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Newsletter 43 - sent on the 8 November 2020
Staying a little more local!
As England slips back into another protracted lockdown, my thoughts are turning a little closer to home. I moved from South London into the countryside in Somerset a little over two years ago, and although by the end of the month, almost a third of this time will have been spent under some sort of Covid restriction, I am managing to get out and about to explore and photograph more of my local area.
As well as the incredible and photogenic places on my doorstep, such as the Somerset Levels, Avalon Marshes or Glastonbury, I can be photographing Stonehenge or virtually anywhere on the Dorset Coast in less than an hour. The remote beauty of the Quantock Hills or Exmoor National Park are about an hour away, with the classically photogenic Corfe Castle and the stunning wilds of Dartmoor a little bit further away.
The plan has always been to run local photography courses based out of Somerset, but travelling to some of these nearby photographic places. As with most of my plans this year though, Covid has got in the way! It might be some time before we are confidently able to organised scheduled local courses in the region, but we are currently launching a limited series of bespoke local courses. You can find more information on these below.
We are also launching an exciting new variation on our Mentoring scheme, to help you to get more out of your post-processing, and for those of you who can't wait to hit the road again, we even have a couple of international tours in the pipeline!
Learn photography in the South West
It is likely to be some time until we are able to organise scheduled local courses under the current Covid restrictions, but even now, the rules allow for two people to meet up outdoors! So for the time being I am offering one-on-one coaching at some of the incredibly photogenic places near me. As restrictions ease, then we will start to offer bespoke courses to smaller groups - within the prevailing regulations, of course!
Autumn and Winter are great times to shoot in the countryside - not least as sunrise and sunset are easily within reach compared to the Summer. We would even have time for a quick pub meal, before heading out to shoot Astro photography in the night skies!
Although the weather is likely to be somewhat unpredictable, I have been scoping out locations that will work under a variety of lighting and weather conditions. In fact some of the locations will work better on gloomy and overcast days - as you can see from some of the shots on this email.
One location a short way from me are the Avalon Marshes: home to the incredible Starling Mumerations. These Winter gatherings see tens of thousands of birds flying in synchronised formations
If you would like to know more about these bespoke local courses, you can see more on this link.
Learning at home
Before the end of the Summer, I caught the Don McCullin exhibition at the Hauser & Wirth Gallery at nearby Bruton. I have always loved McCullin's work, although don't always share his somewhat relentlessly gloomy interpretation of our shared Somerset landscape. I did reprocess a couple of shots though in homage to the great man though, and as ever when I actually spend a little time to get artistic with Adobe Lightroom, I am always struck by just how much of a creative tool it is!
I used to shoot a lot with black and white film, and spent many a happy hours wreathed in the chemical fug of a darkroom. These days though dodging and burning your prints doesn't involve a collection of cutout apertures, or wire-mounted shapes to lighten areas. Most crucially, if you are working your pictures in Lightroom, as opposed to a darkroom, then you are able to change and ammend your edits and undo any changes, without having to start all over again.
As well as moody monochrome processing, there are a number of other vital techniques that you can employ with Lightroom and Photoshop, that will open up a vast array of picture taking opportunities and styles. Lightroom comes with a bewildering array of Virtual Graduated Filters and a remarkably powerful Adjustment Brush to allow for localised corrections. You are able to create panoramas, and even HDRs to help you to manage extremes of contrast. The integration with Photoshop allows you to subtly blend images to reduce contrast but also to stack images to maximise depth of field.
So many photographers struggle with Lightroom, so to help you to embrace its many options in this new period of lockdown, we are launching a new series of Lightroom Mentoring, where I will guide you through taking your post-processing to the next level. You can see more, or contact me on this link.
Longing to get away?
I simply can't wait until it is possible to get back on the road. Although I get a great deal of enjoyment from prowling across locals moors and marshes, I feel most alive when I am on the road - shooting in remote, dusty but ultimately invigorating places. A part of this is that I love to immerse myself in local cultures - meeting, talking to and photographing the people I meet on the road.
International travel doesn't look like being possible until at least halfway through next year, so we aren't looking at anything at all before June at the earliest. We already have a couple of trips that have been rescheduled from this year: Impressions of Namibia in September, and Impressions of Rajasthan, which will take in the twin festivals of Pushkar and Bikaner. You can see more about these tours on the links above.
Better Travel Photography
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