A Detailed Workshop Review

After his 3 day workshop, Dr. Richard Paterson gave a very detailed review of his time spent down here...
As an enthusiastic amateur principally photographing around and about the South Downs National Park, I have long hankered after the chance to do some Seascape work particularly in a dramatic and beautiful location such as Cornwall. So Chris Simmons’ Cornish Seascape Workshops advert in Outdoor Photography really caught my eye and as soon as I managed to get a few days free time, I made a booking.

What was I looking for from this experience? Firstly, to empty my head from the day job and enhance the hobby I love. Secondly, to explore what could be done ‘in camera’ using Manual mode. Finally, to sort out the mess I had got myself into with Lightroom and Photoshop!

On all these points this course hit the jackpot for me.

From the moment I arrived, Chris made me feel welcome and at ease. The accommodation was beautiful and very comfortable with the added delights of some great food prepared freshly by him every day.

The excitement of going off to a dawn shoot and arriving at a location in the dark followed by watching the scene unfold as the sun rose was truly an uplifting and absorbing experience. Chris’ local knowledge of matching the best locations with the tides and weather conditions was invaluable and despite some testing weather over my 3 days, we had some exciting and dramatic shoots in some beautiful, deserted spots.

Now that my head was cleared, it was time to concentrate on the camera. With the accent on stopped-down apertures and varying exposure times to capture the dramatic movement of the waves, Chris’ instruction was clear and at the precise level that suited me.

Discussions surrounding elements particular to Seascape photography were very useful including taking into account aspects relating to composition; the sky, geology and dynamic movement in the sea - all quite different from 'standard' landscape work. The concept of using the camera to its full to capture an honest image of the subject as you saw it was a strong theme in the days I spent with Chris. I quickly learned this ethos linked in well with the lack of need to change images to any great extent in Photoshop.

Speaking of which, Chris managed to turn the way I process images on its head. We spent a great deal of time in between shoots and in the evenings in his studio, going through a very clear post-processing workflow process to get the best out of my images. This aspect of the course was both invaluable and fascinating. Going against my usual temptation to use every button and slider available, Chris taught me ‘less is more’ and my images were so much better for that. I have some lovely shots from my trip to Cornwall and quite a few more to practice my new skills on!

All in all this course is a rare find. Chris pitches his teaching to your skill level so you always feel comfortable with your instruction. The whole experience was uplifting, relaxing and fun. Chris and his partner Sam's hospitality, great conversation and humour made for a lovely stay in Cornwall. I’m sure I will be back again for a second visit.

If you are looking for a great photographic experience at any level, I would strongly recommend this great package.

Dr. Richard Paterson, West Sussex