Vanderbilt Mansion

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The interior space of the Vanderbilt Mansion is quite spectacular, but with so many superior photo ops on the grounds, the workshop will focus on the sprawling landscapes.

Your DPA instructor picked July as the month to go particularly because the Italian Garden is overflowing with freshly planted flowers of every color. A team comes in every year, typically sometime in June and the photos remain through most of August.
So there will be several composition lessons demonstrated and supervised to tell your story of the blossoms. Whether composing with a, “Rule of Thirds,” technique, “Negative Space,” “Layering and many others, these basic strategies are easy to learn and will be useful for any future photo endeavor, whether it be a family gathering, a stroll in the neighborhood or a once-in-a-life time travel experience. You might even have a natural eye and already instinctively find yourself relying on these visual components, but once you are specifically aware of the options, you can choose when to use them and when not to as your signature style of taking pictures evolves.
For example, a “Leading Line,” approach allows you to analyze the scene before you and fix on one component to anchor your shot to lead one’s eye to begin at an exact point within the frame. The viewers of the image would start at this point within the frame, even though it is not the main subject of the photo. But, your DPA instructor will show you angles, above or below, to line up and “lead,”  directly to the main subject of the photo. The “Leading Line,” could be a row of benches, a line of yellow flowers or a grass pathway. The viewer’s eye will travel within and across the frame to the main subject which might be a fountain, a sculpture or a  the red brick vintage promenade that graces the garden.
The panoramic view of the Hudson and across the great river offers a myriad of photo ops. You might try panning as a boat travels by, or apportion your angle to dwarf the shore across by filling most of the frame with a rich cloud formation as the sun is setting.
Macro photography of the flowers can be successful and with an Aperture Priority approach you can highlight one saturated blossom by blurring the background to create an impressionistic sensibility that brings one back to Manet or the other painters of the Impressionist era. Fill the frame completely with the petals of the flower, edge to edge, and your viewer will get lost in the parallel universe of the complexity of the blossom. Move back and try a uniform focus approach to get a sea of colors and shapes connected by a constant green backdrop of the leaves within the scene.
Shutter Speed priority techniques will be covered by the little waterfall on the creek that is accessorized with a lovely wooden foot bridge. A fast shutter speed creates a crystal clear, split second moment of the ever moving water. Use a slower shutter speed and you’ll achieve a velvety smooth depiction of the moving water.
Framing techniques, such as a sturdy tree trunk on the right that leads to the 200 acres of lovely landscaping or to the majestic exterior of the mansion itself.
Come close to the building, very close and use a hard upward angle so the shape of the roof is silhouetted against the sky, resulting in almost a surreal or ominous feeling to share with the viewers of your image.

119 Vanderbilt Park Rd, Hyde Park, NY 12538

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Call Digital Photo Academy at 1 877 372 2231. Lots of people seem to hang up if our welcome recording comes on instead of a live voice, but we promise to return your message within a day or two if you leave one with your name and number.  It would be even better if you included your e mail address as well as the date and city of the class you are considering.  If leaving a voice mail message is not your thing, please email us at


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