The 4th photography walkshop of 2023 was taking it back to one of the first places I taught photography, the shoreline of Emsworth where it meets the waters of Chichester Harbour.
With some overcast clouds we had some atmospheric skies as we started off exploring the collection of small boats on the shore mud at low tide. These boats are really great to try out different focusing techniques, layering and just discovering all the different textures and details such as rusty chains, flooded hulls, frayed ropes and so much more. We developed our compositions by changing perspectives including placing our cameras in the hulls, along the curved lines and on the mud and stones of the beach. This enabled us to see the world a little differently and also use leading lines of the rusty mooring chains, foreground seaweed and even mirroring boats in the puddles of salt water left by the retreating sea.
Swans are often enjoying the low water in the creek leading up to the old mill and we even had a black swan in the mix. What was a surprise was ‘the swan whisperer’ who visits the swans each day and feeding them. With not a broken arm in sight, he clearly had a strong bond with the swans with them allowing him to be close to them and seemingly communicating on their wavelength.
With a little change of the planned route we walked toward the raised boardwalk, but along the way Giles had spotted a fishing boat up on a mud flat out past the old fish traps. Timing on workshops is often more serendipity rather than good planning (although I always check the predicted tide level in advance) and catching the boat as the returning tide came in was a close right-place-right-time moment. We had just missed the still water reflections by minutes and were quickly joined by a crew of swans wondering if we might have some food to offer but we came away with some great images.
The boardwalk itself was perfect for experimenting with leading lines and we discussed the benefits of having a person at the end or even looking beyond and out to a boat in the harbour itself. Also around the boardwalk were ancient timbers in the mud and wonderful, little pools of water filled with live oysters, other shells, fragments of wood and stones of all shapes and colours.
Time flying is often the case as we dig deeper in to a location’s photographic potential and as a group we share our thoughts and creative ideas and this walkshop was no different. With a quick return down towards the mill, we ended up taking rule of thirds compositions of the mill pond path walkers up above the shore and tied up small boats…doing our best to both not get in the way of each other’s shots, slipping on the slimey shore and being nibbled by that curious black swan.
A huge thank you to everyone for coming out to Emsworth!
You can see some photos below but you can also look at loads of fantastic photos taken on the walkshop by Giles Smith HERE.
If you are interested in coming along yourself the meadows at Fishbourne and the shore wrecks at Portchester are now fully booked, but I’m looking at putting in some new dates next week that will include some more walkshops in Portsmouth and another evening of light painting, going from April through to sunny June. – Paul.