Green-Wood Cemetery Night Photography Workshop now Open for Registration

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The Gates to Green-Wood ~ Sony A7II w/24-70 lens ~ HDR blend of 4 images at f/8 and ISO 100

The year is 1853 – can you guess what the 2nd greatest tourist attraction is in the United States, after Niagara Falls?   This was the time before the Central and Prospect parks and Green-Wood Cemetery, one of the finest examples of a rural cemetery, would easily have over 500,000 visitors a year.

Built in 1838 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006, what inspired people to visit remains the same:  the 478 acres of hills, valleys, glacial ponds, and pathways which meander through one of the finest collections of 19th and 20th century statuary and mausoleums.  It is this rural landscaping that separates Green-Wood from the other famous cemeteries of New York City.

It is also steeped in rich history – Battle Hill is the tallest point in Brooklyn, rising 200ft above sea level.  You’ll find the goddess Minerva up there, standing tall and looking out to the Statue of Liberty.  The famous Battle of Brooklyn was fought in 1776 across from what is now Green-Wood.

Photo by Matt Hill Photo by Matt Hill

For the first time, the grand gates of Green-Wood will be open for an exclusive night photography workshop.  Photographers Gabriel Biderman, author of Night Photography:  From Snapshots to Great Shots, and visual artist and educator Matt Hill will lead you on this hands-on photography workshop dedicated to capturing the essence of Green-Wood at night.  Long exposures and light painting will be the focus so a tripod, cable release, and SLR camera are mandatory.  A comfort in shooting in manual and bulb mode is also recommended.  Gabe and Matt have been teaching workshops in historic NY locations like Sleepy Hollow, Woodlawn Cemetery, and Bannerman Castle, and pride themselves on their personal approach to sharing their night photography visions with their students.  There will be ample lecture, shooting, and touring time so that you will end up with a better understanding of night photography and Green-Wood.  You can attend this 2-night weekend workshop for either 1 or both days depending on your schedule.  If you take both nights, you will be able to get feedback on your work at the critique on Sunday.   We also feel that by shooting on consecutive nights you will become more proficient with your night photography skills, as well as a better opportunity to explore more of this amazing location!

Angel in the trees ~ Sony A7s and Voigtlander 50 1.5 lens ~ 8s at f/1.5 and ISO 100

DATE:  APRIL 25th-26th

TIME:  4pm-12AM each night


PRICE:  $150 Per night – to register click here

Required Gear: DSLR camera, tripod, and cable release. A full gear guide will be sent to you upon registration.

Snow Angel ~ Sony A7s and Voigtlander 50mm lens at f/2.8 and 4s ~ ISO 100

2015 Night, and some day, Photography Workshops Announced!

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I’m very excited to officially announce my 2015 photography workshop schedule! It’s rounding out to be an epic year – Finland, Iceland, Galapagos, Wyoming, and Woodstock, as well as night photography workshops in historic New York locations like Bannerman Castle and Green-Wood Cemetery!

If photographing the Northern Lights is on your bucket list – I’ll be leading two workshops during the prime season to see these amazing auroras.


First stop is the Finnish Laplands from March 4-10. I don’t know many workshops going to northern Finland – so when Photo Quest Adventures asked if I would lead their group up to one of the most aurora-active places in the world, I started packing my bags! It is going to be an amazing adventure – we will visit small villages, hang out with reindeers, and probably jump on a few husky sleds and snowmobile expeditions during the day.  At night, we will direct our cameras to some of the cleanest and clearest skies for one heck of a light show! We will stay in luxury cottages as well as one magical night in a glass igloo – a perfectly warm place to observe and capture the northern lights! 2 spots left.

Green-Wood Angel ~ Sony A7s & Voigtlander 50mm 1.5 Nokton ~ 8s at f/1.5 ~ ISO 100

Back in Brooklyn, Matt Hill and I are very excited to continue our Historic Cemeteries at Night series. For the first time, the grand gates of Green-Wood will be open for an exclusive night photography workshop. The dates are April 25th-26th and we will be posting pricing and more info soon.

