A Monochrome Masterclass and a visit to Wells

Chimneys and cobbles

Chimneys and cobbles
Vicars Close, Wells


Last weekend I was staying near Bridgend in South Wales so that I could attend a ‘Monochrome Masterclass’ being run by Andy Beel FRPS. It was an excellent day. Cameras never saw the light of day but the four participants, including myself, had the opportunity to share our work and discuss ways in which our monochrome images could be improved. Andy provided a comprehensive set of notes for us to take away, as well as showing us many examples of his own work to illustrate the points he wanted to get across.

For me it was a very thought provoking day. So often my photography is reactive, not planned, and I realise I need to give much greater thought to the images I am taking. Why am I pressing the shutter at that particular moment and from that particular position? What do I want my images to ‘say’ to the viewer? Am a trying to put together a body or panel of work? Am I working on a particular project, whether short or long term? Do my images have a certain style? Does it matter if they don’t? After all an image can stand on its own, although a collection of images can work even better if you are trying to tell a story or make a statement. All these questions require thought and hopefully some answers. In many ways they are not just about photography and could be applied to many other art forms.

The workshop took place on Saturday. I stayed overnight and planned to return home on Sunday, picking my daughter up from Bath on the way. This would give me some time on Sunday morning to take some photographs. Unfortunately the weather was appalling. Heavy rain and strong winds ruled out any outdoor photography, so I decided to head for the Cathedal City of Wells which is about a 20 minute drive from Bath. It would give me the opportunity to take some images inside the Cathedral and in and around the city if the weather improved. Wells is a small and beautiful City and with hardly any tourists around there was plenty to see and photograph. The wet conditions actually worked to my advantage as the  photograph at the top of this entry illustrates. I think the wet cobble stones really add something to the atmosphere of this shot.

Here are a selection of other images –


The Scissor Arches

The Scissor Arches


The Nave, Wells Cathedral

The Nave, Wells Cathedral


Underneath this stone

Underneath this stone

I particularly like the above image. The light on the line of chairs and on the memorial floor stone are ideally suited to monochrome. The fact the chairs are empty, could be interpreted as people who are no longer with us but the inscriptions in the slabs mean that their lives will be remembered forever.


The Cloisters in Wells Cathedral

The Cloisters in Wells Cathedral

A classical and arguably a rather cliched view of the cloisters but one that just had to be taken.


Cloisters in Wells Cathedral

Cloisters in Wells Cathedral


Cloisters' End

Cloisters’ End


South Aisle, Wells Cathedral

South Aisle, Wells Cathedral

Something I learnt on the workshop – From a compositional point of view something on the the edge or in the corner of an image can work well; you don’t always have to apply the ‘rule of thirds’, in fact it can be rather boring and repetitive if you do!


Wells Staircase

‘Vicars’ Staircase

This staircase and doorway leads from Vicars Close back towards the Cathedral. Warn steps and doorways have great appeal to me. You just can’t but help wonder how many people over many centuries have walked up and down this staircase and opened and closed the arched door.


Wells Catherdral

Wells Cathedral
An empty cafe on a wet day, overlooking the Cathedral


I thoroughly enjoyed my short visit to Wells and like so many places it’s definitely worthy of a return journey. Nor will I worry if it’s raining or not. In fact the inclement conditions kept the crowds away and in the case of ‘Chimneys and Cobbles’ made the photograph all the more interesting.

All of the images in this post were taken with an Olympus OMD EM1 and Panasonic 12-35mm f2.8 lens, processed in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro2. Click on any of the images to view a larger version.

Finally a big thank you to Andy Beel and to the other participants of the Monochrome Masterclass. In March I didn’t post a single entry on this blog but hopefully my creative juices have started to flow again!

4 Responses to “A Monochrome Masterclass and a visit to Wells”

    • alan frost

      Thank you Jay. It’s a long time since I shot with micro four thirds but I too was impressed by what I could achieve.



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