body.

    “Do I need a 400/2.8?” Not really, unless you already own it and like carrying that hunk of glass!

    In regards to carrying your camera equipment, a  photo backpack, waistbelt and/or chest harness (such as those from ThinkTank) is recommended as it will be much easier to carry your gear in this manner than with a bulky camera bag. When packing and choosing your gear to bring, remember one thing: keep it simple and light!

  4. Q: What about non-photo gear? What do I need to bring?

    A: In the non-photographic equipment, a HAT and sunscreen is a must.

    Good light-duty hiking boots with excellent traction are REQUIRED as we will be off-trail and might be doing some light scrambling at times and good foot traction and strong ankle support is necessary.

    A flashlight/head lamp is REQUIRED as there is sunset photography.

    NOTE: Everyone is required to bring at least 1 water bottle of 32 oz. capacity.

  5. Q: Will we be carpooling during the workshop?

    A: During the pre-workshop forum discussions, we will make carpooling choices to avoid having a caravan of vehicles with one driver in each vehicle! Two cars will easily support transportation needs each day. If there are members of this workshop group who have a vehicle ideal for carpooling and are willing to volunteer, we applaud you for your efforts.

    During these same pre-workshop forum discussions, we will discuss sharing rentals/carpooling from the airport in Reno to the Silver Legacy Resort.

Cancellation Policy:

In order to ensure availability for those on our waiting list, all workshop cancellations will have the following fees applied:

Cancellation up to and within 60 calendar days prior to workshop start date:
Full refund of workshop tuition; no cancellation fee (Refund applied within 3 business days of cancellation notice)

Cancellation up to and within 30 calendar days of workshop start date:
Refund of workshop tuition minus $100 cancellation fee (Refund/fees applied at conclusion of scheduled workshop; waived if workshop seat booked prior to workshop start date)

Cancellation up to and within 7 calendar days of workshop start date:
No refund of workshop tuition (Waived if workshop seat booked prior to workshop start date with applicable refund applied at conclusion of scheduled workshop)

Logo_DidYouKnow65px(transparent)Did you know that HSW offers GROUP DISCOUNTS? Groups of 3 or more participants receive a 5% discount on tuition, while groups of 5 or more participants receive a 10% discount on tuition.
Plus, intermediate and advanced-level workshops are limited to only five participants, so your whole group can exclusively attend a workshop course together!
CONTACT US TODAY to schedule your group on any of our workshop course offerings.