Upcoming Photography Classes and Workshops

Mary Louise is an experienced photography instructor who has trained hundreds of amateur photographers. Many of her students have gone on to earn awards for photographs made following their training with her. She can help with both the technical and aesthetic aspects of picture making.

January 2022


This beginner class is for people with a digital camera who are interested in learning how to successfully use their camera beyond automatic / program modes. The class concentrates on the 5 essential camera settings that have the most impact on the look of a photograph: focal length, aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance. We also discuss how to interpret the image histogram, a camera feedback mechanism, and use that information to adjust and optimize image exposure for the next shot. Students learn how to adjust these settings using their own camera. 

This class is limited to only Canon camera users to make it easier to address participant questions in this online class format. Sessions will be recorded for later viewing in case a participant can't make all the live sessions. This class is offered in collaboration with the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC.  



This beginner class is for people with a digital camera who are interested in learning how to successfully use their camera beyond automatic / program modes. The class concentrates on the 5 essential camera settings that have the most impact on the look of a photograph: focal length, aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance. We also discuss how to interpret the image histogram, a camera feedback mechanism, and use that information to adjust and optimize image exposure for the next shot. Students learn how to adjust these settings using their own camera. 

This class is limited to only Nikon camera users to make it easier to address participant questions in this online class format. Sessions will be recorded for later viewing in case a participant can't make all the live sessions. This class is offered in collaboration with the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC.  


  • January 21  Photographing Nature's Design Close-up in the Greenhouse (session exclusively for iPhone camera users) 
    (Friday 1:00 - 3:30 pm ET)
    Location: NC State University Conservatory/Greenhouse, Marye Anne Fox Science Teaching Laboratory, Raleigh, NC
    Class size limited to 12 participants.
     

When it’s chilly outdoors, it’s a great opportunity to turn to the greenhouse for photo opportunities. Join instructor Mary Louise Ravese at NC State University’s greenhouse conservatory where you’ll be able to photograph a variety of plants including orchids, tropicals, succulents, cactus and more. Mary Louise will discuss how to showcase the shapes, colors and textures of the conservatory plants’ foliage and flowers with your compositional design. In this month’s session she will also explain the settings and techniques she uses to get close-up shots using an iPhone camera.

This class is limited to only iPhone camera users, preferably iPhone 8 models or later.

This class is offered by the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC.  

February 2022



Adobe Lightroom Classic is a fantastic tool for photo editing and if you're like me, it is my primary "digital darkroom" tool. However, it does have it's limits and there are tasks that are simply beyond it's scope. Fortunately, Adobe Photoshop is there to step in and accomplish those more sophisticated tasks. "Oh no, but Photoshop takes years to master" I hear you saying. Well, yes, but we don't need to learn ALL of Photoshop to be productive in doing these more sophisticated editing tasks. This class teaches you the essentials of Photoshop specifically so you can accomplish more advanced tasks like:

  • More sophisticated selections
  • More advanced content-aware adjustments like fill, move, scale, etc.

  • Combining editing effects from multiple app programs

  • Localizing adjustments from multiple app programs

  • Blending 2 or more images, whether for HDR, selective colorization of a B&W image, adding a texture overlay, or another reason

This approach makes learning Photoshop more manageable and relevant to photo editing problem solving. No previous experience with Adobe Photoshop is needed.

Sessions will be recorded for later viewing in case a participant can't make all the live sessions. This class is offered in collaboration with the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC.


With digital technologies we can refine B&W images in ways that would have made Ansel Adams envious. Discover the B&W potential among your existing images, learn what scenes are good candidates for B&W, and how to processes color images for maximum B&W impact using software like Lightroom, Silver Efex  and Photoshop.



  • February 24  Photographing Nature's Design Close-up in the Greenhouse (session exclusively for DSLR & mirrorless camera users) 
    (Thursday 1:00 - 3:30 pm ET)
    Location: NC State University Conservatory/Greenhouse, Marye Anne Fox Science Teaching Laboratory, Raleigh, NC
    Class size limited to 12 participants.
     

