Classes & Lessons

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.

Upcoming Photography Classes and Workshops


Quick Links

Gift Certificates

Customized Classes and Private Lessons

Student Reviews / Testimonials


2017 Schedule
January 2017:
Digital Photography Essentials

February 2017:
Using Adobe Lightroom to Organize, Edit and Share Your Photographs
High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography at Luray Caverns

March 2017:
Digital Photography Essentials

April 2017:
(Private session) Adobe Lightroom Basics, plus converting images to B&W

May 2017:
Digital Photography Essentials

More Courses Coming Soon!

SAVE THE DATE - October 2017:
Fall Color in California's Wine Country (Napa/Sonoma)

2016 Schedule
February 2016:
Digital Photography Essentials
Creative Abstract Photography Workshop Series

March 2016:
Creative Abstract Photography Workshop Series
Digital Photography: Fundamentals for Beginners
Using Adobe Lightroom to Organize, Edit and Share Your Photographs

April 2016:
Digital Photography Essentials

May 2016:
Photographing the Best of Tuscany with optional Cinque Terre excursion

June 2016:
Butterfly Photography
Using Adobe Lightroom to Organize, Edit and Share Your Photographs

July 2016:
Digital Photography Essentials

August 2016:
Private Group Workshop on Photographing Jewelry

October 2016:
Digital Photography: Fundamentals for Beginners
Using Adobe Lightroom to Organize, Edit and Share Your Photographs

December 2016:
Digital Photography Essentials


  • February 20, 2016 Digital Photography Essentials (Saturday 1 pm - 5 pm)
    Location: Bella Vista Photography Home Studio, Waterford, VA
    Register by February 6th to receive early bird discount
    This introductory class is for people with a digital camera who are interested in learning how to successfully use their camera beyond automatic / program modes. The 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. We also discuss how to interpret the image histogram, a camera feedback mechanism, and use that information to adjust and optimize image exposure for the next shot. Students learn how to adjust these settings using their own camera and do quick practice exercises to reinforce what they've learned. For those with limited time, or those who want to learn at a more relaxed pace, this is a helpful quick start approach.

  • February - March, 2016 Creative Abstract Photography Workshop
    (3 Saturday afternoon sessions 1 - 6 pm)
    Location: Bella Vista Photography Home Studio, Waterford, VA
    Register by February 13, 2016 to receive early bird discount
    In this class series Mary Louise Ravese shares some her favorite techniques for creating abstract photographs in a studio setting. This series of lectures and hand-on "lab" photography sessions is sure to spark the imagination and produce some unique and beautiful abstract images captured in-camera instead of via photo manipulation.

    This intermediate level workshop is for those who understand basic digital SLR camera use and are looking for a creative challenge, unique photo opportunities and to expand the vision of their "photographer's eye". Hands-on photo shoots in the Bella Vista Photography studio using a wide selection of props. Take 1 session or all 3 and save $.

    Abstract Photography allows the photographer the freedom to discover and explore "ordinary" subjects from a fresh perspective for the sheer beauty of their characteristics of color, texture and shape. Learning abstract photography techniques is an excellent exercise in expanding and refining the "photographer's eye" and enables participants to create images that are uniquely their own, employing strong visual design elements. It is a valuable learning exercise that will improve not just the participant's ability to make abstract imagery, but all types of images from landscapes to portraiture and beyond. The workshop is divided into 3 self contained sessions, each one concentrating on a different technique and allowing for limited image sharing/feedback.

    This workshop could be the most fun you've had as an adult! Read More...



    Session 1: Bubble-mania: Saturday afternoon February 27th from 1- 6 pm
    In this session we will explore the shapes of a variety of types of bubbles and how they interact with their environment reflecting nearby objects and colors. (Macro or close-up equipment is required for this session. Note this equipment can be rented for Canon and Nikon cameras.)


    Abstract Bubble Image by past participant Richard Fain

    Session 2 Abstract Light Painting: Saturday afternoon March 5th from 1- 6 pm
    In this session we will explore utilizing "photographic time warp" - moving a variety of interesting light sources to sculpt in the air in a darkened room, creating amazing luminous shapes over the course of a long exposure.


