Workshop FAQ

Photo of Dan Ransley: © John Powell

Photo of Dan Ransley: © John Powell

What makes a Dan Ransley Photography workshop different?
It’s a good question!  I see a lot of keen photographers come back from workshops with nice pictures - they almost always look like thousands of other workshop images I’ve seen before, and a few days later they go back to posting the same as they always did, with no discernible improvement in their photos.

My workshops are different!  Others are about making the tutor look knowledgeable and getting you a few pictures that you can impress your non-photographer friends with.  You might get a fleeting sense of fulfilment when you look at your camera screen on the day, or when you get some nice comments on Facebook, but it will fade!  Having a shot set up in front of you & being told what settings to use, is not learning to be a photographer!

Though it might sound strange initially, my workshops are not about getting great photos during the workshop!  They are built around a few basic ideas:  we’ll spend the day in a nice place;  you’ll discover how camera equipment really works, and how light behaves;  and you’ll learn to think like a photographer and to see the world around you as a photographer sees it.

If the conditions are conducive on the day, we might go home with some wonderful photos.  But the real aim is that you will end the day with a new understanding of photography - and EVERY picture you take forever afterwards will be better because of this.  My objective is not to give you a day of good pictures, but a lifetime.  You will have the lasting satisfaction of knowing you’ve improved as a photographer and that your pictures are great because YOU have made them great.

My series of workshops has been put together to provide a choice of environments in which to learn.  The actual content on the day will be personally tailored to your level and what you want to get from our time together.  My background teaching in schools and leading photography workshops & tours means I don’t just show you how I take nice photos, but I have the necessary skills to help you take the next steps in your own photographic journey.

Hopefully, my enthusiasm, not only for photography but also for the natural world around us, will be evident and inspire you to create images that thrill and enthral your audience.

How do I book?
Bookings & payment are made online.  Choose from the range of workshops available, or contact me to discuss bespoke tuition.

You can contact me in advance to discuss the dates you want to book for, or you can purchase a workshop and contact me later to fix a date.

At the time of booking, you will need to provide:
- name(s) of participants;
- phone numbers for each participant;
- an email address to which your workshop information pack will be sent, and;
- details of any special dietary requirements.

How do I pay?
You will be required to pay by card at the time of booking.  For information regarding cancellations or refunds, please see the Workshop Terms & Conditions.

Will there be any other costs involved?
Some workshops may involve a parking fee for some participants, e.g. some use National Trust car parks which non-members will need to pay for - this will be reimbursed from your workshop fee.  However, I encourage you to join the National Trust, who protect much of Cornwall and the rest of the UK’s countryside.

There are no other costs incurred.

Where and when do we meet?
Please see the workshop web page to find the area where it takes place.  When you book, you will receive an information pack with full details including how to get to the meeting point.

Times will vary according to the time of year and tide state.

Do I need to bring food?
All full day workshops include a hot pasty from Gear Farm - the best pasties in Cornwall!  This is a full meal in itself, but if you want any other snacks you will need to bring them yourself.  If you’re booking a wildlife workshop, please only bring snacks in quiet wrappers!

If you have any specific dietary requirements, please mention these at the time of booking.  Please contact me prior to your workshop if this is a concern, as I cannot guarantee specific food requirements are met.

Do I need to bring drink?
Please bring your own drink.  I suggest a small bottle of water to keep you hydrated, but not so large that you need need to visit a toilet often (see below).

Are there toilets?
Probably not!  Most of my workshops take place in beautiful remote areas of Cornwall, without any amenities.

If this is a concern, please ask about facilities before booking.

Is there an age restriction?
No, but please contact me before booking if you’re under 16.

Can I bring a guest or dog?
Sorry, no.  Every human needs to book a place, whether they bring a camera or not - up to a maximum of three students/clients per group.

Dogs are generally welcomed in Cornwall, but they cannot book a place on my workshops.  If you can’t be separated from your canine companion, please contact me to arrange a personal tuition session that can accommodate you both!

How big are the workshop groups?
In order to make sure you get the support and attention I feel is necessary to get the most from your day, groups are never larger than three students.

If you wish to book a larger group, please contact me to discuss.

How much experience do I need?
None, or lots!  It really doesn’t matter - all tuition will be tailored to your standard and individually adapted to ensure you learn from your experience.

How fit do I need to be?
All the workshops require some walking, usually not strenuous but it can be uneven underfoot.  The workshops are designed such that they should be easily manageable for anyone who can take a walk in the countryside.

If you are concerned about this, please contact me before booking - if there are any mobility issues we can adapt our schedule to take this into account.

What equipment do I need?
Please check the page for your workshop for any specific equipment requirements.  This is often people’s biggest worry - do they have the right lenses, etc?  Usually, this is far less of an issue than they think.  If you have any concerns, please contact me.

Please bring as many camera batteries as you have, and make sure they are fully charged!  This is particularly important if we’ll be using your camera’s screen, e.g. if you have a bridge or compact camera, or if we’ll be doing landscape or long exposure photography.

It is also a good idea to make sure your memory card is empty (format it in camera) and to bring a spare.

