It’s not about taking a color scene that you like and later converting it to B&W through post-production software. While the B&W conversion is a critical step, it does not dictate the photograph. It is only the final step in a multi-step process that starts with reading the landscape scene for the final B&W show print. Applying the Zone System principles while shooting creates the the vital framework necessary for having that full range of tones — all 11 zones — that defines the striking nature of black and white images. It is not about seeing what type of B&W image you can make, but seeing the scene in B&W and for what the photograph can ultimately become.

This three-day course is an intensive study of the complete digital B&W zone system, examining not just the “popular” post-production techniques but also analyzing and breaking down what are simply just tricks to “make” a B&W shot versus what are the proper steps to “create” a B&W photograph.

Eventbrite - Digital B&W Zone System: Yosemite's Spring

  WHEN: FRI. APR 28 - SUN APR 30, 2017
  TUITION: $995

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

Mild, light hiking, flat trails, near to cars


COURSE CAPACITY: Minimum 3 students, maximum 5


This three-day course will focus on the full black & white shooting process, from learning to see in B&W to post-processing conversion steps … and everything that is needed to make that happen:



Your instructor will also provide you with a complimentary physical “tool” to add to your camera bag arsenal, one of the dirty little secrets in landscape photography, to help you see in black & white.

The workshop will begin at 9am with an orientation and first lecture session. Following an early lunch, the small group will head out for an afternoon and pre-sunset window of shooting. Following dinner, everyone will gather for image review.

The second day of the workshop will start with a morning shooting session and then a late morning lecture on shooting assessments. Following lunch, the first of two critical post-processing lectures occurs. The group will then head out again for a late afternoon and pre-sunset window of shooting, with an image review following dinner with integrated post-production applications from the day's lessons.

Day three of the workshop mirrors Day Two, with an intensive post-production lesson that encapsulates the entire zone system process, with the workshop wrapping up with a concluding dinner following the sunset shooting opportunity.

Mild, light hiking, flat trails, near to cars
The morning of the second day includes a pre-dawn hike of 1-mile on relatively flat topography at an elevation of 7,000-ft.

PlaceholderImage_1x400TransparentWORKSHOP PREREQUISTES
This specialized-level workshop has specific prerequisites for all participants:

Students must have a minimum level of experience and/or be a past HSW attendance. Technical proficiency must include the ability to comfortably and regularly shoot with ease in manual exposure, and a solid comprehension of the shutter speed, aperture and ISO scales along with their secondary effect aside from exposure control.

Participants are expected to be: 1) Comfortable in shooting in manual mode; 2) Understand how to use the in-camera spot meter or a hand-held spot meter; 3) Understand how to use the histogram not for exposure but for reading the tonal range of the image; 4) Are comfortable with RAW format coupled with exposure camera controls; 5) Are comfortable and can navigate their way around Photoshop or Lightroom, and use adjustment layers; 6) Are willing to participate in the workshop planning and prep via email discussion prior to the workshop start.

All students in this course MUST have either previously attended a High Sierra Workshops offering led by instructor Michael Mariant, or MUST provide a link to an online portfolio, a brief statement of intent, and have a brief conversation/web chat with the instructor PRIOR to class registration. It is imperative that all students are at the minimum technical experience level.

Logo_HSWtv_250x94px EPISODES
All participants must have watched the episodes of 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.)

For this Digital B&W Zone System workshop, your instructor has requested that you watch and familiarize yourself with the following episodes: SEASON ONE: Episodes #1 - #14

PlaceholderImage_1x400Transparent For over 30 years, Michael Mariant as been trekking throughout Yosemite with a specific focus on the black and white landscape scene. Michael started with the Mamiya RB67 medium format camera, applying the extremely refined Zone System techniques as taught to him by his B&W mentor, a former assistant to the legendary Ansel Adams.

It was only a few years later that Michael moved from medium-format to the larger 4×5 negative, first with a studio 4×5 camera, then to his current 4×5 Toyo field camera that has served him for over 20 years. While many photographers were shilling their darkroom equipment as quick as they could at the dawn of the digital era, Michael instead built a brand new 300 sq-ft darkroom, customized for his unique panoramic 40″-wide silver prints.