When it’s chilly outdoors, it’s a great opportunity to turn to the greenhouse for photo opportunities. Join instructor Mary Louise Ravese at NC State University’s greenhouse conservatory where you’ll be able to photograph a variety of plants including orchids, tropicals, succulents, cactus and more. Mary Louise will discuss how to showcase the shapes, colors and textures of the conservatory plants’ foliage and flowers with your compositional design. In this month’s session she will also explain the settings and techniques she uses to get close-up shots using DSLR and mirrorless cameras.

This class is limited to only DSLR and mirrorless camera users

This class is offered by the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC.  

March 2022



Water droplets act like a lens refracting light from whatever is behind them. In this hands-on photo session, we’ll explore the fun and creative photography technique of photographing water droplet refractions. We’ll start with an easy setup using flowers and a sheet of glass with water beading up on it, and then discuss and experiment with more challenging setups.

This class is suitable for all types of cameras from DSLR and mirrorless, to point-n-shoot and smartphone. However, for best results, a DSLR or mirrorless camera is recommended.

This class is offered by the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC.  



In this workshop participants will learn black and white photography from selecting a subject, to shooting in color or infrared, converting to black and white and editing using a mix of software from Adobe Lightroom Classic to Silver Efex Pro and Photoshop.

In a world of color, black and white photography offers the photographer the opportunity to get back to the basic essence of photography – the importance of visual design, composition and exposure. That is why well executed black and white images have such enduring appeal. But shooting for, editing and printing black and white images require different considerations than working in color. Today’s digital cameras, digital darkroom software programs and digital printers provide phenomenal advantages for producing black and white prints that would make Ansel Adams envious.

In this hands-on workshop, Mary Louise will explain how to identify and pre-visualize scenes with strong black and white image potential. She will explain how to photograph color images with the intent of converting them to black and white. In addition, Mary Louise will explain how to make photographs using infrared light and how those images can also make interesting black and white images. Participants will have the opportunity to practice these techniques photographing a variety of subjects including:

  • Brookgreen Sculpture Garden
  • Historic Magnolia Cemetery
  • Antique Fire Engines
  • Boone Hall Plantation
  • Oceanfront Pier

Over the course of the workshop in addition to photographing in the field, participants will work on editing their own images with input, guidance and feedback from Mary Louise. Mary Louise will share her step-by-step approach for optimally converting images from color to black and white using Adobe Lightroom Classic, Silver Efex Pro and Photoshop programs.


APRIL 2022


  •  Artistic Bird Photography Workshop (5 session workshop mixing online/zoom session with in-person photo shoots at an 18 acre bird park)
    Saturday April 9 (9 am - 3 pm ET) online (zoom) session
    Saturday April 23 (9 am - 3 pm ET) online (zoom) session
    Thursday May 5 and Friday May 6 (9 am - 3 pm ET) in-person at Sylvan Heights Bird Park, Scotland Neck, NC
    Saturday May 14 (1 pm - 4 pm ET) online (zoom) session
    Workshop size limited to 14

Have you ever watched birds fly, swoop, eat, fight, court, or play out any of their myriad of amazing behaviors and said to yourself, "I wish I could capture this moment?" Birds provide a fascinating and inspiring subject to the photographer, and also a hugely challenging one. Artful bird photography is inspired by and celebrates our fascination with birds from our own backyards to vast natural expanses. It is a way of seeing birds and striving to photograph them in ways that capture our imagination.

Professional nature photographer Mary Louise Ravese partners with award-winning bird photographer Alan Clark to co-teach this workshop. They offer lots of practical tips and guidance in the field and classroom. 

In this workshop, participants will learn the finer points about bird photography from planning to equipment and shooting techniques. In addition, we will address how to capture bird images that go beyond a documentary approach, to capturing birds in an artistic manner that fills our imagination - a style worthy of hanging on your wall and sharing with others. The workshop includes hands-on photo shoots at Sylvan Heights Bird Park, a unique 18-acre facility featuring walk-through aviaries that give an up-close view of a variety of birds from around the world, ranging from waterfowl to parrots, flamingos, exotic birds and more! It is the largest bird park in North America and the largest waterfowl park in the world. Additionally, there will be over 10 hours of live, interactive online video conference-based sessions to cover lecture content before the in-person photo shoot. A week after our hands-on sessions, we will have a follow-up webinar when class participants can receive feedback on a selection of their workshop images.  Each of the online sessions will be recorded so they can be watched offline for review or if 100% attendance isn't feasible.


