Just Photography?

Surely this is too easy?

Dartmoor; National Park;

Sharpitor in the pre dawn light

So can anyone take a landscape photograph these days? I’m sure they can, with the modern range of digital cameras at reasonably affordable prices and a vast array of editing software. Shouldn’t be a problem.

So why are my photos different from something you could take?

Well, in some ways they’re not. If you stood in the same place as I did at the same time I did then chances are you would get exactly the same photo. But would you want to be stood in the same place at the same time?

Most places I go to are fairly accessible. Other places are a mile or so walk and can be rather strenuous with climbs over rocks or down steep cliffs. So would you like to tag along and hold the rope for me?

The timing is next. Surely that’s a bit easier to manage?

I’ve been known to crawl out of my tent at 3 am to get to my chosen location in time for the dawn. Day after day, because I wasn’t satisfied with the shot I got the previous day. Or climbing up a Tor in late afternoon in summer after a day at the ‘normal’ job to catch a mediocre sunset and climb down to arrive home after 11pm, knowing I’ll be getting up for another dawn patrol in a few hours.
I’ll pick you up at 3.30am and drop you home for 11pm. What do you mean you’re not coming?

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been up for a dawn shoot and it just got light, or the sun has disappeared behind a bank of cloud to the west at sunset and it goes dark. Frustrating, maybe, but when the sky lights up and I’m there to capture it for however brief it lasts it makes it all worthwhile.

Editing next. Surely with the latest editing suite you could take an ok image and turn it into something fantastic?

Nowadays all photographers use photoshop . I’m no exception and I have a fair idea what I’m doing with it. It’s the modern version of the darkroom; a tool to bring out the best in a photograph. I don’t do HDR at all. I try to bring out the best of the detail that’s been captured in the file. Nothing too drastic though; I want to reproduce what the camera captured and my eyes saw at the time, but I do my best to get it right in camera so I don’t have to spend hours sat in front of the computer. 20 minutes per image is enough for me, any longer than that and it’s not worth it.

Surely it’s as easy as pushing a button though?

Maybe it is but you have know which settings to use, which filter to have on the lens, what effect you want, where objects and subjects are placed in the viewfinder to make an good image better and when is the right time to push the button. Not too much to think about while you’re standing on rocks with waves pounding closer and closer, or on a tor and the wind is howling around your tripod moving the clouds so quickly you have to time the shot to get the light right.

So that could possibly be where this all falls down, but it’s just a small piece of the jigsaw.

So to get the same images as I do, find your location, get up at ridiculous o’clock in the morning to get there and hope the weather plays ball. And then keep doing it until you get the shot you want. Then do it again, and again, and again.

My friends say I’m crazy. Maybe they’re right