OM-D WORKSHOP IN GLENCOE
For the last two years I’ve been running a series of landscape photography workshops on behalf of Olympus UK with the aim of helping existing OM-D users to develop their understanding of the full potential of their cameras and to give the uninitiated an opportunity to try out the OM-D and some lenses. The last of these workshops was a two day event held on the 26th & 27th November and based in Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands – a wonderfully photogenic part of the world.
Now Scotland in late November might not be everyone’s idea of fun but this time of year can deliver lots of mood and atmosphere for the committed landscape photographer.
For this workshop I was joined by 6 hardy souls prepared to brave whatever the weather threw at us. The group was an ideal mix of experienced OM-D users and some ‘newbies’.
We met on Day One at the Ballachulish Hotel, picturesquely located on the shores of Loch Linnhe, where we spent some time getting to know each other before setting off for our first photo location – the much photographed waterfall on the River Coupall with Buchaille Etive Mor in the background. It’s a location that is much photographed for a reason – it’s very picturesque and thus I thought it would be a good place for the participants to ease themselves into their photographic groove. I wasn’t really counting on the rain to add a photographic challenge but rain it did and set the tone for the next two days. That’s the joy of landscape photography in the UK of course (although I do sometimes regret saying that if I haven’t got wet then I probably haven’t got a good photograph). As ever in these conditions, keeping the front of the lens free from rain spots was both time consuming and frustrating but I was impressed by the groups commitment to keep working regardless.
After whetting their photographic appetites the rumbling of stomachs and the call of some hot liquid meant that lunch came to the top of the agenda. Fortunately everyone had come prepared with a packed lunch and flasks of coffee or soup.
After lunch our next stop was the Lochan at Glencoe. This lovely little spot above Glencoe village was planted/transplanted from the Pacific Northwest by the 1st Baron Strathcona in the late 19th century to ease the woes of his homesick wife who longed for her ancestral lands in Canada. It’s a location that is at its best on a clear day when the surrounding landscape makes for a wonderful backdrop to the Lochan. It’s definitely not ideal for vista photography on a wet day with low grey cloud hanging above the treetops. I therefore encouraged the group to search out and concentrate on detail shots – bark & wood textures, patterns in the water – as these are always good subject matter in such conditions.
I had a sunset shoot planned for Castle Stalker at the end of the day (which in November of course is around 4pm) so hoped that the cloud would break in time and give us an interesting sky at least, even if not a colourful display. Unusually the Gods smiled on me and we got a glimmer of sunlight – it was good to end the photographic day on a high note (particularly as we didn’t know what was in store for us on Day 2 -more on that later!).
So it was with a sense of a little satisfaction, a good deal of hope and optimism that we met back at the Ballachulish Hotel for a well earned dinner and drinks. Although not a formal part of the workshop everyone attended and it was a great opportunity to spend the dark hours discussing all things photographic.
A wet & windy Day 2 commenced with a coffee at the Clachaig Inn (no we didn’t spend all our time eating and drinking! As an aside though I can recommend the Clachaig to lovers of real ale) where we took the time to review the experience of Day 1 and I led a question & answer session.
Another iconic location, Black Rock Cottage, was the scene of our first planned shoot of the day. There is one shot that everyone takes in this location and of course the group were drawn to that spot. However, now everyone had blown off the photographic cobwebs, I wanted to add a little more challenge to the proceedings and suggested that they explore the surrounding area to look beyond the obvious and try to say something different about this very familiar location. Although the wind blew strongly the sun shone at times and the group wandered off in different directions to make the most of the respite from the rain.
Unfortunately that was the last we saw of the sun on this workshop. We spent the rest of the day travelling back through Glencoe, pausing for some photography along the way (in spite of the extremely heavy rain that had started to fall) eventually stopping on the shore of Loch Leven in the hope of a sunset (a definite case of putting hope over experience!). I obviously hadn’t been that good in a previous life because the reward for our patience and persistence was driving rain blowing horizontally into our lenses. Oh well – at least we had the opportunity to test out the weather resistance of the OMD and I’m pleased to say that all cameras survived the test!