Apple's camera app offers only a limited amount of control over the iPhone camera, but more control is possible with the paid app ProCamera. Using ProCamera, users can access DSLR-like camera control, like setting shutter speed, ISO and white balance settings. They can also adjust exposure compensation and view a live image histogram. ProCamera also allows phone images to be saved in higher quality file formats like RAW, making it possible to create print-worthy pictures with the iPhone. In this session, Mary Louise will discuss how fundamental photography principles can apply to the iPhone camera using the ProCamera app. She will demonstrate the basics of how to use the ProCamera app. Afterwards, participants will apply these new skills doing hands-on photography at the JC Raulston Arboretum Gardens with guidance from Mary Louise. 



With digital photography, the capturing of the image with the camera is just the start. Photographers also must understand how to process their images for their intended use - whether that be to print photographs, create web pages and social media postings, create slide shows or even albums/books. Adobe Lightroom is a leading software application designed to handle the full photography workflow from organizing images, to editing images (a.k.a the digital darkroom), to sharing images by preparing them for print, slideshow, web page or book. Adobe Lightroom Classic is suitable for beginner to advanced photographers. This 6 session beginner class is for those who are interested in learning the basics of how to organize and edit their images using Adobe Lightroom Classic software. This class will concentrate on the essentials of Adobe Lightroom Classic's Library and Develop modules. Participants will learn how to:
      •  organize their images so they can be easily found

      • quickly identify which images to work on from a photo shoot

      • optimize their images for tone, color and artistic vision

      • edit photographs to remove unwanted objects

      • do basic portrait retouching

      • export their images for a variety of uses including social media

Sessions will be recorded for later viewing in case a participant can't make all the live sessions. This class is offered in collaboration with the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC.

Some comments from past attendees:

"Mary Louise has a relaxed, but methodical teaching style. It was apparent that she had spent a lot of time preparing for the class. I learned a lot about Lightroom and improved my workflow. The Zoom format worked well - very satisfied with this class, it was extremely helpful - highly recommend it." - Pam S.

"I have been trying to learn how to use Lightroom for a long time and attended two different all-day sessions, but nothing took until taking Mary Louise's course" - Julia M.

"The class was excellent. The course was very comprehensive and took a step-by-step approach, so that each component prepared me for the next concept. It was very helpful having the session recordings. Having them to go back and review was great. I also appreciated the extra recordings and handouts that covered additional content. Homework is good as it made me practice what we learned on my own photos. I learned more than I expected. Even though I've been using Lightroom for several years, I still had many questions and gaps in my knowledge. This course filled in those gaps and made Lightroom so much more powerful a tool for me to use. Your organization and the structure of the course was great. I would recommend this course to anyone who wants to learn more about Lightroom." - Pat M.

MAY 2022


  • May 19, 2022, Thursday (rain date May 20, Friday)  Garden Photography at the Juniper Level Botanic Garden
    9 am - 1:30 pm
    Session exclusively for DSLR and mirrorless camera users. Suitable for beginner to advanced photographers.
    In-Person, Juniper Level Botanic Gardens, Raleigh, NC
    Class size limited to 15 participants.
Raleigh’s Juniper Level Botanic Garden is a delight to plant lover and photographer alike. The 28+ acre garden features a unique variety of plants organized into visually interesting garden vignettes with other picturesque features like waterfalls, ponds, a bog, an arched bridge and rock garden. There are both sun and shade garden areas. Normally the Botanic Garden is open to visitors 8 weekends a year, or by appointment, but in this session, we’ll largely have the garden to ourselves to photograph while spring flowers are bountiful. In this session, Mary Louise will discuss and demonstrate a variety of garden photography techniques. The extended session gives time for participants to explore different types of garden photo setups. In addition, there will be an opportunity for an informal Q&A session with Mary Louise while eating a bagged lunch on a shaded garden patio. If desired, it will be possible for participants to purchase plants from Plant Delights Nursery at the end of the session. 


