16 April 2010

First Peak District Large Format Course

Working with Dav to put on a beginners large format course was something I was quite excited about and as much as we knew we were hitting a potentially small market, we were hopeful to get at least a few people along. As it turned out, our first course had two people and one more participant who came along on the Saturday afternoon.

So after picking up Vinnie (our new camper whose full name is Cosy Rosy Camper Vinne Van Parkin – named by my neices) in Chesterfield, I enjoyed my rolling drive over to Baslow, where we were hosting the course at the Devonshire Arms hotel.

I have to say that the Devonshire Arms has been renovated very nicely and the staff are very friendly indeed. A couple of teething problems but nothing major so we met up with our guests, Robert Parslow and Simon Howers. Robert is a veteran of many Light and Land courses and it was nice to meet up with someone whom I had been heard in very good tones before hand. Simon I didn’t know and although he had a lot of experience with film, he was only just starting to use the large format camera and was interested in how to use tilts and movements.

I’d spent a few evenings the week before writing some comprehensive notes about the technical sides of photography and so the friday evening was spent reviewing some of the cameras (including Dav’s new Chamonix – which I’m sure he’ll write about soon but was very impressive to me). Then back to bed, check for the shitty morning weather and meet up for a nice morning’s chat about tilt, shift, swing, diffraction, pies, politics, movies and then it was time to get out and put a few things in to practise.

Out to Baslow edge and we’re trying out some movements and taking a few pictures. The weather was glorious with beams of light travelling across the valley that we could use as studio lighting. I tried to explain the concept of using the sky as a big lighting rig. Softboxes for the foreground (the edges of clouds where the light is diffuse and soft), a few spotlights on important features in the background (beams of light coming through the clouds) and the jobs a good ‘un. I took a picture alongside everyone else.

Back to the hotel and we set up our Jobo CPE in the bathroom and developed a few films and then back out again for some more shooting, meeting up with Paul Arthur and his wife along the way. The afternoon was more overcast but we could see a good break in the cloud on the horizon so we prayed for it to stay. Fortunately it opened up and gave us a wonderful lightshow. I managed a quick shot of some Bracken shapes and a wall, making the most of the subtle purples and reds in the heather and bracken – underexposing my velvia to make the bleached bracken strands stand out in the foreground. And whilst I was taking it, Robert Parslow was taking this wonderful photograph just next door.

Back to the hotel for tea and then a slide show and a chat about composition and it was off to bed again. Sunday morning went a little less straightforwardly. I was up early but we found out that the doors couldn’t be opened so I followed the fire exit and moved a chest of drawers out of the way along a corridor and then unbolted and opened the front door at which point the alarms went off – or so I though – it was actually my very loud iphone alarm telling me I was about to miss a sunrise. So we’d found a way out but we couldn’t lock it again and so I stayed behind and waited for the staff to arrive.

The rest of the gang went out and enjoyed a great sunrise at Higger tor alongside a bunch of jumping, singing and dancing born again christians. Me? I was just sitting back at the hotel but unbeknonst to me the alarms had gone off and the staff member that was living in the hotel had tried to get out but his way was blocked by a chest of drawers (how did they get in front of his door then?) at which point he thought he was trapped by some gang of theives and called the police (I’m not sure where the police were though – they need a better service obviously).

In the end, we had a chat with the staff about it and apologised; we were both put out a bit. Anyway – back out again to Padley gorge and we had a few good opportunties for pictures (I got captivated by the mosses on the trees and walls).

Overall? A good start to the courses I think.. no profit made but everyone came away happy I think they all learned something. A big thank you to Paul, Simon and Robert for coming on the course and making it very enjoyable (if quite tiring and a little stressful – developing someone elses film in a bathtub is a worrying task at the best of times – even worse when they’ve paid for the service).

UPDATE: I’ve got some pictures from the course and have uploaded them to picasaweb..

Peak Workshops

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4 Responses to “First Peak District Large Format Course”

  1. On April 11, 2011 at 11:47 am