vrijdag 20 november 2009

The France Workshop

End of October i went over to Southern France to host a photographic holiday with a group of 8 people in a place called Les Brousses. I went ahead a few days earlier together with my good friend Bart Stornebrink to prepair for the workshop as this was something i had never done before in this way. I usually set up my own workshops as this time i was hired by the Franch organisation to host the weeklong holiday.
The team over at Le Mas Blanc was great and the holiday house we stayed in wich was a former monistry was beautiful and located in a wonderful setting.

The first two days of preperation we had some awfull weather so Bart and i had to go out and scout locations in the rain wich was a pitty. We went over to Gorges de la Jonte to look for Vultures in a large rock formation setting. Despite that the Vultures where present we thought they flew to far off for the workshop participants to get some good shots of them but i made some record shots any way...

The next days we went over to the Camarque region wich is a wonderful nature reserve and we went out to look for several landscape locations. Then on saturday evening the first guests arrived and we had a nice meal together with the group. On sunday the workshop started with a lecture i gave on Macro photography and afterwards we set out at Le Mas Blanc for some macro photography as we had allready caught several Praying Mantis and some Scorpions wich made for some excellent macro subjects to experiment with.

End of the day we had another fantastic meal provided by the people of Le Mas Blanc and afterwards i held a presentation on photographing Mammals in the wild and then we head off to bed for a well deserved sleep..
The next day i had a day of Landscape photography planned in and we went over to a beautiful rock formation with several waterfalls called Roque sur Seze. This provided the perfect surrounding for a day of landscape especially combined with the lovely old and typical French village on the top of the mountain where we went for some details and village photography.

I personally fell in love with the little church that was near the entrance of this small village and had a lot of lovely ornaments and details to photopgraph. But also the town square and the small streets provided some excellent photograpical subjects.

An ideal place to practise some Black and White photography...

Late afternoon we went over to the Parc de Cevennes ich is a large woodland nature reserve where we joined two guides who where supposed to show us the Red Deer of this area but as could be expected with a large group of 10 people the Deer where nowhere to be seen unfortunately. Still the two guides where able to take us up the mountain and presented us with a spectaculair sunset wich showed off the layers of mountains really well. Sometimes you just have to make the best of a situation and this was such a time and so i was able to get some really nice sunset shots after a long and tiring walk.

On Tuesday we had a day of rest wich Bart and i spent at the site of Le Mas Blanc and i had a good day shooting some more macro stuff and was especially pleased with the Praying Mantis as this is a species i can never get enough of..In the evening i held a presentation on Bird photography as the next day we would head out to the Camargue nature reserve down south to photograph all sorts of birds.

And so on wednesday morning we set off at 05.00 hours to visit the Camargue wich was a large nature reserve where we would first photograph some groups of fouraging Flamingo's in the morning and then we would split up and meet again at a spot i had found with some Mediterrenean Tree Frogs and a lot of other interesting bugs.

As said we first went over to photograph the Flamingo's in some gorgeous early morning light. Unfortunately part of our group decided to head in another direction and discover the Camargue themselfs so they missed out on this part of the day trip. Then we each went off to look for birds in the Camargue and found several beauties such as Cattle Egrets and Little Egrets but also some Birds of Prey such as Marsh Harriers, Kestrel and Buzzards.

Ofcourse we where also able to photograph some of the "famous" Camargue white horses wich can be found throughout the reserve.

The Catlle Egret was one of my favourites as we parked the car in a shady place near to where it was hunting and the Egret just came closer and closer..

In the afternoon we had agreed to meet up at a spot where there several Medeterrenean Tree Frogs and othe interesting bugs. Unfortunately only one couple was able to join us there and the rest of the group decided to roam around the Camargue. We where able to get some lovely images of the Tree Frogs wich are a sub species of the European Tree Frogs and they came in all sorts of colors. As it was hot they where warmed up and it was not always easy to get a good shot but in the end we managed to get some lovely stuff from this place.

Despite the fact that autumn bird migration was not at it's usual levels and there where fewer small birds as one would expect we still had a great day with loads of photographic possibilities. If i had only shot the series of the Catlle Egret it would have been more then worth the effort..End of the day we searched for some small waders and for some more Flamingo's in the sunset and found a few on the edge of the reserve.

And ofcourse at the end of the day we witnessed the beautiful Camargue sunset...

On thursday my friend Bart Stornebrink who is a funghi specialist prepaired a wonderful presentation on photographing funghi wich would be our theme of the day. We set off to the forest around the property of Le Mas Blanc where we found the first couples of funghi. A large diversity of funghi was found throughout the day and we had a good day of photographing this special subject.

Another day with great weather wich we had all week long and some interesting subjects to photograph. The next day we would go to visit "Augustine" wich is a man in his seventies and he migrated to Southern France at the age of 27 to start a life as a wild boar farmer. We expected sto photograph Wild Boar when we arrived but as it turned out the pigs this rather interesting man kept where of an Iberian species and looked like a mixture between Wild Boar and regular Pigs so that was rather dissapointing. He said there where Wild Boar in the forest surrounding his property and we looked for them but as can be expected with a 10 man group these will not show themselfs.. This was very dissapointing as i too had expected to photograph Wild Boar and not another species and once more it shows that the perception of a photographer is very different from that of other people. Luckily another species wich was high on our wishlist did show itself as this man had some dark cellars in his building we where able to find some Bats wich was anothe topic we had planned for the workshop so after all we where able to get some nice images of Bats.
Then to celebrate the week we had a lovely Iberian pig for lunch and we had a great time out in Augustine's garden with some excellent food! Looking back on the workshop it is a pitty that we where not able to get all species we had anticipated to photograph but we had wonderful weather and many other possibilities photographically and with the great food and shelter we had turned this week into an interesting experience. Would i do it again? Well...Yes, but not in this way as i prefer to have everything in my own hands and be able to predict what to photograph instead of having someone else predict that. Still i think i will do this workshop again next year but then arrange the whole program myself and therefor have more control over the workshop and its content. I hope the group has had a great time nevertheless and that everybody has learned and grown from this week like i have. Next year i will host another weeklong photographic holiday again at Le Mas Blanc but then it will be a starters course and the program will be slightly different. If you would like to learn more about photography and do it in the best way possible at one of the nicest locations of Southern France...make sure you are there and reserve your spot on this workshop for next year!
And mow some more random shots from this week to end with...

2 opmerkingen:

  1. Machtig mooi Jeroen, die vestilde reiger en die oranje groep flamingo's... Helemaal te gek!

    Jaco Ottevanger

  2. Prachtige foto's!!!! En wat een prachtige plekjes allemaal :-)! Het was genieten!
    groetjes en tot een volgende keer, misschien wel in La France!

    (zie ook mijn foto's op http://www.flickriver.com/photos/aavdgaag/sets/)