Sony A7s and Voigtlander 12mm lens ~ 12min at f/8 ~ ISO 1000

Matt and I will be also be offering our annual Bannerman workshop on July 18th. Last year’s new moon and light painting was amazing – so we are doing it again! This is your only ticket to spend the night on Pollepel Island, in the middle of the Hudson River, and only 2 hours north of NYC. Limited to 6 students and all proceeds go to the Bannerman Trust to help stabilize and maintain this incredible piece of New York history.     Pre-Registration open now – contact me directly.  Pre-Registrations has filled up.  You can contact me to get on the waiting list.

Image shot with Sony RX100 and printed on Arches Aquarelle

I’m excited to be debuting a brand new workshop, The Night Cyanotype, at the Woodstock Center for Photography from July 31st-August 2nd. I have been experimenting with one of the oldest historical processes, the cyanotype, and the “blue night” is a unique and fresh interpretation. We will spend our nights shooting some cool Catskills locations, ironically under a blue moon. During the day you will get feedback on your pictures and create several fine art cyanotypes with your favorites nocturnal images. Pricing and details to be announced soon.

Fujifilm X-Pro 1 & 10-24 lens ~ 1m at f/4 ~ ISO 3200

Matt Hill and I are teaching new workshop “Night Encounters at Devil’s Tower” with the Rocky Mountain School of Photography from August 13th-16th. This workshop quickly sold out, but if you want to get on the waiting list, please contact RMSP.


Ancient & Abandoned Iceland

Tim Cooper and I are leading the Ancient and Abandoned Iceland workshop from September 26th-October 5th. This is a day and night 10-day workshop with the Lunar Eclipse, a Blood Moon, on 9/28. We will really delve into two specific regions of Iceland exploring ancient landscapes and long abandoned ruins and uncovering the allure of each location. We will be chasing the light at all times, and at night we will find fantastic foreground for light painting under the stars and Auroras. 6 spots left.


From November 27th – December 13th I’ll be on board the Nat Geo Endeavour with my whale shark of a friend, David Brommer, and a who’s who of Nat Geo photographers and naturalists, as we go on an Epic Galapagos Photo Expedition. The Galapagos archipelago straddles the equator and has over 26 endemic species including Darwin’s finches, Galapagos giant tortoises, marine iguanas, and Galapagos penguins. These animals do not fear humans and you’ll be able to get up close to them on land or under the sea!  There are only a few spots left on this trip of a lifetime!

10 Tips on Creativity and a chance to win a Jay Maisel book

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I originally wrote the below 10 tips on Creativity for a B&H feature on Inspiration for the New Year. I recommend checking out the 13 other articles, as each person contributed their unique take on what inspires them. I wanted to continue this dialogue on ruinism and add a little incentive.  I recently picked up a copy of Jay Maisel’ s latest book, Light, Gesture, and Color.

Jay is the king of color and creativity and even if you are not a photographer – this book is guaranteed to inspire and give you a deeper understanding of how to see the world.   I have to say that when I flipped through the 240 images, I was surprised to see very little text accompanying the book. Jay simply and concisely shares his insight into making each image. I was able to devour the book in less than 2 hours and I am so excited to go make some images right now!  But before I do that I want to share a copy of this book if you’ll share a little bit of you.

All you have to do is leave a comment below and your name will be thrown into one of my hats.

The comment can be anything – a reaction to the below tips, what or who inspires you, or what are you looking forward to exploring in 2015.

I’ll pick a winner and announce it this Sunday – get ready to be inspired by one of the best!                                                                         (International winners will receive the ebook version of this book)


Creatively speaking, I really enjoyed 2014. My book, Night Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots, was officially released and I was able to do the fun part – share my vision with the world! The feedback that I’ve received – either from the various social channels, reviews, or workshops has been incredible.

After a year of shooting and writing for the book, it was great to finally get back out there and shoot for myself. I just did a recent blog where I pored over my work of 2014 and compiled “my year in review“. If you haven’t done it yourself, I highly recommend it. It is an inspiring way to assess your work and get focused for the upcoming year. I was really proud of what I produced last year, but I feel like my vision has become a bit “comfortable”. Now, I feel ready to challenge myself and take it to the next level. It’s as exciting as riding a bike for the first time – you are moving, or in the photographer’s case, seeing in a whole new way. When we are in this early exploratory vision-quest phase, it is very important to really focus and feel.

