First Photography Workshop Carlisle Cathedral

Twelve photographers from all over Britain got together on Saturday for the first of my One Day Photography Workshops in Carlisle Cathedral.

photography workshop Carlisle Cathedral - using tripods

Photographer Steve McGregor gets down low to photograph Carlisle Cathedral ceiling. Permission to use tripods within the cathedral is rarely granted, so it was a special privilege for our photographers

The day proved a great success and the venue lived up to all my expectations as a superb photographic location. It is conveniently situated near the train and bus stations – but best, and most important, of all it offers the most wonderful photography opportunities.

It was great to see so many new faces among the old friends, some of whom: Cathy Robertson, Margaret McKinney, Gerwyn Jones, Mary Hartley and Christine Manby, have either been to me before on Photography Holidays in Menorca or Photography Courses in Scotland. Steve McGregor and Gerwyn travelled up from London for the day, while David Newbegin and John Spittle were, surprisingly, the only local photographers.

We spent the first part of the morning going through some photography basics so that people could get the most of their photo shoot in the cathedral. Yet again there was a tremendous desire for an understanding of the use of Manual exposure settings, which I hope I was able to fulfill. By mid morning we were out in the cathedral grounds taking pictures. The light was beautifully soft and directional for most of the time and this certainly helped everyone get some highly textured photographs of the cathedral stonework. The buildings in the cathedral grounds also provided some great subjects.

group of photographers Carlisle Cathedral

Our group of photographers pose for a 'team group' outside Carlisle Cathedral during a break on their One Day Photography Workshop

Our base was the Prior’s Tower, which has a large conference room – ideal for our classroom.

Photographing Carlisle cathedral ceiling though mirror

Photographer Eszter Sandoz photographs Carlisle Cathedral's wonderfully colourful ceiling through a special viewing mirror

After lunch in the Prior’s Kitchen restaurant, we really got to work inside the cathedral. Everyone had their own ideas of what they wanted to photograph and I moved from one photographer to the next making sure got the instruction and help they needed.

The highlight of the day was the hour between 3 and 4 in the afternoon when we had special permission to set up our tripods inside the cathedral. This is a rare privilege and one that was greatly appreciated – and very well used – by all the photographers.

The ability to use tripods opened up the most fantastic opportunities to take pictures of some of the darker, more mysterious corners of the cathedral, as well as providing the chance to get excellent photographs of the stained glass windows and the ornate ceiling.

I have not yet seen many of the finished pictures from the group, but I am confident that there will be some great shots among those taken.

It’s always a great feeling when a new project proves a success, and I am already looking forward to our next One Day Photography Workshop in Carlisle Cathedral – that is arranged for November 12th 2011 and there are still a few places left – so please don’t leave it too late to book.

The cost of the Photography Workshop is just £58 for a great day of photography and tuition. Hopefully, Norene can be with us next time.


Norene back home from hospital

Phew! What a week. Norene was in hospital for most of it but I am glad to say that she is now home.

We were all very worried for some time, but although the problem will certainly not go away, new treatment for her heart problem has now been set up and we all feel a lot more confident.

Norene and I would like to thank all those who have been so patient during what has been a very difficult time. People have been so thoughtful.

Bookings for photography holidays and photography courses have been neglected while I have been either staying in Glasgow near the hospital, or dashing back and forth from Kirkcudbright. In most cases we have managed a brief email to those who booked or enquired, but some have been left unaswered. I will be working my way through things as from tomorrow, but please do contact me again if you do not hear from me.

We got Norene home from hospital late on Friday night – and I was off again early on Saturday for the Photography Workshop in Carlisle Cathedral.

Despite my lack of preparation, I think the day was a great success and Norene sends her thanks to everyone who signed the lovely ‘Get Well’ card. Our special thanks to Gerwyn Jones for his concern. Norene is very sorry she could not be there with us.

I will be posting very soon about this photography workshop with some pictures taken during the day.

Meanwhile – once again, thank you

Photography Course – learning Manual settings video

It is always a pleasure to teach a really enthusiastic photographer with a genuine passion for photography.

Well, yesterday Gina Murray came to me for a one-to-one Photography Course, and it was immediately obvious just how keen she is to learn and improve.

Watch the video below to see Gina at work.

Gina Murray came up to Kirkcudbright from Yorkshire. She owns a super little Nikon D3000 and the 18-55mm kit lens. I think this is an excellent little package for an enthusiast. At the top of Gina’s wish list was that oh-so-common desire to learn how to use the Manual settings on her camera and get away from the auto setting.

Waterfall photography course

Not bad for a photographer who arrived that morning with no understanding of how to use the Manual setting on her camera. Gina Murray took this beautiful photograph after only a few hours intense photography tuition during her one-to-one photography course. Photograph by Gina Murray

I promised her that by the end of the morning she would be using Manual Exposure and that she would understand exactly how to set her own shutter speeds and apertures – an essential requirement for any photographer wanting to interpret the picture the way they see it – and not the way the camera wants to capture it.

