Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Welshot London Weekend - November 2011

I was fortunate enough to attend the recent Welshot Photography weekend held down in London. The event actually started on Friday evening but I got the early morning train to London on Saturday and met the gang in their Hotel at 08:30am.

Once all the introductions were complete we went down to Borough Market (near London Bridge station) where we met the rest of the delegates.

There were five delegates including myself and we were being guided and educated by Eifion Williams of Welshot, John Arnold of and Will Cheung Editor of Advanced Photographer magazine. We were all being looked after by the amazing Lee Iggulden who made sure we were photographing as much as possible.

We were set a few challenges by the ever creative John Arnold. Challenges for each location, each day and the weekend as a whole were intended to help us focus on specific tasks but we were free to photograph anything we wanted to as well.

Borough Market is a very lively market set indoors & outdoors. It is easy to see why the market is so popular for shoppers and photographers alike. The place offers everything you can think of and we were lucky enough to be there on a particularly busy day. The place is so alive with sights, sounds and smells that you really are spoilt for choice. We had a couple of hours in the market and although I've not seen anyone else’s images I'm sure everyone got some great shots.

The market is great for candid shots of shoppers and traders alike. But with such a wide variety of wares on sale there are plenty of opportunities to get in close and capture the details.

One comment I would make is that the traders work really hard and keep everybody topped up with free samples of food and drink. So, as a courtesy, if you do visit to take pictures please respect them and try not to get in their way. You can always ask if you want a specific shot, the worse they can do is say no.

From Borough market we wandered up to the river and took a breather next to the Golden Hind before jumping on a clipper to take us over to Canary Wharf.

Canary Wharf is a fantastic location for architecture photography but bear in mind that it is private property. We had a couple of hours to go before sunset so armed with a Starbucks for fuel I had a good walk around snapping away before eventually resisting temptation and popping into one of the Pubs for a quick one. We met up again at 4pm for a quick catch up and then set off again to do some more shots in the dark. Now that sun had gone we were able to play with light trails and long exposures etc.

Once we were all exhausted we retired to a local pub for a well earned (and very nice) meal. We also managed a few drinks as well before returning to base for some light drawing. Having found an area dark enough we had a go at making this year’s Welshot Christmas card. John Arnold did a fantastic job with the torch and we soon had all of the wording in the bag. We then retired to the Welshot hotel were John then gave a lesson in merging images in Photoshop. (these guys never stop)

The next morning we all met up at the Welshot Hotel again where we were also met by the lovely Radha Patel (Model) . We then headed off to the famous "Banksy Tunnel". This is actually Leake Street which is located underneath Waterloo Station.

Leake Street is a fantastic location for a model shoot and this is where Welshot had chosen for us to get a lesson in off camera lighting from Will Cheung. As well as the model shoot there was plenty of street art to photograph and even some artists at work.

There was plenty of time for us all to have a couple of goes using the lighting to get photos of Radha as well as getting some shots of the art work and location in general. The Street Artists were a great bunch of guys and didn’t mind us being there at all. They were quite happy for us to watch them and take pictures but I would point out that some don’t want their picture taken. It always helps to have a chat first and get to know people as they were really friendly and allowed us into their space. Had we just started snapping away without any warning then it might have been different.

After several hundred shots the paint fumes were starting to take effect so we waved goodbye to our fantastic Model Radha and then continued with our expedition. The next stop wasn’t that far as the Embankment and London eye were literally across the road. We had a quick 15 minutes at the London eye so we had enough time for a few shots and a refuel.

We then headed along the Embankment which was very busy as there was a huge Christmas Fayre selling all sorts of things, the most popular being mulled wine of course. Our next pit stop was the Skateboard/BMX Park at Southbank. The park was quite busy with skaters, bmx’ers and even a group making a music video. The location provided opportunities for action shots against a backdrop of yet more street art.

From the Skate Park we headed over to Waterloo station and caught the tube up Trafalgar Square. We had around 30-45 minutes here before the light started to fade. It was a great chance for more candid’s as well as architecture shots. Luckily there were no major events being held in the square but there was a smaller demonstration taking place which was another great photo opportunity.

After our fill of shots from Trafalgar Square we then walked across to Covent Garden. This was to be last location for us. Although the light was going fast the place was buzzing and we had time to go and capture shots of the location, shoppers and street entertainers. Eventually I succumbed to temptation and packed the camera away so I could do a bit of shopping. I was then the last one to arrive in the Pub where everyone had met up for a final drink and chat.

Alas, that was the end of the Welshot Weekend in London. I hope that this gives you a good idea of what a Welshot workshop is like. I had a great time meeting new people, learning new things, seeing new places and spending a lot of time talking nothing but photography.

The Welshot gang have helped take a step further on my Photographic journey and the experience has given me a great deal to work on as I try and move my skills forward.

Big thanks to Eifion Williams, John Arnold, Will Cheung, Radha Patel and of course the wonderful Lee Iggulden.

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