So, I’d like to share my ten tips that have been fueling my creativity as of late. They’ve always been in my mind and some might seem obvious to you, but I’ve always found that ideas will stay in the forefront of our brain if we write them done and abide by them!


Tap into your mind’s eye

Who you are as a photographer should correlate with who you are as a person. You should make, not take pictures. Even journalists have a unique way of how they see the world. If you are new to photography, experiment with different styles – documentary, fine art, portraits, etc. Find which one resonates with your vision. But try not to let the photographic style dictate your vision. I have been shooting for 18 years, but I am amazed at how I continue to learn and change all the time! If you want to express yourself you need to know yourself – so make sure you set aside some quality time to delve into your mind’s eye. What do you see? What do you feel? How do you get over pain or express wonderment? Dig deep into your emotions and passions and try to express yourself with a camera and lens.


Hone your vision

Practice makes perfect and repetition leads to consistency. This will help marry your mind’s eye to the tools you are using to express yourself. When you trip that shutter, it is just the beginning and your post process work also needs to be crafted. Your vision will not just come after the 10,000th shot and you’ll need to develop many images to find your look. Push those sliders to the max and then bring it back. Do you see in black and white or slightly desaturated color? You can try different “looks” for different subject matter but your vision should be true.


Be inspired by others

When you go to a museum, read a book, or watch a movie – discuss, process, and get jazzed by it. I remember getting into a huge debate with two older women while walking through Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s The Gates during a snowstorm in Central Park. They were complaining about how garish the orange gates were and I was dumbfounded. I tried to explain that, hey, this is forcing you to see your park and your environment in a whole new way – isn’t that exciting? Even if you still don’t like it, that’s ok, but we probably never would have talked and had this debate if it wasn’t for this art project. I always feel excited and eager to create something after experiencing art – whether I liked it or whether it inspires me to retaliate with my point of view.

The Night Island ~ Fujifilm X Pro 1 & 23mm lens ~ 20m at f/8 ~ ISO 400

Utilize gear to push the vision further

I just spent some time going through a bunch of my early film work, and don’t get me wrong, I love the process of film, but the digital years have been extremely prolific. There is definitely an overall growth, but the instant feedback allows me to experiment more. We are exposed to a plethora of amazing technology and it just keeps getting better. Cameras are constantly capable of capturing more information. We can practically see in the dark with cleaner and higher ISOs than ever before. Lenses are our eyes to the world and there is so much to explore – have you ever shot with a 1.2 or 1.4 lens? If not, you are missing out on a literally, eye-opening experience.  Macro, pinhole, lensbaby, tilt shift, and the nifty fifty all will help you see and share the world in different ways. I knew I could isolate the “Night Island” of Twin Peaks with car trails coming and leaving, but couldn’t have done it without the help of the HiTech’s 6 stop IRND filter.

The Golden Gate ~ Fujifilm X Pro1 & 55-200 lens ~ 1/500s f/8 ISO 200
Scout your location

The more you know about your subject, the better you’ll understand it and have the opportunity to tell a richer story. If you were assigned to photograph a person, you would research them, find a common bond that would help you connect and create something special. The same preparedness should be approached when planning a location shoot. The Twin Peaks Park website even notes that most visitors are swept away by the majestic views of the city from the parking/viewing lots and don’t venture to the actual Peak. I knew the shot I wanted to create would need to be taken at night, but because I was scouting the location, I arrived before twilight and got this spectacular sunset shot.

Breakwater Light ~ Fujifilm XT1 & 23mm lens ~ 8m at f/5.6 ~ ISO 1250

Work it

Slow down, take your time, and finesse the composition. There are always obvious angles and dramatic scenes can easily overwhelm us. Don’t settle for the typical shot. Walk around and study the scene and create something unique. Lighthouses are wonderful subject matter but often shot very “landscapey”. The Breakwater Lighthouse is more about how the puzzle piece stones lead your eyes to the beacon of light in the fog.

