Tag Archives: travel

Feature Friday // Everything, Everywhere – Gary Ardnt

As we are preparing for the PhotoEx: Austria and Switzerland trip starting on Monday I have been reading up on some travel blogs in preparation. Gary Ardnt has some really great tips and life experiences which he has all over his blog. One that I found helpful and interesting was this post.

Yes, I have been working on German and know my “Hello” and “Goodbye”.

I did read this article about finding the perfect bag. Bags are important right? Especially when traveling light. And yes, Jocelyn and I have talked about what shoes we are bringing. Good shoes are must.

Definitely looking forward to exploring new places and making memories with some awesome IPS peeps!


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Feature Friday // Packing for Overseas Trips

I have been thinking and dreaming a lot about our upcoming PhotoEx trip! There is still room if you want to come! You really should! Austria and Switzerland, um, yes please.

So. For those of you going with us. Or for those of you who will be traveling, here is a super helpful article. 

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PhotoEx: Austria & Switzerland

Monday October 14, 2013 – Wednesday October 23, 2013

View MapMap and Directions | Register



The Institute of Photographic Studies is pleased to invite you on our annual PhotoEx adventure to Europe. This is your opportunity to see amazing sights, learn fascinating history, experience unique culture, and photograph it all with other Christians. If you’re tired of being dragged away from a shot just as the light is getting good or always trailing behind your friends to grab a quick photo, this is the trip for you! Unlike other travel opportunities, IPS PhotoEx trips are designed by Christian photographers for Christian photographers, and led by qualified instructors who can guide you in the process of creating great images.

Our 2013 destinations are Austria and Switzerland, with stops in Vienna, Salzburg, and Zurich. Participants will fly into Vienna, arriving on October 14th. Four days will be spent experiencing the rich culture of the city that dominated European politics for more than half a millenium. Our final night in Vienna will be spent at a classical concert featuring works from some of Austira’s most famous composers.

On Ocobter 18th we will get our first glimpses of the Austrian countryside as we train from Vienna to Salzburg. For most, Salzburg is the birthplace of Mozart, one of the most illustrious musicians of all time. To others, Salzburg represents the Sound of Music, featuring many of the original historic places as well as filming locations for the movie.

A much longer train ride will pull you across some of the most beautiful scenery in the world as we ride from Salzburg to Zurich on October 20th. Switzerland is home to chocolate, watches, neutrality and international finance, and Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland. We’ll spend 2 full and 2 partial days exploring Zurich before participants fly home on October 23.

Europe is a photographers paradise, but without the proper guide it can be quite confusing. You can rely on IPS to provide you with safe lodging, reliable transportation and fantastic food throughout your trip without the hassle of hundreds of hours of research and days of uncertainty. We have the experience and the expertise to make this the travel adventure of a lifetime!

Fast Facts

  • Dates.  October 14-23, 2013
  • Location. Vienna, Salzburg, Zurich
  • Cost.$2995 Register by May 31 for a $200 discount! ($2795)
    Cost is per person, dorm occupancy.
    Airfare is not included.
    Admission included for all group activities.
  • Group size is limited to 20 participants
  • Meals. Breakfast and dinner are provided each day.Participants are responsible for their own lunches. Consumption of alcohol is not permitted at any IPS event.
  • Transportation. We will be riding busses, trams, subways and trains. All group trans is covered in trip cost.
  • Style. Flashpacking: bring your gear, but keep it lite!
  • Contact. info@ipsphoto.co | 503.482.8132
  • Trip Leaders Rowan Gillson, Jocelyn Gillson and Judson Alphin

Quick Look

  • October 14  | Arrive in Vienna, check-in to hostel, Naschtmarket
  • October 15  | Hofburg Imperial Palace, Saint Stephen’s Cathedral
  • October 16  | Lipizzaner Stallions, Mozart Concert
  • October 17  | Train to Salzburg
  • October 18  | Mozart Tour, Sound of Music tour or Hohensalzburg Fortress
  • October 19  | Salzwelten Salt Mine
  • October 20  | Train to Zurich
  • October 21  | Lake Zurich Boat Tour, Old Town
  • October 22  | Shopping, Grossmunster
  • October 23  | Depart for United States with hard drives full and memories to last a lifetime!


