Nude in the Gardens

With the Club competition round “Lighting the Nude” rapidly approaching I finally booked myself to try out a Photography Workshop. I’ve never done any workshops really other than the initial course run by John Credland, so this was new. The fact that it was with a) models, and I’ve never really worked with models before; and b) nude models made it a somewhat different day, and not a challenge I was relishing.

The course was held in the Abbey House Gardens in Malmesbury, Wiltshire and run by Andy and Terry of Photography Workshops. The gardens are famous for being home to “the naked gardeners”, so nudity was never going to be a problem round there. Fortunately for us (and everyone else) today was NOT a “clothing optional” day. With summer being firmly lodged in the UK finally today was one of the hottest days of the year, and we all worked extremely hard for our photos lugging gear all over the Gardens and within the house. The gardens were stunning – we only saw about 20% of them I’d say, lots to see and explore and some amazing sets for the workshop.

Stepping stones. Click the image to visit the gallery
Caution: this gallery contains nudity!

We had two models for the day – Suzanne and Franka. Our workshop was nine delegates including Jon and myself from the Buckingham Camera Club. We spent the morning with Suzanne shooting in the lower part of the gardens before moving inside to the library and another room in the house.

After lunch we swapped models and spent time with Franka – again outside first in the hottest part of the day but this time in the upper gardens. What surprised me was that the gardens were open to the public all day and people would be looking at what we were all up to!

So, my first experience shooting models and nude ones at that. Was I uncomfortable, as I expected to be? Yes and no. Surprisingly most of my shots were with the zoom lens, often at 200mm so we were never that close to the models. The models were both excellent at posing and setting a shot, so if we were at all unsure they would just naturally do something. Andy was our tutor all day and was quick and efficient which kept us moving without thinking too deeply about it, yet still absorbing quite a few of the lessons being given about the lighting and poses. I tried to not go first whenever possible so I could see how the other delegates did – cheating maybe, but hey I’m a beginner!

It’s been said within the Club that modelling photoshoots can become quickly addictive, but I have to say I didn’t find that. For me it was a little bit too formulaic – light meter gives settings which you set and then click. Setting up the lights correctly and working with the model to get the poses is more of a challenge I guess, but today we didn’t need to do much of that. On the indoor shoot Andy asked us all to come up with a “setup” within the two rooms, use our own ideas to create an image which could rather put you on the spot when not having much of a clue. I chose a softly lit window but my shots there didn’t seem to work out.

Clicking on the image will take you to the gallery for the day, I took 486 pictures (almost 16GB of RAW files!) during the day, but I suspect only 20 or 30 will make the final cut. I will publish images to the gallery as I edit them over the coming days.

There is a lot of creativity to be had in this type of photography, but is it my cup of tea? No. Would I do it again? Well yes, once more – the Club are organising a day in the village hall next month. But after that? Probably not.


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One Response to “Nude in the Gardens”

  1. […] my mind. In the end it wasn’t so bad. I went on the Abbey House Gardens Art Nude course (see Nude in the Gardens) and the Camera Club ran a day in Padbury Village Hall where we got expert help from both the […]

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