Malham and Gordale workshop
Sam and Robert on the first Natural Light Workshop back in 2011

So the end of October 2015 saw our completion of five years running the Natural Light Workshops. Mark and I have had a superb run so far and met some great people along the way.

Back in July 2011, I remember driving up to Malham to meet Robert and Sophie for our very first workshop and feeling a little on the nervous side. All the planning, recces, website building, marketing, day planning etc. was now in motion. I had previously worked as a tour leader with Explore for over three years and lead 14 tours around the world, but this was different, this had been arranged by Mark and myself and was on our home turf of North Yorkshire.

The day went really well and the group took some superb images. Our first processing session was held at The West Park Hotel in Harrogate where we used a projector and screen to show the workflow using Lightroom and Photoshop. They must have had a good time as Sophie later joined us again at Bolton Abbey and Robert twice at Ribblehead and Aysgarth Falls.

Lunch stop at Gordale Scar
The group enjoying lunch at Gordale Scar in 2012

During the five years we have run 41 workshops and met 171 people along the way. We have only had to cancel one due to poor weather (back in March 2013 when we had a massive snowfall and the roads were inaccessible) and lost one camera to the River Ure at Aysgarth (fortunately it worked again after drying out!).

No two workshops have ever been the same – the seasons shift around, some Autumns have been more colorful than others, Spring starts at different times, the rivers vary greatly in water level, the weather is always unpredictable, lone tree branches fall off, and we have seen many a make of camera with all the settings in a variety of places. This is why Mark and I get so much enjoyment out of it, and each set of images even from the same day are often completely different. It’s really interesting to see how each person finds their own subject and composes each scene differently. We have seen so many images and are often amazed by the results (I put it down to good tutelage) – some we wished we’d taken ourselves!

Natural Light Photography Workshop at Bolton Abbey 31 October 2015
Capturing the amazing autumn colour in Strid Wood at Bolton Abbey October 2015 to cap off 5 years of the Natural Light Photography Workshops.

Our processing sessions have always been interesting, and it’s great to show what little extra work is involved in bringing the images to life. We are not out to fake anything and you certainly can’t rely on software to repair images, but just to add those little tweaks to make the image pop. We have moved on from the West Park Hotel and now use the Acceleris offices in town, which is very kind of them, and we have a large screen TV at our disposal, which is brilliant.

We have kept in touch with many of the participants through our Facebook and Twitter pages, but what has been superb is that we have a Natural Light group on Flickr which only those who have been on a workshop can join, and add images for us to look at, comment upon and see how participant’s photography has progressed. Robert, who was on our very first workshop, is also a professional artist and won the Patchings Open Art Competition in 2014 with the painting “Peregrine above Malham Cove” based on his photograph taken on the workshop!

Sam and Mark at the processing session
Sam and Mark at the processing session

So we are now moving on to the next five years!! Mark and I are currently looking at new locations to add to our calendar and can’t wait to get started on the 2016 season. Thank you all who have been on a workshop with us, keep in touch and happy photographing.