It is August 2013 and I have just returned from a long week across the pond. So here is my quick summary of what I did and saw while I was in England. The impetus for me flying over to the United Kingdom was part photography workshops run by Chris Marquardt and part my desire to explore more of what Europe has to offer. I'm approaching 37 and my world traveling has not met the quota I thought it would have hit by now. I didn't intend this to be a series of posts but it seems that I haven't given myself enough time to write as much as I wanted to convey in a single post. So, continue to watch my blog for the rest of the posts.
I landed at London Heathrow on August 2nd and proceeded to navigate my various choices of mass transit to transport myself to Liverpool where my first photo workshop was to be held. Heathrow Express to Paddington Station and then on to Euston Station in order to board a Virgin Train to Liverpool's Lime St. Station. England was quite a bit warmer and sunnier than I expected and it took about an hour on the train before I was done sweating. Anyway, after a couple of hours of train travel I arrived in Liverpool and since the weather was still relatively nice I decided to walk to the Elegant House B&B that I was reserved at. John, the owner/operator, is an extremely friendly man and allowed me to take my room a little earlier than typical. After resting for a bit and taking a shower (which felt wonderful after what felt like a week of traveling) I went to meet others that were part of the workshop at a popular pub at Albert Dock called The Pump House. There I met up with Chris and John Arnold, the host of this workshop, as well as Matt “Ravsitar” Armstead, Mark Carline, Terry Maltman with his wife Linda, and Bob Griffus (I probably misspelled his last name, Sorry Bob). We had a wonderful discussion and I had fish and chips with mushy peas. I was excusably tired and so I called it an early night and walked back to my lodging.
workshop day #1
The first Liverpool workshop day began with me heading downstairs to partake in the second "B" of B&B. John baked a fresh loaf of bread, made a fresh pot of hot tea, and had laid out a nice spread of food stuffs. It was definitely different from what I would expect for a breakfast but I ate it and it was delicious and filling. I was then introduced to Mr. Wendy (the cat) who decided to come down to visit and to watch the birds in the garden. At one point Mr. Wendy sauntered over to where I was sitting and stretched and kneaded his paws against my leg. John told me of a previous tenant that used to feed Mr. Wendy scraps of ham and thus Mr. Wendy tries to receive the same from just about all other guests.
After breakfast I packed up my gear and walked to the Camp & Furnace to begin the workshop. Our room was in the basement and was antechamber to the gallery. It seemed like a dressing room or some such as there was a full wall mirror surrounded in lights. Chris began with the agenda and then gave us our first assignment and kicked us out of the room (basically). When we returned we reviewed the assignment and then Chris proceeded to lecture us on lighting and street photography. I had heard some of this before on my previous Chris Marquardt photo workshop but a refresher is always welcome and there was some content that I either forgot or was brand new. I tried to take notes as I knew that a lot of this knowledge would slip in and out of my head as soon as the workshop was over. Here are some photos around the Camp & Furnace.
Around 11 we left the Camp & Furnace to journey to a location along the Liverpool Pride march. We took tons of pictures and here are some of my favorites of the ones I took.
We returned after 1 in the afternoon and decided that since almost no one ate while we were out, as we were expected to do, then we grabbed lunch at the Camp & Furnace. I had some sort of burger with beef brisket and ham on it. It was satisfactory. After concluding lunch, we went back into our cave and continued the exercises and lessons including learning how to use grey cards. I was paired up with Jon for some of the exercises and with Matt for the rest. Here are some pictures from the grey card exercises.
We ran over the allotted time a little but everyone was fine with that. I believe that if Chris allowed it we would stay there all day and night absorbing Chris's photography knowledge. We closed the session for the day by recording an episode of Tips From the Top Floor (this is the episode). I usually hate the sound of my recorded voice but this didn't sound too bad.
I ended the evening by walking back to the Elegant House and crashing pretty quickly. I skipped dinner but I made sure that I plugged in everything so that it could be charged for the next day. I then fell asleep to the sounds of the occasional auto on the street.
workshop day #2
The next morning I had to be at the workshop an hour earlier therefore I had to get up earlier. This wasn't a big problem because I went to sleep around 10pm which is way earlier than my typical bedtime. I woke, showered, and went downstairs to the breakfast area. John was his usual charming and friendly self but there was another guest waiting in the entertainment room. We were introduced but for the life of me I can't remember her name. She was a friend of John's who was in town for some sort of event. As breakfast was being served a third guest arrived who was a charming lad of twenty something that was in a college choir that was slated to perform at the local cathedral. The three Brits chatted away and I just sat, ate, and listened. I didn't feel the need to inject myself in their various conversations. Anyway, I realized that I had to get a move on so I excused myself and finished packing. I returned the key to John and said goodbye and then I lugged my bag to the Camp & Furnace.
We continued our lessons in the Camp & Furnace's gallery room which mostly dealt with portraiture, lighting and "the strobist" setup. I learned some really interesting techniques. We then packed up and walked up to Albert Dock to do some street photography and grab lunch. I was partnered up with Mark and we had a good time walking around the docks taking pictures. Here are some of the pictures that I deemed worthy of sharing.
Mark and I ate lunch at a decent enough restaurant called Pan Am. I don't recall being overly impressed with the food but the company was good. Mark and I then continued our journey around Albert Dock and the surrounding buildings (including a stop for ice cream) and then made our way back to the regrouping area. Here are some more photos from the excursion.
As a group we ventured back to the Camp & Furnace where Chris and John finished with a couple of more lessons. We all said our goodbyes and I helped to clean up a bit before I packed up and trekked to the train station. It had actually rained a bit while we were inside but I was lucky enough to not get rained on until right before I got to the station and then it was only a bit of a sprinkle.
I went to one of the little convenience stores and bought a couple of sodas and some snacks for my trip back and then I hopped on the next train for London. By this point I was pretty tired but I really tried to stay awake for the train ride. The English countryside is pretty nice and I enjoyed seeing it all and how it changed as we got closer to London. When I finally reached Euston Station I had to figure out how to navigate the London Underground (The Tube) in order to get me as close to my hotel as possible. It didn't help that I was tired from all of the travel and a bunch of walking. But I figured it out as well as figuring out the Oyster Card system. It's fantastic!
I made my way to the Green Park Station and then I proceeded to my hotel which took me a bit to find as I had no real sense of direction. But luckily with my trusty iPhone I was able to get in the general area and lucked into finding my hotel, The Park Lane. After I checked in I went directly up to my room and fell asleep. It was about 3pm. When I woke up around 6pm or so it was raining pretty hard outside so I decided to just relax in my room for a while.
And that concludes the Liverpool segment of my England trip. One last thing, Chris created a video for the Liverpool event which is here. Stay tuned for my continuing adventure in England as I set out to explore London.