South West Rocks Abstract Workshop

Dunescape pinks.jpg
Dunescape pinks.jpg
sold out

South West Rocks Abstract Workshop

from 500.00

A five day workshop exploring abstract creative photography.  Explore abstraction, blurs, textures, movement and seascapes. From abstract realism through to the gentle and emotive works of intentional blurring, all photographic styles are welcome. Abstract composition and technique covered in lessons and presentations showing you how to create your own stunning works of photographic art. Learning activities and shoots are intertwined into a magnificent week of growth and development in this stunning coastal paradise. 

Shirley Steel and Len Metcalf run this workshop together. 

Run in the stunning Trial Bay area from South West Rocks in NSW.

17th - 21st July 2017 

Photographs Copyright © Shirley Steel

"Many thanks for your help, feedback & thoughts to my photos. Inspiration!!!" - Aldo Pena


This workshop is sold out - please contact us if you would like to be on the waiting list.

Book Now

South West Rocks Abstraction Workshop

17TH - 21ST JULY 2017 



With Shirley Steel and Len Metcalf

This winter, treat yourself to a week away with the abstract photography workshop in the spectacular Trial Bay.

Discover a vast wilderness of inlets, roaring seas, sweeping beaches and wild rocky coastlines just a 5 hours drive from Sydney.  Wildlife abounds in this tranquil coastal paradise.  Breathe in the fresh sea-salt air and be inspired by the many moods of this inimitable landscape. 

This workshop is devoted to abstract photography. Whether it is abstract realism like Len pursues or the softer more emotional abstraction that Shirley masters with camera movement, defocusing and adding textures.  We study and explore abstract photographic composition so that you can learn to take better photographs. Enjoy Len & Shirley's gentle, supportive teaching style as you participate in lessons and shoots designed to nurture and develop your abstract photography.  You will receive valuable feedback on your photographs from your group in daily critique sessions.  These insights help you take your photography to new heights of excellence.

Shirley and Len have been running 'Blurry Lens' together for the past five years.  They have developed a fantastic working relationship and together create a dynamic that nurtures an inspiring workshop environment. So now, we have taken their the original workshop and make it bigger and better.

By the end of the workshop, you will have printed a small exhibition of stunning images captured during the week.


NB: This workshop includes day workshops but not accommodation, so you are free to choose accommodation that meets your needs and budget.  Read on for more information on local options. 



17TH - 21ST JULY 2017 

Plus an evening get together / briefing on Sunday 16th July 2017



South West Rocks & Trial Bay



To join this workshop we ask that you have basic camera handling, operations, and processing skills.  This means you can take photographs, download them to your computer and do some basic editing, such as changing the exposure and cropping. If youre not sure if thats you, please contact Len.

If you are a complete beginner and would like to participate in one of Lens other workshops, they may be a better starting point.



 By Car

Approximately 5 hours from Sydney.  From Wahroongah in Sydney’s north, follow the Pacific Motorway and Pacific Highway to Kempsy.  Just after Kempsy turn off to South West Rocks.


 By Train & Bus

From Sydney, take the train to Kempsy.  From Broadmeadow a Busways coach service will take you to South West Rocks, or arrange for us to pick you up from the railway station.  For more information please visit Countrylink.  If you would like to travel by train, please contact Len to discuss options for a pick-up at the station or bus stop and daily carpools to and from the workshop venue.



Our classroom at South West Rocks is yet to be confirmed.

Accommodation is not included in this workshop so feel free to tailor yours to your needs and budget. 

We recommend six nights so you can settle in on the Sunday afternoon prior to the workshop, finish up on the following Friday afternoon and travel home on the following Saturday. We will start the workshop on Sunday evening with a little get together so that we can hit the ground running for sunrise on Monday morning.

The South West Rocks town has a range of lovely accommodation options.  You may like to book a room at a waterfront B&B or choose from a range of comfortable hotels and motels.

For something a little different, you could consider renting a holiday house or even camping at one of the local camp grounds, which offer options from free camping to cosy caravans.