What should I wear?
Wear sturdy shoes & dress for the weather.  In Cornwall, this often means waterproofs!  We have lots of two things here:  sea and rain.  Both of these are wet, so make sure you are prepared for this! Long trousers are a sensible precaution against ticks and adders.

We will be out in the countryside - so expect to get muddy!  As a nature photographer, I spend most of my time traipsing through mud or lying on the ground seeking a good shot.

If you are booking on the West Country Waders workshop, be aware that it involves walking & sitting on wet sand/estuary mud - waterproof trousers will help keep you dry, as will wellies.

Should I bring anything else?
You might want to bring a notepad and pen/pencil so you can jot down any notes you want.

I always carry a pair of good quality 10x42 binoculars.  These are essential for any wildlife photographer, and can help you enjoy the wildlife around you when you’re out photographing other subjects, like landscapes.

Sunscreen & insect repellent should be worn when appropriate.

It is sensible to bring your camera's manual for reference.

Can I bring a mobile phone?
Yes, but there’s probably not much point!  Most of my workshops take place in remote, sparsely populated parts of Cornwall with little or no mobile signal.  If you are booking a wildlife workshop, you will be asked to switch it off or into to airplane mode (not silent).

If you are used to using an exposure calculation or other app for your photography, I’ll teach you why, once you understand photography, these are completely unnecessary.

I will be carrying a phone for emergency use.

Will you be taking photos during the workshop?
Yes and no.  Usually, though not always, I will bring some of my own equipment on workshops - this is purely so I can demonstrate techniques, etc. without taking your camera out of your hands!  Unlike many photography tutors I’ve witnessed, I won’t use my time with you to build my own portfolio - I live here & I frequently photograph the locations we’ll be visiting.  My time will be devoted to you & you will have my attention for the full duration.

Do I need filters?
Filters are an excellent tool, particularly for landscape photographers.  If you have them, bring them with you.  If not, don’t worry, there’s plenty we can do without them!

Filters I carry:
- circular polariser;
- 6, 10 & 15 stop ND;
- 1, 2 & 3 stop hard graduated ND;
- 1, 2 & 3 stop soft graduated ND.
The most used are the polariser and 2 stop hard grad for coastal work (or 2 stop soft grad for inland).

I often hear photographers say that filters aren’t needed in this age of digital processing - bring yours with you and I’ll show you why this isn’t true & that people who think it is don’t understand the purpose of filters or how to use them correctly!

Do you provide post-processing tuition?
Yes, I’m happy to provide instruction for processing your images if you book personal tuition at either your home or holiday residence.  You will need to provide a computer and software.

Please note that I am a natural world photographer - if you want to learn about heavy image manipulation for artificial results, I can put you in touch with some excellent graphic designers.

Do you provide video tuition?
At this time, I’m only teaching stills photography.

Do you photograph captive animals?
None of my wildlife workshops involve captive animals.  Your experience on the day will be that of a wildlife photographer, including the thrill of searching for truly wild animals.

If you have animals of your own that you want to photograph, or you want to visit a location with captive animals, you can book me to accompany you for personal tuition.  In these circumstances, I will only participate if I am happy that the animals in question are kept in suitable conditions.

What if we can’t find any wildlife?
Local knowledge and good fieldcraft will give us a good chance of seeing and photographing wildlife, and my wildlife workshops are designed to maximise our success.  Of course, it can be disappointing if the wildlife doesn’t cooperate and we don’t see much or anything at all, but this can sometimes be the case.  However, this doesn’t detract from the effectiveness of the workshop, as you will still learn the same techniques and approaches that will improve your images and stand you in good stead when you do find yourself in front of that elusive rare animal!

What if the weather is bad?
Workshops go ahead in most weather conditions - part of being a photographer is learning how to use the situation to create an image.  If rain is forecast, bring a camera cover if you have one (or a waterproof sheet or sturdy umbrella) and a cloth to clean your lens.

If the weather is so bad that you won’t be able to benefit from the workshop, we’ll rearrange for a day with a better forecast or, if necessary, cancel.

In the event of a full cancellation due to inclement weather, you will receive a refund.

Cancellations/rearrangements due to weather are at my discretion - please see the workshop terms & conditions.

I’m coming to Cornwall for a holiday, will you be my guide?
Yes!  I’d love to show you around some of the most beautiful coastline in the world and share my love of Cornwall and its wildlife.  Please contact me to discuss your requirements, whether you just want a day somewhere special while you’re here or an entire photography holiday.

What happens after the workshop?
I would love to see some of the images you took on the day, or that you have taken since using the knowledge you gained - please feel free to send them to me, or to tag me on social media.  I’m also happy to answer any questions you have - if you’re unsure of something we spoke about during the workshop, or you have a question you didn’t think of at the time, please don’t hesitate to ask!  I might be out and about with a camera and no mobile signal, but I’ll get back to you eventually!

Are you a conservationist or a photographer?
Both.  I might be a wildlife photographer one day, and a landscape photographer another (or a product or headshot photographer the next, I’ve got to earn a living!) but I’m a conservationist every day - and you can be too, just by thinking about the decisions you make in your everyday life and your impact on the environment.

Are you available for speaking engagements?
Yes, I have a number of prepared lectures/presentations, illustrated with my photographs, suitable for different audiences, and these can also be adapted for specific needs.  Please contact me for more information.