I’ve had a summer of frustration with my landscape photography. Time after time the weather looked very promising during the day. Come sunset all I met was dull gloomy, overcast conditions. On occasion this was after some very long drives.
I won’t lie – it has been getting me down. I see other photographers blogging or posting on social media all summer about how wonderful things are all the time. I had been experiencing the opposite. The sun seemed to break beautifully every time they ventured out, yet I was cursed with dull light. I was reaching a point where frustration was getting the better of me and I was considering looking for a different photographic genre to focus on. I had made some nice moody monochromatic long exposure images but had not shot a decent sunset in 3 months.
I had reached a point where I could not find the motivation to get out in the field anymore. I bemoaned this loudly to other photographers I know claiming “I’ve lost me Mojo”. I was a dark period and getting worse as I know winter is coming. One evening changed all this…..
Working in Sligo, I finished late with 45 minutes to sunset. With no hotel room booked I decided on a quick trip to the coast and then a long drive home in the dark. It was overcast as usual but at least I could check out a future spot or two for another time.
As I pulled up to my chosen location, I could see a small photography workshop taking place so I knew there must be potential here. Other photographers had chosen this place at this time of year so there must be something here. I jumped out, changed the clothes quickly and rudely gate crashed the workshop. The wind was howling and it was difficult to get a steady image from the top of the cliff where wind and sea spray was battering us. The workshop moved off leaving me with the place to myself – I hope it was the wind that made them pack up early and not me!! I could not get close enough to the action so I ventured down the cliff and picked a safe spot closer to where the waves were breaking. Finally I got a good shot in the bag. The only one of the night but a good one. It was enough to encourage me and help me over my frustration.
3 hour drive home? No way – I was going to have to get up and drive half way back again the next morning. I quickly found a hotel, ate and got my head down. I had two possible locations picked for the next morning – my mojo was back…..
The harder I work, the luckier I get…..
I struggled to get out of bed the next morning. 12 hours in a car the previous day was taking its toll on my back and hips. The little voice in my head eventually got the better of me and within 30 minutes I was on location waiting for the light with a coffee in hand. Horseshoe Valley is a location I have never been to but I’ve seen a limited number of images coming from it. Its been on the bucket list a while now. Light cloud blew in as the sun rose and illuminated the ridge of rock in the background perfectly – exactly as I had pre-visualized it. I could go to work now a happy man.
The light just kept getting better as it began to rain – I fully believe the atmosphere at sunrise or sunset is magical when you add in a couple of light showers and this was turning into one of those mornings. Any frustration I had experienced in previous months was completely forgotten. I simply turned the tripod around and this scene lay in front of me. How could I resist?
One more for the road!!
Driving back down the road to my backup location, I wondered could lightning strike twice? It looked duller now but I’d have a go as I don’t know when I will get back here. I set up my composition and stood waiting for the light to hit the mountain from the side. It was like a scene from Iceland but in Ireland. I have never seen another image from this spot so I’m claiming it as my own. Rains came and went, light got duller. Then it happened – briefly, but it happened and I was there to capture it.
This will feel counter intuitive but the only way to overcome frustration is to stick at it until things come right. This may take weeks, it may take months but once that magic happens – the dull days are instantly forgotten. Get out there and keep shooting….