Tribute to Lights Brooklyn Bridge ~  Nikon D700 & Zeiss 21mm lens ~ 15s at f/14 ISO 200

Be Open

Pre-visualize, of course, but learn to let go. You can do all the scouting and preparation and still hit a wall. I was shooting on the Brooklyn Bridge trying to create this ghost story imagery and it just wasn’t working. So I stopped, took a deep breath, and took in the scene. Where was the essence of this place? I took seventeen steps forward and saw the movement, the lines, and the sweet twilight complement the golden hour.

Go in with a plan, but also don’t lose sight of what is happening around you.

Tribute to Lights 2014 ~ Fujifilm XT 1 & 10-24mm lens ~ 8s at f/8 ISO 400

Revisit locations and challenge yourself

I love the challenge of revisiting the same places or subject matter and trying to find new interpretations. I’ve shot the Tribute to Light many times and this year went back to a previous point of view. This time I brought totally different lenses – a super wide and a telephoto. This forced me into a fresh perspective. The first time I shot here, I chose a more “standard” 35mm viewpoint. The super-wide vision blew me away. For the first time I saw the “end of the lights”. Look closely at the top of the shot, that bright white dot is our previous north star, about several thousand years ago, which is called Vega.


Share it

Thumbs up on FB are nice and reassuring, but constructive criticism will make you even stronger. Get your portfolio reviewed, ask for feedback from your peers and people you respect. Are they seeing what you are showing them? What seems obvious to us might be mish mash of light and shadows to someone who wasn’t there when you took the picture.

I’ve joined several focused FB groups for the sole purpose of opening a discussion about our work. Use meetup groups or camera clubs to get together with like-minded folks and shoot & share on more photo centric sites like Flickr or 500px. I enjoy the challenge of going to the same location with friends, and each coming back with our particular take one the place. There is definitely a friendly competition to see who gets the best shot. But in the end, with more eyes interpreting the place, you will share a more complete story.

Keep Exploring ~ Sony RX100III ~ 1/40s at f/5.6 ISO 200

Keep Exploring

The wonder, the excitement, the journey all must be lived. For this shot of John taking the fort during a sideways torrential downpour, I wisely stayed back in the car and experimented with bending light through the wet windshield.

Shoot things that you love but look for new ways to abstract and interpret them.

Take yourself out of your comfort zone and let the raw energy of something new take over. Get to the essence of who you are and in 2015 keep exploring those visions!


My favorite photos from 2014

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Tis the season to reflect back upon the year – your accomplishments, adventures, failures, and of course, pick yourself up and get ready to steamroll into another year.

Last year I took 29,521 pictures. I have yet to do a “hard” edit on several shoots and could probably delete a bunch more. A few thousand also fit in the timelapse category – which I am still searching for the best software to create these little flipbooks.   However you compare that to the 49, 217 in 2013 and 35,964 in 2012 and you can say I either wasn’t as prolific or I was more focused. How many photos did you take this year? Are you still working on them or are you ready to move onto the new 2015 folder?

One of my regrets for 2014 was that I didn’t blog and share my work as well as I could have. The book seemed to have drained me of any new words and I was busy now celebrating it and taking it on the road to various lectures, workshops, and travels. That was definitely a ton of fun and I enjoyed receiving lots of emails and feedback from all the people that I had shared my night visions with in 2014. I love teaching workshops; the moment when a student gets that “A-ha” is just as thrilling to me as it is for them. I was fortunate enough to have the workshop scene take me to some pretty fabulous places from Baja-Vegas-Zion-Bannerman-Missoula-Maine-Woodstock and Woodlawn. But it was just as important to plan some personal shoots where I could act the role of the student and explore new locations and challenge time and composition.

2015 looks to be another banner year with trips to Finland, Iceland, and Galapagos in the works. But without further ado – here are my 13 favorite images that I created in 2014.