    Abstract Light Painting by past participant Richard Fain

    Session 3 Unusual Reflections: Saturday afternoon March 19th from 1- 6 pm
    In this session we will explore making images using a variety of reflective surfaces with unusual shapes and textures that distort subject matter reflections in fascinating ways. (Macro or close-up equipment is required for this session. Note this equipment can be rented for Canon and Nikon cameras.)


    Abstract Reflection by Mary Louise Ravese



  • March 16 - April 13, 2016 Using Adobe Lightroom to Organize, Edit and Share Your Photographs
    Wednesday Afternoons (Four sessions, note varying start times)

    March 16: 6:30 - 8:30 pm
    No class March 23
    March 30: 6:30 - 8:30 pm
    April 6: 5:30 - 8:30 pm
    April 13: 5:30 - 8:30 pm


    Location: Shenandoah University Center for Lifelong Learning, Winchester, VA
    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 is suitable for beginner to advanced photographers. This introductory class is for those who are interested in learning the basics of how to organize and edit their images using Adobe Lightroom software.

    This four-week class will concentrate on the essentials of Adobe Lightroom's main modules: Library, Develop, and the output modules of Print, Web, Slideshow and Book. Participants will learn how to organize their images so they can be easily found, how to optimize their images and edit photographs to remove unwanted objects and do minor portrait retouching, and how to prepare their images for a variety of uses. Using the University's Computer Lab Facility, they can do hands-on exercises on the sample images provided, or supply their own images. By the end of the class, participants will feel confident using Adobe Lightroom to manage their images and do basic image editing on their own computer.

    Register through Shenandoah University's Center for Lifelong Learning...




  • April 17, 2016 Digital Photography Essentials (Sunday 1 pm - 5 pm)
    Location: Bella Vista Photography Home Studio, Waterford, VA
    Register by April 10th to receive early bird discount

    This introductory class is for people with a digital camera who are interested in learning how to successfully use their camera beyond automatic / program modes. The 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. We also discuss how to interpret the image histogram, a camera feedback mechanism, and use that information to adjust and optimize image exposure for the next shot. Students learn how to adjust these settings using their own camera and do quick practice exercises to reinforce what they've learned. For those with limited time, or those who want to learn at a more relaxed pace, this is a helpful quick start approach. Read More...



  • May 14-22, 2016 Photographing the Best of Tuscany with optional excursion to the Cinque Terre May 22-25
    Location: Tuscany, Italy Register by March 18 to receive early bird discount



    Join professional photographer Mary Louise Ravese on an 8-night workshop photographing the quintessential Tuscany experience. Our small 6 person group will explore photogenic areas from Florence to San Gimignano, the Chianti wine district & the countryside of the Val D'Orcia region. Extend your trip with an optional 3-night trip to the Cinque Terre.

    We will explore the hillside vineyards and castles of the Chianti wine district and the village of San Gimignano. Then it's on to the rural countryside of the Val d'Orcia area which is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It offers lush green rolling hillsides, frequently dotted with fields of red poppies at this time of year. Picturesque winding country roads lined with cypress trees, vineyards and olive groves with views of medieval hilltop villages in the background and quaint street scenes in historic villages await. Abbeys and monasteries offer unique architecture shooting options as well. We wrap up our trip with three nights in world-renowned Florence, including an "open schedule" day

  • March 16 - April 13, 2016 Digital Photography: Fundamentals for Beginners
    Wednesday Afternoons (Four sessions, note varying end times)

    March 16: 3 - 6 pm
    No class March 23
    March 30: 3 - 6 pm
    April 6: 3 - 5 pm
    April 13: 3 - 5 pm


    Location: Shenandoah University Center for Lifelong Learning, Winchester, VA
    Digital cameras offer lots of options for how to make a photograph, but many users rarely stray beyond the camera’s automatic modes and settle for results that don’t meet up to their
    expectations. This introductory class is for those who are interested in learning how to use their camera beyond automatic and program modes.

    This four session class will concentrate on the 5 essential camera settings that have the most impact on the look of a photograph: focal length, aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance. In addition, participants will learn how to use camera feedback mechanisms such as the image histogram and light meter to adjust image brightness for their next shot. Participants will learn where, when, why, and how to adjust these settings using their own camera and will do practice exercises in each session to reinforce what they’ve learned. By the end of the class, participants will feel more empowered to make decisions about camera settings to achieve the look they are after in their photographs, and will have the fundamental photography knowledge to troubleshoot situations when results aren’t as expected. Our final session will include shooting at an outdoor location to capture spring color.

