The next in our series of guest interviews – this time from our Cornwall tour in March, led by one of our new leaders Carla Regler. As well as interviewing Helen, we also chatted to Carla on the same trip, so look out for that article shortly. (All images copyright Helen Rushforth).
Was this your first tour or workshop with L&L, and how did you hear about us?
It was my first tour, although I had previously done a one day Light & Land workshop with Charlie Waite at Stowe Landscape Gardens. I think I originally found you in the ‘Photography Holidays and Courses’ supplement that comes every January in Outdoor Photography Magazine.
So what level would you say you were as a photographer?
I would describe myself as intermediate. My basic technical knowledge is fairly sound, but I don't always spot the most interesting photograph in a particular location, or make the best decisions when it comes to composition. Plus I am only just beginning to get to grips with things like the right way to use filters, and how best to make long exposures.
Can you tell us what were you hoping to achieve from a L&L tour, in terms of progressing your photography skills?
I chose this particular tour because I love Cornwall, and being able to practice long exposure photography and seascape photography in this area was a key factor. Developing my skills in composition was also an important aim - in both of these respects I’m really pleased with some of my long exposure seascape shots. I was also able to achieve some really good images during our visit to Botallack Tin Mines, by really thinking about how the different mines and other key features in the landscape related to each other.
What were your thoughts on the places visited and the time spent at each place?
The places we visited offered a very good range of locations from our base in Marazion, without the need to travel too far. I had always wanted to go to Godrevy Lighthouse and also a location where I could photograph tin mines, so the opportunity to do both of these was great. Having St Michael's Mount on the doorstep was also ideal for sunrises and our first evening sunset.
For the other two sunsets we went to Land’s End, which I've always previously dismissed as being too ‘touristy’ - but in fact Carla guided us to two different locations which I had never explored before, that weren't touristy at all. So although neither evening really offered the sunset we were hoping for, we got some good shots in the evening light, and I discovered new locations that I will definitely return to. Then the last morning sunrise we planned to go to Mousehole, but when we got there all the boats were gone from the harbour, so we relocated to St Ives - which was ideal for me as it’s one of my favourite places in the world! So that was a great finale.
And how did you feel about the leader’s level of technical knowledge, enthusiasm and encouragement?
Carla was extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic. I noticed the first evening that she didn't even get her own camera out of the bag, but really focused on us and our needs. She was very supportive of group members who were less experienced, but still worked her way around people offering 1:1 tuition as we were concentrating on different shots. She is clearly a very skilled photographer, and very knowledgeable. Another way in which Carla was really inspirational was when she was able to help us look at scenes we might have dismissed in new ways. For example, she can see subtle texture in sky that I would have never have spotted previously (but will now) - and was able to explain the best way to photograph it, and then to bring it out fully in post-processing.
And what about Carla’s knowledge of the area and the best places to go?
Carla lives locally so she was ideally suited to leading a trip in this area, and had even carefully chosen the date of the tour for the optimal tides, which was really helpful. She guided our decision-making based on her local knowledge on numerous occasions - e.g. we were keen to go to Porthleven at one point, but she knew the tide and light wouldn't be right for the time of day we were discussing. She also knew exactly where best to park, how to get to different places, how far it would be to walk to the different locations and so on.
Was the tuition appropriate to your level, and did you receive feedback on your images?
Yes, the tuition was definitely appropriate because it was 1:1 when I needed it, so I was able to ask specific question which were relevant to the things I wanted to learn. Carla also found time to give me feedback on some of my images in the evenings after dinner, which was really valuable - showing me how I could edit them in ways I wouldn't have thought of. I have a feeling I may about to invest in some new editing software as a result!
Was Carla able to accommodate specific requests of the group and to be flexible to take lighting and weather conditions into account?
Yes, this was very good - and there was quite a bit of negotiation and discussion amongst us on some occasions! For example, decisions about when to shoot near the hotel – given the proximity to St Michael’s Mount - vs the decision to go somewhere further away. Also whether to go to St Ives rather than back to Godrevy when it became clear Mousehole was a non-starter, and the decision to go back to Land’s End the second evening, because the best light seemed to be in the right direction. She had even thought about the challenges of being out and about for lunch on Mother's Day, and had ordered a packed lunch to give us maximum flexibility.
What were your thoughts on the accommodation?
The hotel was very good - right on the beach at Marazion, and I think we all had rooms with a view of St. Michael's Mount. The unexpected cream tea on arrival was a real treat! The room was excellent with a comfy bed and fantastic shower, and really efficient heating - which was very welcome when we arrived back chilly after a shoot. The food was excellent as well, and I would definitely go back. Parking near the hotel was easy, and minibus transport to all the locations made it far easier for us to maximise our time in the area.
One last question, if a friend or colleague asked you whether they should consider a Light & Land tour, what would you say to them?'
Definitely yes. I think one of their greatest strengths is the quality of the tutors. I constantly draw on some of the key things I learned from my day at Stowe with Charlie Waite, even though it was a year or so ago. I also come across other leaders’ names regularly in both competitions and/or Photography Magazines; not something that can be said of most similar companies! So whilst the cost of the trips has to be carefully considered, I think it reflects the quality of the tutors. Also the fact the accommodation is all paid for as part of the trip is really helpful - enabling everyone to stay in the same place and to eat together, which meant we could all get to know each other a little better, which is ideal.
On that note, another key thing that’s really important on a course like this, and why I enjoyed it so much, is being with other photographers and learning from them – as well as having a chance to swap experiences. We did quite a bit of informal sharing of images at the meal table or as we were travelling between locations, including on our various smartphones and tablets! People had taken some truly fantastic images, and it's always really inspirational on such trips to see what others achieve in similar locations. That's very much part of the learning experience, especially when you see a fantastic shot that you completely overlooked!!
Post By Charlie Waite