Mother and Daughter ~ Sony A7 and Voigtlander 50mm 1.5 ~ 1/60s at f/2.8 ~ ISO 500

January 1st 2014 was probably one of the most soulful days that I have ever experienced. I was in the spiritual capital of India, Varanasi, with my Dad, my Indian sister Sujata, and a couple other friends. We had been given an amazing opportunity to visit several ashrams – safe spiritual houses for widows. In the caste system of India, widows are the lowest of the low and will often not be taken in by family and are left to die.

The Sulabh International Social Service has taken a very proactive roll in housing and protecting these widows in Varanasi and Vrindavan. The image above was taken at the first ashram we visited. I had taken my Fujifilm Instax camera on this trip and it has never been put to such good use, as it was that day. As their stories were translated to us, I took instant portraits of them and let the magic of photography take over. You have to understand that many of these women are photographed but very few prints are sent to them. As soon as I took the Instax of the woman on the right, she grabbed my arm and took me to her mother’s room and woke her – so they could get their picture taken together. They are one of the few mother and daughters who have both lost their husbands but were lucky enough to find a safe place together.


Las Cruces and the great Gulf ~ Nikon D800 and 14-24 2.8 lens ~ 11 stacked 8 minute shots at f/8 ~ ISO 100

A week after I returned from India, I was off to Sea of Cortez and Baja Mexico with Lindblad on one of their Land and Sea Photo Expeditions. I had taken a shot similar to this the year before but I wasn’t 100% thrilled with it. This image is 11 stacked 8-minute photographs. I love how the star trails create a complimentary half circle to the breakwater.   I recently went back to this shot and converted it to black and white, which took it from a 3 to a 5 star in my book.


Confetti Snow ~ Fujifilm X Pro 1 ~ 23mm lens ~ 1/15s at f/5.6 ~ ISO 3200

Boy, it snowed a lot last year!   But I loved it – the challenge of taking on the elements and how they make us see the world in a different light. This is my subway entrance, a place I pass by 400+ times a year and I’ve never seen it look as magical as it did this night. I learned a long time ago to always have a camera on you. I stood at the entrance and fired off a burst of photos varying the shutter speeds from 1/4s to 1/15s to find just the right type of confetti snow.


The Night Island ~ Fujifilm X Pro 1 & 23mm lens ~ 20m at f/8 ~ ISO 400

Probably my favorite night image from 2014. This was a shot that had been percolating in my mind for a long time – the Night Island. I braced myself at the top of one of the twin peaks as the winds tried its best to knock my rig over. This is a single shot, twenty minutes, and pretty much exactly as I pre-visualized. It was great to check this image off my to do list and to create instead of capture.


Breakwater Light ~ Fujifilm XT1 & 23mm lens ~ 8m at f/5.6 ~ ISO 1250

Another location that was on my to shoot list was the Breakwater Lighthouse in Maine. I had visited this dramatic spot several times over the years and filed it away as a cool place to photograph at night. As luck would have it, the fog was in and I was able abstract the lighthouse to its essence – a beacon of light.


A Maine Milky Way

This year I was fortunate enough to work with the Maine Media Workshops and give a lecture on night photography as well as lead a bunch of students on their first night shoot. I was up there for a week and shot almost every night, which is a great challenge to put on your self. You get attuned to the different types of night-light and can feel the earth rotating around the stars. I was lucky enough to be up there for a new moon and witness the Milky Way just outside Camden. I set up this composition and as the few spotty clouds rolled in I knew it would make a great timelapse. It was also featured in Resource Magazine’s interactive digital version of their Fall 2014 issue


Devils Tower ~ Fujifilm X Pro 1 & 10-24 lens ~ 1m at f/4 ~ ISO 3200

This was created on a scouting mission for an upcoming Devil’s Tower workshop that I will be teaching with Matt Hill through the Rocky Mountain School of Photography. Devil’s Tower is one of the best places to view the Milky Way and I only had one night that I could shoot it. The weather forecast was not good – overcast, but I continued my 10 hour drive through torrential storms, dramatic skies, and a rainbow or three. When I finally got to the tower – it seemed as if there was an invisible beam shooting upwards – pushing the clouds away from the top of the tower. I took advantage of this magical time and was rewarded with a few peaks of the milky stars in between some quickly moving clouds. It only lasted an hour or so before the blanket of clouds returned – it is said that this is a very spiritual place and it certainly answered my prayers.


