Blog - The Waiting Game

15th August 2009
A comment I often hear from people viewing my work is ‘you must wait for ages to get the light’. The quick answer is “yes and no”.

I often have a picture in mind for months – sometimes even years, waiting for the conditions to be perfect – the sun has to be in the right place – the tide at the right height, the flowers in full bloom etc.

But on the day? Well I tend to plan the day around the photography – so I will know I need to get to location X, at Y o’clock in order to shoot photograph Z. The hard part in fact is getting there in time!

Sometimes I manage to get there early, especially when the weather is unpredictable – and this means I will need to wait. Great! For me, the waiting part is one of the most enjoyable bits of landscape photography. I can relax and enjoy the world around me. Immerse myself in my subject, and feel the excitement build as the light develops.

However, as the pressures of modern life and a young family dictate – I rarely have time to be so indulgent. So as often as not, it is a race against time to get to location X before the light passes completely.

This shot from Chapel Porth is a good example. I have wanted to photograph this viewpoint for some time. The tricky point is that it needs a very low tide to be able to capture the old mine buildings on the cliffs from the beach below.

Finally, the conditions looked perfect. The internet predicted a very low tide, and the sun was shining brilliantly as it sank towards the horizon.

I parked up in the car park, and raced across the beach. I found my spot, got the tripod set-up, camera out of the bag, attached the N-D grad filter, hot shoe spirit level and remote release. Got the shot composed and focused – reached for the shutter release – and the light went! A cloud had leapt ninja like out of nowhere and stole away the sun. What is this - Wimbledon? I must admit I did not take it very well at first, and spent the following few minutes jumping up and down, cursing every god I could thing of. I may have even kicked a pebble or two.

Then I calmed down, and took the shot. As you can see, this shot does lacks the warm, contrasty light that was there seconds before. But maybe this is a good thing? The cloud cover has given a much softer, subtle light, and I find the tones from the beach are very pleasing.

Did I wait for ages? No – but maybe that’s a blessing in disguise….

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