It has to be said, April was a pretty hot month for me, certainly not in terms of weather but in photography prospects. I find it goes like that quite a lot, I have an off month and just as I’m starting to lose a bit of mojo some top conditions play into my hands at the right time. That’s the landscape photographer’s lot at the end of the day and if you can’t take weeks of flat grey skies and be ready when it counts then this game isn’t for you…

Of course, there are things you can do to give your portfolio a chance, like an unscheduled few days in the Lake District for example, which is exactly what I did over Easter. Despite the fact it was primarily a family holiday, being out before dawn (and before anyone else stirs) ensures that I usually feel like I’ve had a ‘photography holiday’ even if I spend all day being led around trinket shops in town.

Absolutely anything is possible in the Lakes, from day to day and sometimes hour to hour you can expect the unexpected. Sure enough I struck gold on only my second morning with a wander up to Rydal Water where the mist turned thicker and thicker until eventually it was actually a spoiler at one stage – I couldn’t see ten yards. Struggling to make the best of what felt like all sorts of possibilities, a weak sun eventually made its way over the top of Knott Wood and suddenly I felt like I finally had something to really manipulate.

I moved all around the north bank of the lake placing the sun in various parts of the frame, grabbing a few images which I think could be the nicest of the whole of 2015, at least to my eye. I only took my Df and favoured 70-200mm f/4 to the Lakes, all packed neatly into my small Billingham shoulder bag – the tripod had a few days off back at home. The freedom was wonderful leaving me to really concentrate on making the best of my compositions instead of thinking about different lens options or where to put a tripod. So, the one I’m picking out for April is Missing Piece but I could have chosen any one of five or six I think:

Missing Piece

Missing Piece

What Really Makes The Photograph Work For Me?

This is a near perfect tree for a silhouette shot, with one ‘fault’ – a chunk of its top branches have broken off at some stage leaving something of a gap in the canopy. I didn’t see this shot initially but it’s amazing how many images this combination made for me on that morning, I moved around until it all just slotted into place, hence the title.

Here’s why Missing Piece is image of the month:

  • This is all about where best placement is for the sun in this frame. Given the gap in the tree, once I found the right angle it was an instant compositional hit for me. I don’t routinely include the sun in my images, in fact it barely makes an appearance through my entire portfolio. To my mind it’s akin to including your Flash in the frame if you’re a portrait photographer but on this occasion it was more about what the inclusion of the sun itself added in the story of the frame, rather than merely being there (if you see what I mean).
  • The small fenced in trees front right and back left give a sense of depth that I think might otherwise be missing, this gives the scene more of a three dimensional feel, rather than what might have been a very two dimensional silhouette.
  • There are actually a couple of sheep visible in the background and I love a sense of a bit of life there. There are sheep everywhere in the Lakes of course – I’m a big fan of them!
  • Of course the whole image was only made possible by the thick mist itself – I love the soft natural tones in the photograph and the whole feeling of a calm serenity. It’s already a big favourite of mine, soon to be one of handful of large feature prints in my house.
  • Lastly, I think it’s quite a minimal scene, though once you look into the image there are actually quite a few elements there, but all working nicely together.
The Technical Setup
  • Taken with the Nikon Df (hand held)
  • Nikon 70-200mm f/4 @ 82mm
  • f/5.6, ISO200, 1/800 in thick fog at 07:37hrs
  • Shot in 14bit RAW, manual white balance
  • Finished with Nik Color Efex Pro 4 and Adobe Photoshop CC
  • No sharpening