  • Abstract photography composition
  • The secrets of abstract photography
  • What makes a great abstract photograph
  • Finding your own voice in the abstract
  • Camera movement for creating abstraction
  • Defocusing for creating abstraction
  • Adding textures to create abstraction
  • Other abstract photography techniques (i.e., holding stained glass in front of your lens)
  • Post processing abstract photographs
  • Using layers in photoshop and lightroom plug ins
  • Post processing in Nik Color EFXs, Nik Silver EFX & MacPhun Tonality
  • Daily critique sessions, feedback, encouragement & support
  • One on one tuition when requested in the field and at your computer on your images
  • Review of the week


6.00 am Sunrise shoot

10.00 am morning tea (included)

10.30 am - 11.30 am - Presentation on Abstract Photography Techniques

11.30 am - 12.30 pm - Presentation on Abstract Photography Composition & inspirational abstract art & photography

12.30 pm - 1.30 pm lunch (included)

1.30 pm - 3.00 pm Download, process images and critique images

3.00 pm afternoon tea (included)

4.00 pm to 6.00 pm - evening group sunset shoot


This is a gentle workshop, which requires a low level of fitness.  There will be a small amount of walking to and from shooting locations, occasionally on uneven surfaces.  If you have any doubts about your ability, please contact Len directly.  He is a qualified wilderness guide who will assess your fitness mobility and find a solution for you.   

Winter temperatures at South West Rocks generally range from 18ºC-28ºC.  The mornings are usually brisk, warming through the day with crisp cool evenings.  Low rainfall is typical of July. Err on the safe side and come prepared for wind, rain and chilly temperatures.

When you book you will receive a detailed packing list to help you plan for the workshop.    



  • Sweeping beaches
  • Historic buildings
  • Rocky inlets
  • Lighthouses
  • South West Rocks
  • Trial Bay



All of your morning teas, afternoon teas and lunches are provided by Len's School. We can cater to dietary needs such as gluten-free, vegetarian, and most allergies. Please let us know of any dietary requirements in advance.

Breakfasts and dinners are not included in the workshop and can be enjoyed at your accommodation or at one of the many cafes, restaurants, and pubs in and around South West Rocks.  

On the last evening of the workshop we usually all go out for dinner together to share a glass of wine and a lovely meal.



Participants are requested to provide their own transport for the workshop located in South West Rocks.  Courtesy transport can be provided from our classroom to all daytime shooting locations if required. We are able to provide transport from Sydney if required, but will need advanced notice for this option as space is limited.

Participants car pool to give themselves a greater degree of flexibility.

If this will be a limiting factor for you, please contact Len directly to discuss your transportation options. 



There are a few things you will need to get the most out of the week:

  • Camera equipment
  • Tripod
  • Laptop with image processing software (Lightroom, Photoshop, Capture One etc.,)
  • Wet weather clothing
  • Clothing for cold temperatures
  • Sturdy footwear
  • Day pack/camera pack 

Len Metcalf is a qualified and experienced trekking guide with 30 years of experience guiding groups to remote destinations.  He knows what you need to keep yourself comfortable in the harshest environments on earth.  Please click here to see his packing list.



  • All lunches and one dinner
  • Morning and afternoon tea
  • Free access to Lens School forum and notes
  • Courtesy transport if required
  • Experienced photography educator Shirley Steel
  • Qualified, experienced wilderness guide, Len Metcalf
  • One-on-one instruction and guidance from fine art photographer and veteran educator Len Metcalf
  • Lens unique and gentle teaching style, which supports you and helps you develop as an artist
  • One-on-one instruction and guidance from Shirley Steel
  • Gain valuable insights into computer processing software that will make your photos sing
  • Plenty of time to shoot at each location
  • Calm, relaxing atmosphere, encouraging engagement and connection with the landscape
  • Suitable for all levels from absolute beginners to professionals
  • A positive environment, which encourages group learning, advice-sharing and support



  • Accommodation
  • Breakfasts and evening meals
  • Photographic equipment (cameras, lenses, tripods etc.)
  • Weather-specific clothing
  • Travel insurance.   Click here for more information. 




AUD$500 deposit secures your spot

Returning customer, you will automatically receive our discounted rate.

SOLD OUT - please email us if you would like to be on waiting list


“ I wanted to thank you for an absolutely fabulous Workshop.

Great workshop leader, great group of people. It was such a pleasure to shoot alongside photographers who were willing to share information, skills, ideas, tips and tricks - and even shooting spaces.

In many ways, it is the dynamics of the group that help make a workshop work so well - and I agree with Thea when she said the nicest of people always do Len’s workshops.

And for me, quite a number, not just one or two, of the building blocks fell into place. It all seems to be coming together and I am really happy with most of the shots that I captured. Roll on the next chunk of building blocks!”

