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.

November 2023

  • November 4-5, 2023 Digital Photography Essentials
    (Saturday and Sunday 12:30 pm - 5 pm (ET)
    Location: Office Evolution, 4801 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 200, Raleigh, NC (across the street from Macy's at Crabtree Valley Mall)
    Class size limited to 8

This beginner class is for people with a digital SLR or mirrorless camera who want to learn how to use their camera beyond automatic/program modes. Thie class concentrates on the 5 most essential camera settings that have the most impact on the look of a photograph: focal length, aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance. In the process you'll also learn how to achieve optimal image exposures by understanding how to read an image histogram graph and adjust exposure compensation accordingly. Participants learn how to adjust all these settings using their own camera and do some practice exercises to reinforce what they've learned.

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.

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.


January 2024

  • January 5 - February 2, 2024 Artistic Photo Editing Technique: Texture Blending
    (Fridays 4 pm - 6:30 pm ET)
    One class divided into 5 sessions.
    Session duration may vary from 2 to 2.5 hours long.
    Location: Online, Live Zoom sessions
    Class size limited to 8
    The workshop is split into 5 sessions.
The texture blending technique can be used on a wide variety of images from flowers to landscapes, wildlife and portraits. In this online class you'll learn how to transform these images using Photoshop to combine your image with one or more texture images to create a painterly composite image. It's a great option to consider whether you are after an intentionally painterly look, or a creative way to minimize a distracting or uninteresting background. No previous experience with Photoshop is required, all the needed tools and techniques will be explained.

APRIL 2024

  • April 13 (online / zoom sessions)
    April 21-23  (in-person photo shoot in Clemson, SC)
      Backyard Bird Photography Workshop with instructors Mary Louise Ravese and Alan Clark
    May 4 (online / zoom session)
    Class size limited to 8 participants
    The workshop is split into 5 sessions. The first session will be held online over zoom. Sessions 2, 3 and 4 will be in-person in Clemson, SC where participants can practice with the guidance of the two instructors. Session 5 will be online over zoom and offer participants the opportunity to share a selection of their images and receive constructive feedback from the instructors.

Fantastic wildlife photography opportunities exist right in your own backyard, and species vary with the seasons. In this workshop you’ll learn the secrets to capturing beautiful bird portraits, and gain insights to the key factors for creating a bird-friendly habitat suitable for photography in your own backyard. You will learn about the best camera settings, shooting technique and composition for creating beautiful backyard bird images in live online (zoom) sessions in preparation for a day and a half in-person photo shoot at a private property location specifically designed for backyard bird photography. This shooting location offers multiple perches, water features, and two large photo blind structures, each large enough to each comfortably accommodate 5 photographers at a time.  This workshop is suitable for photographers with mobility issues, since photographers can sit in the photo blind and photograph either using a tripod or handheld. The birds are acclimated to the setting and come in relatively close to the blinds – typically within 10-25 feet. As a result, heavy super telephoto lenses are not required and more manageable zoom lenses in the 150 – 600 mm focal length range can work very well in this environment.

Some birds that may be sighted during the workshop include: Northern Cardinal, Carolina Chickadee, Carolina wren, Tufted titmouse, Ruby-crowned kinglet, House Finch, American Goldfinch, American Robin, American Crow, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Bluebird, Pine warbler, Yellow-rumped warbler, Yellow-throated warbler, Brown- headed Cowbird, White-throated sparrow, Chipping sparrow, Downy woodpecker, Red-bellied woodpecker, Blue Jay, Eastern Towhee, Mourning Dove, Hermit Thrush, Brown Thrasher, Northern Mockingbird. Adding to the possibilities, the workshop is timed so there is a good chance of capturing the birds with colorful spring flowers like azaleas and wisteria. Of course, Mother Nature will dictate which birds and flowers will actually be seen.

For those who would like to extend their visit to the Clemson, SC area, other local attractions for photography include the South Carolina Botanical Garden in Clemson and the Blue Ridge Mountains which are a short drive away.

"If you'd like to learn to photograph birds, you couldn't ask for a better setting, better materials or better instructors. But it's more than a backyard birding workshop: you learn invaluable skills and techniques that can apply to every aspect of your photography whether or not your goal is bird photography." – Scottee C

"The Nut House is an incredible location and very easy to get around - no strenuous walks, wonderful blinds, perfect setup for photography.  Having the online sessions in advance is critical to doing well on site, and the session following the workshop to go over photos was an invaluable learning experience. " – Scottee C

"This was the best learning experience. I would highly recommend it to anyone. It was time well spent!!"
  - Harvestine M.

"I really enjoyed the workshop format! It was great to have lecture format sessions on Zoom and then to have a field portion for the workshop to practice what we had learned with experts readily available to answer questions.  The feedback session was awesome! I learned something from each of the image critiques. I thought the detailed examples of changes to images were extremely useful."
  – Linda J .

