Q. What is the difference between a workshop and a photo tour / adventure?
A. My workshops are teaching focussed and are based in Scotland only. Each day involves a sunrise and sunset shoot, plus a critique session that takes up most of the afternoon. The locations are chosen well for their photogenic potential, so you do get a bit of a tour thrown in, but they are primarily there to help you improve your photography.
A photo tour / adventure is focussed on touring a remote landscape with an emphasis on being at great locations for the best light. Due to the logistics and traveling times involved, and the often longer duration of these trips, critique sessions are not included. There is therefore less of a focus on teaching, and more on getting you to great locations for the best light. All the tours are conducted outside of Scotland.
So if you are interested in learning; come on a workshop. If you are interested in seeing the best locations of an exotic landscape, come on a tour / adventure.
Q. I'm new to photography and feel I may not be experienced enough for the trip?
A. On each trip, there are people from all over the world, from different backgrounds and with different levels of experience of making images.
Some are there to just enjoy a week away from the office in some beautiful locations, others are there with an intent to improve their photography skills. Each person has their own aim.
It's an open friendly environment and you will find that as well as making friends and sharing your enthusiasm for photography, you'll learn from others and will more than likely have a few things to pass onto others too.
Q. What is the difference between the weekend and 5 day courses?
A. The weekend trips are a great way to introduce yourself to landscape photography. The extended time on the 5 day course allows Bruce to get to know your photographic ability, see what you are good at and give you more pointers to work with on each subsequent day.
Q. What normally happens in a workshop?
A. Each day is set up so that we can take advantage of previously scouted out locations under the best light. We'll normally head out for dawn (optional) and dusk to shoot. Breakfast is back at the hotel and then we pop back out for the rest of the day to shoot. During this time, Bruce will spend time with you to go over what you feel you want to improve upon, but it's really optional. Perhaps you feel you'd like to make your own pictures and get critiques later on in the day.... it's entirely up to you. In the evenings we will go through a few images from each member (if they want to) or discuss other aspects of photography such as post processing, Photoshop, Light Room and Bruce is more than happy to share his workflow with any members who are interested in how he achieves his own photographs.
Q.Are there any additional hidden costs?
A. No. Food, transport between locations and accommodation are all included. There are however some items that would be wise to bring with you whether you beg, steal or borrow them : clothing to keep you warm and dry including a warm hat and warm gloves. A camera and a decent sturdy tripod. Some waterproof boots or a pair of wellies is advisable too.
Q. Do I need to buy special purpose camera equipment?
A. No. But it's good to come along with a sturdy tripod - one that is more functional than a hindrance. Some tripods are so light and flimsy that they are no use. Tripods are essential for perfecting your compositions and of course keeping the camera steady.
I can recommend Gitzo carbon fibre and Mantrotto tripods. The decent ones start at around £200 and go up from there.
A set of ND grad filters are really useful for shooting landscapes and if you have them - you'll make a huge leap forward in your photography. And of course a camera. Try to go for something like an SLR - something that allows you to control the shutter and aperture.
Q. What if the weather is bad?
A. Most weather is great for photography. A camera system can handle a lot of weather, so it's really up to us as photographers to see the benefits of what is being presented to us. I've seen some great images created in weather that most people would consider 'bad'. Having said that, if the weather is preventing us from making images, we will retreat back to the hotel so we can go over some critiques and work on composition.
Q. What sort of tripod should I bring?
A. Avoid anything that is cheap. I mean a £30 velbon tripod that has been stuck up your attic for a long time. Tripods are very important and either a Gitzo, Manfrotto or Giotto tripod starting at £200 upwards is a good way forward. In general, it should be sturdy and not 'creap' when you let go of the camera. It should ab able to remain strudy on a windy day. Bruce recommends the Gitzo Series 2 and Series 3 carbon fibre tripods, preferably without a centre column.
Q. I use a digital camera, I see that Bruce loves film. Will the course be any good for me?
A. Yes. Bruce has used digital cameras in combination with film cameras for a number of years. There are some differences in terms of how best to record on each medium, but the fundamental approaches to composition and shooting are the same.
Q. How will Bruce be able to help my photography?
A. One of the biggest improvements you can make in your photography is learning composition. How to balance out the elements in the scene in front of you. Bruce is big on composition but he's also very keen for you to develop your own awareness - what it is that you find inspiring. He feels that this is the key to good photography - being able to focus your attention down to what it is that *you* find interesting about the scene. By thinking about your motivations, you can only improve the impact your images have. He's also very much aware that each of us 'sees' things differently. It's a case of finding what it is that moves you and helping you capture it.
Q. Do I need ND Graduated filters?
A. Yes, you definitely need ND Graduated filters and I would recommend the Lee 'digital starter kit'. Please get the 'Hard' graduation set, and not the 'soft' set.
When buying them, please be aware that almost everybody is out of stock due to Lee filters having production backlog problems. Delivery time is around 2 months, so when ordering, please check they have them in stock.
You will also need adapter rings to fit the diameter of your lens. Get the metal (Wide Angle) ones, as the plastic ones are terrible and don't fit too well.
Q. Does a Lee or Cokin system work on top of my protection filters, or would I need to get rid of those?
A. The Lee ones work on top of your protection filter. But if you have some extreme wide angle lenses, you may have to take the UV filter off - as you will get vignetting.
A. The Lee wide angle adapter rings are designed to minimise any vignetting as they bring the filter holder 'behind' the lens barrel, out of the edge of the frame.
Q. Which would be a good minimal set of NDs and graduated filters?
A. Get the Lee 'digital starter kit' as it contains a 2 stop ND grad and also a 2 stop full ND filter, plus filter holder and pouch.
This should be enough to get you started, but as your technique improves, you will want to get a 1 stop and 3 stop hard grad also.
Avoid the soft grads unless you are shooting Large Format.
Q. I want to take a film camera with me, is that a good idea?
A. If you only shoot film, you will mis out on having your images critiqued each day, but you can still learn from watching Bruce critique and edit other participants images.
Bruce rarely has anybody turn up with a film camera these days, but if you're a keen film shooter, then he's very happy to give you guidance on how to expose and meter. You just won't get any feedback during the critique sessions, but Bruce will spend time with you out in the field.
Q. I want to shoot film, what sort of film should I bring?
A. Fuji Velvia RVP 50 slide film.
Q. Where can I get my film processed?
A. AG Photographic in the north of England has an excellent mail order service and the processing they do is excellent.
Q. Should I bring a laptop?
A. It's not required, but it is useful if we have some free time, so you can edit your own images, but as far as the course goes - it is not required. Bruce will introduce you to Photoshop and Lightroom and he also provides a hand out which covers everything he will show you over the course, so you can familiarise and get to know Photoshop in your own time, after the course.