Photography: Seascapes workshop with Bas Meelker 📸

in #photocirle10 months ago

This story started somewhere at the beginning of this year. I know I’m shooting with Nikon gear at the moment, but I’m also following the other camera brands like Sony and Canon. It’s always good to know what the competition is doing. Canon Netherlands is one of the manufacturers I really like to follow on the social channels. They always got a question that starts you thinking or discover new things like photographers you didn’t know yet for example.

Workshop Seascapes

One day there was a question about what photographer you wanted to follow for a day. I gave them a reply with the name of Bas Meelker. Already mentioned his name a few times in some of my posts. He was the one that convinced me into buying some filters. My translated reply was like:

Bas Meelker! Unbelievable how he can create from just another ordinary landscape a beautiful picture with a amazing atmosphere. I joined once a meeting from him and I truly enjoyed his story and how he tells the audience about it with some common sense. Would love to go out with him some day. And not even for a workshop but more important to see how he is breathing his passion and being able to experience that.

Winning while you didn't even know you were participating in a contest😅

Some time later Canon replied to the same post that they were happy with all the replies. They had drawn a lot of inspiration from the mentioned names. But they also said something about trying try to arrange some sort of workshop for a few people. A month after that Canon did reply to me that I did win a workshop together with Bas Meelker. Can’t describe how happy I was reading that reply from Canon!

Workshop Seascapes

A few days later Bas did send an invitation for the Seascapes workshop, he was organizing the first Friday of July. Marked the day in my calendar and counted the days till July the third. Luckily the Corona rules did simplify enough so the workshop could continue without any problems.

The workshop itself was located at the beach near Schoorl, it’s a beautiful area for photographers. Been there multiple times but don’t believe I ever created a post about it. We (my girlfriend was my driver tonight) left home with enough time to even handle some traffic on the road, but we didn’t expect that much traffic. So I did run a few minutes late into the workshop, but luckily, I wasn’t the only one! Bas took us apart after his introduction talk to tell us the same again. The story was a quick introduction to set some goals for tonight, explain a bit about the weather predictions and of course a small amount of theory (although the workshop was for more experienced photographers), like composition rules, and not to forget how to change lenses during these circumstances!

The goals for tonight were simple, Bas wanted us to go out and shoot as much as we could. He would wander around and we could ask him things while we were shooting our own topics of interest. The possibilities could seem endless with the wind blowing lots of sand, rough waves coming in, and changing lightning conditions because of the fast-moving clouds. Big question was if the rain would hit us before or after the workshop.

While Bas ended his introduction I started to wander around the beach, and noticed some interesting structures in the sand. Problem was I couldn't create a nice picture from it. Just couldn’t find the right composition. While looking around for other subjects, I noticed these small goals being tortured by the blowing sands. Tried to create a interesting composition with the sand and a goal. But there was always some added element in my composition. Some beach houses and trashcans were blocking a nice composition.

Structures in the sand
Lonely goal

While struggling with this I got to ask Bas about how he is approaching his compositions. He told me that a composition gets easier if you focus on the subject in the front. If you make sure that the subject is interesting to look at the rest of the scenery will follow. Another tip I got from him is to use Focus Peaking. He thinks that it is one of the best inventions at the current mirrorless bodies and why not make use of that when your camera can help you with manual focusing. This wil help you getting a better visual confirmation what is in focus and what not. He also showed how it’s working on his Canon camera.

The Focus Peaking I didn’t try during the evening. Decided it would be a waste of time while figuring it out. Would be easier and not a waste of the time to try that while being back at home and no wind blowing you from your feet while you try to manual focus. Instead I started to look around for a decent subject in my foreground. Noticed a few poles in the sand just in front of a small dune where the wind was blowing away some sand. Thought it would be a nice subject if the sun would only come out for a moment so that the poles would have some depth with their shadows. While waiting I noticed the blue skies behind the dunes but no sun yet in front. Decided to search for something else, while walking away you can guess what happened… Yes there was the sun! I sprinted back and tried to make an interesting composition from this simple scenery.

Waiting for the right lighting conditions
Waiting for the right lighting conditions
No sunlightLucky to have some sunlight

After this I wanted to try and shoot some wave patterns combined with the foam rolling in, but couldn’t find a nice spot with some patterns in the sand so decided to switch my lens for my 80-200 and shoot the photographer in the distance while standing with his tripod in the waves. While I found a spot to change my lenses, I did return but bad luck the photographer was gone. He was walking back, and it seemed he was part of the workshop tonight!

Waves rolling in
Bas answering questions

We started talking about the difficult weather conditions we had tonight and how good they were earlier this week. Because of this topic we did discover that we live close together. We shared some photospots and hopefully I will see him there again in the nearby future. We also had some small talk about surfing (ofcourse 🤪). His son was a kite instructor at the local beach and he had the same tick as I have when the wind kicks in on a normal day!

Conditions earlier that week
Better light conditions earlier that week

While talking we did return by the other members from the group. Once everybody returned there was a small talk abot the circumstances and how difficult they were. Talking about the light conditions, Bas and the group decided together to call it a day because the sky was losing all its depth. During our way back to the carpark there was a nice conversation with Bas about his ambassador role for Canon. While we got back at the carpark the group said goodbye and everyone did follow his/her own path.

The group at work

Things I've learned

Allthough my wish was to experience the passion from Bas while he was out hunting for the best lighting conditions to get the best pictures, and a workshop where he isn't photographing isn't the best option for that. I'm still very happy Canon gave me the chance to meet Bas in person and learn some helpfull things to get better in my own photography.

  • Start learning to make use of Focus Peaking
  • How to find a composition in a landscape? Approach it small

Regarding the Focus Peaking I did search and found a few pieces of information (1|2) how to enable this on my own camera. Need to start practicing this out in the field. Hopefully the keeper percentage will grow in time.

How does Bas look at a landscape scenery and create his composition? He told me to approach it small with the subject in the front instead of trying to manage everything. This was actually the best tip for me. Now I need to think about focussing on a subject in the foreground to create a composition that is way more interesting. Gonna try that here in the area and I think you guys will see some more pictures from the shipwreck, hope you don't mind!😉

Afterwards Bas did send us an e-mail with some additional tips and lecture to read. This lecture is all about compositions, how to use filters, how to prepare so you will have the right conditions etc. So I have some additional homework by now!🙃

There's nothing left to say, but thank you: Canon for this oppurtunity and Bas for his time and the lessons he tried to teach us on a friday night at a chilly beach. If you would like to see some things from Bas his portfolio, you can check out his website or social media accounts Website | Instagram | Facebook | Behance.

PS. As you might have heard, I'm not 100% healthy at the moment. A reply at a comment can take a while. Sorry in advance for that... ?

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