    Register through Shenandoah University's Center for Lifelong Learning...



    in Florence so you can explore the museums, shops, markets or whatever else strikes your fancy. Extend your stay if you like, with a 3-night optional excursion to the Cinque Terre - 5 villages built into the coastal cliffside on the Italian Riviera. Fine tune your current skills and expand your techniques, for example by learning how to create striking painterly & realistic high dynamic range (HDR) images. Read More...





  • June 11-12, 2016 Butterfly Photography Workshop (weekend workshop - Saturday noon-5:30 pm, Sunday 8 - 11 am)
    Location: Bella Vista Photography Studio, Waterford, VA and Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD
    Register by May 28th to receive early bird discount

    Learn about equipment and techniques for close-up photography including specific techniques and strategies for photographing butterflies like the software-aided technique "focus stacking", which is used for expanded depth of field. On Saturday we will put those techniques into practice by photographing a collection of butterfly specimens in the classroom. High magnification shots of butterfly wings are possible. On Sunday, we will practice photographing colorful butterflies and flowers with pre-opening access to Brookside Gardens. The butterfly conservatory is one of the few places where you can photograph butterflies from several different continents in one spot. Exclusive access for just our group gives you the rare opportunity to photograph with the benefit of a tripod for sharp shots. Read More...



  • June 25-26, 2016 Using Adobe Lightroom to Organize, Edit and Share Your Photographs (weekend workshop) (Saturday 9 am - 5pm, Sunday 9 am - noon)
    Location: Bella Vista Photography Home Studio, Waterford, VA
    Register by June 19th to receive early bird discount

    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 is suitable for beginner to advanced photographers. This introductory class is for those who are interested in learning the basics of how to organize and edit their images using Adobe Lightroom software.

    Over the course of a day and a half, this class will concentrate on the essentials of Adobe Lightroom's main modules: Library, Develop, and the output modules of Print, Web, Slideshow and Book. 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
    prepare their images for a variety of uses

    Participants can do hands-on exercises on the sample images provided, or supply their own images. By the end of the class, participants will feel confident using Adobe Lightroom to manage their images and do basic image editing on their own computer. Read More...



  • July 17, 2016 Digital Photography Essentials (Sunday 1 pm - 5 pm)
    Location: Bella Vista Photography Home Studio, Waterford, VA
    Register by July 10th to receive early bird discount

    This introductory class is for people with a digital camera who are interested in learning how to successfully use their camera beyond automatic / program modes. The 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. We also discuss how to interpret the image histogram, a camera feedback mechanism, and use that information to adjust and optimize image exposure for the next shot. Students learn how to adjust these settings using their own camera and do quick practice exercises to reinforce what they've learned. For those with limited time, or those who want to learn at a more relaxed pace, this is a helpful quick start approach. Read More...



  • October 5 - 26, 2016 Digital Photography: Fundamentals for Beginners
    Wednesday Afternoons (Four sessions, note varying end times)

    October 5: 3 - 6 pm
    October 12: 3 - 6 pm
    October 19: 3 - 5 pm
    October 26: 3 - 5 pm


    Location: Shenandoah University Center for Lifelong Learning, Winchester, VA
    Digital cameras offer lots of options for how to make a photograph, but many users rarely stray beyond the camera’s automatic modes and settle for results that don’t meet up to their
    expectations. This introductory class is for those who are interested in learning how to use their camera beyond automatic and program modes.

    This four session class will concentrate on the 5 essential camera settings that have the most impact on the look of a photograph: focal length, aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance. In addition, participants will learn how to use camera feedback mechanisms such as the image histogram and light meter to adjust image brightness for their next shot. Participants will learn where, when, why, and how to adjust these settings using their own camera and will do practice exercises in each session to reinforce what they’ve learned. By the end of the class, participants will feel more empowered to make decisions about camera settings to achieve the look they are after in their photographs, and will have the fundamental photography knowledge to troubleshoot situations when results aren’t as expected. Our final session will include shooting at an outdoor location to capture fall color.

    Register through Shenandoah University's Center for Lifelong Learning...



  • October 29-30, 2016
    Using Adobe Lightroom to Organize, Edit and Share Your Photographs
    (weekend workshop) (Saturday 10 am - 5pm, Sunday 10 am - 4 pm)
    Location: Bella Vista Photography Studio, Waterford, VA
    Register by October 15th to receive early bird discount

    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 is suitable for beginner to advanced photographers. This introductory class is for those who are interested in learning the basics of how to organize and edit their images using Adobe Lightroom software.

