Clavelshay Barn Photography Workshop

I have been a bit remiss in my blogging over the past few weeks, but that does not mean I that I have been sitting on my laurels – no siree! I have plenty to say, but just not a lot of time to say it. A few weeks ago I shot the wedding of my year for Abby and Ben and absolutely loved it. However, there is a lot to say about the ins and outs of wedding photography and my experiences thereof, so that is a blog that is currently in-formation… in my head… and will soon be put on to paper, erm on ‘line’. In the meantime, let me introduce you to a little piece of heaven, hidden in the Somerset countryside, just outside Taunton. Let me introduce you to Clavelshay Barn. 

Spring in the woods at Clavelshay - f1.8

Spring in the woods at Clavelshay – f1.8

On Saturday I had the immense pleasure of going to a photography workshop at Clavelshay. A workshop, I hear you say? Well, yes, it was a basic, introductory digital camera workshop, a ‘how to work out what your camera can do for you’ type workshop and boy was it good! Now, I know I already ‘should’ know what I can do with my camera, and I do already know, but what was really great about doing this workshop was that I had a whole day to myself, to play! No washing to be done, no child to be fed, just me and a bunch of like-minded lovely people, walking around a farm, learning and experiencing all that is photography. The workshop was lead by the quite brilliant Justin Orwin from http://www.orwinstudio.com/.

Workshop weekend lores (30 of 104)

Nothing like a good nut and bolt combo!!

He has an incredibly welcoming style and approach to photography and to leading a workshop. He was very knowledgeable and answered all questions succinctly and gently – there was definitely no such thing as a silly question. It was such an enjoyable day. At first we spent a while talking about the technical side of our cameras and of photography. There were people of different levels in the group and the workshop was pitched perfectly for all. For me it was incredibly helpful to hear all the things I knew already, as well as being able to spend the time challenging myself to use Manual rather than AV and to use Manual Focus, and spend the whole time using my 50mm. It was a challenge, but I loved it! Throughout the day, Jan and I were both heard on countless occasions saying ‘oh god I’m in Manual’ as we were half way through a shot before we realised that we had forgotten either our exposure, fstop or manual focus setting! It was very funny! For me, it is all too easy to use my zoom lens all the time, and taking it back to using my 50mm did mean I had to move around a lot more, but it was worth it – and think of the calories I burned! Double whammy!

Really love the grunge aspect of this image!

Really love the grunge aspect of this image!

Once we had covered the technical aspects whilst sitting upstairs in the restaurant having our morning coffee (which I have to say was a treat in itself; the light shining through the windows was astoundingly beautiful, the solid oak tables and chairs stood tickled in sunlight and the daffodils danced happily as they too revelled in the first warm day of spring) we were then let lose on their working farm, and spent a lot of time taking photos and talking to the cows – talking to the cows was something I noticed myself and Jan do…it was very funny! Cows are actually incredibly difficult to take photos of, as I realised once I went through the photos the day after I got home. I did not end up with as many good shots as I had hoped, in fact, there were a lot deleted! I can put some of that down to using my camera in Manual and Manually focusing as well, but not all… I think I was thinking a lot about the technical aspects and I forgot about the composition really, but it was worth it! Workshop weekend lores (51 of 104)We took shots of farm machinery, the stalls, the cows, the garden, weeds, nothing was left out! It was definitely a no mercy approach to photography! I realised that although I love shallow depth of field, I don’t always need to keep my fstop as high as 1.8. There are times that call for less! An interesting bit of learning! I also learnt that I like my images slightly overexposed with lots of light, a sort of lifestyle/country homes look – very clean and crisp and ‘light’, and that has definitely come across in my images from the day. The wonderful thing about that is that I didn’t have to do that to them in Lightroom afterwards, I did it on the day as I was really thinking about how I was shooting as I was walking around. It was such a luxury to have time to think!

Great patterns made by the cow stalls

Great patterns made by the cow stalls

After a busy morning we came back in for lunch downstairs in the restaurant. The lunch was quite simply perfectly delicious! Homemade quiche, salad (with a sneaky bit of fennel in, which really took me by surprise and was utterly refreshing) and beautifully baked bread. I am not eating wheat or gluten so Sue made me my own beautiful little quiche with gluten free flour and some gluten free rolls. It was perfect! We even had a glass of wine too! Dessert however was an even bigger treat… gluten free brownie (and cream… shhh)! I really wish that I had taken some photos, but I was just too busy eating and enjoying the conversations around the table.

The afternoon was spent around the pond and in the woods, followed by a trip to the horses.

Rachel having cuddles...

Rachel having cuddles…

One of the things that I most loved about the day was the lovely people that were on the workshop. I really feel that I have made some lovely new friends and look forward to seeing them again! We discussed at length with Justin, the need for some more workshops, and I really hope that we will be able to do a portrait workshop there soon. I know that Justin is planning a SLR film workshop at his studio in Martock as well which I will definitely go on. I really just need to earn a bit more cash to be able to afford all these workshops!!

Jan talking to and shooting the cows

Jan talking to and shooting the cows

For me, the day ended perfectly with a lovely chat, sitting in the garden with Nadine and Sue, talking marketing, photography, music festivals and social media. The sun was shining and although there were preparations to be made for the evening service we all just seemed to stay there, soaking up the sun and enjoying the bubbles. It was also Sue’s birthday! It was all so beautifully perfect and wonderful and I for one felt so refreshed, enlivened and upbeat from this amazing day! I am very grateful to have met so many lovely people, especially (but not exclusively) Jan, Peter, Rachel, Nadine and Sue of course –  all in one day! I know I am gushing a bit here, but honestly, I could ride on these happy vibes for a long time – at least until the next workshop!

A massive thank you to Sue and Nadine for organising the workshop and a huge thank you to Justin for being a great teacher!

Justin Orwin... sadly my manual focus was focusing on the table and not Justin - it would have been a lovely photo if I had focused on the right bit!!

Justin Orwin… sadly my manual focus was focusing on the table and not Justin – it would have been a lovely photo if I had focused on the right bit!!

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