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Digital Darkroom Workshop

Have you ever struggled learning Photoshop. I know that Photoshop is a great graphics arts program and can do just about anything. However, as a photographer I don’t need all that Photoshop can do. In fact I don’t want to know all that. Photoshop has a huge learning curve. So, we have teamed up with award winning local photographer Bill Eklund to present a Digital Darkroom series and teach what he calls,  Digital Dissection.

This informative, hands-on program is geared towards understanding digital imagery and is designed for digital photography enthusiasts of all skill levels. The introductory presentation in this series will outline the course content, introducing everyone as to what to expect from each lesson. Kind of a “virtual syllabus’.

The first lesson in the series will be a thorough examination of Exposure. The most crucial element of getting great results in post processing is to start with a good digital file. 

Lesson two will involve understanding the science behind a digital image. We will explore luminance. What is it? Why is it important? How is it measured? How is it adjusted? How does it impact color? We will also look at the differences between 8bit & 16bit images. I will have images that have luminance & exposure problems that we will work on during class. Bring your laptop if you would like to participate in correcting the lesson files. For the best learning experience, I would suggest that you have some version of photoshop, as this is the software that I will be using in my teachings.

This luminance lesson is designed to set-up and segue into the next topic, “COLOR”. Missing lesson two will put you at a definite disadvantage for lesson three. So, I would encourage anyone who might be considering partaking in this learning series not to miss a lesson.

Here are examples of what Bill has done to some of his photos.  He want to teach you how to do the same. This is a hands on training. The first class is an overview of the subsequent classes. After that class you will be given files to follow along with Bill as he shows you how to make your photos pop.  Each class will build on the class before so we are asking participants to commit to all 7 classes.

If you have ever tried to get handle on Photoshop and take your photography to the next level, this is the class for you.

Rock Cut State Park Concessions is hosting a Digital Darkroom Class as part of its Photography Workshops. 

We are proud to have local award winning photographer Bill Eklund teach us how to “Get the most out of your post processing with Photoshop”.
Classes will be held at the Lone Rock Cafe in the main concession on Tuesdays starting May 2 through June 13, 2017. The classes will be presented in a building block style to make them easy to follow. Each class will build on the previous class. We are asking participant to commit to all sessions.
The class is free.
Class meets on Tuesdays;
May 2-June 13, 2017
7:00p – 9:00p
The class will start promptly at 7 pm.
The concession will be serving until 7:00 pm. If you want something to eat or drink arrive early. No orders will be taken after 7 pm.
Class size is limited to 20. So, sign up soon.

Winter Photo Safari

Winter photography is stunning, but there are certainly some things to consider when photographing in cold and in the snow. This Valentine’s Day workshop is loaded with fun, and getting outdoors in the winter will be rewarding. Knowing how to get the proper exposure is key, and we will practice some techniques to help your winter photos. We will also discuss some of the logistics important for cold weather photography. We will start on-location at Rock Cut State Park, and after the presentation, you will be creating images and we will view them on a large screen TV. You will also be able to rent skis or snowshoes at reduced prices to capture your perfect image. Bring your camera, lenses, and tripod. Hot chocolate is included, and hot food will be available for purchase.

We have teamed up with Adventure Safari Network to offer a winter photography course at Rock Cut.  It will meet at the café on Valentines Day, February 14 at 9:00 am. The course will last until approximately 3:00.  Registration is through Rock Valley College website at  Once there enter the code: SPC 806 TRP and follow the steps to register. Preregistration is required. The class is limited to 20 people.

Urban Fishing Clinics are back

One again we have teamed up with the Illinois DNR to present our Urban Fishing Clinic.  They are designed to help you and your child learn the basics of fishing and conservation. The instructor will talk about conservation and the benefits of catch and release. Then she will get into the basics of fishing.

Ever wondered how to tie that elusive fishing knot, or which bait for which fish?  Even how to cast and which fish will be hitting during different times of year. It is all here during this 3 hour clinic.  Rods, tackle, and bait are supplied.

They will start July 11, 2014 at 9:00 and will run through  August 8th, 2014. Please Contact the Illinois DNR at 815-625-2903 to reserve a spot and let them know what date you wish to attend. You will meet at the main concession at Rock Cut. Please arrive a few minutes early.

Every child attending the Friday Clinic, will leave with a rod of their own to continue this great experience and keep them going outside.

Pierce Lake is still frozen

There is still time to go ice fishing.  A large part of Pierce Lake still has over a foot of ice on it.  We are seeing some flow over the dam so, I would be careful towards the middle. However, along the edges and in the bays it seem still solid. We will open the concession April 1 but will have limited offerings until the lake thaws.


Winter Season drawing to a close.

