In Part 2 of this series, I’m going to cover off what most people would call ‘standard’ focal lengths…
I recently completed a small What’s In The Bag magazine feature for Amateur Photographer which is due for release shortly. Ordinarily I wouldn’t usually start the year with a post about hardware but I get so many emailed questions from budding photographers, students, former workshop attendees and via Twitter that I thought I would set out some insight as to what I shoot with and why. The Amateur Photographer piece I’ve illustrated reminds me of the level of interest people have in kit and although the best photography is absolutely made by great composition, use of light and most of all imagination, without having the right kit some of that just isn’t possible.
I’ll be the first to admit that I could feel all interest in my landscape photography floating away on the wind and rain of recent weeks. I’m guessing I’m not alone either – simply put Autumn has been rough and with that comes impatience and black days of artistic depression. Endless grey is stifling and all it does is darken my mood. Worse still, my failure to ignite any competition success (it’s all relative) with my landscapes led me to start really questioning what I’ve been focussing my interest on. The pinnacle came about six weeks ago in October when it seems that there was a photograph of a misty beech tree on every page of the internet, one or two photographers were even brave enough to point that out…
Following on my previous success in Landscape Photographer Of The Year, for the fifth year running I was once again shortlisted in the competition, this time with two photographs. Unfortunately that’s where my run came to an end this year however as neither image was progressed any further into the book or exhibition. I know many photographers would have been proud of such an achievement but after last year where I collected a Highly Commended, Judges Choice & Commended (all three appeared in the book) I suppose this felt like a bit of a backwards step. As many have pointed out however it’s all about how each individual judge sees things on any given day though and there is no doubt that competition is very, very tough with a very high benchmark generally…
I’ve been there before. The expectation of a glorious season is around the corner and then follows weeks of rain, flat conditions, endless grey cloud and a limitless lack of atmosphere. The key is to be prepared to travel, follow the conditions when necessary but above all, be out there early in the season if it presents the opportunity so that you can try and take the pressure off yourself if you’ve gone through a long empty summer like I did this year. Of course, the prime directive of lower your expectation is cast aside like a distant memory as the promise of golden light and opportunity fills us like a new horizon born out of every morning.
I’m not sure why, but this summer was just way too painful. When I was a kid it’s all we lived for; long warm days to play tennis, riding bikes for miles or endless hours on a crowded beach, all activities to definitely look forward to… Here I am in my mid-forties and I hate it. That can’t be right can it!?
After being incredibly jealous of the likes of Joe Wright, Valda Bailey, Tim Parkin and others who have all previously been on the John Blakemore book making and image sequencing workshop, I made sure I was eventually in line not to miss out on this wonderful opportunity to spend time with one of Britain’s artistic treasures. I genuinely didn’t know what to assume but I was told to “expect to examine your photography in terms you have never considered before”. They weren’t wrong.
As I look outside at an autumnal rain shower hammering at my window this morning, I’m reflecting on the fact that somehow I managed to create something in each month during the summer that I was actually happy with. Looking back now I’m not even sure how I managed that given that I set out with purpose to take some images on no more than three or four occasions if that. However after a hopeful weather forecast I decided to get myself up to the Peak District to visit some views while the heather was in bloom and what I got was an additional unexpected treat at sunrise. I timed my arrival almost a little too optimistically and pulled my car over at the side of the road somewhere on the hills above Hathersage. The light was pretty spectacular by anyone’s account, the low layers of mist giving way to a full on pink and purple sunrise. The problem with the Peak District (or should I say the value of the Peak District?) is that it can be pretty featureless across certain views, a landscape stripped of most defining objects, a tundra with a handful of trees dotted around at best.
What a great track, Freddie Mercury and Queen were the sound for a whole generation, but that’s not what this blog post is about today… It may or may not have skipped your attention that I have finally broken free of Zenfolio as my photo and website host, switching instead to what you see right here which is a WordPress website (https://wordpress.com/) hosted on some cloud based servers, in this case my choice has been Tsohost (https://www.tsohost.com/).
As I said in last month’s Image Of The Month, the summer of 2015 has totally flattened my spirit some how. Autumn certainly can’t come soon enough. I’m not great in the sun and burn far too easily, I can’t stand biting insects which drive me to distraction and despite having an Infrared option up my sleeve the idea of actually using it had become uninspiring. When I get like this I often seek out a change of scenery and there’s nothing I like more than the peace and tranquility of North Devon so I went down on a whim in the middle of the month.