Good photography inspires, intrigues, makes you think and can transform a wet Friday morning in Langdale into a memorable experience. That is exactly what happened last week when Tony and I went on a half day photography workshop with Mountainsport photographer Dave Willis. It was pouring as we left Lancaster at 7.00am and showed no signs of abating as we sat in the Elterwater carpark surrounded by muddy puddles. ‘ Dave will have a wet weather plan’, we thought and of course, when he greeted us warmly, he had. It was a plan that convinced us that if you are imaginative any weather is interesting for photography. Our walk was short, taking in the river, woods and quarry but four hours passed without us noticing.
I have enjoyed taking photographs since I got my Kodak Brownie Cresta 3 when I was 10, but I always stopped short of an SLR though I did have an Olympus Trip in the 1980s. This little camera was optically good, very light and easy to use and produced very good results. But the most technical I got was adding a UV filter and using differing film speeds for specific conditions. When it finally died I had a series of good compact film cameras and then another Olympus digital. I had good results but, when I retired, wanted to go further so Tony got me a Lumix DFC G5. This opened up many possibilities including manual as well as automatic functions. I tended to use automatic settings and so missed so much of the camera’s potential or even how bits of it worked.
The balance between technical and creative in our workshop was perfect, indeed very early Dave showed us how learning the techniques and capabilities of the technology provided a key to creativity.
Take putting movement into a photo. This depends on shutter speed, of course, so that movement is either frozen or blurred and hazy. But who would have thought of creating movement by moving the camera? We learnt about ISO or light sensitivity and its relationship to shutter speeds and aperture and tested it out in the gloomy conditions of the wood. Similarly with white light settings we learned through testing out. Better still all this can be re-checked and memories refreshed from his free online workshops which are masterpieces of clarity.
Creative photography combines technical knowledge and composition and seeing what everyone else sees, but seeing it differently. This is especially so on a gloomy day. A conventional landscape shot on Friday would have been underwhelming, but Dave encouraged us to look for the unusual, while keeping the photo simple. He sent us off round the wood, the quarry and the river on fascinating journey of shapes and textures. He guided us on how to improve a composition.The ordinary became extraordinary.
Thanks Dave for a wonderful session and Mike and Marian for a life changing present. The photos in this blog are mine and here is Dave’s album from the day- easy to see how inspiring it was!
The course also fitted with the design courses I have done to build my design and publishing skills to help make OGC self sustaining and self sufficient. After all photography is all about achieving visual balance.