Landscape and Wildlife digital photography course October 2011 ...

One major intended use of the Willow Works is for educational courses. This event, following closely after the official opening, was the very first educational course at the building and it is hoped it will be the first of very many indeed. The course was funded by TVLP but organised by the RSPB and village history group. The tutor was Ben Hall whose photographs can often be seen in the RSPB Birds magazine.
Getting to grips with buttons
The course was limited to fifteen places; participants needed to have a digital camera but know nothing about depth of field, apertures or other technical matters. Ben first showed a number of his landscape photographs explaining how to ensure the image draws the eye to the intended subject. It is just a matter of anchor points, lines and proportions. All very obvious really when an expert explains it in the comfort of the Willow Works. Then came the practical bit on the RSPB reserve. Here we have plenty of opportunity for open spaces but the landscape itself is not quite as inspiring as some of the mountain, moorland and seascapes which Ben had shown us earlier.

Trying different angles
All the theory was not quite as easy to put into practice as it seemed earlier. Nevertheless, it was clear that a little care in choosing the right place from which to take the photograph can make all the difference between a very forgettable image and one which attracts the viewer's attention. Yes, even the power stations with their cooling towers sending pillars of water vapour up to meet the clouds can make excellent subjects.
A view of the Power Station
The afternoon was devoted to macro photography this was the wildlife bit. Camera settings for this explained again and we set to work on a number of insects which had been collected earlier from the reserve and around the Willow Works. Some of the moths were fairly co-operative. The handsome Devil's Coach Horse Staphylinus olens was not at all co-operative, preferring to scurry rapidly into the darkness below the log.
Woolly bear caterpillar
The woolly bear caterpillar, snails and handsome Leopard Slug Limax maximus were easier subjects and some very respectable images of these were produced. A very small ladybird was also found and the digital image enabled it to be identified as Tytthaspis 16-punctata the Sixteen-spot Ladybird. Unlike most ladybirds, its background colour is creamy-white and it is an inhabitant of meadowland. This is the first record of it on the RSPB reserve.
Leopard Slug
All the images have been collected and the best ones will be used in an exhibition at the end of the TVLP project. Some will be printed and form part of the wall displays in the Willow Works.
Worthwhile? Definitely! We now know what some of the buttons and dials on the cameras do and know how to take a humble holiday snapshot that is worth looking at. We look forward to the next course.

Please click on the following images to enlarge:–

The web team would like to express their gratitude to Andy Wickham and Chris du Feu for the images and text provided for this page.

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