We spent the Christmas week this year in Cumbria, in a rented cottage in a little village called Brigsteer. This is near Kendal but outside the national park boundary so much quieter than the honeypots. Apart from Christmas Eve the whole week was very grey and misty. We counted ourselves lucky. Cumbria in December could quite easily bucket with rain all week. As it was we were able to walk every day. The greyness, not surprisingly, made me think of black and white.
I read a quote yesterday attributed to Michael Kenna to the effect that photographers think of their work as acquisition when they should think of it as submission. I tend to agree and I’m definitely prone to this myself. You plan a day’s shooting. You look at the map and visualise the location. You’re already imagining the kind of pictures you want to come home with, regardless of what you find when you arrive. I find I get better results when I walk slowly and allow myself to see what’s really there in front of me, visualising it in two dimensions. Submitting to what is there instead of trying to acquire something pre-selected.
The same goes when selecting and editing from a shoot. I look for the shots I expected instead of allowing the quality of each shot to speak for itself. I also can’t help thinking of the intended audience and whether they will “get” the shot. If you think a shot is good then it is, regardless of what others might or might not think.
I sometimes like to go back through the catalogue to find shots I haven’t yet processed. The passing of time allows me to forget the preconceptions I had of the shoot and just find the quality of each shot. This is how I found the three black and white shots I posted yesterday, which I really like.
Despite knowing all of this it’s still a difficult thing to let go and submit to what’s really there.
I was going to title this post “Llyn Tecwyn Uchaf” but that would look like I’d just dropped a book on the keyboard. That’s the name of this small lake at the northern end of the Rhinog range of hills in the southern half of Snowdonia.
I’d been on an overnight trip the night before and came up to do some scouting for future locations. I found this idyllic lake with almost no-one about. That was back in May. I never fully processed the shots but got back to them today and found that these three were rather nice. I hope you like them.
Shining Tor is the highest hill in Cheshire, just to the east of Macclesfield. Looking west you see the long miles of the Cheshire plain. Not surprisingly it’s a good spot for sunset shots, as long as you can stand up against the ever-present wind that seems to rear up from the plain and accelerate as it encounters the first hills since Wales.
These shots were from mid-November. I was doing christmas markets every week through November and December so didn’t manage to get out shooting much but now it’s new year (happy new year!) hopefully I’ll be able to get out and experience the hills again.
This has been a great autumn and it isn’t over yet. I went back to the woods at Alderley Edge and found them full of colour and with the perfect overcast sky.
There’s a legend about these woods. About a wizard. You can see how these woods could produce such a legend, they’re full of character. There are beautiful individual trees, both mature and sapling. I found myself strolling very slowly, waiting for compositions to arrange themselves. A good sign.
The Olympus OMD-EM10 is perfect for this type of shooting. Using a tripod, the day is dull enough that the rear screen is easily seen and composing on a large, high-resolution screen is really nice. It also lets me compose using my crop of choice – 1:1 or 16:9 or the native 4:3.
I took a couple of shots earlier this year that have had a big influence on me. They were both shots of narrow, tree-lined lanes. Since then I’ve been taking lots of photos of lanes and going out of my way to find such places. I don’t know if it’s a passing fad or something longer term but I’ve been very pleased to find inspiration in the less obvious.
These shots were taken a few weeks ago near the village of Trefriw, in the Conwy valley in Snowdonia. From the village you can wander into the hills towards the lakes of Crafnant and Gerionydd. You go into steep-sided, thickly wooded valleys with some wonderful views. Despite the loveliness I was surprised at how few shots I took.
Some shots from a welsh trip this week. Not as successful as I’d hoped even though the colours were at their best. I didn’t focus in advance on a single location, thinking I’d try a few different places in one day. That’s usually not a good plan for me. I find I get better results when I’ve properly planned the day out in advance, knowing exactly where I’m going. Anyway, a few nice shots. A mixture of the woods just outside Bethesda and one of my autumn favourites, Aberglaslyn Gorge. Continue reading