September 9, 2020
Night Photography Workshop
The dark nights are starting to draw in as we move to Autumn. It’s not all bad as you can do Night Photography again
A couple of weeks ago, I gave an overview of the Introduction to Landscape and Seascape Photography Workshop. I think quite a few people enjoyed getting a more detailed overview of the session and asked if I could repeat the exercise for some of my other courses. Over the weekend, I gave a private session to a client of the Night Photography Workshop. It allows me to share some photos and provide a little more detail on what you can expect.
Starting before its dark
The first thing about the Night Photography workshop is that it doesn’t all take place at night. We meet on Calton Hill to (hopefully) experience a spectacular sunset. A visiting tourist inquired what time the sunset will happen as she had been here for three days and not seen one. Those familiar with Scottish weather will know that it’s not guaranteed and it’s certainly not a daily occurrence.
Even when we don’t get a burning red sky, there’s still a chance to discuss the way that light changes as it moves from day to night. We even see it happening before our eyes. We can look to the west in the direction of the setting sun. In the east, the darkness is creeping in.
Light Trails on Princes Street
We have a short wander down to Princes Street for the next part of the workshop. Standing on the steps of the National Records of Scotland we can photograph the intersection of North Bridge and Princes Street. In the shot, we can include the iconic Balmoral Hotel Clock, and the statue of Wellington mounted on his horse, Copenhagen.
You can’t always guarantee that we’ll have traffic moving in all directions during one shot. However, I have a unique technique that I share during the evening that allows you to capture a scene that gives the impression of a busy thoroughfare. It involves multiple photographs and a bit of Photoshop which we cover off at the end of the workshop, either in a local pub or the next day by video conference.
Statues and lights
A little further along Princes Street, we arrive at the Scott Monument. A 60-metre high Gothic tribute to the author, Sir Walter Scott. If you’ve got a wide-angle lens, then don’t forget to bring it along. I like to think the view looking up the monument, is a signature shot of mine that I’ve seen copied quite a few times since I first shared it several years ago.
We time this shot so that there is gorgeous blue light behind the statue which stands out against the phosphor LED lighting installed onto the monument in 2016.
Our next stop is another of Edinburgh’s statues. David Hume stands (or rather sits) on the Royal Mile with St Giles Cathedral behind him. Unlike the Scott Monument, Hume isn’t lit directly by any lights. However, with some clever positioning, it is possible to make the Sandy Stoddart sculpture stand out against the backdrop of Edinburgh’s most famous cathedral.
There are numerous angles to shoot the 18th-century philosopher from so it’s relatively easy to spend 15 or 20 minutes exploring the different ways to interpret the interactions between Hume and St Giles or even the lights on the High Court building which sits behind him.
Ghost and Ghouls and famous schools
The final location on the Night Photography workshop is allegedly one of the most haunted graveyards in Scotland, Greyfriars. I’ll not reveal the surprise ending to the workshop, but those who don’t believe in spirits revealing themselves may find an unusual and personalised surprise as the last shot of the evening.
Before that, we experiment with light-painting by using torches to balance the bright lights of George Heriot’s School and the archway through the 16th-century Flodden Wall. In one shot we correctly expose the illuminated walls of the school and the dark, unlit stonework of the wall.
Who is the Night Photography Workshop For?
To get the most from the Night Photography Workshop, it is useful if you have an understanding of manual exposure. It makes a great stepping stone from the Switch to Manual Workshop to start learning some more advanced techniques in photography. Like most of my workshops, the intention isn’t just to get you some great images (although you definitely will!). I try hard to ensure that when you leave the end of the session, you leave equipped with new skills that you can put into practice in other settings.
This time I am going to leave you with one of the many positive reviews on TripAdvisor, where I am currently listed as the number one Classes and Workshop experience in Edinburgh. The review is from Sam, who attended the Night Photography Workshop in December 2019.
“This was a really well-organised workshop, and the different locations provided a good structure to build up experience of the different techniques that Rich goes through. I also learned a lot about some camera features that I hadn’t use much but which really come into their own for night photography.
On a personal level, Rich is a great instructor, very easy to chat to, and extremely knowledgeable. He answered all my questions, and at no time did I feel I couldn’t ask something that was maybe a daft question!
Rich also covered a few post-processing techniques using Lightroom, which again gave me a good insight into how to use some features that are made for this type of photography.
I can totally recommend this workshop, and it’s fired me up to get more into night photography.”
If that review has whetted your appetite to attend one of the sessions, they run each Sunday to Thursday starting from 27 September until the middle of March 2021. The start time varies on the sunset time so check availability and get further details at edinburghphotographyworkshop.com
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