This course will be based around Ypres in Flanders: held by the British for the duration of the First World War it represented some of the most fiercely contested terrain along the entire Western Front and even today its fields annually yield about 200 tons of unexploded munitions.
At first glance the only immediate signs of that horror are the numerous cemeteries
but this course will take you to places not generally visited: we will be seeking to take pictures which match the feelings which we all experience in such places but more importantly we will be exploring the landscape and creating pictures whose quality matches the nature of the men who fought here.
We will visit the enormous mine craters along the Messines Ridge, each one created by 20 tons of high explosive whose collective force was the biggest man made explosion prior to the nuclear age.
In June 1917 these mines killed 10,000 men but today they are beautiful lakes which are a haven for wild-life and fish.
Along side the Yser river where morning mists lend a spectral air to the scene, we will shoot in the sinister Dodengang - the "Trenches of Death". In the company of one of the experts of the underground war, Johan Vandewalde, we will visit one of the few underground bunkers still existing and examine the problems of photographing such places.
The fields of Flanders can be wet and cold in March but they are never less than atmospheric and accordingly this course will show you how to use inclement weather to maximise the impact of your photographs.
Tough weather requires soft places to stay and alleviate the hardships of the day and we have the perfect place - Varlet Farm, the home of Charlotte & Dirk Cardoen-Descamps!
About 4 miles from Ypres, it is now a working farm providing extremely comfortable bed and breakfast accommodation. The rooms are modern, warm and comfortable and all are en-suite.
The scene of a famous Royal Naval Division attack in 1917, any keen battlefield visitor that has spent time in the Ypres Salient will have stayed here not least because of our hostess who is renowned for her hospitality, the vibrant conversation that accompanies her enormous breakfasts and most importantly her ability to supply muddy photographers with endless cups of steaming hot coffee and her especial apple tart! She also acts as a guide for the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 and has her own extensive collection of battlefield artifacts which she and Dirk have collected from their own fields. So be prepared for a memorable visit to what is undoubtedly one of the best places to stay anywhere along the Western Front.
2014. Dates to be agreed at the time of booking.
This course costs £975 and includes includes full board and travel from London to Ypres.
- Day One: travel to the Ypres and settle into accommodation. Dinner will be taken in a local restaurant..
- Days Two and Three: will be spent out on the battlefields of Messines, Ypres and the Yser. It is almost certain that a member of the party will have an ancestor who fought here so we will try and visit any places with especial associations and on at least one evening we will attend the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate. We will be eating out in the evening [ Charlotte does not do evening meals ]but afterwards we will have a chance to review our days shooting and discuss our work over some of the excellent beer for which Belgium is so justly famous.
- Day Four: We will spend the morning photographing and reviewing our work before heading home to England in the afternoon.