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Photography course: London at Dawn
Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 10:00 AM - Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 5:00 PM (BST)
London, United Kingdom
This unique six week course is designed to teach you how to photograph London in the pre-dawn and early morning hours, a time when there are fabulous opportunities to take great photographs. The course will focus on improving your ability to observe the world around you with new awareness – to develop what is known in the business as 'seeing' – the thing that separates the good photographer from the great photographer.
After an introductory in-studio session, you and your fellow photographers will take to the streets where you'll receive practical and professional guidance from Californian photographer Anthony Epes. From week two, black cabbie and tour guide Nick Mortimore will join the group to provide interesting anecdotes and historical background on the locations you visit.
The course is appropriate for beginner and intermediate photographers who have a basic understanding of how a camera operates. Knowing how to set aperture and shutter speed, change ISO setting, turning AWB on/off are essential pre-requisites.
Before the Workshop:
- Each participant to fill out a questionnaire on individual experience
- Detailed course materials covering topics will be emailed to participants including an outline of how the course will be taught
- A 35 mm or larger format camera, film or digital is fine
- A sturdy tripod
The emphasis for workshops is to spend maximum time on location to allow the group to learn and practice simultaneously.
Week 1 – Practical introduction to photographic techniques and practices
Meeting point: Waterloo, 10am – 5pm
In this introductory session, Anthony will cover the practical fundamentals of photography and introduce you to professional practices. The emphasis will be on how to shoot in the city and produce high quality urban landscape photographs. We will cover all of the practical techniques needed, which Anthony will then be re-enforcing over the following weeks during the on-location sessions. In addition Anthony will do a short presentation on his project London at Dawn and discuss how he captured some of the most successful images.
Topics covered will include:
- The camera's light meter
- Aperture and Shutter speed, how they relate to focal length and their effects
- Basic Daylight Exposure, Sunny 16 rule
- Hyper focal focusing
- Composition – rule of thirds, natural framing, depth, leading lines, filling the frame
- Colour Theory
- Elements of great photos
- Tips for getting the best quality from your kit
- Best practices for quality
- What to always bring when shooting in London
Week 2 – Fleet Street to Spitalfields market route
Meeting Point: Royal Courts of Justice one hour before dawn
Our first day's shooting falls within the City of London. We will walk streets mapped out by the Romans nearly 2000 years ago where, with a couple of exceptions, the street plan remains relatively unchanged. We'll see the pubs Christopher Wren built for his workmen before erecting St. Paul's Cathedral and, of course, we'll be shooting many of the city's iconic landmarks including the Gherkin and the Lloyds building. To wander these normally bustling streets in the solitude of dawn is a truly memorable experience. We will end at Spitalfields Market as the traders set-up for a busy day, providing an array of interesting imagery to capture.
At the end of each outing the group will assemble for breakfast to discuss the day's experiences and for Anthony to answer any remaining questions. Anthony and Nick will suggest locations for participants to visit between workshops to practise their photography.
Week 3 – East London loop route
Meeting Point: Liverpool Street Station, one hour before dawn
This route takes us outside of the city's walls to see London's first stopping point for the influx of immigrants from the Huguenots to the Bengali community. Hawksmoor's Christ Church shot at dawn is absolutely stunning and we'll wander through atmospheric streets full of history before stopping for bagels and coffee at one of the few remaining Jewish businesses left in the area. This area was once the poorest part of London and the last refuge of the desperate, before the dreaded workhouses. It now hums with a real vibrancy as it houses many galleries, bars and restaurants and shows how London is constantly regenerating itself.
Week 4 – Westminster Bridge to London Bridge
Meeting Point: Westminster Bridge, west side under Big Ben, one hour before dawn
Our day starts on Westminster Bridge in the shadow of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. We'll pass through Parliament Square pausing to capture Westminster Abbey, Edward the Confessor's tribute to St. Peter and home to a church since 620AD. Strolling through St. James' Park we get the opportunity to learn how to capture some stunning parkland shots before we hug the Embankment, crossing the river at Waterloo for perhaps the best view in London.
Bankside has seen a remarkable renaissance in the last few years and has become one of the capital's playgrounds once again as it was in Shakespeare's day (without the brothels and bear baiting). Back over the river to the city again before finishing south of London Bridge at the bustling Borough Market.
Week 5 – Tower Bridge to Canary Wharf route
Meeting Point: Tower Hill tube station, one hour before dawn
After watching the sun rise over Tower Bridge in the shadow of the magnificent Tower of London, this becomes a tour of London's maritime past. In the 18th and 19th centuries London was the busiest port in the world and sailors from all over the globe came here looking for work or entertainment. It is a journey full of stories of piracy, treason, press ganging and gruesome executions amid the dark alleyways and narrow cobbled streets of Wapping. We'll pass through Shadwell, where in just one churchyard there are the graves of over seventy sea captains and on to Limehouse – London's original Chinatown. Narrow Street is home to some of the prettiest Georgian houses in London and a real contrast to the modern skyscrapers of Canary Wharf – our final destination.
Week 6 – In studio review
Meeting point: Waterloo, 10am – 5pm
Going through each photographer's work, Anthony will lead a group discussion on the images captured during the previous weeks and answer remaining questions. This will include feedback from Anthony and the group. Peer review is an important aspect of assembling and editing photographs. Anthony will provide advice on future shooting and development ideas for each photographer.
Anthony Epes is a fine art and commercial photographer from California, based in London since 2000. Holding a great passion for the wild landscapes of his native state, Anthony's work often focuses on where the natural and urban worlds collide, bringing a new vision of what is often right there on your doorstep.
Anthony is a judge on The Environmental Photographer of the Year Awards and a founding UK member of the International Environmental Photographers Association based in Japan. He is one of the 'Courvoisier Future 500', a collection of rising stars in their field. He has exhibited widely, including at The Royal College of Art, The Gallery on Redchurch Street, Capital Culture Gallery, Arts & Crafts Guild, The Ensign Gallery, and as part of The Mayor of London's 'Story of London' festival.
The workshops are inspired by Anthony's book London at Dawn (Metro Publishing, 2002/3). For the book, writers and personalities who hold London dear to their hearts wrote pieces about the city they love – such as Mo Mowlam, Simon Callow, Alexis Sayle and Suggs. The book was produced in partnership with and inspired by John Bird, founder of The Big Issue, who had come up with the idea from his time sleeping on the city's streets in the 1960s. The book is currently being updated and will be republished in June 2012. Anthony is also photographing other cities - Paris at Dawn is due for publication in early 2013 with Rome, New York and Dubai to follow.
Nick Mortimore has been a London black cabbie for over 25 years. He is a passionate Londoner, growing up in Brixton and living around South London ever since. In 2005 he became a certified tour guide, passionate about sharing his knowledge and love for London – and can certainly give you insights and amazing facts about the city that only a cabbie would know! Nick is also a great writer and storyteller – and is frequently found sharing stories on various radio shows, storytelling nights and, of course, with his tour participants.
When & Where
Welcome to Guardian masterclasses – a unique programme of learning embedded within one of the world's most forward-thinking media organisations.
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