We have had a great Winter season with lots of people coming out to ski and snow shoe. However, with all the rain last week conditions on the trails have deteriorated. Areas of good snow has intermixed with major ice on the trails making them unsafe for us to rent ski. Several people returned with stories of face plants and leg injuries from falling so much. So, we have decided to close the concessions for the Winter season. After all, March is only a week away and it is time to look forward to the Spring season.  If we get a major snow fall, and let’s hope we don’t, we will open back up for rentals.  If you would like to stay update on the most current activity at Rock Cut Concessions become a fan of our Facebook page of Rock Cut State Park.

Ski Trails

The ski trails are groomed. We are open for renting skis and snowshoes. Our hours are Fri- Sun, 9a-4:30p.  We stop renting around 3:00 so you can get time in before we close.  Skis rent for $20 and snowshoes are $10.  If you have a child that will fit into our youth equipment they would be half price.  All rates are flat rates. We have found it easier to do a flat rate than to do an hourly.

All equipment must be used in Rock Cut and can not be taken off site.

We have posted a new ski trails map under Park Facts. You can also access it here.  The groomed trails are in Red.

They’re Here!!

The fish have started biting, with vengeance. The last week has brought in a 14″ Black Crappie, a 17″ Small

Mouth Bass and the first Walleye of the season. the walleye is in the picture on the left. You can check them all out in our Keepers gallery.  Water temps have risen to over 58 degree and have likely sparked the crappie spawning. This provides a good food source for the predator so we will be seeing them out as well. We have also had reports of nice size Perch at the east end of Pierce lake. The crappie was caught from shore at the Red Oak Picnic area.

We have reports of catfish off Red Oak and by the dam.

Most are hitting on minnows, wax worms and crawlers. However, we have seen the bass taken with spinners, Matzuo Shallow divers and Tattle Tail Jigs. The jigs have also been effective on crappie.

We are offering free dozen minnows, or crawlers if you stop in and let us get a picture of you and your catch. If you decide to take us up on the offer please be sure your fish is with in the legal limit. We have had a couple Muskies brought in at just over 30 inches and that is well below the minimum of 48. Plus Muskies don’t usually survive if they are kept out of the water to long.

With the weird March warming spell and then the April cooling I think the fish are confused about whether it is spring or not. We have seen crappie from 20 feet to 5 feet. The steady warm up, of the lake, should get everything back on track for this season.

So, it looks like the 2012 season is getting off  to a good start. come out, drop a hook, check out our special, and take advantage of the Fisherman’s Special in the café. Stop in for breakfast and get a free cup of coffee until 10 am.  Don’t forget we have always have free WiFi. We look forward to see you this season.

Yikes Ticks!

Spring is tick season. According to the Illinois Department of Health we see the highest infestation rates in April, May, and June. The mild winter has made it worse. Due to the lack of die off, which normally occurs in winter, we’re seeing an increase in tick activity. In particular the black leg tick,  deer tick, and the brown tick are more abundant this year. The deer tick is especially worrisome as they carry the dreaded lime disease.

So what can we do? As in most things prevention is the best path to follow. Contrary to popular belief the well-known DEET is not a good tick repellant. DEET works well as a mosquito repellant but falls short when tested on ticks. A far better choice is permethrin. Permethrin is a synthetic and more potent derivative of the pyrethroids found in the chrysanthemum plant. Developed in the mid 70’s it is hands down the best preventative for ticks I have found.

I have used permethrin since the early 80’s and rarely do I find a tick on me.  They are nasty little beasties and I do all I can to prevent them. Apply permethrin  to your clothing, not your skin. Just spry it on areas of your clothes, that a tick would likely cross to get on you. Socks, shoes, gaiters, pant cuffs, shirt sleeves, shirt necks, and hats. I also set up my tent and spray around any opening.  Permethrin will not damage the material or reduce the fire retardancy. It has a smell when it is initially sprayed but once it dries you will not detect its presence. If a tick comes in contact, with the permethrin, it will be killed.

Permethrin has several characteristic that make it appealing to use. First it lasts for several weeks and up to six washings. So, you will only need to apply it two or three times in a season. This makes it really convenient for that extended camping trip. Second it is just sprayed on and let it dry. It doesn’t get much easier.

Unfortunately, it also has a couple of warning, but if used properly, they pose no threat. It is not recommended to spray it directly on the skin as it will cross tissue barriers.  While it poses little threat to most mammals it is potentially fatal to cats. However, once dry these issues go away. So, wash your hands after spraying, and hang your sprayed clothes in an area away from your pets until completely dry. Usually it is just a couple of hours but I hang mine over night.

Permethrin is available in several brand names. Repel, sawyer, and cutter all make their own brand of permethrin. For years I bought a plain labeled no name green aerosol from Walmart that proved very effective. We sell Repels Outdoor and Gear spray.  I find the .75% and above works efficiently.  So, go outdoors well prepared to face the tick season with permethrin treated clothes and keep the beasties away.