    Over the course of two days, this class will concentrate on the essentials of Adobe Lightroom's main modules: Library, Develop, and the output modules of Print, Web, Slideshow and Book. 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
    prepare their images for a variety of uses

    Participants can do hands-on exercises on the sample images provided, or supply their own images. By the end of the class, participants will feel confident using Adobe Lightroom to manage their images and do basic image editing on their own computer.




  • December 3, 2016 Digital Photography Essentials (Saturday 1 pm - 5 pm)
    Location: ArtSpace, 750 Center St, Herndon, VA 20170
    Register by November 19th to receive early bird discount

    This introductory class is for people with a digital camera who are interested in learning how to successfully use their camera beyond automatic / program modes. The 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. We also discuss how to interpret the image histogram, a camera feedback mechanism, and use that information to adjust and optimize image exposure for the next shot. Students learn how to adjust these settings using their own camera and do quick practice exercises to reinforce what they've learned. For those with limited time, or those who want to learn at a more relaxed pace, this is a helpful quick start approach.




  • January 21, 2017 Digital Photography Essentials (Saturday 1 pm - 5 pm)
    Location: ArtSpace, 750 Center St, Herndon, VA 20170
    Register by January 7th to receive early bird discount


    This introductory class is for people with a digital camera who are interested in learning how to successfully use their camera beyond automatic / program modes. The 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. We also discuss how to interpret the image histogram, a camera feedback mechanism, and use that information to adjust and optimize image exposure for the next shot. Students learn how to adjust these settings using their own camera and do quick practice exercises to reinforce what they've learned. For those with limited time, or those who want to learn at a more relaxed pace, this is a helpful quick start approach.
    Read More...






  • February 18-19, 2017
    Using Adobe Lightroom to Organize, Edit and Share Your Photographs
    (weekend workshop) (Saturday 10 am - 5pm, Sunday 1 pm - 5 pm)
    Location: ArtSpace, 750 Center St, Herndon, VA 20170
    Register by February 11th to receive early bird discount

    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 is suitable for beginner to advanced photographers. This introductory class is for those who are interested in learning the basics of how to organize and edit their images using Adobe Lightroom software.

    Over the course of two days, this class will concentrate on the essentials of Adobe Lightroom's main modules: Library, Develop, and the output modules of Print, Web, Slideshow and Book. 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
    prepare their images for a variety of uses

    Participants can do hands-on exercises on the sample images provided, or supply their own images. By the end of the class, participants will feel confident using Adobe Lightroom to manage their images and do basic image editing on their own computer. Read More...






  • February 25-26, 2017 High Dynamic Range (HDR)Photography at Luray Caverns (Saturday 3 pm - 6 pm, Sunday 8:30 am - 2:30 pm)
    Location: Best Western Intown hotel and Luray Caverns, Luray, VA
    Register by February 19th to receive early bird discount

    Luray caverns is one of the largest and most popular caverns on the East Coast of the US. There are lighted, paved walkways that enable visitors to walk through cathedral-sized rooms, some 10-stories high, featuring other-worldly stalactite and stalagmite stone formations. One of my favorite parts is a reflecting pool mirroring these magnificent formations.

    The rock formations are lit by artificial light creating a spectacular site, but one that can be difficult to capture photographically with full detail because the contrast range of the light is so broad -- from the lightest tones in the scene to the darkest shadows. Not to fear, this is the perfect scenario to use the High Dynamic Range (HDR) technique.

    HDR is a fundamental technique that all intermediate photographers should know to be able to achieve better photographs in situations where there is a broad scene brightness range eg. interior spaces with windows, mid-day photographs outdoors, canyons, night scenes with artificial lights, etc. In this workshop we'll cover how to shoot for HDR and how to process the images on the computer to enable you to have pictures that more accurately show the detail in highlights and shadows that we see with our eyes, but can't capture with a single image due to the technical limitations of digital camera sensors. If your camera offers HDR capabilities in-camera, Mary Louise can help you to understand how to use that feature as well.

    This workshop offers you a great opportunity to practice photography in a relatively small group setting. Bring your own laptop to learn how to adjust your images using Photomatix software (a plug-in compatible with Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop).

