Light & The Landscape

Course Requirements

This landscape photography workshop is a creative class that deals with creative issues. It is aimed at photographers who already feel comfortable with their cameras and who aren’t grappling with basic technical issues. It’s important that you can concentrate on your compositions without technical frustrations. If you have questions about your experience level, please email us or phone 630-852-8448.

If you have questions about your experience level, please email us or phone 630-852-8448.


You should be comfortable with your camera’s operations and controls. If you’ve taken our Complete Exposure and Make Great Pictures, Now! classes, you’ll have an advantage. If you don’t have a lot of experience, we offer very nice fundamental photography classes designed for your needs, beginning with Get to Know Your Camera.


Here’s a list required items to fully participate in the remarkable course:

  1. Digital Camera: SLR or Mirrorless (EVF) 35mm, or Medium Format. No point-and-shoot cameras.
  2. Ultra-Wide Angle Lens (wider is better):
    • 35mm Full-Frame Cameras: A lens with a focal length of 16mm or under is preferred.
    • Medium Format: A lens with a maximum effective 35mm full-frame focal length of 20mm is preferred.
    • DX 35mm Cameras (cropped sensor): A lens with an effective 35mm full-frame focal length of 21 and under is preferred.
      • Example: The 18-55mm lens that comes as part of a DX camera kit isn’t wide enough for Mike’s “Chicago Prairie Style” system because the effective focal length of the 18mm lens on the cropped sensor will range from 27mm to 36mm (for crop factors 1.5 to 2.0). If you have a DX camera, the ideal DX lens will be as wide as 10mm to 12mm, like a 10-20mm or 12-24mm lens.
  3. Sturdy Tripod & Head:
    • Flimsy or hard-to-adjust tripods and heads that are designed for studio use are extremely frustrating to use in the field. They’ll ruin compositions and your day.
    • Precise composition is required, and longer exposures are the norm. As long as you have a sturdy tripod and head, you’ll be okay.
    • Outdoor tripods have center columns that are not “geared,” but can freely slide up and down. They’re also designed to be used on uneven surfaces which means that they don’t have connectors between the legs and the center column. The head should be a ball head. I love this tripod head: Manfrotto Heavy Duty Joystick Grip Ball Head (322RC2). And this sturdy aluminum tripod is a good choice: Manfrotto 190XPRO Aluminum 4-Section Tripod.
    • To make your life so much easier, get an over-the-shoulder tripod strap. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck carrying the tripod around in your hand all day.
  4. Filters:
    • Circular polarizing filter is required.
    • Optionally, you can use split grad filters, if needed. Mike will help you with this.
  5. Hyperfocal Distance Guide: Don’t worry if you don’t have one. We sell one for $10. And you’re going to need it.
  6. Small Tape Measure (metal tape): Don’t forget this! You’ll use it to calculate the hyperfocal distance. It probably doesn’t need to be longer than 10 feet. But it helps if the tape is not floppy.
  7. Fresh Camera Battery: Make sure your camera battery is freshly charged and have a backup with you. Be prepared.
  8. Memory Card: It would help to have a fresh card and also a backup.
  9. Optional: A remote shutter release allows you to take sharper images because you can engage the shutter without touching the camera with your hand.
  10. Backpacks: Please try to leave your photo backpack behind. It’s cumbersome, gets in the way on narrow trails, and often damages fragile plants.


You need to be ready for all weather conditions to protect yourself and your equipment. As with any outdoor situation, it is highly recommended that no cotton clothing of any sort be worn. If in the morning or in the springtime, you’ll probably need to wear gloves. And it’s common to get drenched in morning dew. Here’s a brief list of what you should bring:

  1. Boots: Assume muddy and wet conditions.
  2. Long Pants: Protects your legs against injury and from insects like ticks and mosquitoes.
  3. Brimmed Hat: It’s really hard to compose a picture with sunlight in your eyes. You also want to protect yourself from the sun and from insects.
  4. Hat, Gloves, & Jacket for morning shoots or cooler weather.
  5. Rain Jacket & possibly Rain Pants: For morning shoots, the prairie is covered with dew and you can become completely saturated. Think “Wet Photography Vest Contest.” On second thought, don’t think about it!
  6. Synthetic Undergarments will keep you warm and wick away moisture from your skin.
  7. Sunscreen
  8. Insect Repellent: Use a DEET repellent to hold the mosquitoes and ticks at bay.
  9. Snacks & Liquids: It’s important to keep hydrated and to keep up your energy.


When we’re in the field it’s important to have what you need for landscape photography. For instance, if you have a wide angle zoom, that’s the only lens you’ll need. But, it’s also important to respect the home of these very special living plants and creatures. So, we all need to tread lightly and be careful not to damage or crush plants. Therefore, if you normally use a backpack, try to go without. If you absolutely cannot, then please be extremely careful about where you place it when you’re shooting.


Due to the nature of the course, it’s important to have good light during the field session. In case of bad light or inclement weather, the field session (only) will be rescheduled to the following day or week as described in the class title. The lecture will still be held as scheduled. If light is a problem on the makeup date, then the session will be held one week after that. Example: Saturday is the field session, which is the 10th day of the month. The first postponement date is on Saturday (the 17th). The 2nd postponement date is the following Saturday (the 24th). The 3rd postponement date is the Saturday of the 31st, and so forth. The initial classroom session will be held as scheduled.


In additional to these course requirements, please read through our terms and conditions before deciding to sign up.

If you have further questions about Mike MacDonald workshops just email or phone 630-852-8448.

CONVENIENTLY LOCATED: Creative Eye Workshops offers a variety of photography classes in the Chicago suburb of Downers Grove, Illinois (near Naperville, IL). Because we are located off the 63rd Street/Hobson Road exit of I-355 and close to main thoroughfares like Warrenville Road, Ogden Avenue, Belmont Road/Finley Road, 75th Street, Butterfield Road, and Route 53, we are quickly and immediately accessible from nearby towns like Bolingbrook, Lisle, Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Oak Brook, Westmont, Woodridge, Plainfield, and Aurora. But, because of our accessibility, students come from all around to take our weekday evening photo courses, including those from Oak Park, La Grange, Orland Park, Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, and the city of Chicago. Students have driven from as far as away as Indiana, McHenry County, and Evanston because they know that we offer something better and different.