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Michael Seewald

Fine Arts Photography Workshop

My Christmas present in 1998 from son Matthew was a Photographic Composition Workshop. The two of us traveled about an hour and a half from our home to Del Mar, California. The workshop was scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and was to be limited to 8 participants. Matthew and I are both on Michael's mailing list and we had signed up for the workshop online. Michael, and wife Valerie have a Gallery in the Del Mar Plaza where we'd seen his work on each previous trip to our timeshare in nearby Wave Crest in Del Mar. I had purchased the following signed notecard from the gallery and later, while attending the Del Mar Fair, saw that Michael had won "Best of Show" with the same photograph.

We met the other participants: Bonnie, a physician in Oceanside who had recently been on a life-dream's wild animal safari to Africa, Mark, Frank, Matthew and me. We walked to the Del Mar Plaza from the gallery which is now across the street south of the plaza. We positioned ourselves in the table and chairs on the plaza, overlooking the Pacific. It was shirtsleeve weather and sunny.

Michael took about an hour telling us about his background in photography, an art-photography major in college, and journalism major in San Diego State. He originated the idea of prepaid sponsorships for photos he would take on trips to such places and China, Iceland, and Hawaii. He gets 12 sponsors who pay him $1,200 for a 24 by 30 picture, $1,600 for a 30 x 40, or $2,400 for a 40 x 50. He gives the sponsors their pick of 25 pictures a year after the trip.

We eventually were asked to tell a little about ourselves and our photo education background.

About 11:15 we started the Composition Rules:

We had been told to bring 6 photos each and as we had lunch together, we looked at our photos and cropped them to better apply the points he had mentioned.

Photos by Matthew:

Michael liked this photo Matthew had recently taken at Thanksgiving while in Victoria, Canada, with Sue.

His suggested cropping resulted in the following photo:

Michael particularly liked Matthew's shot of peppers taken on the same trip:

He turned the photo (he says he even prints photos backwards sometimes) and croped it as this:

Notice how the eye circles within the photo checking the yellow elements for a few passes.

The first picture I brought out was one of Cattle Point, San Juan Island, Washington, which I had taken at dusk in August, 1997:

A lot of my friends like this picture, but usually for it's rich and navy blue. No croping suggestions were given and he felt the center of interest was thebeach along the right edge of the photo.

When it was my turn again to pull out a picture to be judged, I showed this and got a 'very good' from Michael:

Again, no cropping suggestions, but a positive comment about the boat on the right. Friends and family will remember this as one of my 6 notecards in the '96 collection.

We had taken the following photos with us to show but never got to them. I offer suggestions as to cropping here for your approval or further cropping suggestions:

Matthew and I had read in Michael's bio. that his favorite time to photograph is dawn or soon thereafter, and dusk. Perhaps he would have liked this photo, therefore. Michael also prefers cloudy weather...even rain, to sunshine.

Because I have a zoom lense on my Minolta all the time with Michael's requisite polorizing filter, I usually crop the picture in my view finder as I take it. This must be why I have a little trouble croping my resulting prints. What do you think?

Sometimes, when I take a shot, I know what I want to use the shot for. In the following two shots taken on San Juan Island, Washington, near Roche Harbor, I envisioned the resulting photos being used as magazine covers:

Do you think cropping helped any of these two?

Matthew's other photos included these:

Something Matthew had already done here, and Michael mentioned doing when necessary, was to tilt the camera to keep lines from creating tension.

I think cropping doesn't improve it, do you?

I do, however, feel cropping helped here in a photo taken between Sequoia and Visalia on a cloudy, rainy day:

As well as here:

I'm sure by now you'd like to see Michael's photos.

Simply click his site to see some great art-photography.