Face-to-face event: Photographing a satellite earth station

Mon 11 Sep 2023

Discover the highlights of Falmouth University's MA Photography and BA(Hons) Photography (Top-Up) gathering: Workshops, scenic adventures, and networking at Falmouth's Penryn Campus.

This July, the Falmouth Flexible Photography community gathered again at Falmouth University’s Penryn campus. While there, they made use of the Institute of Photography’s (IOP) world-class photographic facilities, explored the beautiful Cornish scenery, met up with old friends and fostered new connections. Final-showcase-prints

The Falmouth face-to-face event* plays an important part in the calendar for Photography students, as it marks a celebration of the hard work they have invested in their photographic practices over the last academic year. 

This year, we had a packed schedule of workshops, social events, and a unique field trip to Goonhilly Earth Station.

In the workshops, students utilised the wide range of photographic facilities within the IOP to develop new photographic skills or update existing expertise.  

Students were invited prior to arrival to sign up to one of the following two-day workshops: moving image, large format/analogue workflow, studio/digital workflow, photo/book making or cameraless. 

Studio/Digital Workflow workshop 

Students were learning how to operate safely in the professional studio environment, utilising the IOP’s industry-leading equipment and facilities. 


Moving image workshop 

Increasingly a standard part of photographers’ practice, students were introduced to specifics of shooting moving images with DSLR and mirrorless cameras, working with sound, postproduction software and how to export videos. 

Large format workshop  

Students tackled the whole process of large format photography, from camera setup to hand-printing their final images. They were introduced to the basics and some advanced functions of large format field cameras, and afterwards learned how to digitise/scan their large format negatives as well as print form them in either the black and white or colour darkrooms. 

Photobook making workshop 

Students learnt the fundamentals of practical photobook making – from basic typography, pagination, layout, and assembly, and had time to experiment in making their own books and zines. They were also introduced to the basics of Adobe InDesign. 

Cameraless workshop 

For all those students intrigued by both traditional darkroom and alternative processes. Students had the opportunity to make pinhole cameras, make cyanotype prints and work on developing their proficiency within the darkroom environment.  

On the first day of the workshops, students were on campus in the darkrooms, studios or digital labs getting to grips with equipment and techniques. 

In the evening we all gathered at Arwenack Club with its spectacular panoramic views of Falmouth docks for a pub quiz with a photographic twist. My personal favourite round was the photographic charades, where teams had to re-enact famous photographs from the past. 

Then on the second day, students had the option to take their equipment and newfound skills on location to Goonhilly Earth Station, the world’s first private satellite ground station for deep space communication.  


At Goonhilly, students photographed antennas that were being used by organisations around the world to communicate with satellites currently travelling deep into space. They also learnt more about the relationship between physics utilised in the engineering of both antennas and cameras.  

Working within Goonhilly’s unique environment mimicked professional conditions when working in restricted locations, where certain elements cannot be photographed, and time is limited. This added to the learning experience for the students by embedding the importance of a methodical approach, and good communication in teams.  

The Goonhilly location shoot was the inspiration for this year’s face-to-face final showcase theme ‘Beyond ∞ Infinity’. Students were invited to display the work they had made during the workshops and on the field trip, share what they had learned from the processes explored, and how they might take elements of the workshops into their own practices.  

The final showcase and a print swap organised by Online Tutor Paul Clements was a great way for the students to present their work and share a memento of another memorable Falmouth Flexible face-to-face event. 

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*Please note that given the variability in participant numbers and the specific nature of planned events, it may not always be possible to organise them for every course every year.

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