Despite the publicity being late for the workshops (due to circumstances beyond my control) I had two enquiries about the second one. I contacted them and one person was available this week. Fortuitously the weather held and although we did not manage the lowest tide due to other commitments, it had just turned when we arrived. I like to catch the tide about an hour before its lowest point as what remains on the sea bed can be quite interesting just as the debris infested sea weed is on the highest point. However the purpose was not to pursue my project work about debris on beaches but rather how to take land and seascapes and ways of capturing small items such as nurdles on the beach. I tailored some of the images in the handout as well as the suggested competitions based on our pre-workshop chat and my knowledge of what the person was interested in; gardening and wildlife.
From Landscapes to Nurdles workshop
I prepared a what to bring and expect information sheet as well as a handout. The former was and the meeting arrangements were confirmed by email. On meeting we parked at the beach carpark and an expectations form was completed. This was used to have a discussion about what they hoped to get out of the session followed by a look at their camera and mobile phone and discussion about the controls. Reference was made to the handout, particularly the contents referring to exposure and composition. I should at this point out that on this occasion the participant is a friend who did genuinely want to advice on improving their image taking and had hardly used the phone to take photographs. They were interested in learning more about my project work as well. So in terms of getting to know someone and establishing honesty and trust between us before we set off for the beach….it was already present.
With people I have not met before I would be careful to find out more about them beforehand and have a longer introductory session before venturing down to the beach, particularly if working alone with a stranger in what can be a relatively isolated place depending on time of day. Thus thinking about potential risks as well as health and safety events is really important. We both carried water and I took a first aid kit in my bag the contents of which are displayed.
We agreed to cover one beach that is river estuary-side and then a linked second one facing the English channel. In all we spent 2.5 hours on the beaches, walking and talking about ways of photographing scenes and small items at our feet. I had taken a few things to experiment with; an empty photo frame, a crystal ball, tissue, tracing and ordinary paper and kitchen foil. I also took a very small set of three lenses for use with a mobile phone; wide angle, macro and fish eye. These were all enormously helpful and fun to play with as well as focussing our discussions about the use of light and composition, reflecting the contents of the handout I had made. We also had success with nurdle hunting while being watched with curiosity by all the holiday makers.
Sarah Newton From Landscapes to Nurdles Workshop, 2018
The session concluded with a coffee and cake at the location. I sent my images of them for their approval and this came with a completed feedback sheet and some of the images they had taken during the workshop.
“Did it meet your expectations?
Yes, it did – and more. Lots of hints for the camera settings, which was very helpful to me. Very interesting to learn about the rule of thirds – it makes you think much more before just clicking the button! Also, thinking outside the box – not just “pretty” pictures, but using items that are lying around.
What would you have liked less of?
I think the balance was just right, between theory and practice.
What would you like more of?
Again, I think it was well balanced – I particularly liked exploring the use of different lenses, as well as other objects to make a more interesting photo. Also, I haven’t used the camera on my phone very much, so this was a useful addition to the morning.”
I had not realised until I prepared the what to expect and handout sheets that I did know a fair bit and could talk to someone else about photography and my chosen project. This was reinforced during the workshop when I found myself spontaneously offering information and advice without reference to the handout. I still do not know enough to be able to answer very technical questions but this activity proved to me that I know enough to make a workshop interesting, informative and fun. I thoroughly enjoyed myself as did my friend who communicated with me directly and on the feedback form.