The Cabin in the Woods ~ Fujifilm XT1 & Zeiss Touit 12mm lens ~ 18 stacked shots at 4m & f/5.6 ~ ISO 800

I created this lightpainting/star trail combo as an example of what we can do with time during my night photography workshop at The Center for Photography at Woodstock this summer. I’m always looking for dramatic foreground to play against the star trails and this sculptured cabin was prime for the picking! I practiced the light painting at several angles and in the end it was the bounce light of a 80-lumen flashlight off the ground that produced the best light and shadows. The exposure was 18 stacked 4-minute exposures that created the 1 hour and 12 minute star trail.


Twilight Lake ~ Sony RX100m3 ~ 4s at f/9 ~ IS0 125

I was taxed with the mission of pushing the Sony RX100III to the low light limits for a video that B&H made about the RX series of cameras with David Brommer and Alan Arkin. I own the V1 of this camera, that is often hailed as the best advanced point and shoot camera on the market. I’ve also always pooh-pooh’d P&S cameras for serious night photography. So I packed this camera and went out to push those pixels along on a trip to Salt Lake City. I was able to successfully get exposures up to 30 seconds with minimal loss of image quality. This was my favorite shot of the night – a 4 second shot making the most of the blue hour.


Wanderlust in the Rain ~ Sony RX100m3 ~ 1/50s at f/5.6 ~ ISO 200

Here’s another story of overcoming the elements. When traveling to Portland, Oregon you gotta take some time to visit the coast. We only had 1 day to do it and the forecast was torrential rain the entire time. We could have easily just stayed in one of the many microbreweries in Portland – but we got our rain gear together and carried on! This was just one of those spontaneous shots that comes together. We were searching for a beach with a skeletal shipwreck but when we pulled into this parking lot and I saw the arrow I slammed on the breaks. We all got out and saw the composition – but Paige took it to the next level and ran out there and jumped!


Greenwood Cemetery I ~ Fujifilm XT1 & 23mm lens ~ 4m at f/8 ~ ISO 200

I want to create not capture. I want to challenge the way I see and I want you to see my vision of this space. Deconstruct and let your mind wander.


Enter the Fountain of Youth ~ Fujifilm XT1 & 10-24 lens ~ 4m at f/5.6 ~ ISO 400

Tom and I were shooting this hidden gem of a spot in Pittsburgh but it was missing something. I had been working the lightpainting on the outside and we knew we needed to add an element to the black hole of an entrance. I asked Tom to go inside and fire up a flash a few times to open it up. As Tom approached the entrance, and before the bat flew out, I knew that was the shot. By adding the human element, the mysterious explorer, I found just what the shot needed.


In search ~ Theta 360

When creating, photography can be an amazing art form to explore your emotions. I gravitate to cameras or lenses that can help you see in a new way. I recently picked up this super simple and fun Theta camera, which captures the world in a 360-degree view. That’s a pretty outstanding starting point for vision and I have just begun to manipulate it and create these new worlds.


Take your Lightpainting to the next level at the Woodlawn Cemetery Workshop

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Woodlawn_Reisinger ~ Fujifiilm XT1 with 10-24 lens ~ 15 minutes ! f/5.6 ~ ISO 200


Matt Hill and I got to visit Woodlawn the other night and prep for our workshop next week.  There are so many cool sculptures and structures to lightpaint there – that we didn’t want to leave!  One of the first rules of light painting is not to “paint” from the same angle as your camera – that creates the most uninteresting light that lacks shadows and depth.

The Reisinger memorial provides a very nice challenge of how to paint.  I took a flash with a 3/4 cut CTO gel and stood behind or to a 90 degree angle to each column.  This pop of warm light created the dramatic shadow from the center far column and wonderful side or rim light to the others.  I was surprised to also see so many stars could be seen – note the vivid start trails that popped here in the city.

There are still a few spots left for next week’s workshop and the moon will not be up while we are shooting so we will have the darkest skies, brightest stars, and a ton of fun things to paint!

Carpe Noctem!