Though Dorset is the county next door to where I live, I really don't spend enough time there photographing it. I do love to shoot The Cobb in Lyme Regis, and I have been known to photograph Colmer's Hill on the odd occasion, but I really should spend more time in Dorset exploring further afield.
So when my friends over at Dawn 2 Dusk Photography announced that they were running a special long exposure one day workshop in Dorset, I signed up immediately. It sounded so good that I even convinced my father-in-law to dust off his camera and join me.
I've written about the advantages of attending workshops before when I attended another Dawn 2 Dusk workshop in Glencoe earlier this year. This one would be no different. There would be some excellent tuition on hand, it would be well organised, there's always a great bunch of photographers to get to know, and we would, of course, visit some of Dorset's most iconic coastal locations.
As the workshop wouldn't start until 9 am in Swanage, I thought I would try and make the most of the day by fitting in a nearby dawn shoot. As sunrise was relatively late on I couldn't be too far away from Swanage, so I decided to go West Lulworth and try my hand at shooting Lulworth Cove.
Upon arriving at West Lulworth it soon became apparent that shooting the cove in its entirety wasn't going to be as easy as I thought it might be. From my shooting location along the western edge of the cove, even with a 16mm lens, I wasn't able to find a spot from where I could get everything in that I wanted. Obviously, this would be a location that I would need to revisit when I had more time to explore.
I did find a nice composition down at the shoreline of the cove though. While I like the composition of the photo below, I think it lacks good light and a bit of colour from the rising sun. The sky was very clear that morning except the point where the sun was rising where there was a blanket of cloud. By the time the sun was rising above the cloud I really had to make a move to Swanage or I'd be late for the start of the workshop!
After the workshop briefing at 9 am, some witty banter, and some much-needed coffee, the workshop group headed out to photograph both the new pier and old pier at Swanage. Unfortunately, I was unable to make the most out of these locations. Though I got some excellent advice on how to shoot the old pier, I found the clear blue skies not to my taste and I didn't really get any images that I was happy with.
However, getting great images from every location isn't my goal, nor is it ever realistic. I did, however, leave happy knowing that I'd learnt something about composition (there's always something to learn about composition) and that I'd enjoyed meeting some new people.
We then moved down onto the beach where we had the opportunity to shoot some groynes, and banjo jetty (which I have shot before). On the advice of one of the instructors, I headed further down the beach to photograph one of the groyne markers beside a small river that fed into the sea. This was a good shout as I managed to get my first good image of the day. It would have been unlikely that I would have found this spot myself so this was another bonus of being on the workshop.
We then all moved onto Kimmeridge where we had a quick picnic lunch and a bit more chat. I had visited Kimmeridge before on a workshop but it was the middle of the day with clear skies so I was really hoping that this visit would be different. There was some cloud in the distant sky and with sunset only a couple of hours away, I was hoping my luck would be in.
As it turned out we didn't get much in the way of action in the sky, but we did get some really nice spots of light on the rocky shore. I've always thought the rocky shore at Kimmeridge was interesting, but the addition of some interesting lighting really got me thinking about the possibilities at this location.
These are two of my favourite shots of the afternoon. I really like the composition, the textures and patterns on the rock, and just a hint of light from the setting sun. These could have been amazing shots if there had been some more interest in the sky. But let's face it, us landscape photographers are rarely completely happy with the conditions!
Afterwards, we walked back along the beach to another really interesting spot. In this image you'll see how the rocky ledge creates a nice leading line through the image. It was late on when I took this image so there was very little in the way of light. However, I think with a good sky those pools of water could provide some really interesting reflections.
Overall both myself and my father-in-law had a great time. Though I struggled to create images that I was satisfied within the morning, the two images I created at Kimmeridge more than made up for it. I also picked up some useful compositional tips and, as always, I really enjoyed the social element of the workshop.
Anytime anyone asks me about workshops I always recommend Dawn 2 Dusk Photography, and attending their Dorset long exposure one day workshop is yet another reason why that recommendation remains.
So what are your favourite Dorset locations? Have you been on any workshops recently? Let me know in the comments below.