When I think about all of the different ways I’ve learned about photography over the years, it’s a long list. I’ve read free how-to articles online at places like Digital Photography School, Photography Life, and the Adorama Learning Center. I’ve gone to one-day seminars in Philadelphia and D.C. that were sponsored by National Geographic Traveler, KelbyOne, and others. I’ve watched YouTube and Lynda.com videos (I’m lucky that as a Penn State employee I have free access to Lynda.com) on everything from how to assemble my tripod to how to use the Radial filter in Adobe Camera Raw. And I’ve gone on week-long—and longer—photo workshops in various exotic locations. More on those another time.

A few years ago, my friend Elaine told me about an annual three-day photography expo called NatureVisions, in Manassas, Va., and last year I went with her to the event. We’re headed back there next week.

I learned so much at NatureVisions last year. I attended sessions on travel photography, wildlife photography, macro photography, even iPhone photography. A session that especially appealed to me, given my job as a magazine editor, was Jennifer King‘s presentation on using design principles to create more effective images. King went to school to be a designer and worked in the advertising industry, then moved into art direction, becoming a creative director at an agency. Only later in her career did she leave that work and become a nature photographer—and she made a good case for the way the principles of design, i.e., the techniques you use to draw the reader or viewer in, apply in photography as well. She’s an amazing landscape photographer, and I hope to sign up for one of her trips sometime.

In one session at last year’s NatureVisions, you could experiment with macro photography. I took this close-up of a bunch of plastic drinking straws.(Click to see bigger.)

This year I’ve signed up for sessions by Nikhil Bahl on wildlife photography and Corey Hilz on macro photography, as well as two hands-on sessions, one where we get to photograph parrots and another where we photograph birds of prey. I’ve also signed up for a 20-minute “portfolio review,” in which I’ll show Steve Gettle 12 to 15 of my own images and get some quick feedback on what I could be doing better.

I’m sure I’ll post here about some of the things I learn at NatureVisions, so check back for that.

Meanwhile, Elaine and I are both big Penn State football fans, so we’re a little disappointed to hear that the Penn State/Michigan State game that Saturday is likely to air at either noon or 3:30 p.m. (Last year the game that weekend was at night, so we watched it on a TV at the hotel.) I might have to figure out a way to listen to the game in one ear while learning about photography with the other.

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