Why did I participate in this workshop?
In January 2017, I was one of the lucky participants of the Fujiholics Glencoe Winter Workshop, taught by Matt Hart and Paul Sanders. At the end of the workshop, everybody was keen on meeting again in one year, we talked about what and where we could do this and then everybody returned home.
It would not have been the first time if no follow-up had been made (because of the usual ‘high’ feeling at the end of a great holiday or event), but fortunately Matt continued working on the idea and very quickly came up with the project of a Northumberland Coast workshop in 2018. After some challenges to find the weekend that best suited most of the participants, we were finally ready to book our tickets. As not everybody from the January 2017 Glencoe workshop was able to make it, this ‘reunion’ workshop then brought together participants from two different Glencoe workshops.
Travelling to Berwick-upon-Tweed
My usual routine is to travel to England or Scotland by car so that I can take all necessary (and unnecessary) equipment with me. Additionally, with my son currently studying in Aberdeen, I always try to combine workshops with visits to Aberdeen.
So, on Thursday I drove to Rotterdam to take the overnight ferry to Hull. After a good night’s sleep, I admired the beautiful rush hour traffic jams in Hull before finally driving northwards.
The drive was hassle free and I stopped over in Blyth for a nice fish and chips in the Coastline restaurant at Blyth beach.
After a walk on the beach and some shots, I continued towards Berwick-upon-Tweed. But, roughly 60 miles before reaching the hotel, my car suddenly lost power and white smoke started coming out of the bonnet. Holy shit!
I immediately parked the car on the roadside and called my Luxembourgish automobile club ACL. They where very helpful and with an hour (that I spend reading my Kindle in the sun), the AA arrived. After a first optimistic look at the car, and a second less optimistic look under the bonnet, the diagnostic was made within less than a minute: an injector was blown out of the cylinder head and the vehicle had to be towed to the next garage. Easier said than done, because the two closest Volkswagen dealers were either in the wrong direction (south) or had a first appointment available 2 weeks later (??!!). So we agreed on towing the car to Border Engines in Berwick-upon-Tweed. After delivering the car, we put all my stuff (and it was really a lot) in the tow-away vehicle and the nice guy drove me to my hotel.
Overall I was quite lucky, because I was in my hotel (the Kings Arms) roughly 3 hours after the breakdown, which was very efficient. I quickly checked in and got a helping hand from fellow workshop participants to carry all my luggage to the reception.
Let the workshop begin
After a tasty dinner, we finally gathered in the bar and talked through the next days. Paul Sanders told us he brought his large color printer and they he offered one large print of a photo to every workshop participant. Now that’s great!
For the early birds, Paul Sanders had planned a short walk to the lighthouse for the sunrise. Most of us agreed, and after a drink, we went to bed.
In the early morning, we walked over to the lighthouse, discussed various framing options and then finally lined up our tripods, cameras, etc. and waited for the sunrise… that did not come (although the sky looked promising at the beginning, more and more clouds came up during sunrise time).
Anyway, we tried to make the best out of it, and most interestingly, I got my best shot of the whole workshop on that morning.
Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh castle
After a full breakfast, we drove to Bamburgh for a shooting on the beach, trying to find the best framing with stunning Bamburgh castle in the background.
We had a warm tea in The Copper Kettle Tea Rooms in Bamburgh, we headed southwards Dunstanburgh. We walked on the beach of Embleton Bay, filled with boulders and Dunstanburgh castle in the background.
We stayed quite long on both beaches today so that everybody could take the necessary to find his spots and get the composition and image he wants. This is what I really appreciate about Paul and Matt’s workshops: there is no hurry, they guide you to nice spots, are always available for help, questions, technique tips whenever you need them. But you get your own shots, in your own speed and style.
After a long drive back to the hotel, we finished the day with dinner and a drink in the bar
Catching the Holy Spirit
On Sunday morning, we left the hotel for a short drive to Spittal beach to catch the waves. We spent some time on this beach, again allowing everybody to get his preferred shot.
