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Woodland Workshop

I’ve spoken in the past about how stepping out of ones comfort zone and doing something completely different, call it continuous professional development (CPD) if you want. Well, nothing could be more of a contrast to shooting macro and still life than going on a workshop and photographing trees with the very talented Paul Mitchell. Although it is all nature 🙂

I first met Paul at an RPS Advisory Day in Bath; I was hosting and Paul was one of the advisers that day.  I like to look up my advisers before hand and see what they like to photograph. Paul is a landscape photographer with a passion for trees and woodlands so when I noticed a few months later that he was running a woodland workshop close to home I jumped at the chance.

Savernake Forest is an ancient woodland just outside Marlborough in Wiltshire. It is a privately owned forest, which is open to the public. It has a rich history associated with various royal families and can be dated back through historical records to AD 945.

woodland workshop with Paul Mitchell

Mornings are not my favourite time of day, especially giving up weekend ones, but the lure of a day in the woods in late Autumn seemed like a good idea at the time!

What had I let myself in for?

Paul had sent us lots of information about the woods, with maps, and what we’d be doing throughout the day so I knew what to expect. He’d even managed to book suitable weather for photographing trees, so overcast with slight drizzle with occasional showers with a hint of sunshine was the order of the day. Hmmm!!

I love walking in the rain and the sound of raindrops tinkling on the canopy overhead was delightful. Being followed by the cheeky pair of chirping Goldcrests added to the mystical magic of a woodland. I just forgot how slippery and muddy the paths can be carrying a tripod and bag and jarred my poor knee more than once.

However, the teaching and patience from Paul more than made up for it as his enthusiasm knew no bounds. We were a small group of 5. Some had landscape experience, others like myself had not. Based on a questionnaire we had all completed a week or so before the woodland workshop, Paul knew exactly where to target each of our weaknesses and how to improve our strengths. In my case it was to look at big things instead of little things and to try to see the wood between the trees (pardon the pun) to get to the bigger picture. For me, it was a slightly different way of composing an image, with insects you don’t get the chance to stop, look, think and compose as they don’t hang around for long. The trees on the other hand weren’t going anywhere.

I also took the opportunity to do some slow shutter speed work. This came about as a result of my shutter release getting stuck and the camera taking pictures of it’s own accord – don’t ask! One or two of the results were quite pleasing – well I like them 🙂

This one was deliberate

Whilst I did manage to keep my macro lens in the bag, it didn’t stop me from taking a few close up shots of the other flora traditionally associated in a forest. I know . . . I couldn’t resist it 🙂

All in all, a highly organised day with a group of wonderful people. Lots of tips and guidance throughout the day. Plus a very knowledgeable, enthusiastic, patient and supportive tutor.

Marlborough is only 20 minutes from Swindon. Sadly, we often pass through the forest but never seem to stop and visit – why do we often take fore-granted what is on our doorstep?

However, I think it’s safe to say that we’ll be rectifying that in the not too distant future 🙂

If you’d like to know more about Paul or his workshops please contact him at Paul Mitchell Photography.


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