robert knight teaching

If you’ve ever strolled around the shops and galleries in Carmel, California, then you might have come across the Robert Knight Gallery (one of only four photography galleries in Carmel, by the way). His amazing photographs of nature and animals are simply breathtaking, and they’ve been displayed (and highly awarded) around the globe. He is a self-taught photographer, and has traveled all seven continents shooting with a skilled eye that few are lucky enough to posses.

Robert is also an outstanding teacher. He leads excursions everywhere from Africa to the glaciers, and once a year, he offers a “Coastal Safari Expedition” in the Carmel/Big Sur area. I was fortunate to be among the eight participants in his recent class. This is a workshop that you may want to take yourself, so here’s a bit about the experience.

Robert’s teaching method isn’t formal — no time in the classroom for us! Instead, he teaches in the moment, using the view in front of our lenses as the lesson. Here is Robert talking about depth of field with me (the one sitting down on the rocks) and another student. Let me tell you…I now have a much better understanding of this concept now that it’s been explained to me while shooting, as opposed to from an esoteric conversation indoors, or worse yet, by reading the camera manual.

robert knight teaching
Learning in the field (photo by John Campbell)

Rising early enough to shoot the sunrise and out on the windy cliffs capturing the sunset, this is an intense three days full of learning, laughter and enjoying the great California coast. We spent time in Garrapata State Park, stopping at many of Robert’s “secret” vista points. (Note: garrapata means “tick” in Spanish, and they live in abundance there.)

garrapata state park
Fabulous color everywhere! (photo by Amy Roseveare)

Garrapata includes some great hiking up into the redwoods, which provided lots of opportunity to play with different photography effects.

garrapata state park
Playing with shutter speed (photo by Amy Roseveare)

Now a delicious lunch and mid-day break was a part of each day, and I especially enjoyed the food at Le St. Tropez, just a couple doors down from the gallery. I also took advantage of getting a “to go” dinner during break time from one of my favorites, The Village Corner Bistro. Trust me, by the time you roll back to your hotel room around 9 at night, the last thing you want to do is go find a restaurant that’s still open. I was thankful to have my dinner already waiting for me in my little fridge!

Carmel River Beach was another great place we shot, as you could spend some time at the actual beach, and then also get lost amidst the maze of local streets dotted with picturesque homes and cottages.

carmel river beach
Working on composition (photo by Amy Roseveare)
carmel architecture
Architectural details abound! (photo by Amy Roseveare)

Of course, a stop at Point Lobos was a no-brainer, and we were lucky enough to be there during pup season for the local harbor seals. I think this mama seal was thrilled with her new baby!

harbor seals point lobos
Life is good! (photo by Amy Roseveare)

We had a blast exploring the different areas of Point Lobos, all piling into Robert’s van at the end of the shoot.

robert knight photography class
Hope we got some good shots! (Photo by Robert Knight)

Two of the three nights we were fortunate to have stunning, relatively fog-free sunsets.

waves at big sure
Emerald waves at sunset (photo by Amy Roseveare)
big sur sunset
Almost done for the day… (photo by Amy Roseveare)

If you’re into photography and nature, then I highly recommend you check out this amazing experience! Not only did I learn a lot, and get to spend three days in one of the most beautiful areas in the world, but I also met some great people. What more could you ask for?! :)