RPS VAG Autumn Weekend 2018

15 October 2018

SIG: Visual Art

Swanage in the rain by Claire Carroll

Jurassic Autumn

It began on a beautiful sunny evening with drinks on the terrace of the Springfield Country Hotel in Wareham. After meeting old friends and new the RPS Visual Art Group autumn weekend 2018 kicked off with a talk by Robert Harvey ARPS on Coastal Landscape Photography, ahead of his workshops on Saturday and Sunday. His images were breathtaking and some can be seen at www.naturalworldphotography.net. He shared insights on his meticulous planning for shoots and the shortest of windows he has had for capturing some of his unique work. 

After dinner we reconvened for the digital show-and-tell where we saw a variety of images. Fred Barrington shared London architecture (much of it taken on his back), Caroline Briggs showed some of her abstracts using multiple exposures and ICM and John Hammons presented a collection of images of water in its many forms.

Saturday began at 6am for those on Robert Harvey’s Jurassic Coast workshop. The rest of us had the chance to start a little later and, given the torrential rain, that wasn’t unwelcome! Victoria Hillman led an Autumn Colours workshop which concentrated on an area close to the hotel – giving shelter as needed! Those not on workshops explored the many interesting areas in and around Purbeck and could be found braving the deluge in Swanage, Wareham, Corfe Castle, Lulworth, Durdle Door and Kimmeridge Bay, to name but a few.

An unforeseen change in the pre-dinner schedule saw Robert Harvey step in to give another presentation, this time ‘Stumbling Around in the Dark’: landscapes under the night sky. He shared settings and strategies for getting shots of features like the Milky Way, northern lights and the international space station. Again he showed some breath-taking images based on painstaking research and preparation.

Victoria Hillman, the other weekend workshop leader, followed with her talk about ‘Forgotten Little Creatures’. She shared her journey from taking an idea to creating a project and then to publishing a book. She showed images from the project and took us through the process for capturing her stunning close-ups. You can find more information on Victoria at www.vikspics.com. Coming from a science background her emphasis is very much on inspiring a love and respect for nature and looking at it in a non-conventional visual way.

After supper we reconvened for the second show-and-tell, this time prints.
We saw a wonderful and varied collection of pictures from Alan Hills, Kath Chantler, Ray Higginbottom, Viv Blewett and David Townshend.
 
Sunday was a much brighter day and Robert Harvey’s group left at 6am in much better conditions. Victoria’s Autumn Colour workshop again stayed in the rich environment around the hotel and the nearby woods and, again, those of us not on workshops went off to explore. The warm sunny weather made for very different images and members once more went far and wide to capture the delights of Dorset.

The evening speaker was Guy Martin whose talk was on the story of his work as a photographer in conflict zones as well as the evolution of his award winning body of work, The Parallel State, which reflects on Turkey’s ‘Deep State’. It is best described in Guy’s own words: ‘The Parallel State is a multi-layered project which began life as an examination of the Turkish soap opera and film industry, but evolved over the course of five years into a semi-fictional study of truth, reality and lies in contemporary Turkey.’ More information on his illuminating, and at times alarming, story can be found on www.theparallelstate.com.

After supper the weekend programme culminated in the final show-and-tell in which Claire Carroll shared some of her images of London architecture and members had the opportunity to offer three of their favourite images captured over the weekend. As was to be expected these images were very creative and widely varied.

The weekend was a huge success and fond farewells were said over breakfast on Monday morning. The spring weekend is 5–8th April in Windsor. 

Claire Carroll

Untitled by Caroline Briggs LRPS

Saturday’s weather forecast could hardly have been worse for the Coastal Photography workshop. Nevertheless a full complement of attendees was in reception at 6am, and the motorcade followed our leader several miles to an empty car park. A one-mile walk in total darkness then followed (fortunately some of us had brought the required torch) to Old Harry Rocks, just emerging from the gloom. Tripods were set up, perfect angles agreed and (mostly long) exposures began. Penetration of the mist was high on everyone’s priority list. Robert Harvey was a very patient mentor and disasters were averted by the emergence from his bag of various missing items, keeping the show on the road. Having exhausted the rock subjects and other nearby flora, we returned to the hotel for a much-needed breakfast.

The promised rain had by now arrived. Of course few of us had remembered our waterproof camera covers. No matter, Sue Klatt appeared with emergency  ‘doggy’ bags, definitely better than nothing! We departed to Swansea pier, where the rain was falling in all directions and the ‘classic‘ view messed up by a portable divers’ pier. Some went to the new pier, others grappled with their tripods in the wet, many pictures were taken, then a convenient dry cafe was found and repaired to by all.

Meanwhile Robert had been busy on the phone. He brought news which was generally welcomed - he had done a deal with the recently opened Etches Collection - a museum of locally found fossils - and it was indoors! After an hour or so there taking pictures, we ate our packed lunches in the school research room. By this time the rain had declined - well, a little - and we made the short trip to Kimmeridge Bay. A rather slippery descent to the beach proved to be well worth the effort, and our remaining time was spent here, avoiding the alarming frequent minor rock falls, taking pictures both as recommended by Robert - and not. We then gratefully returned to the hotel, eagerly anticipating another, quite different, talk by the very talented and versatile Mr. Harvey!

How different was Sunday! Victoria Hillman, having wowed us last night with her stunning Forgotten Little Creatures, set us off after breakfast to take our pictures in bright sunshine - in the beautiful and extensive hotel gardens – an almost perfect location full of attractive acers and other plants. Attentive and available throughout, Victoria offered clever ideas, helped people set up equipment in unfamiliar ways, explained some of her shortcuts and especially the importance of a good pair of stout trousers.

After lunch we went to a nearby patch of woodland, where, during a most rewarding potter, even the most senior members managed to get down on their stomachs to explore the effectiveness of Victoria’s tiny LED lights (Manfrotto Lumimuse) in illuminating fungi and the like. The drier conditions made it a lot easier to move around, and even without the LEDs the light was much better.
Everyone seemed to enjoy this session - I certainly learned a lot.

Mark Deutsch

Durdle Door by Greg Lambert ARPS