What is it?
When I first saw the Fujiholics Glencoe workshops on Eventbrite in 2016, it was clear that I had to get there at least once. Fortunately, my wife became well aware of this (yeah, magic) and so she offered me the ticket for the workshop in January 2017 as a xmas present.
So, on a fairly nice Sunday morning, I started my drive from Luxembourg in order to take the ferry to Hull in Rotterdam in the evening. Why drive? The first and main reason was to be flexible to visit my son (who is studying in Aberdeen) after the workshop, the second reason was to not be bothered with luggage weight etc.and to be able to brind as much equipment as I wanted.
After a very peaceful night on the ferry, we arrived in Hull. During the day long drive to Glencoe, I had to make a few stops, one of them on Loch Lomond.
The night was already falling on my last miles while driving through a number of locations like Tyndrum or Bridge of Orchy, which brought up some very nice memories from 6-day-long hike on the West Highland Way in 2016.
Arriving in Glencoe
Finally, I arrived at Clachaig Inn, unpacked my stuff and went straight in the Bidean Lounge where I met all these lovely people, whom I would be lucky to spend the next days with. The workshop leaders were Matt Hart and Paul Sanders. The workshop participants were from a wide variety of backgrounds, most of them from the UK, 2 from Germany and myself from Luxembourg. Although the Fujiholics community is mainly focused on Fujifilm cameras, several participants had other brands, so no worries about this.
After a few drinks, a nice dinner and a rough planning of the next days, we went to bed.
The first morning, after an unusally saturating breakfast (at least for me), we drove to the very nearby located Loch Achtriochan for a first warm up session.
Paul and Matt walked us around the planned shooting area, gave us a few tips (the most important IMHO was not to setup immediately and shoot, but to walk around, get a feeling for the scenery, relax, plan and prepare, ….). I liked very much (and appreciated it even more over the next few days) Matt and Paul’s approach of not invading your space or giving you lots of tips and instructions on how to do, enabling you to immerse in the landscape. But they were immediately available whenever you asked them for help, advice or even for trying some filters which they had readily available.
River Coupall waterfalls
After a nice coffee break, the next stop were the River Coupall waterfalls to experience some walking in the mud. The sky was nicely covered and was excellent for long exposures. Everybody tried to find their sweet spot, took time for the photos, walked on, another try, etc.
Lochan na Fola
The last session of the day was then at Lochan na Fola, where we mainly worked on reflections in the water.
Although the different photo spots had been roughly discussed, Matt and Paul did a very good job on adapting the daily trips and locations to the weather conditions, in order to maximise our satisfaction and our results.
Loch Awe and Kilchurn castle
The second day started with a long drive to Loch Awe, with the picturesque Kilchurn Castle. This is a classic long exposure location, with some challenges like power wires in the background.
We spent a very long time here, which was another nice thing about this workshop: no hurry, we stay on site as long as everybody needs.
After a nice warm lunch, we headed to our second and last destination for the day, Loch Leven.
Of course, rain started pouring as soon as we settled down, so what are you doing on the shores of a lake (in fact it is connected to the sea), in the rain with no contrast and nothing really spectacular to see? You wait. And wait. Try to feel the scenery. Have a few test shots.
And then have the „wow”-feeling and get serious.
Throughout the whole driving time, I had lovely entertainment as I was the appointed „personal chauffeur“ for Sue.
Day 3 was a heavy duty day, as we had to get up very early (at least, in relation to the drinks of the evening before) to leave shortly after 6 am. We drove in the complete darkness to Rannoch Moor for a sunrise shooting. A lot of nice photo spots in Scotland are very close to main roads, so even if the images give you the feeling of complete loneliness, quite often there is a highway just a few meters behind you.
Lochan na H Achlaise (Rannoch Moor)
Everybody chose the best individual spot for taking images of the rising sun on top of the mountains, using our headlights and waiting, waiting, waiting. But it was worth the waiting time.
A quick drive back to Clachaig Inn (I stopped counting how often we drove through Glencoe on these 3 workshop days) to have our well deserved breakfast.
Black Rock Cottage
After this light breakfast, we drove through Glencoe (what a surprise) to the Glencoe ski station and the world famous Black Rock Cottage.
Buachaille Etive Mor
On our way back, down the valley (now I know why it is called “Glencoe” workshop), we tried to chase the sun disappearing behind the mountain (Buachaille Etive Mor)
The next stop was at Three Sisters, where the challenge was to decide on whether to do a panorama or a selective shot of the extraordinary scenery (besides not getting caught by a truck).
Loch Shiel and the Glennfinnan Jacobite Monument
The last stop before dinner was at Loch Shiel, well known by Harry Potter fans because of the Glennfinnan Viaduct (Hogwarts Express, the flying car, remember?). We had the chance (it might have been planned?) to be there for sundown, and again, it was so nice to have plenty of time to set up, to talk to each other, and to wait for the magic to happen.
After this magical moment, we had a long drive back to Clachaig Inn, where we settled for a nice and warm dinner. But not too long, because we had a last photo session planned for that final day.
Night sky in Glencoe
The weather forecast had been perfect, clear sky and no moon. After some detailed tips on camera settings and techniques, we headed up from Clachaig Inn. Besides the few trucks or cars driving up or down Glencoe, everything was deep dark and the milky way was really fascinating. We didn’t stay for hours, as the wind was quite strong and not really warm, but we managed to get some nice shots.
The day after
On the next and last morning, everybody was a bit sad that the workshop had already come to an end. We all had a really great time and we spontaneously decided to meet up again in a next workshop. You know, you often say this in the excitement of the moment, and then nothing happens. Not here: we have planned and booked a next workshop, this time in Northumberland in February 2018, which will be a reunion of workshop participants from this and and an earlier workshop.
In a nutshell
Would I recommend a Fujiholics workshop? Yes, absolutely. It was fun, I learnt a lot, I met very nice people, it was great workshop leading by Matt and Paul in a very relaxed environment.
And a special thank you to John Dallas from Fujifilm UK who was present with two big backpacks full of Fuji gear to test and try.
Feel free to comment or ask question about this workshop.
And last, but not least: a short video I made of these few days