When Michael isn’t shooting for The Associated Press, traveling around the world with Semester at Sea, or teaching Nikonians Academy workshops, he retreats for private time and personal shooting in Yosemite Valley, a location he has photographed inside-out and knows every nook and cranny.

And now it is your chance to join Michael on one of his private retreats, learning to see Yosemite Valley in the black & white landscape scene as only the legends have photographed it.

Are you ready to see the full picture? Are you ready to apply the technical and visual steps together to bring home a multitude of jaw-dropping show prints from Yosemite Valley? Only five students can attend this unique course taught by award-winning instructor Michael Mariant.

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

Yosemite is located in the central part of the Sierra Nevada mountains, easily accessible from several major cities as well as the closest city of Fresno.

Fresno-Yosemite International Airport (FAT)

Travel time from Fresno-Yosemite International Airport to Yosemite Valley is approximately 2.5 hours. There are several car rental operations located on-site at the airport.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO), via Highways 80, 580, 205, and 120, is approximately 4 hours.
Sacramento International Airport (SMF), via Highways 99 and 120, is approximately 3.5 hours.
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
, via Highways 5, 99 and 41, is approximately 5.5 hours.

NOTE: From now through May 20, repairs to the interiors of the Big Oak Flat tunnels on Hwy. 120 in Yosemite National Park just outside of Yosemite Valley will result in travel delays, Monday through Friday. The National Park Service states to expect delays of 15 minutes between 6am to 8pm, delays of 30 minutes between 8pm to 10pm, and delays of 2 hours between 10pm and 6pm. Please plan accordingly in your travel plans.

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

For the Digital B&W Zone System workshop, workshop participants need to make lodging reservations at either Curry Village or Yosemite Lodge inside Yosemite Valley, or at one of the two hotels located in El Portal, immediately outside of Yosemite Valley.

Curry Village or Yosemite Lodge: Located in Yosemite Valley
Yosemite View Lodge: Located on Hwy. 140 right at the park boundary.
Cedar Lodge: Located further down Hwy. 140 away from the park boundary.


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 Yosemite Valley.

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 always strictly limited to only 5 participants to ensure the one-on-one educational environment for this specialized-level course.
  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: No, there is not a deadline to sign up for the workshop. However, space is limited. And it does sell-out, as it is popular course! 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, we do not recommend a specific lens or set of lens for the workshop, as 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. Do I need a 400/2.8 with a 2x tele-convertor? Not really, unless you like carrying that hunk of glass around AND have an idea for a shot you want to accomplish.

    In regards to carrying your camera equipment, a small 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!

    IMPORTANT: A laptop to download/edit your photos with a working version of Adobe Photoshop is required. There will be daily image reviews, tutorials, lessons and critiques throughout the three-day course, so the ability to review and edit your images is critical. Adobe Lightroom does not meet all of the curriculum needs and does not have the feature set found in Photoshop that is necessary for B&W Zone System post-production editing. (Instruction in Adobe Photoshop is included in the course curriculum.)

  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 boulder scrambling at times and good foot traction and strong ankle support is necessary.

    Another highly recommended item is hiking/trekking poles. Many workshop participants in the past have utilized the poles and commented that they couldn’t have done it all while carrying the heavy gear without the trekking poles.

    A flashlight/head lamp is REQUIRED if there is night shooting or 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! Three to four 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.

    Also, for those that are arriving at the Fresno airport or driving from similar locations, we will also start a carpooling discussion forum just for getting to/from the workshop.

  6. Q: I’ll be arriving in Fresno the night before the workshop. What should I do?

    A: The workshop begins at 9am, so we highly recommend staying in the valley the night before. However, if you can get up early and drive up from Fresno, there is a Holiday Inn and a Picadilly Inn directly across the street from the Fresno International Airport, less than a 5 minute walk from the terminal. Keep in mind that it is at least a 2-hour drive from Fresno to Yosemite Valley. Get stuck behind a motor home or bus, and it can be almost 3 hours.

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.