    The workshop is suitable for intermediate photographers, who understand when and how to change aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings, and are comfortable shooting in Aperture Priority mode. To get the most from the class, Digital SLR cameras are recommended, and tripods are required.

    Participants meet on site.

    Read More...






  • March 11, 2017 Digital Photography Essentials (Saturday 1 pm - 5 pm)
    Location: ArtSpace, 750 Center St, Herndon, VA 20170
    Register by March 4th to receive early bird discount

    This introductory class is for people with a digital camera who are interested in learning how to successfully use their camera beyond automatic / program modes. The 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. We also discuss how to interpret the image histogram, a camera feedback mechanism, and use that information to adjust and optimize image exposure for the next shot. Students learn how to adjust these settings using their own camera and do quick practice exercises to reinforce what they've learned. For those with limited time, or those who want to learn at a more relaxed pace, this is a helpful quick start approach.
    Read More...






  • May 6, 2017 Digital Photography Essentials (Saturday 1 pm - 5 pm)
    Location: ArtSpace, 750 Center St, Herndon, VA 20170
    Register by April 22nd to receive early bird discount


    This introductory class is for people with a digital camera who are interested in learning how to successfully use their camera beyond automatic / program modes. The 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. We also discuss how to interpret the image histogram, a camera feedback mechanism, and use that information to adjust and optimize image exposure for the next shot. Students learn how to adjust these settings using their own camera and do quick practice exercises to reinforce what they've learned. For those with limited time, or those who want to learn at a more relaxed pace, this is a helpful quick start approach.
    Read More...






    Customized Private Lessons Available year-round

    Sample Rates:
    $75 per hour, 2 hour minimum
    2 hours $150 (one person), additional participants $75 (50% off each additional person, up to 3 people)
     
    Private Lesson Special Offer - Digital Photography Essentials:
    3 hours $180, $45 savings (one person), additional participants $90 (50% off each additional person, up to 3 people)
     
    This is our most requested private lesson offering. It covers the most essential topics participants need to know to be start being more effective using their digital camera off automatic/program mode. Practice exercises are offered as homework for participants to do on their own time. For those with limited time, this is a helpful quick start approach.
     
    Discount Packages:
    5 hours (~5% savings) $355 (one person), additional participants $175 (~50% off each additional person, up to 3 people)
    10 hours (10% savings) $675 (one person), additional participants $335 (~50% off each additional person, up to 3 people)
     
    Discount packages can be split into multiple sessions over the course of a 12 month period.
    Typical suggested session length is 2 to 3 hours in duration.
     
    Click here to purchase private lessons now



     
    Please note private lesson availability is greatest weekdays during business hours. Some night sessions may be available, but weekend sessions are very limited due to our show and workshop schedule.
     
    If you are interested in customized classes or field trips for your group, please contact us at (571) 594-2390 to discuss your requirements. Customized classes can be conducted at our studio in Northern Virginia, at your home or office, or at an agreed 3rd party location. If not at our studio, a travel fee of 75 cents per mile plus tolls and parking applies.

    Gift Certificates

    Can't decide what to give? Bella Vista Photography Gift Certificates can be redeemed for private lessons, our own workshops, or our fine art photography sold directly through Bella Vista Photography. Click here to purchase a Gift Certificate now

    Student Reviews / Testimonials

    Here is some of the feedback we’re received about our classes:

    • “Mary Louise has incredible knowledge and delivers it clearly, concisely and in a manner that’s easy to understand.” – Esther H.
    • “Examples were focused and illustrated technical info nicely.” – Kerry C.
    • “Well presented for understanding.” – Sharon S.
    • “Instructor was personable and enthusiastic” – Kerry C.
    • “Dispels a lot of mysteries” – Anne B.
    • “Very informative, I learned a lot about my digital camera” – Carolyn L.
    • “Mary Louise could talk based on extensive experience as a professional photographer.” – David B.
    • “One of my concerns was that a good photographer might not necessarily be a good teacher. Not a concern here!! – Zoe S.
    • “Loved it! She makes it exciting and fun.” – Esther H.
    • “Mary Louise was well prepared, informative and willing to make sure you understood” – Joyce C.
    • “Each week I discovered something new about my camera that I didn’t know about before” – Kim R.
    • “Mary Louise shares her experience and tips” – Michelle M.