Manfrotto meets Yosemite Park with Dan Warsinger
In occasion, of his forthcoming workshop, we have interviewed Dan Warsinger. Dan is a very nice person, whose photography is nice and very stimulating. His life can really be inspiring to all young aspiring photographers, who are looking for a path to follow.
So here is the intervew:
Manfrotto: How and when did you start taking pictures?
Dan Warsinger: My love for photography goes back farther than I can remember. My first camera was a Kodak 126 cartridge camera, I guess around 1970, at the age of 14. I quickly graduated to my first 35mm with a Vivitar 220sl. And then to a Contax RTS 35mm around 1976. Around 1978 someone viewed some of my work, and commented “I should get into medium format”. So I bought my first 645 format camera. It was about this time I started getting a few paying jobs. First in sports with the California Angels Baseball team, also drag & off Shore boat racing, and a few model shoots.
At about the same time I was hired to travel with singer / song writer Mac Davis to do fan club photography for about 3 years.
All along, I was always in the mountains, deserts, or at the ocean teaching myself photography. I was always trying to find mentors to work with to improve my art images, and reading anything I could get my hands on.
I had started a non-related business just after high school in 1975. My business allowed me the time and provided the funds for me to continue my photography. Then in 1986, I decided to sell my business and pursue a full time career in photography.
After about two years looking into photography schools, and now at the age of 30, I decided I did not really want to go back to school. As part of my travels during this time, I ended up in Yosemite National Park, originally just to take photographs….
Originally hired as, Assistant Manager of Photographic Services, helping to run a one hour photo lab in Yosemite. At the Yosemite Photo Center we sold photo equipment while processing & printing guests’ photos.
Once again I decided to move to a larger format camera, and from then, until now, my favorite camera has been, and still is, my 6×7 Single Lens Reflex, then made by Pentax.
In 1993, my personal photography business was taking a larger part of my time, so I left full time employment in Yosemite, but the concessionaire in the park wanted me to stay on so they created my position I have now, Staff Photographer. In this role besides shooting, I have conducted the Photo Walks for the Park for many years, sometimes helping 15,000 people or more a year to see and capture the wonders of the valley.
Manfrotto: Yosemite is probably one of the most popular places for photographers (obviously because of Ansel Adams), what is so magic about it?
DW: Ah, the magic of Yosemite, if you ask the people that live and work here, one thing you will hear over and over is, “I came just to visit, and never left”. As a photographer, I think it is taking the time to understand the way light and weather interacts with the majestic, and a bit overwhelming scenery all around you. In the fast paced world we live in today, I think slowing down, and taking the time to understand the location is one of the most important, and most difficult aspects for today’s photographer to understand.
Manfrotto: You will be teaching soon a Workshop there, can you tell us about the workshop, and about your workshop activity?
DW: The upcoming Samy’s/Canon/Manfrotto Yosemite workshop will almost be a Form Free-workshop. I have been leading the Yosemite Sunrise Photo Workshops for over 22 years, but this workshop will be a lot different, as I
will have a better opportunity to take photographers to more of my favorite locations, and be more detailed in my instruction.
Although we do have a general itinerary, our movements and locations will be really dictated by weather, light, etc. So we will be learning to keep our cameras out and ready to capture the changing character and opportunities “BAD Weather?” can offer us….
I like to stress taking your new, all electronic, “wiz-bang” cameras off program, and exploring the capabilities of “Manual”.
I try to stress one should Slow down a bit; to understand the location and always, when shooting scenic images, use a tripod. Not holding the camera yourself enhances your ability to relate to and see the photographic opportunities nature has provided.
I show people that a tripod encourages you to change your point of view for increased impact.
Another special technique I demonstrate is to use a tripod to sharply anchor the image of the foreground while enabling you to have movement or motion- in the background. Being able to convey that each of the falls in Yosemite are actually flowing streams of gushing water- is a perfect example of this. So, understanding slow shutter speeds and the necessity of a tripod are among the things we will be discussing during the workshop.
As I recollect, every scenic photographic I have ever sold was shot on a Manfrotto Tripod, so I guess my good habits have paid off in the long run.
Manfrotto: What kind of equipment do you usually use for you wedding shootings? and for your art photography?
DW: One question I get asked often is what equipment do I use or recommend. It is very difficult to recommend any one type of equipment, as there is so much really great equipment available in today’s market.
I use a little bit of everything. For my landscape images I still prefer my 6X7 film cameras, using Fuji Velvia 50. This has been my tried & true combination for many years. However, I have been on the forefront of digital cameras, as my first digital camera used a 3.5 floppy disc as “film” !!! Now, I am using my DSLR digital cameras more often for my scenic photography.
In addition to my scenic photography I try to shoot around 100 weddings each year. For weddings I am still shooting 645 film cameras, the smallest of the medium format film cameras. Although I am now shooting some weddings digitally, and even mixing film and digital at some weddings, I still like the feel and tone of film for portraiture.
Manfrotto: The imaging business has changed a lot lately, what would you suggest to do to someone that is approaching photography and wants to make it his job?
DW: The world of photography is in a very dynamic time of change right now. The best advice I can offer to a new photographer, is to learn as much about your craft as possible and to develop a style of your own. Keep your own personal standards very high, and don’t be afraid to be a little different from the rest. Know your equipment, and don’t be afraid to try some experimental photography whenever possible, and one last thing, Shoot, shoot, and shoot some more.
Try not to forget why you got into photography in the first place, if you are in it just for the perceived money, it may be a tough career choice. If like me, you came to photography for the art you may have a long and prosperous career. The recognition and money will come in time with perseverance.
Thanks a lot Dan.
Dan’s Website: www.yosemitephoto.com
To book Dan’s workshops go at Samy’s Website
Discuss with us about Photography in Yosemite Park on our Flickr Discussion Group.