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Nature Photography: In the Footsteps of Henri Cartier-Bresson

Schedule and location

Five days: Three Wednesdays, October 23 through November 6, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., and two Saturdays, October 26 and November 2, 2019, 8:00 to 11:00 a.m.
Thornhill Education Center

Fees and Registration

$178.00 member
$209.00 nonmember
(Fees include admission to the Arboretum)
BY PHONE: 630-719-2468 ( Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.)

Course description

Cartier-Bresson first popularized the concept of the “decisive moment:” that sliver of time when all elements of an image align, and the photographer can tell a complete story and fully engage the viewer. Nature is an ever-changing scene. Therefore, in that fleeting moment when the sun just clears the horizon, when a shadow falls in precisely the right spot, when the trees reach peak color, when a flower peaks in bloom--the photographer must be ready to capture it.

In this class, we will apply Bresson’s concepts to nature photography, as plants bloom, the tides come and go, or clouds or reflections enhance a scene. Explore the use of the decisive moment to enhance your nature compositions and how to train the eye and brain to anticipate the evolving scene. Students will spend time in the classroom learning the concepts, have two field sessions to apply them, and a critique session.

Course number



Willard Clay and Ken Thompson, Nature Photographers

Former Professor of Botany, Willard Clay has been a full-time photographer since 1982.  Specializing in large format photography, he has been the primary photographer for nine coffee table books and has been published in a myriad of calendars, magazines, books, and advertising agencies.  Portfolio consists of large format film and high-resolution digital files ready for publication.  Teaching credits include teaching at The Morton Arboretum since 2005 as well as The Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont since 1985 and classes/seminars at many venues in the country.

Ken Thompson specializes in close-up and macro photography.  He currently teaches several subjects at the Morton Arboretum’s Photography Program and for many years was an assistant leader at the Fall Photography Workshop at the Great Smoky Mountain Institute at Tremont, TN. Ken’s work concentrates on close-ups of water drops, flowers, and plants.  He is also interested in abstracts of these subjects. Ken is the author of two e-books, Introduction to Dragonfly and Butterfly Photography and Introduction to Focus Stacking. When asked “why macro and close-ups” Ken responds that close-ups show more compositions and stories than can ever be recorded and every day is completely different.  Plus, when all the landscape photographers have gone home, he can continue taking images of what he calls “The World Within”.

Course details

Notes: Held indoors and outdoors. A supply list will be provided. Limit 16

Arboretum class weather, cancellation and refund policies