tips for your workshop day - updated november 2013


do I need to be an expert to attend?

No you don’t. The groups are small (a maximum of 6) and it is possible to mix abilities. You need to be able to work your camera, and have an understanding of the basics of camera operation (aperture and shutter speeds) is helpful. At the other end of the skill range, I have had real experts do the workshops who’ve been surprised how there is always something new to learn.

do I really need to spend a fortune on photoshop?

No you don’t. Photoshop Elements has become a very versatile program. It costs about £60, is often free with new cameras, and does nearly everything photoshop does. The current version even does stitching of multiple shots to make panoramas. Take a look at it, it may well be all you need. For more casual use and less sophistication in the control you have, Google’s Picasa (free but very basic) is worth trying and if on a Mac, Apple’s (free with most macs) iphoto is also pretty good. I use Adobe Lightroom 5 for 99% of my picture processing. Adobe do a 30 day free trial, if you want to buy it, it costs around £100.

what sort of camera should I get?

Most people who do the workshops are using a digital SLR. It allows the greatest degree of control over your pictures. It is possible to do the workshop with a compact, but they are often tricky to get them to do what you want rather than what they want. Ideally you should be shooting in RAW (see link on the left), all SLRs do this and some compacts. In most cases an SLR will delivery much higher quality results. The exception to this is the new style of compact cameras with large sensors. In general if you can swap the lenses on your camera then it’s a high quality camera.

The £3-600 Nikons, Canons and Sonys are all very capable cameras these days. The lenses that come with this price range are often the weak link. I can lend any Canon users my lenses on the day, and the results from a really good £600 lens on a £300 body can be remarkably good. Fixed lenses are usually better than zooms, and an old style ‘standard lens’ (usually 50mm) is the cheapest and highest quality lens you can get.

shooting on the beach

It is a good idea to wear waterproof shoes even in good weather, so you can walk on the wet sand or paddle a bit if necessary. On warm days it is still possible to get quite cold on the beach in the wind. Bring clothes for a day that is colder and windier than it might seem to be.

tripods and a cable release

I use a tripod for pretty much everything. Even in good light it does make a difference to the very fine detail. It won’t spoil your day if you don’t have one, but if you can borrow one it will be useful. In the woods it is pretty much essential on any day. A cable release of some sort, or remote control, or working out how to set the self-timer on your camera will allow you to take longer exposures on a tripod without jolting the camera.

tripod choice

The kind of tripod that has several handles sticking out at right angles is a menace. With a few exceptions, they work but they are slow and fiddly to use. If you are buying a tripod then get one with a ball and socket head. It means you can move the camera in all directions at once and only have a single locking control to secure the camera. A quick release plate screwed into the bottom of the camera allows quick mounting and removal of the camera.

charge your batteries

If you have spare camera batteries, charge them and bring them. If not make sure you charge up the night before.  You’ll be giving your camera intensive use and the battery may run down sooner than you expect. I carry a spare Canon camera body for anyone who does run out of power.



If at all possible I like to carry on shooting in the wet. It is often when you’ll get the most atmospheric pics. It is rare for the weather to be so bad that you can’t shoot for any length of time. These workshops have been going on for a year and a half now, and we have only lost about 20 minutes once when we had to hide in the van. Do bring a plastic bag to cover your camera and a cotton cloth to dry off the worst water. Cameras will sometimes shut down if really soaked, but they usually recover. You have to use you own judgement as to how much rain you are going to allow on the camera itself.

useful workshop day links and resources

raw files explained

adobe lightroom

adobe photoshop

photoshop elements

purdie gallery

106 high street


east sussex

TN31 7JE

01797 226 937