— Pam Handyside

“I was attracted to the Creative Lens Workshop at Myall Lakes because it combined learning about composition and creativity with the opportunity to photograph stark and appealing landscapes (which I find challenging). I arrived at the workshop full of self-doubt about my ability to take good photos. But within a couple of days, with Len’s encouragement to allow my artistic desire and my love of blur and painterly images to take flight, my photos and confidence soared. I learned some valuable technical tips that changed the way I thought about photography and came home with some cracker landscape images that I’m keen to pursue. Thank you Len. On the other side of our experience, I have to also praise the fabulous support provided by Carolyn. Every day we were greeted with tantalising smells from kitchen which were matched by truly delicious and healthy meals at lunch and morning tea. Thank you Carolyn. A wonderful week. We’ll be back.”

— Jenny Fisher

“What can I say? Having attended three other photography tours in Morocco, Kerala and Venice, Len and Carolyn provided by far the best. Passionate, patient and approachable.
Len truly is the consummate teacher whose field happens to be photography. His ability to communicate the intricacies of what he considers an art form in an easy manner to his students is exemplary. No experience level is judged, no opposing view is rejected. Your opinion, style and views are nurtured and encouraged.
You not only feel you learn so much about your camera and photography, you come away from the experience having benefitted from contact with two outstanding human beings.
Thank you Len. Thank you Carolyn.”

— Bruce Allen


Click here to read more testimonials.


Full payment is required eight weeks prior to the workshop commencing.



South West Rocks, Copyright © Shirley Steel


I am a local Blue Mountains woman who rediscovered my love of photography in retirement.  

For 40 years I worked as a teacher in Western Sydney.  I loved photography. I was always attracted to it in galleries and loved taking photos. I shot with a film SLR and had no experience in darkroom and in about 2004  Canon brought out its first digital SLR.  The moment I had it in my hands I was hooked.  My whole approach to photography changed. 

I became an avid reader of photography books and articles.  The digital format challenged me but it also opened another world.  It cost nothing to experiment – and experiment I did.

I came across Len when I was looking for a photography class post retirement in 2010.  Not only did I enrol in Len’s first Masterclass in Katoomba, but I did it again the following year.  At the same time I joined a camera club (BMPG) and bought a beautiful printer.  My photography world had no limits from that moment on.

Photography offers me an entrée to a world of art and image making that previously I could not have imagined. It has challenged me both intellectually and personally and has opened doors to new experiences and friendships. It has been so much more than just a camera and a lens.

I love its creativity and I love exploring ways of working with my camera. There are moments when my heart sings; when I see a glimpse of light, an idea, a shape or form through the viewfinder. It is in these moments that I know I can make magic with my camera.

Some of my work is very much Blue Mountains inspired.  I love to find ideas and images from our villages that I can use to create a piece to share.  It gives me opportunities to wander around and know more about the place I call home. 

My real love however, is the more impressionistic, more abstract style of photography.  This is the work that speaks to me the strongest.  I do a lot of work with seascapes where my style is quite distinct. I also do some travel photography like most people but I try to create at least one image from the location that is more abstract in its design so that when I get home I have a chance to create something unique from my trip.

I take my inspiration from art, from painters, graphic designers, and other photographers.

I make a point of seeking learning opportunities.  I have been privileged to be mentored by Len. I did a workshop with Freeman Patterson and Andre Galant in Canada and a photography tour with Peter Eastway.  

In 2016 I felt I needed some new energy in my work so I took the opportunity to work with Jaquie Ranken in the Southern Highlands, Tony Hewitt in the Blue Mtns and a week with Len at Jindabyne.  I also joined a second camera club (NCP).  Doing something different has paid dividends, as I now feel excited about my photography again.  

Alfred Stieglitz says it for me in this statement;

“In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.”
— Alfred Stieglitz

Copyright © Shirley Steel

There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.
— Pablo Picasso

Copyright © Shirley Steel

Energy and motion made visible – memories arrested in space
— Jackson Pollock

Copyright © Shirley Steel

But nobody is visually naive any longer. We are cluttered with images, and only abstract art can bring us to the threshold of the divine.
— Dominique De Menil

Copyright © Shirley Steel

Before, I could only guess of who I was. Now, thanks to my art, I know who I am.
— Luhraw

Copyright © Shirley Steel

Art has a voice - let it speak.
— Rochelle Carr

Copyright © Shirley Steel

Abstraction forces you to reach the highest level of the basics.
— Alan Soffer

Copyright © Shirley Steel