We then continued our road to the beach close to Cheswick for another beach session, this time on the rocks.
Upon arrival, and as usual, we split up and everybody moved around at his own pace, trying to get the most satisfying and original shots.
After this, we had another long drive back to the hotel, and I was really happy not having to drive myself.
On the evening, we had to make our final choice for the image we wanted Paul to print for us. After some Luxembourgish beer in the bar, we went to bed.
Ice cold water, warm sunlight
The last workshop day took us first to Newton-by-the-sea where we got to the beach after some walking. The scenery was very interesting as there was again a fantastic rocky area, with some small waterholes.
As the sea was not really calm, we had to try to get the best position for our tripods, without drowning the camera too often ;-).
At the end of the stay at this beach, and when almost everybody had left, I finally found the perfect spot for my next image. Unfortunately, it was 2-3 meters into the sea. So I walked on a few rocks, trying to avoid the waves, to find the exact spot. Then I headed back on the dry part of the beach, took my shoes and socks off, raised my trouser legs, prepared the camera and tripod and walked into the freezing cold water. But, well prepared, the shot was made in less than 2 minutes and I was out of the water again.
After this long stay at the beach, and some lunch, we drove to Benthall harbour. On the way, I got a call form Border Engines telling me that they found the problem, that they ordered the spare parts and that my car should be fine by tomorrow evening. Great news!
In Benthall harbour, I was not really motivated to shoot another beach (yeah, the whole workshop was horrible: beaches, beaches, beaches, sun the whole day, good weather, friendly people, how boring…). So I took my 56mm F1.2 and went for some shallow depth of field shots.
Later, we drove to Lindisfarne causeway to shoot the Pilgrim’s huts during sundown and the blue hour. This was fantastic location, so quiet and peaceful. And I finally got to turn my camera upside down again!
That’s it! Last shot of the day, back to King’s Arms for dinner. When we arrived at the hotel, we had a big surprise: Paul had printed all images and they really looked great. And it was again very interesting to see how everybody had different angles, points of view and framing ideas although we all were roughly at the same locations.
I’m very happy with my print, and at home I framed it and it is now on display. Thanks Paul!
On Tuesday morning, we had a last group breakfast and then we split up. It really was a pleasure to meet all of you, and especially meeting Val, Robin, Terry, Matt and Paul again. Thanks for the great workshop and a very big thank you to Val and Robin for driving me around during the 3 workshop days. I really appreciated.
Engines, cabs and aircrafts
So how did my car story end and how did I spend the rest of my time in the UK?
When I arrived at the Border Engines office in late afternoon, I was told that the mechanical parts had been repaired and that they were working fine. Unfortunately, there was now an electronic error message on one of the cylinders and this error could not be reset. So I was unable to pick up the car as it was not running correctly.
So, after a number of phone calls with my automobile club, they finally decided that the most reasonable option would be to tow my car home to Luxembourg, to provide my with a rental car for the next days (to pick up in Edinburg as they do not deliver it to Berwick-upon-Tweed, therefore they would send me a taxi) and to offer me an airline ticket to fly home next week. As it was the only acceptable solution, we finally agreed on this.
The next morning, my taxi arrived on time and we put all my stuff in all available spaces.
We then drove to Border Engines, stuffed most of it in my Volkswagen so that I would only continue with my photo backpack and one piece of luggage.
In Edinburgh (after a nice taxi drive and interesting talk, the driver was an analog photographer), I picked up my rental car and finally continued my trip more or less as planned::
- Edinburgh : walking up Arthur’s seat, strolling through town
- Aberdeen: visiting my son, staying there for a few days
- Crianlarich, Loch Tulla, Rannoch Moor, Glencoe, Loch Lomond
On Monday, I flew back from Glasgow to Luxembourg via Manchester. My car arrived in Luxembourg a week later and got finally repaired the day after. All in all, the repair was quite expensive, but I was really happy that my Automobile Club membership made all the towing, car rental, airline ticket 100% free for me.
All images on this page were taken by myself.