So... Where do we go from here...?

25th July 2011
Deciding on an exact location to go to shoot is always a tricky process – there is so much to see and shoot in Suffolk, let alone the wider UK, Europe and the whole of the rest of the world. Its all a lot easier if you treat it as a two stage process. The first stage is often based on a large collection of glossy travel brochures helped by the huge amount of information available through the internet, reference to the photos that have been recorded in the area by other photographers and all digested with a inspiration size glass of malt to make those tricky decisions that much easier. Large areas of the planet come under scrutiny as the wonders of Tuscany or Umbria are compared to those of the Languedoc, Iceland, Norway, Asia or even New Zealand, and decisions are based on travel time, how well trodden the area is perceived to be and whether the bank balance will stretch the required distance. In truth I have much less flexibility about choosing locations now than I have had in recent months – as I have had to face the grim reality that life as a jobbing landscaper isn’t going to pay the household bills let alone fund a life of exotic travels to far flung corners of the world to take yet more photographs. In short – I’ve had to get a proper job. Well thats going to cramp the photographic style a bit then.

So I’m back in the IT 9-to-5, and feeling a bit like a fish out of water. Things are always moving rapidly onwards in technology businesses, but a new company, new ways of doing things and a lot of new people to work with have been taking most of my time and attention for far too long. Its about time I got out and about with the camera again – but where to go? Time to get the glossy brochures out again, only this time we need to be looking at weekend trips rather than a full fortnights worth of travel. Bang goes the New Zealand jaunt – and probably anything outside Europe – there won’t be enough time to get there, find suitable locations, photograph them and get back to the UK in time for roll-call on Monday morning. Guess I won’t have to worry about jet lag being a problem any more. Imposing a limit of about four hours travel time means staying in the UK or at best sneaking into France, Holland or Belgium if the flight times are favourable.

Looking back over the places you’ve been to and pictures you’ve already taken is always good practice for a number of reasons. Working through my pictures from the south coast, the New Forest, Scotland, Cornwall, Holland and Italy just make me want to go back and take more - and make them better. I really don’t think the idea of ‘been there- done that’ can apply to photographing any location as there are always so many variables to be combined that repeating yourself can realistically never happen. Theres also the argument that the more time you spend in a location, the better you get to know it and the more likely it is that you will capture something less obvious but more special. These things are never shot to order, the weather makes it far too unpredictable for that.

The Stage One selection is made and the Derbyshire Peak district beckons in mid August. Now we have to consider Stage Two – the choice of exact locations for early morning and late evening sessions. For this we need a battery of OS maps, a tour of Derbyshire Tourist Information websites, other location photos, long range weather forecasts and a large dose of on-the-spot inspiration. The paperwork and web research is always important, but really only to eliminate those areas that simply don’t look too promising. Ultimately though, there is no substitute for getting the walking boots on and going for a walk through the most likely areas of countryside to find the exact positions to shoot from by anticipating where the sun will be coming from at early o’clock in the morning – or as the sun hits the horizon at the end of the day. Being able to see what a place will look like at a completely different time of day, in different light and possibly very different weather is what makes the job of actually taking the photo so much easier. Foggatt Edge and the Fernilee Reservoir look good for early morning visits just now, but Derbyshire is a rich source of likely places. They’ll all be considered at various points in the planning of the weekend and will hopefully combine to produce a photographically memorable visit. I guess you’ll be the judge of that though – around early September if I can clear the backlog of photo processing in time.

Tread boldly...

Graham

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