  • May 24, 2022, Tuesday  7 – 8:30 pm ET (zoom orientation on technique)
    May 26, 2022, Thursday 9:30 am – 12:30 pm (in-person photo shoot)
    Get your glow on - garden photography with a romantic, glowing style 
    Session exclusively for DSLR and mirrorless camera users. Suitable for intermediate to advanced photographers.
    In-Person, Sarah Duke Gardens, Durham, NC
    Class size limited to 8 participants.
Gardens provide great subjects for those who like a romantic, painterly, soft-glow look to their photographs. In this two-session photo walk, Mary Louise will discuss two approaches to achieving this look: 1) using a specialty Lenbaby Velvet lens 2) using a regular lens together with a multiple exposure soft glow shooting technique.In the first session, which will be held online over zoom, Mary Louise will explain the key principles behind the two approaches and her step-by-step approach to each. In the second session, participants will join Mary Louise at Duke University’s Sarah Duke Gardens where she’ll guide them in hands-on photography in the garden using the two approaches.Participants are welcome to try either approach or both if they have the appropriate equipment.

June 2022


Bright sun produces hot spots and deep shadows that can make garden photography challenging. In this session Mary Louise will discuss and demonstrate how to control the lighting conditions in the garden to enable great photography all day long. She will explain how to use tools like daytime fill-flash, translucent diffusers and opaque reflectors to create beautiful lighting for your scene. Afterwards, participants will apply these new skills photographing in the Garden. 

July 2022


In the close-up environment of macro photography, it is not possible to get sharp shots from front to back of deep flowers like lilies due to inherent technical limitations that produce shallow depth-of-field for this situation. However, full control of depth-of-field is possible using the focus stacking photography technique. This technique involves taking multiple shots of the same subject, each focused at different points and then using software to combine the multiple images to make a single image with the combined depth-of-field of all the shots.  

In this session Mary Louise will explain and demonstrate how to do the focus stacking technique for achieving full control of depth-of-field. Afterwards, Mary Louise will guide participants as they do hands-on practice photography of flowers using the technique, combining the resulting set of images together in software using a combination of Adobe Lightroom Classic and Adobe Photoshop.  

Participants should be familiar with importing and editing images in Adobe Lightroom Classic. Previous experience with Adobe Photoshop is not required, but would be a plus.
 

August 2022


This beginner class is for people with a digital SLR (DSLR) or mirrorless camera who are interested in learning how to successfully use their camera beyond automatic/program modes. The class concentrates on the five essential camera settings that have the most impact on the look of a photograph: focal length, aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance. We also discuss how to interpret the image histogram, a camera feedback mechanism, and use that information to adjust and optimize image exposure for the next shot. Students learn how to adjust these settings using their own camera.  

The sessions will include indoor classroom learning combined with some hands-on practice photographing in the arboretum’s gardens.  


Participants will receive presentation handouts, home practice exercises, and a quick reference sheet.  
Suitable for ages 15+. No previous experience with the camera is needed.
 


Cyanotype is a simple photographic printing process that creates an archival blue and white print. The cyanotype process was invented in the 1840s and is easy and inexpensive to do at home.   In this beginner class, we’ll use plant clipping from the arboretum garden, or items you bring from home, to make cyanotype photograms aka sun prints.   Mary Louise will explain how to make botanical “photograms” – direct contact prints of plants placed on sensitized cotton material and then exposed to sunlight. The developed print is then rinsed in a water bath and then left to dry. The final print will have a blue background and no color where the plant touched the material or left a shadow on the material. So, this process is a great way to celebrate the different shapes of plants.  

No camera needed for this process!  

The chemicals involved include ferric ammonium citrate, potassium ferricyanide and hydrogen peroxide. They are safe to use, but care should always be taken to avoid ingestion, inhalation and contact with skin.
 

September 2022




Cyanotype is a simple alternative photographic printing process that creates an archival blue and white print. The cyanotype process was invented in the 1800s and is easy and inexpensive to do at home.   In this intermediate class, we’ll learn how to make cyanotype photographic prints.   Mary Louise will explain how to turn a digital image (created using any type of digital camera including smartphone cameras) into a monochrome film negative. Then we’ll use that negative to make direct contact prints on sensitized cotton fabric material which we will then expose to sunlight to develop the image. The developed print is then rinsed in a water bath and then left to dry. The final print will be a blue and white print.  

The chemicals involved include ferric ammonium citrate, potassium ferricyanide and hydrogen peroxide. They are safe to use, but care should always be taken to avoid ingestion, inhalation and contact with skin. 



