Capturing the bluebells in Strid Wood
Capturing the bluebells in Strid Wood

The week prior to the workshop was spent with an eagle eye on the weather forecast! This went from heavy rain all day, to light rain all day, back to heavy rain all day. In preparation we went to the local sports shop to pick up a job lot of umbrellas, which prompted some unusual looks walking back through town with my arms full. Even checking the forecast once more before leaving on Saturday morning showed up light rain all day with no breaks.

How wrong it could be!!!

We started the day with refreshments at the lovely Tea cottage and a brief talk on exposure, camera settings plus a slideshow of images for inspiration before setting out for the day. First stop was at the Abbey itself and at this point it was raining quite a bit, but with the many umbrellas out, we set up the tripods and went through the basic camera settings and notes on composition.

Photographing Wild Garlic under the trees in Strid Wood
Photographing Wild Garlic under the trees in Strid Wood

From the Abbey we made our way up to Strid Wood and the rain eased off nicely to a complete stop, and never came back all day! This made perfect conditions for the woods, a nice flat light with fresh green foliage. Along the river we made several stops before arriving at the Strid itself, where I think due to the weather forecast we had mostly to ourselves. The fast flowing water made some great shapes around the rocks and again the colours were superb.

Capturing the fast flowing water at the Strid
Capturing the fast flowing water at the Strid

From the Strid we went up to the Bluebell wood, but unfortunately the Bluebells weren’t quite so good here, so we concentrated on the trees and lush garlic that covered the floor. Over the bridge we started to make our way back on the other side of the river. The woods again were filled with colour and the flat light made it perfect for photography.

Photographing bluebells in Strid Wood
Photographing bluebells in Strid Wood

Whilst walking we noticed a patch of bluebells just off the path and went to investigate. This was just a stunning spot, a whole bank of flowers, with a few varieties of trees with different coloured trunks and a fallen tree covered in bright green moss, just utterly perfect. We also had a play with the cameras off the tripod and getting abstract images by moving the camera whilst taking the image to just record the colours with no distinct shapes (we all look a bit odd doing this but the results are great).

Simplifying the landscape and picking out smaller areas to photograph.
Simplifying the landscape and picking out smaller areas to photograph.
Moving the camera makes for some abstract images. By Sam Oakes Photography
Moving the camera makes for some abstract images. By Sam Oakes Photography

Past the Pavillions we just have two more stops, the first by the ford where a narrow stream flows through some dense woodland with thick garlic, and because its getting towards the end of the day, we could achieve some longer exposures to get the movement of the water and with there being no wind at all the trees were perfectly still.

We finished the day back at the Abbey for the last stop and use all the techniques learnt through the day before heading back home.

The next day was the processing session, which we were very much looking forward to, and see the images from the previous day. The images were superb and the colours just popped straight off the screen.

Some really great images were taken by the whole group and the lesson to never trust the weather forecast was learnt. The light was perfect for the woodland shots and the time of year provided us with spectacular colour!.