My prediction was spot on.

Gina took her very first picture with manual settings before 11 in the morning and by the afternoon she was wondering why she ever bothered with the auto settings. The first job was to give Gina the knowledge to be able to ditch the idea of Auto ISO – from then on it was all systems go to the point when she was taking complete control.

In the afternoon after lunch, we set of for a fantastic beauty spot – a hidden waterfall. I have posted about this magical secret place before, but it is a long time since I have taken a students there. The effort of clambering down the banking to get to it is always worthwhile. It’s fabulous -and photographs abound in every direction.

I’m delighted to say that not only did Gina take away exactly what she came for – lots more knowledge and confidence to use her camera – but she also captured some great photographs. That’s one of her pictures of the waterfall.

  • Camera: Nikon D3000
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter Speed: 1/3sec
  • Aperture: f/29
  • Exposure Mode: MANUAL

I think we may see more of Gina in the future.

Find out more about One-to-One Photography Courses

Photography Course Prizewinner

Amateur photographer Carol Small, runner up in the Intervet Photography Competition, claimed her prize of a day of one-to-one photography course with me last week.

portrait photograph man in shed

Photography student Carol Small produced this great natural portrait of Colin Saul in his amazing shed. Photograph by Carol Small

After a morning spent getting Carol more comfortable using the Manual settings on her Canon 450D, we had lunch then set off to photograph the ‘shed’ in the secret garden in Kirkcudbright. This shed has been a favourite subject for my students for some time now – and so has the man who owns it. Colin Saul. Put Colin and his shed together – and we have a portrait photography session that can always produce the most wonderful photographs.

Colin is a great subject – and he is also extraordinarily patient with my students – all of whom find the lighting conditions in that shed very challenging indeed.

It was not long before Carol settled down and really began to enjoy the task of gathering photographs – despite the fact that she was struggling a little with her less-than-effective tripod. I have given Carol some guidance about the sort of tripod she should invest in for the future, and it does not include and flimsy so-called ‘quick-release’ heads, which I consider to be an absolute menace and a danger to the safety of cameras.

It is important in any portrait session – no matter how relaxed your subject – that the photographer is able to strike up some sort of easy rapport and that photographer and subject work together in order to produce something really worthwhile.

I think Carol’s picture of Colin has really captured the atmosphere of a happy man in his shed. It’s a lovely portrait.

  • Camera: Canon EOS 450D
  • ISO 800
  • Shutter Speed: 1/15sec
  • Aperture: f/5.6
  • Exposure Mode: Manual
  • Metering Mode: Centre Weighted
Photography student show the model her picture

My photography student Carol Small was encouraged to strike up a rapport with her subject. That's very easy with a chap like Colin, but it can easily be forgotten just how important this is when you are trying to learn how to handle the technical side of the portrait session at the same time. Carol did extremely well

I was delighted with the results Carol produced from that impromptu portrait session – and I think Carol was pretty chuffed too.

I got a lovely email from Carol next day:

“I just wanted to say thank you for a wonderful day and your warm hospitality. I have now learned how to use the manual settings and as well as going out and practising I promise never to use the Automatic ISO setting again.

“Although the weather wasn’t great it gave me the opportunity to visit Colin’s wonderful shed and all the mysyeries therein. Great for working with different light levels and exposures. My shopping list for camera equipment now includes a more manageable tripod and an external flash.

“I leave the lovely town of Kirkcudbright with more confidence in my camera settings and an enthusiasm for photographic exploration.”

Carol will be putting her new-found knowledge to very good use soon – she is off to Bolivia on holiday. She’s promised to let us see some of her photographs.

Photography Holidays

Photography Courses

Carol, spent the day with me

Spanish Airport Strike CALLED OFF

Good news for all photographers travelling to Spain this year.

The Spanish airport workers strikes have been called off after agreement has been reached between the Spanish Government and the Trades Unions.

Our good friend Carlos Sintes, the manager of the Hotel S’Algar in Menorca has just contacted me to help spread the good news. It means that those of you coming on my Photography Holidays to Menorca in May and September can breathe a sigh of relief, relax and concentrate on their photography.

photographers on photography holiday Menorca

Learning the art of street photography during a photography holiday in Menorca - this is the best place in the world to learn all the disciplines needed for successful Travel Photography

Great – see you in lovely Menorca.

The first Photography Holiday this year – May 13-20th is Fully Booked. There are still places available for the September 23-30th Photography Holiday – please don’t leave it too late to book


Thanks to Canon for Customer Care

My old Canon Powershot S500 has been saved – thanks to excellent customer care by Canon.

