Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures

Using Age-old Principles of Art

From Summertime on the Maine Coast

Most people know the origin of the word “photography,” but for those who do not, according to Wikipedia and other resources …

… “photography” was created from the Greek roots φωτός (phōtos), genitive of φῶς (phōs), “light” and γραφή (graphé) “representation by means of lines” or “drawing”, together meaning “drawing with light”.

In simpler terms, think of a piece of white marble sculpture. Without light, it is nothing. It needs light and shadow, line and form to come alive. The same is true of a photograph.

Above, the gentle light of dusk added to the leading lines in the rocks, creating depth and interest.

From Joshua Tree National Park

There are times that a file comes right out of the camera and needs only a tiny bit of developing. Here, it was simply a matter of knowing where to be at the right time of day and exercising patience for all the elements to come together. It also involved bringing detail out of the deep shadows. Light and shadow, line and form are what make this image work.

From Learning Lightroom Classic

And speaking of developing your images, as Ansel Adams said, “Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships.”

The click of the shutter is traditionally only the first step in getting to your final print. We have had many people who did not appreciate how important developing or editing an image was until they saw what their fellow participants did in one of our workshops. While, as Pinkerton and Zann keep saying, “Photoshop is not a verb,” a raw image that comes out of the camera tends to be flat. Just as photographers worked on an image in the old darkroom days, the good ones do so prudently and with restraint in the digital age.

At Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures, they prefer using words such as “developing” or “editing” over “processing” or “post-processing,” as the latter two often have connotations of hyper-saturation, too much clarity, crunchiness, and other elements that you will rarely find in a top-notch, museum collection.

First, you have to see the light, be aware of it, and study how it enhances shapes and contours. In this photograph, the simple lights and darks of the image just needed some dodging and burning to give it life. Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures also teaches Lightroom workshops for those who want to learn more about this amazing program.

From Autumn on the Outer Banks

One does not need sunny, blue skies to make memorable photographs. Years ago, Pinkerton wrote a blog on “Blue Skies, Who Needs’em!” Here is a case in point. The pier lights and fading evening sky cast light on the water, adding life to them. The rising full moon was a planned bonus.

From Belize, Land of the Maya

For some reason, many people are allergic to putting people in their photographs. People can bring a photograph alive and tell a story as with these Maya children at their school. Their faces bespeak their shyness, curiosity, and friendliness. Isn’t that why so many of us travel … to learn about other cultures?

From Online Photo Workshops

During the pandemic, many people have found it difficult to maintain their photo mojo. With that in mind, since the end of April 2020, Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures has been running online photo workshops through Zoom, complete with assignments, critiques, challenges, and discussions on photography and some of the great photographers, past and present. It has been a life-saver for many.

From Many Faces of Charleston

Light can create a mood, as it does here, deep in a plantation swamp. The spring colors bring life to the image, yet one can feel the stillness, the serenity of the scene.

From Paris, City of Light

Simple graphics can add depth to an image, but one has to see the light and how it plays upon the layers.

From New Orleans, The BIG Easy

It is important when making a photograph to show the viewer what you feel about a subject. In this case, the street musician was pouring gentle and heart-felt soul into his music, and it was compelling.

The cover of our book, NEW ORLEANS

“The negative is the equivalent of the composer’s score, and the print the performance.” — another Ansel Adams quote. In the digital age, one might substitute “capture” for “negative.” In this case, Pinkerton and Zann poured their souls into a fine art book about the area in and around the French Quarter of New Orleans, and, just as noted above, they developed their photographs to reflect their vision and passion for this oft-photographed area to bring a new view and different perspective.

Go to to learn more about Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures, check out their alumni comments, or call 919-643-3036 before 9 pm ET.

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