  • April 16-20, 2024 Flower and Garden Photography Workshop
    Location: Chester County, Pennsylvania
    Class size limited to 7 participants.
    Registration Coming Soon

Join Mary Louise for a flower garden trifecta in this workshop based in America’s Garden Capital – the greater Philadelphia area. We’ll visit the area’s crown jewel – Longwood Gardens during the prime time for spring bulbs. This extensive garden on the former duPont estate offers a variety of flower and plant subjects in both outdoor gardens and a large indoor conservatory. Next, we’ll have a “straight out of Holland” experience at a tulip farm. Acres of tulip rows of different colors offer a variety of photo possibilities from macro closeups, to "shoot throughs", and intentional camera movement. Rounding things out, we’ll visit another one of the area’s 30+ gardens – which one will be revealed at the workshop because Mary Louise will select it based on the bloom conditions the week of the workshop.   In this workshop you’ll learn a variety of flower photography techniques – close-up/macro, shooting intimate landscape vignettes, intentional camera movement and soft glow - achieved either through use of in-camera multiple-exposures or a Lensbaby brand “velvet” lens

May 2024

  • May 14 - 19, 2024 Ultimate Oregon Coast Photo Workshop with instructors Mary Louise Ravese and John Pedersen
    Location: Central and Southern Oregon Coast
    $2095  ($100 off the regular price of $2195 when you register by December 31, 2023). A $300 deposit will hold your spot in this amazing workshop.
I'm pleased to be partnering with Oregon photographer John Pedersen to offer this workshop. 

The Oregon Coast contains some of the most varied and unique coastal photographic opportunities in the US. On this workshop you’ll experience its rocky coastline with majestic sea stacks, crashing waves and dramatic sunsets over the ocean, picturesque lighthouses, colorful working fishing harbors, coastal wildlife like sea lions and shore birds, and the intimate landscape of tide pool habitats. During this workshop we’ll explore the coast from the central towns of Newport and Yachats to the southern coast around Bandon. This area offers great and different photographic experiences at every turn – from bold and dramatic to quiet and moody. We will be at the right place, at the right time to capture some amazing images, found only on the Oregon coast while honing our photographic skills. We’ll visit some of the well-known, iconic places, as well as many places off the beaten path. Specific locations have been determined by years of experience. This is the ultimate Oregon Coast photo workshop! 

Our low student to instructor ratio for the workshop is ideal for maximizing your learning experience. This workshop will be 5 1/2 days of total immersion into photographing along the beaches and harbors in this beautiful area. We will conduct image reviews along with educational sessions during the workshop to help elevate our creative vision and technical skills in capturing this magnificent location.

June - July 2024

  • TBD June / July 2024 Maine event  (part 1) photographing Puffins and Acadia National Park
    Location: Downeast & Acadia region of Maine
    We're working on putting together a workshop to photograph Puffins off the coast of Maine, and combining that with some landscape photography in Acadia National Park.  This workshop will offer extraordinary photo opportunities to photograph a puffin colony from a few feet away in a multi-person photo blind. The exact timing of the workshop will not be known until late January, as the boat tickets to the bird sanctuary don't go on sale until January and are extremely limited . Contact me if you are interested in getting early notification when this workshop goes on sale.

  • TBD June / July 2024 Maine event  (part 2) photographing classic lighthouses and flowers on the coast
    Location: Mid coast region of Maine
    This workshop is being planned so it can be a standalone or companion trip to the Puffins / Acadia NP workshop. The highlights of this workshop will be photographing flowers in the wild and in renowned gardens together with coastal classics of harbors and lobster boats and some of the classic lighthouses of Maine including Pemaquid Point and Portland Head Light. Since this workshop will be timed to be back-to-back with the Puffins / Acadia NP workshop, its timing can't be set until we know the dates of the Puffin excursions. Contact me if you are interested in getting early notification when this workshop goes on sale.

More Classes and Workshops coming soon!


January 2023

Winter is a great time to revisit photographs you’ve already taken and reimagine them in new and artistic ways. This process can kick start your creative juices for the new year. In this session you’ll learn how to create kaleidoscopic digital art from your photographs using a free online photo editor. A variety of photographs can work well for this process, for example flower closeups, small scenes, larger landscape shots, etc. Once you’ve made a creation you like - with Valentine’s Day in mind - we’ll explore how you can print your digital art piece on a variety of giftable items using Zazzle.com.

February 2023

In winter when your garden is dormant, it is a great time to set up a small space in your home to practice photographing with cut flowers from the florist. In this session you’ll see how you can use readily available items to create a simple DIY setup for table top flower photography.  While a macro lens is often an ideal choice for close-up photography, you’ll learn how there are other less expensive photo accessory options to enable you to photograph close-up.

March 2023

Aperture Priority shooting mode is commonly used by beginner to intermediate flower and garden photographers for the majority of their photography endeavors. Understanding how to use this mode in principle is one thing, but using it in practice can be a struggle for many. In this session, Mary Louise offers participants guided hands-on step-by-step practice using this important camera mode. Photographing in the arboretum’s garden, we will practice achieving shallow and deep depth-of-field in Aperture Priority mode. We will also cover adapting other settings like white balance and exposure compensation as part of the overall photograph making process.

