• Simon Thomas

Special Guests At The April 21st LIVING LENS Photo Workshop

Updated: May 4

The day to day stuff of work, responsibilities and all the other white noise, is always a little easier to handle when we have something to look forward to! For us our weekend Photographic workshops are it. We get to share our passion for photography with new friends and we have a great time whilst doing it.


Our April 21st Workshop, which was our first beginner/intermediate workshop of 2022, had taken a hit. Three guests had emailed and asked to postpone for medical reasons and the night before we kicked off, two more had tested positive for Covid 19! I'm not sure who was more disappointed, us or the guests. On the bright side, it meant that we could focus our attention on the students that could make it.


Cheers
A great way to kickstart the weekend. Smiling faces and a glass of wine

It's been said that great memories are easily made if you're surrounded by good friends and, this weekend was brilliant. The laughs started on the Thursday afternoon as we and our clients sipped tea and tried to eat as many luxury cupcakes as possible. (side note: Ros won) We didn't stop until Sunday morning, when Ros said, "can I just stay here and take photos, please?"


On Thursday, as Lisa and I drove to the Nick Sanders Expedition Centre, the phone had rung around midday. The familiar voice of an old friend, said, "um, I'm going to be a little late. Libby's broken down". It is worth mentioning that the voice belonged to author, motorcyclist and all-around good guy (he'll hate that description) Sam Manicom. It's also important to mention that "Libby' is his BMW R80GS around-the-world motorbike.

If you'd like to read Sam's account of his Welsh adventure, you can read it here: Sam's Write up


With Sam delayed it seemed only sensible to head to the comfy armchairs, log fire and adult sipping juice in the barn bar. So that was our first evening sorted. We may or may not have had a camera lesson that started in the bar but I can neither confirm nor deny this :-)



Stephan Thiel in the bar at the Living Lens Photographic Workshop
Steph gets find his comfy spot for the evening

Lisa and Roz talk cameras and travel in the bar at the Living Lens Photographic Workshop
Lisa and Ros, talk cameras and travel in the bar

Robin at the Living Lens Photographic Workshop
Practising focus-pull technique on Robin in the barn bar


Oh, I almost forgot, the Thursday night evening meal was special.

What was on the menu?:

  • 1st course - A plated selection of award-winning Welsh Cheeses, with sweet baked walnuts, homegrown beetroot dusted in crusted pollen and local honey.

  • 2nd course - Line caught local Sea Bass, served with new potatoes and homegrown wild garlic, with creamed kale.

  • 3rd course - Rhubarb compote (picked fresh from the garden), with homemade custard and local cream topping.




Friday morning and eager to learn faces smiled at us across the main breakfast table.

"Everyone sleep OK?" I asked. "Best night's sleep I've had in years" Robin answered as he tucked into the fresh-baked savoury croissant.


Down in the main cinema area, we kicked off the day with the 'Camera Craft' session part of the workshop. This was our chance to make sure everyone understood the key basics of photography and started feeling comfortable with the core settings we'd all be using throughout the day. It was good to see the 'light bulb' moments happening so early.


I'd described in simple terms what 'ISO' was and how and when to use it. "Thank you, now I get it, it's that simple!" Steph had said aloud. "Why do the books make it sound so bloody complicated?" he continued. I'd just shrugged and smiled. Job done!


Over the last few years, Lisa and I have managed to find some truly stunning local spots of real beauty that have yet to be discovered by the tourist hordes. Snowdonia and the local area are a photographer's playground and at our first location, our small group were, by mid-day, already creating a little 'fairy water' magic. A quarter of a mile of steadily tumbling waterfalls was the focus of our shoot and as the time rolled around to head to our second location, it was lovely to overhear two students saying things like, " I never thought I'd be able to take a photo like that."


It's great to see that with the right guidance (yeah, we're horribly self-promoting I know) and with the right techniques taught (location, composition, focus and aperture speed), anyone can take atmospheric and beautiful photos. Below, you can check out the progress that Robin made.



On location with Living Lens Photography Workshop
Simon guides a student on what to look for and how to set up.



For a photograph to really 'sing', it needs to capture the atmosphere of a scene. Robin nailed it!

Our second location was chosen to allow us to change things up, and give our students a chance to put a different set of photo skills into practice. Welsh Hidden Castle, here we come!






Living Lens Photographic Workshops
Ros gives us a cheeky smile from the castle walls.

Living Lens Photography Workshops
Steph lines up his next shot

Friday and then Saturday flew by in a blur of belly hurting laughter, intense learning, key lightbulb moments of eureka and delicious food and drink. Evenings sat in the barn bar drifted by as Sam, Steph, Ros, Robin, Lisa and I, swapped travel stories and tales of life on the road.


Saturday morning saw us at one of our favourite mountain sites, where students were challenged to use all they'd learnt about aperture and depth of field in order to capture the size and depth of the mountains and hills that surrounded us.

Living Lens Photographic Workshop
A quick change of camera setting made this wonderful capture possible.


Living Lens Photographic Workshops
Ros and Robin head down to the car after a great day photographing around Snowdonia National park

Living Lens Photographic weekends
Well, we had to didn't we?!


Living Lens Photographic Workshops
The legend that is Mr. Sam Manicom, takes in the stunning view before capturing his next shot

We saw exciting and substantial improvements in the image quality and photography from all the students that came through our 21 April 2022 workshop. It'll be great to watch their socials, and see if we can spot their newfound confidence in their images. We'll let you know :-)


Lisa and I want to thank all our group for attending and helping to create another wonderfully memorable weekend at Living Lens Photography Workshops.


We also need to acknowledge the time and effort so many students have made, in creating and then sharing their thoughts via online reviews of our workshops.


If you would like to read Sam's Review just **click here**. Heads up - it's wonderfully detailed.


If you want to check what other students have shared just visit our **Reviews page here**