As I was due to be in Rye for a wedding on a Saturday in March, this 1 day (Sunday) workshop seemed like the perfect opportunity to make the most of the trip and get some advice on long exposures using my new Hitech 10 stop filter.
Initially the workshop was sold out so I joined a waiting list but Aspect 2i were soon in touch to let me know another date was available, and since I couldn’t make that date, to offer to accommodate me as an extra on the workshop – providing I took my own car which I though was very nice of them. Unfortunately Michael Pilkington who was due to run the course was unavailable for a period and for some reason I didn’t receive the usual emails about payment, joining instructions etc and so I had to get in touch a week before to find out if it was still going ahead. It was at this point I was told that Jon Gibbs would be running the workshop instead but yes it was going ahead and here were the instructions. While I’d normally have a moan about having to chase for information I think in this case Michael’s unavailability was the issue, along with the fact I was an extra and therefore probably got missed off some things, so I wouldn’t like to comment generally on the communication of the company.
On the day I was met at the rendezvous by Jon who was full of energy and excitement for the day ahead – a great start! We were eventually 4 learners on the workshop which is a nice small number and there was a good variety of levels of familiarity with the area and with long exposures. We headed out on an easy but pretty long (about 45 minutes) walk out to the groins down the coast where we set up for the first shots. I’ll get the whinging out of the way immediately – we spent most of the day at this location and there were no toilets apart from those a 45 minute walk back at the car park, and that’s a long time to hold your bladder!
Jon started the session with a demonstration of the set up for long exposures, including how to calculate the ND grad needed to balance the sky and suggested apertures and shutter speeds using a handy 10 stop chart he provided (I’m hanging on to this!). We then had some time to have a go ourselves, with Jon on hand to help us navigate our various individual camera menus and help us get everything set up. Jon’s got a great teaching manner, plenty of humour and a plain-speaking way of explaining things that meant I’d picked up the basics in no time – thanks Jon! I’d fulfilled my aims for the session in the first hour and half which is great going and meant I had the rest of the day to finesse it and get feedback and advice from Jon on composition.
After lunch we began moving back along the beach, looking out for other composition options as we went. Jon and my fellow workshoppers were really flexible throughout the day so we took time to stop for some detail shots, some abstracts and even some equine images as we worked our way along. Jon didn’t have his own camera with him so he was 100% available to us throughout. There are pros and cons of the tutor not having a camera, sometimes I find it useful to see what images the tutor is making as we go along because I’m interested in the compositional techniques but likewise it could be a distraction.
The one thing I must say about this workshop was how much we laughed and what a fun day it was. This was largely down the having a great group of people. All passionate about photography and with lots of share, it was a superb group and Jon was very patient with us throughout.
Like I said, I learnt a lot at the very outset and the time to practice means I think this will stick with me. I’m not sure I’ll go back to this particular location in a hurry though. It was nice and quiet which was good, but the remoteness is an issue and I’m not sure there are enough compositional options to warrant another day. If I do return to the area I think I’ll explore some other sections of the coastline, using the techniques from this workshop. If I was making recommendations here I would definitely recommend Jon as a tutor – he does his own workshops as well as those through Aspect 2i and if I’m ever on the Norfolk coast then I’ll be seeking him out for a 1:1 as well as keeping an eye on what he’s up to with Aspect 2i. A long exposure workshop is a great way to nail the basics of this popular branch of photography so I’d recommend looking for one if you’re interested in getting started, although I don’t know if Aspect 2i are planning to re-run this particular one. If they do I think they must consider a different location or at least a quicker way of getting between the photography and the facilities.
Follow up wise, Jon was quickly in touch and did ask us to share images with him. I got some good feedback on the day and afterwards which was really nice and I’m keeping in touch with Jon on social media so that’s great. I’ve not had any follow up from Aspect 2i so again, I can’t really comment on the company.
All in all I got a lot out of this day and the great company meant that despite some discomfort it was a lot of fun and certainly great value for money at just £120. I’d like to thank Jon and my fellow workshoppers for a highly enjoyable and useful day!
Coastal Photography and Long Exposures – Great introduction and fabulous tutor!
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