Creating a photo album, a travel journal, a family history, a cookbook on whatever flavor of "book" you desire doesn't have to be a complicated or expensive process. Your project could be 20 pages or 200 pages, a printed book or an eBook, just pictures or text and pictures.  In this online class, Mary Louise will show you how to use Adobe Lightroom Classic's Book module to create your own book. Adobe Lightroom Classic is integrated with blurb.com to print hardcover or softcover books or magazine-style booklets. It uses a template-driven approach to simplify the process of book design. Users can drag and drop images from their Lightroom catalog into a desired page  template.

The class is in three sessions. Session 1: Scoping out your book project - ideas, preparation and planning. Session 2: Customizing Lightroom's templates to create your desired look and layout. Then we'll break for a while to give you time to get started on your project before reconvening for Session 3: Project sharing and feedback where you can get feedback on your work in progress. If you've wanted to put together a book project, this class will help you get started on the path to success.

April 2023

In most photography you’re taught to hold the camera still in order to make sharp, crisp photos. However, if you’re after a more artistic look, the intentional camera movement (ICM) technique requires that you do the exact opposite. In an ICM photograph the photographer moves the camera during the exposure creating streaks and blurs that can mimic the look of a painter’s brush strokes. The resulting photograph can range from impressionistic to abstract. This is an experimental, trial and error technique, so there can be many unsuccessful frames to achieve that one frame that is pure magic. In this session we’ll discuss the theory, settings and technique for creating artistic photos using Intentional Camera Movement technique. This session is appropriate for traditional camera and phone camera users with an app.

May 2023

As a judge of many photo competitions over the years I’ve noticed that many photographers struggle with how to effectively address noise and sharpening of their images. Noise in images gives them a grainy appearance, often accompanied by splotches of magenta, purple and green that wasn’t in the original scene. Many amateur photographers either ignore addressing these issues all together, or wildly overdo their processing resulting in images that look either plasticized or “crunchy”.

While popular editing tools like Adobe Lightroom Classic and Photoshop offer integrated tools for noise processing and sharpening, I’ve found that Topaz Labs’s plug-in application Denoise AI produces superior results and, being based on Artificial Intelligence, it is getting even better as times goes by and it is trained on more and more images.  However, users often assume that auto settings are the best choice when using this tool, which is frequently not the case.

In this class, you’ll learn how I use Topaz Denoise AI as part of my Adobe Lightroom Classic and Photoshop image editing workflow. I’ll explain how I choose which of the five available processing models to use, and how to adjust the parameter settings for each model to yield the best results. There is no “one size fits all” solution when using the software, each image should be evaluated based in its inherent characteristics. So, it’s important to understand what to look for, in order to know how to optimize the processing. When used appropriately, DeNoise AI can be used to make even high ISO images into perfectly usable, printable images. That in a nutshell is what makes this software a game changer in my opinion and something all photographers, especially action photographers need to know how to use


  • May 31, 2023 Photo Composition 101
    (Wednesday 10:00 am - 12:00 pm ET)
    Location: JC Raulston Arboretum, 4415 Beryl Rd, Raleigh, NC

No matter what camera you have, one sure way to improve your photography is to use tried and true strategies for composing the design of your shot. Make more dynamic images of your garden subjects by learning about a handful of easy to remember compositional guidelines.
Then we’ll practice putting these guidelines into use by exploring the arboretum with our cameras

June 2023

In the “shooting through” flower photography technique, we use flowers positioned close to the lens to creatively “frame” our flower subjects in the distance. When photographed with a telephoto lens, and an appropriate aperture, the framing flowers will become an undefined “wash of color”, producing a creative photographic effect for a flower portrait image.

July 2023

The smartphone is the camera many people have with them at all times. The camera integrated with these phones has advanced with each smartphone generation, making it worthy of our attention as a legitimate camera. In this session you’ll learn about basic iPhone camera functionality like focusing in a specific place, adjusting brightness, shooting in bursts for action and adjusting background blurriness in portrait mode. We will then practice in the gardens of the arboretum.

September 2023

  • September 23, 2023 Cyanotype Photograms – Photography Without a Camera
    Saturday 9:00 am - 3:00 pm, Rain date September 24
    Location: Hattie Weselyk Studio at 113 Lutece Circle, Kennett Square, PA
    (this workshop is offered thanks to the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen)
    Class size limited to 8 participants.

Cyanotype is a simple photographic direct 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 class, we can use a combination of plant clippings from your garden with other items you bring at home to make cyanotype photograms, also known as "sun prints".  For those who are interested, we can go to the next level by experimenting with some "embellishment" techniques using things like tumeric, salt, vinegar, and soap bubbles to add additional color and texture to the one-of-a-kind cyanotype pieces. Mary Louise will explain how to make botanical "photograms" - direct contact prints of plants placed on sensitized materials and then exposed to sunlight. The developed print is then rinsed in a water bath and 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 shapes of things and no camera is needed for this process!

Participants will go home with several cyanotype prints.

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