Discovering the Mood and Mystery in our Images

As we have gone through the speaker series over the years, we have learned so much about light, composition, post processing, seeing in black and white, creativity, etc, etc, etc. Well how ‘bout how to communicate more effectively what we are seeing and experiencing within the landscape? I am talking about Mood.

This is a smaller format series with only 3 speakers, but these are people whose images portray and communicate a specific level of depth and patience. We start with Croatia native Franka Gabler on Conveying Mood and Capturing the Essence, move to East Coast based Michele Sons for the Art of Fog, before wrapping up returning speaker Michael Frye and his dazzling presentation A Sense of Mystery.

This is not designed to be a revolutionary simple fix to your photos rather a much more in depth look on how you can leave some mystery in your images, have our images symbolize something more than the obvious, or inspire us to see the landscape differently.

  • Franka Gabler “Conveying Mood and Capturing the Essence” (available now!)
  • Michele Sons “The Art of Fog” (available now!)
  • Michael Frye “A Sense of Mystery" (available now!)

The speaker series from Nature Photography Classes are a unique opportunity to hear from and interact with people that rarely speak with audiences and are considered some of the best photography educators in the world.

This is also an extremely affordable speaker series at only $17 per speaker or get all three speakers at a discounted rate of only $47.

Registration for the series comes with permanent access to the recordings through My Library, YouTube or Dropbox file download.

These 90-minute sessions will be packed with decades of knowledge, insights, and tangible ways to improve your connect deeper with your work.

10% of all registration fees will be donated to the environmental cause or organization of the speakers choosing. Another great opportunity to give back!

The sessions will be hosted by Nic Stover, founder of Nature Photography Classes.

Register Now!

Franka Gabler - Conveying Mood and Capturing the Essence

Franka Gabler

It is not enough to just correctly expose and compose. To resonate with the viewer, a successful photograph needs to tell a story. Also, to connect with a viewer, a photograph needs to evoke emotions – by telling a little bit more about the place than just being a mere record of the place.

It is important to be able to recognize the essence and the potential of the scene and find out what speaks to us before we decide how to interpret it and which aspects to emphasize. Some scenes would best tell the story if we emphasize the dark side. Other scenes might better tell the story if we emphasize vibrancy and lightness. The emotional impact of a landscape photograph is usually achieved by capturing the essence of the scene, often by depicting and conveying a mood – and there are many ways to convey a mood. The presentation will analyze several essential components that contribute to expressing and conveying mood such as choice of light, color, contrast, weather, and/or shutter speed exposure.


A native of Croatia, Franka moved to California in the late 1990s and fell in love with the Sierra Nevada, after her first backpacking trip. The magnificence of Yosemite and California landscapes inspired her to become a landscape photographer.

For many years, she has been drawing her inspiration from subtle, moody, often intimate landscapes - compositions somewhere between abstract and the wider view, beyond mere documentation of a particular location. Her approach is to capture the essence of the place – often by isolating a smaller scene from a larger vista or an iconic view. Expressing mood and capturing the essence is what she strives for in her photography. The light and atmosphere portrayed in her photographs often result in sentimental impact and ethereal feeling. She often photographs in misty and foggy conditions which helps with simplifying her compositions by concealing distracting elements and leaving only the essence.

Franka’s photographs have been recognized internationally. In 2022 she was the overall winner of the Landscape Photography World Awards. In 2021, her photograph received a 1st place award for the “Intimate and Abstract” category of the Natural Landscape Photography Awards, and in 2023, she was recognized as a highly commended Photographer of the Year. Her black & white portfolio “Expressive Yosemite” is published in Issue No. 159 of the LensWork Photography Magazine.

Franka lives in the Sierra foothills, in the small mountain town of Coarsegold, not far from Yosemite National Park.

You can learn more about Franka and her work on her website.

Franka will be supporting Yosemite Conservancy with 10% from the registration fees donated to their mission.

Length: 90 minutes

Cost: $17 (or as part of the entire series for only $47!)

Register for Franka's session
Sample of Franka Gabler's Work
Purchase all 3 speakers!

Michele Sons -The Art of Fog

Michele Sons

Join me for a foggy stroll! Together, we will explore the magic of this moody weather phenomenon. Spanning both art and science, The Art of Fog will review selected topics such as: the types of fog and the meteorological elements necessary for formation, forecasting tools, symbolism and the ways in which its emotional and visual effects on the landscape can inject mood, and a case study in applying this knowledge in the field. Inspirational images will be included throughout the presentation. After our stroll, you will have a deeper understanding of fog, and more importantly, a greater appreciation of how you can employ it as a powerful artistic element to inject mood into your expressive photography.


Michele Sons is a fine art landscape and nature photographer, writer, and educator based in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, with clients including National Geographic, The Wilderness Society, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and non-profits that serve our nation’s national parks. Her work tends toward quiet, pared-down, subtle representations of her deep reverence for the natural world. Fog, mist, and soft light are intrinsic elements present in many of her images. Through educational eBooks and private mentoring services, Michele empowers creative outdoor photographers to find meaningful connections with nature and grow in their artistry.

You can learn more about Michele and her work on her website.

Michele will be supporting Smokies Life with 10% from the registration fees donated to their mission.

Length: 90 minutes

Cost: $17 (or as part of the entire series for only $47!)

Register for Michele's Session
Sample of Michele Son's Work
Register for all 3 speakers!

Michael Frye - A Sense of Mystery

Michael Frye

“Unless a landscape is invested with a sense of mystery, it is no better than a postcard.” -Brett Weston

The most compelling photographs go beyond the literal – beyond just showing what something looks like – and reach viewers on a deeper level by telling a compelling story, capturing a mood, or showing the world in a new and surprising way. 

And that usually means they have a sense of mystery. The strongest images don't simply show the subject in a straightforward way, but leave something to the imagination, and engage viewers by making them wonder about what's not shown, or what's not obvious. They convey a mood or feeling by taking ordinary, everyday objects and making them symbolize something bigger and more universal. They might even evoke a sense of wonder at the boundless beauty and variety of our planet. 

In this presentation Michael Frye will explore these essential, often-overlooked aspects of photography, showing you how a sense of mystery can make more compelling images, and how you can add mystery and wonder to your own photographs.


Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He lives near Yosemite National Park in California, but travels extensively to photograph natural landscapes in the American West and throughout the world.

Michael uses light, weather, and design to make photographs that capture the mood of the landscape, and convey the beauty, power, and mystery of nature. His work has received numerous awards, and appeared in publications around the world. He's the author and/or principal photographer of several books, including Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters, and The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite.

Michael loves to share his knowledge of photography through articles, books, workshops, online courses, and his blog. He's taught over 200 workshops focused on landscape photography, night photography, digital image processing, and printing.

Learn more about Michael and his work on his website. 

Michael will be supporting the Yosemite Conservancy with 10% from the registration fees donated to help their mission.

Length: 90 minutes

Cost:  $17 (or as part of the entire series for only $47!)

Register for Michael's session
Sample of Michael Frye's Work
Register for all 3 amazing speakers!