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Willersley Castle Escape 2015

Artists and Photographers on a Training Weekend
Artists and Photographers on a Training Weekend
Artists and Photographers enjoyed spending some parts of the weekend learning from each other, as well as other parts of the weekend concentrating on their own disciplines.

August was a big month for us here at Illuminate. After months of planning and location scouting we ran our first residential course, a weekend at Willersley Castle, on the banks of the Derwent in Cromford, Derbyshire. As well as taking a group of photographers we also took a group of artists and welcomed art tutor Sue Chatterton to the team. Sue brings a wealth of artistic knowledge and an infectious enthusiasm for her art.

The great thing about taking both the photographers and the artists away together is the lessons that can be learned by talking to each other. There are many areas where art and photography cross over. We also ran some crossover sessions where we talked about how to take better photographs to print or paint from, and how to use notan sketches to plan your photographs and paintings.

Classroom training session on aperture priority at Willersley Castle
David explaining how to get the most out of our cameras, whether we be using them to capture reference images to paint from or photographs to print.

Of course, when we go away for a weekend in the Derbyshire Dales the last thing we want to do is spend all day in the classroom. The majority of our time was spent out and about photographing, sketching and painting on location.

St Mary's Church, Cromford
First stop was the scenic St Mary’s church. From here we were able to wander up the banks of the Derwent.
Detail of St Mary's Church Cromford
As well as the more traditional photographs there were also some interesting geometric details which were brought alive by the bright sunshine.
Artists at work at St Mary's Church, Cromford
Later in the day the artists visited the church and spent some time working with sketches and pen and wash.
Cromford Canal
While the artists were at the Church the Photographers visited the Canal Wharf. I can never resist using reflections when photographing near water!
Photographers with cameras and a tripod
Photographers at work!
Narrow boat
Canal boats always make an interesting subject with their bright paintwork. I’m not quite sure what they thought when confronted with several photographers while trying to moor their boat!
Little Grebe on the Cromford Canal
One of the most popular subjects of the weekend was a family of Little Grebes. They’re impressive divers and while we were there they were displaying some excellent fishing skills too!
Selection of textures of the peak district.
The Peak District and Derbyshire Dales are full of texture – whether that be naturally occurring or man-made. (Yew, Stone, Roof Tiles, Railway Hardware)
Textures from the Cromford area
Some more textures (Ivy, Dry Stone Wall, Peeling Paint)
Street photography at Cromford Mill
At Cromford Mill there were some opportunities for some street photography around the antiques store. I love the little ice cream seller operating through one of the mill’s sash windows – they had quite a queue with the amazing sunshine we were having.
Cromford mill reflection in the River Derwent
On the Sunday morning I had an early start and went exploring the hotel grounds. Getting low to the river has allowed me to capture the reflections of the mill in the water.
Cromford Mill chimney
I love morning light. Here the top of the Chimney is caught in the low warm sunshine. The low angle of the light helps to reveal the cylindrical shape and shows off the architectural features.
Photography training at High Peak Junction
Later on on the Sunday Morning we visited High Peak Junction. This is where the River, Canal and Railway all used to meet up and would have been a busy place during the industrial revolution. Here David is giving some guidance to one of the delegates.
Red Admiral Butterfly
I discovered just how well nettle stings can penetrate denim while taking this shot. Sometimes you really do have to suffer for your art!
Photographers taking photos of old railway carriages
One of the star attractions at High Peak Junction is a pair of old railway carriages, complete with peeling paint.
Railway track detail.
The rails themselves also held some interest. The railway used to go up a steep incline to get out of High Peak Junction. Some of the workings are still intact to this day. Here I’ve used black and white to highlight the lines and curves.
Lumsdale falls
The final location on Sunday afternoon is one of my favourite places – Lumsdale Falls. It’s a fantastic place with at least 4 different waterfalls and a millpond straight off the front of a chocolate box at the top. Give me a camera and leave me for a day and I won’t get bored!

If you like the look of a photographic weekend taking in the natural landscape and industrial heritage of the Derbyshire Dales when we’ll be returning in September 2016. Drop us an email if you’d like to book!