Lakeland Photographic Holidays offer workshops, holidays and weekend breaks for enthusiastic photographers. Rebecca Bradley and Lindsey Brown visited during the Limited Walking workshop to put them to the test.
Lakeland Photographic Holidays are based in Braithwaite, Cumbria where the current owners - John and Gail Gravett - have lived for nine years. John, the main instructor, is a professional photographer and has achieved ARPS distinctions in both sport and architectural photography. He has been a keen club photographer for 30 years, is self-taught and lives for his photography. Gail takes care of all the cooking and administration at LPH. She has been a keen photographer for 20 years, is also a freelance press photographer and achieved her LRPS in 1991.
Specific to the course
We experienced the Limited Walking workshop, designed for people who cannot walk very far but still want to engage in the beautiful photography that can be explored in the Lake District. There are different courses running throughout the year including active walking weeks for the more energetic photographer. The active walking weeks are designed for people who can walk up to five miles on steep and rocky terrain, but you have to remember you will be carrying your tripod around with you as well as your camera.
The courses are suitable for people of all ages and photographic abilities, specialising in film as well a digital. John concentrates on helping you develop your own style of photography, as opposed to forcing a particular style upon you, teaching you how to use your eyes, not how to use a camera. During your stay you are given a choice of places to visit, with some locations being better than others, depending on the weather conditions at that particular time. Lengths of stay may vary but mostly run for five days, three days of which are spent with John. During the rest of your stay you are free to discover the Lake District independently.
The evenings are spent looking at and discussing the work produced during the day. During these feedback sessions, John offers constructive advice how to improve your photography and also gives suggestions on how your work can be enhanced using programs such as Adobe Photoshop. The feedback is especially useful for beginners like ourselves, and having a professional opinion on your work is invaluable. It means that during the following days work you can try and improve on the previous day according to the help and advice you have been given. This was certainly the case with our photography. We improved dramatically during the second day in comparison to our first attempt.
Diary of events
On the first night of our stay we were given an introductory session detailing what could be expected over the following few days. This included details on what we could expect to learn on the course, the structure of the days and what help would be on hand.
The following day we set off after breakfast at around 10am and headed for a lake called Tarn Hows. The weather was quite dull and this was advised one of the better areas for photography for these conditions. Whilst there we had a brief explanation on aperture settings and how to use depth of field to get the best out of our photographs, as well as being shown how shutter speed was used to enhance our images. We were then left to our own devices to go and explore the area and capture some good effects with John on hand for any help we might require.
On the way back we decided to stop at a location called Dora's field The weather had improved and the Daffodils, planted by William Wordsworth in memory of his daughter Dora, were in bloom. This made for some good close-up shots to discuss in that evenings' feedback session.Once back at the hotel, we were given an hour to upload a selection of our best pictures from the day. These were then shown and discussed at the feedback session which commenced following the evening meal. During the discussions, everyone has the chance for individual feedback on their images and advice is offered on how to improve for the following day and also how to enhance the photos using imaging editing software.
Lindsey gets some helpful advice from John.
By the second day the weather had picked up so we went to another lake called Blea Tarn in the Little Langdale area of the Lake District. On the way we noticed some wonderful lighting at Red Bank, Elterwater and we pulled up to make the most of the mist rolling along the hills.
Once we had arrived at Blea Tarn we set off to explore the location for ourselves following the advice and feedback given the previous night. Blea Tarn is predominantly good for reflections and, mostly comprised of larch trees, is a total of 1.5 miles round therefore suitable for anyone of any fitness level. After finishing the days' photography early the group decided it would be a nice idea to call at the local pub to sample some real ales. This also gave us a chance to say goodbye to the people we had met there during our stay as we were leaving the following morning.
That night, feedback was once again given, in our case to learn that our photography had in fact improved after one day. The following morning we set off home with more confidence in our photography.
Junior reporters Rebecca Bradley and Lindsey Brown visit Lakeland Photographic Holidays to improve their overall photographic ability and to learn how to get the best out of their SLR cameras, as well as to review the course for ePHOTOzine readers. The other guests had visited LPH for a variety of reasons. Gemma Hirst and Alan Ranger were there as a secondary hobby to travelling and to help them to capture their memories in a more professional manner. Alan Bullock was on a second visit to simply improve his photography. Chris Owen is a regularly returning customer and spent a total of thirteen weeks there last year. He keeps improving his photography and intends to earn a living out of it sometime in the near future. By coming on this holiday he believes he extends his portfolio whilst meeting new people and getting feedback from others about his work. He said he will still visit LPH when he eventually moves to the Lake District.
I'm sure there's a tree in there somewhere...
Alan Pyrke was visiting after recently purchasing his first digital camera after moving from film and generally wanting to learn how to get the best out of it.
Alex Weaver is 84 years old and comes to LPH for his holidays, as well as to meet and converse with like-minded people. His passion is photography and the limited walking workshops are perfect for him to get away and enjoy the beautiful scenery the Lake District has to offer.
As you can see, people visit LPH for a variety of reasons, and this exemplifies how versatile the course is in terms of photographic experience.
What other guests thought
The course is hard work, but the end results are worth it. Everyone learnt something from the experience and people keep returning, which certainly means that the course is a worthwhile one.
Three out of the eight guests on this particular week have been before, although we're not sure if this as partly due to Gail's cooking. Gail does all the cooking and gives you a choice for breakfast of cereals and a cooked breakfast. She also provide a packed lunch and evening meals which includes a variety of starter, main courses and desserts. She caters for all types of food allergies and specific dietary requirements
Taking a break from shooting at the local pub.
The Limited Walking workshop probably has more to offer for those who already have some experience in photography, and in that case, is an ideal opportunity to meet up and enjoy the lakes with like-minded people. For beginners, there is always the danger that you may feel inferior in comparison to the more experienced of the group, although in our case, we were never made to feel that way and the group were more than accommodating to our lack of knowledge. It is, however, probably not the most suitable of courses for the absolute beginner, as some of the basics of photography may be overlooked.
John was not overpowering in his tuition, but his feedback sessions were more than helpful. He also answers any queries that you may have and shows you how to use specific functions on your camera according to the results you are wanting to achieve. As a holiday it is very tiring and intensive in relation to the length of the working day, but the end results are really worth it.
Right from the word go we were made to feel at home and this definitely helped us to relax and enjoy our experience as well as benefiting from it. The accommodation is clean, comfortable and spacious, and the people were very friendly and welcoming. The home cooked meals certainly made an impact and this is worth a visit alone.
For more information, visit the Lakeland Photographic Holidays website.
All images in this review were taken using the Canon EOS 400D.