I posted a little while ago about this Canon Powershot S500 and said that it would have to be binned because the CCD had died.

Thanks to some of the followers of the PhotoActive blog, who commented about the fault with this small camera and Canon’s policy of replacing the faulty CCD, I sent the camera away to Canon’s repair agent in Glasgow.


Canon Powershot S500 - back from the dead thanks to PhotoActive followers and Canon's Customer Care

The camera came back less than two weeks later with a note stating that it had been repaired free of charge. Considering that the camera is well out of its warranty date, I think that is really good.

Thank you Canon and thanks also to Carl, Alwyn and Arthur for their helpful information.

I have always liked this chunky little Canon camera and I’m delighted it has been given a new lease of life.

The camera will be used by Norene to take snaps for the PhotoActive website of photographers enjoying our photography holidays and photography courses.

Photography Holidays

Photography Courses

May 2011 Photography Holiday FULLY BOOKED

The May Photography Holiday in Menorca is now fully booked.

Interest in the Photography Holidays is again very strong this year and the September holiday is also filling well – so please don’t leave it too late before you book. You can confirm your place on the holiday with a deposit if just £100.

There is an tremendous amount of photography tuition on these holidays which are designed to teach all the main disciplines of travel photography. Menorca is the perfect training ground if you want to improve your travel photography and the skills gained here can be applied to locations anywhere in the world.

I am delighted to say that we will be welcoming two regulars on the May Photography Holiday, both of whom have become really good friends over the years. Ande Wick will be joining us for the third time, but the record holder will be Ken Terry, who is coming to Menorca with us for the sixth year.

Photographer Kenn Terry books photography holiday for 6th year

Ken Terry (right) signs up for his sixth Photography Holiday in Menorca. It will be great to have him with us again

This year Ken will not only be coming on holiday – but I have prevailed on him to help with the tuition just a little. Ken is now a highly accomplished wildlife photographer in his own right, and he is also very knowledgeable about the technical aspects of photography with a particular understanding of Photoshop and Lightroom. His knowledge will add an extra dimension to the photography tuition on this photography holiday.

Ken was one of my very first students. He came to me for one-to-one photography tuition 10 years ago. Since then I has watched his photography skills improve and his knowledge deepen year by year.

I will also be encouraging Ande Wick to help guide the less experienced photographers during the photography holiday – he doesn’t know this yet. Again, Ande is one of my real success stories. He has a tremendous eye for a picture and it’s always a joy to have him with us in Menorca.

I am now in the process of going through the long list of contacts we made at the Focus on Imaging show at the NEC. Please be patient if you came to the stand and left your name and contact details – I will answer every query, but it may take me a little time over the next week.

More about Photography Holidays


Focus on Imaging – PhotoActive stand ready

Our PhotoActive stand is now all ready to receive our first visitors tomorrow morning at the Focus on Imaging Show at the NEC Birmingham.

Do please come and see us on Stand L48.

PhotoActive Stand L48 at Focus on Imaging

Out of all this chaos, the PhotoActive Stand L48 is now ready to receive our first visitors tomorrow at the Focus on Imaging Show

As soon as Christian and I got the stand finished we set off to take a look around the show. Most of the other stands were still in a state of chaos this afternoon, and it always amazes me how the workmen manage to get things ready in time for the doors to open on Sunday morning.

The picture shows Christian setting up our new Photography Holidays sign on our stand – but remember, we don’t just take bookings for the holidays at the show – we also sell our ever-popular DVDs and take bookings for the Photography Courses and Photography Workshops.

We hope to see you at the show – so do  look out for the Photography Holidays sign and come and say hello on stand L48. I will be tweeting on Twitter about the goings on at the show #philipdunn so you can follow me there.

Photography Holidays

Photography Courses

Focus on Imaging Floor Plan – find PhotoActive

To make it easy for you to find the PhotoActive stand at Focus on Imaging – here is a picture of the floor plan.

We are on Stand L48

You can download a printable PDF version of the floor plan here.

PhotoActive Stand L48 at Focus on Imaging

PhotoActive Stand L48 at Focus on Imaging

My son Christian and I will be on the stand each day of the show from Sunday 6th to Wednesday 9th – so please come and say hello

PhotoActive Stand L48 Focus on Imaging

Christian and I are almost ready for the Focus on Imaging Show at the NEC Birmingham.

This year we will be on Stand L48 – almost exactly where we have been for the past three years. The show runs from Sunday 6th to Wednesday 9th March, so do please come and say hello.

You can book your Photography Holidays and Photography Courses of at the show. Also our ever-popular photography DVDs will be for sale on the stand.

The video clip shows Christian hard at work chatting to customers – it does show that we have what is almost certainly the smallest stand in the show – but that won’t matter – the welcome will be all the greater.

Christian and I really look forward to meeting our old friends – and lots of new ones.