  • September 24, 2022  Aperture Priority - Practice Session
    Saturday 9:00 am - 11:30 am
    North Carolina Museum of Art (Museum Park), Raleigh, NC
    Class size limited to 4 participants.
    $55 per person

Beginner to intermediate photographers use Aperture Priority shooting mode for photographing scenes where controlling the image depth-of-field is important. Understanding how to use this mode in principle is one thing, but using it in real life is another, and some people struggle with how to photograph using this mode. In this 2.5 hour small group session, Mary Louise offers participants hands-on, step-by-step practice using this camera mode. Photographing at the museum's outdoor park grounds, we'll practice achieving both shallow and deep depth-of-field in Aperture Priority mode.  Participants will better understand how setting aperture fits in with the other steps in capturing a photograph. Mary Louise will also explain how to adapt the exposure brightness using feedback from the camera's histogram graph to adjust exposure compensation as needed.

Suitable for cameras that support aperture priority shooting mode. A variety of lenses can be used from wide angle to telephoto, but for a more pronounced shallow depth-of-field look, a lens capable of a focal length over 80 mm is ideal. As a prerequisite, participants should have some basic understanding of the exposure triangle settings (aperture, shutter speed, ISO) and how to set them on their camera. For example, previous attendees of our lecture-based Digital Photography Essentials program will find this hands-on practice session very helpful.

October 2022

  • Intro to Wildlife Photography Photography Workshop: "Falcons, hawks and owls, oh my"
    October 6, 2022 Thursday 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm (online / zoom based session)
    November 1, 2022
    Tuesday 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm (online / zoom based session)

    November 12, 2022 Saturday 8:00 am - 11:00 am (in-person photo shoot at Carolina Raptor Center 6000 Sample Rd, Huntersville, NC 28078)
    November 28, 2022 Monday 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm (online / zoom based session)

Class size limited to ONLY 4 participants.
Sold Out - contact Mary Louise to be put on the wait list.



Wildlife is one of the more challenging subjects that nature photographers can photograph. Interesting wildlife subjects are often far off and fast moving, which make practicing your settings and technique hit or miss. But what if you had the chance to practice this type of photography in a more controlled environment, where super long lenses are not required? Well, your chances for success are greatly improved, and you'll gain valuable experience. That's just the type of special photo shoot opportunity we'll take advantage of at the Carolina Raptor Center in Huntersville, NC, not far from Charlotte. You'll photograph side by side with Mary Louise as she gives you guidance and tips. The Carolina Raptor Center (CRC) cares for and rehabilitates orphaned and injured raptors including falcons, hawks, owls, eagles and more. With the autumn timing of this event, we should get some fall color as a backdrop for our bird portraits in the Raptor Center's woodland setting. We may even get some birds in flight opportunities. This workshop is broken into 4 parts:

1) Equipment and gear (online / zoom based session Thursday October 6, 6:30 - 8:30 pm)

2) Settings and shooting technique ((online / zoom based session Tuesday November 1, 6:30 - 8:30 pm)

3) Hands-on photo shoot at the Carolina Raptor Center (Saturday November 12, 8 - 11 am)
Join Mary Louise for brunch afterwards in Huntersville (optional)

4) Image review and feedback session (online / zoom based session Monday November 28, 6:30 - 8 pm)

Note: The online / zoom based sessions will be recorded, so you can review the recording and email questions if you can't make the live session.

This workshop is for the intermediate photographer interested in expanding their skills into wildlife / action photography. An understanding of how to shoot in shutter priority or manual mode is required, as is a basic understanding of how aperture, shutter speed and ISO impact exposure. 

This workshop is limited to ONLY 4 Participants. Price includes admission to the CRC's PhotoWild special event where we will be part of a group of 25 photographers.

Suggested lodging options include:

  • Hampton Inn & Suites Charlotte Northlake, NC
  • SpringHill Suites by Marriott Charlotte Huntersville
  • Hampton Inn & Suites Charlotte Huntersville
  • Comfort Suites Lake Norman - Huntersville

Brunch location: Killington's Restaurant and Pub, 10010C Rose Commons Dr, Huntersville, NC 28078

More Classes and Workshops coming soon!

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