All participants in PhotoEx:Austria&Switzerland must be 18 years of age or older. (Younger students may request special consideration if accompanied by a legal guardian.)

Participants must agree to the Community Guidelines & Terms and Conditions.

Participants must fill out and sign a Health History form and a Liability Release form.

We strongly recommend that all students attend a Digital Photography 1 workshop before traveling with us on a Photo Tour. The education you receive at DP1 will make your photographic endeavors in Europe far more successful.

More Info

We’ve created a fantastic trip overview brochure full of great information. Download the Info Packet!


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3 Guides for Story Telling Compositions

Story Telling Compositions

I like to think of a photograph as a story. Not just “Fine Art” photographs, all photographs. Every image tells a story. Sometimes the story is, “I’m eating pasta right now” as told by my iPhone. Sometimes the story is, “Buy this product and you’ll be happy and have lots of friends.” Sometimes the story comes together in a moment on the street, other times the story takes hours of preparation with models, lights, and props.

I’m eating this right now, as told by my iPhone.
All photos tell a story. Here are three ideas for telling your story well.

1. A picture’s worth 1000 words

You’ve probably heard that 1000 times, but let’s assume it’s true. This means that for every photo you take, every story you tell, you have ONLY 1000 words to use to tell that story. You need to use those words carefully, making sure that every single one counts. You wouldn’t turn in a paper to class with 600 words on the right subject and 400 words of gibberish. Don’t do that with your photo stories either. Get rid of everything that is not telling your story. If it doesn’t help, it hurts and it needs to go away. The strongest, most impactful photos use every one of their 1000 words to tell their story.

Story Telling Compositions
1000 words of hurrying through a rainy night in Venice


2. Use the right lens

Different lenses allow viewers to engage with the story in different ways. You could think of this as writing a story in the first person tense or the third person tense. When you get in close with a wide angle lens, you give your viewers the experience of being there. They are now part of the story you’re telling. It’s like writing in first person. When you step back a bit and use a telephoto lens, you give viewers a more objective perspective, that of an observer who isn’t actually participating in the story. Neither are right or wrong, just different ways of telling the story. A bit of thought before you snap the photo will help you decide which lens is going to give you the right perspective on the story you’re about to tell.

Story Telling Compositions Story Telling Compositions










One of these was shot in close with a wide angle, the other from a bit farther back with a telephoto. Can you tell which is which?

3. Don’t shoot flat footed

The height of your perspective is just as powerful as the lens you choose in determining how your viewers will interact with the story you’re telling. I’m 6’3” tall, so as I walk around, my camera tends to see the world from about 6 feet above the ground. This isn’t the only perspective on the world, and it shouldn’t be the only perspective in my photos either. A nice general rule is to shoot things at eye level. Not your eye… their eye. This is the strongest perspective for creating a direct connection between the viewer and the subject. Now, not everything has eyes, I understand that, but apply the principle. A car doesn’t have eyes, but if I want to create a direct connection between my viewers and a car, I need to get down at car level to create that shot.

Story Telling Compositions

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Composition with your Feet

For me this idea goes right up there with “Fill the Frame” and “Rule of Thirds” as one of the very best things that ANY photographer can do with ANY camera to get better photos. Another way to say this might be, “Stand in the right spot.” Or even, “Don’t be lazy.” Let’s be honest, lazy photographers get lucky on occasion, but in general, they just take mediocre photos.

As a photographer, when you see something cool, you simply zoom in, or zoom out, and snap your photo. It works. Zooming with the lens gives you a better photo than not zooming. That’s why you got your zoom lens, or that mega-zoom point and shoot to begin with.


Composition with your Feet

No amount of zooming can substitute moving your feet and getting out on the dance floor.


Now, let’s insert a quick step here. Before you zoom your lens, move your feet. Your new Photographer Action Plan looks like this:

  • See cool thing
  • Move feet
  • Zoom lens
  • Awesome photo!


Sunbeams over Venice

See church. See sunbeams. Move feet until sunbeams are behind church. Shoot photo.


There is no substitute for standing in the right place when you take your photo. As Ansel Adams said, “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”


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