I had a recent trip to Donegal with my camera club for our annual weekend away. It’s usually a four day affair with an equally enjoyable mix of alcoholism, good food, good company and sometimes photography. Thanks to Covid, this was our first time away together in a couple of years. The expectations and hope of some decent weather and light were high. Worst case scenario, we could always retreat to the pub.
Time For Me
Four days dedicated to landscape photography is a rarity for me. Alas, it wasn’t to run according to plan with heavy rain dominating affairs for the first couple of days. I’m a great believer in the fact that there is no such thing as bad light in landscape photography. Even the worst of days can lend themselves to moody atmospheric shots. However, this was getting out of hand. It rained relentlessly for the first day or two which made the enjoyment of landscape photography exceptionally hard work.
It didn’t stop us trying and I am happy with a handful of the images captured during this period but the light was badly missed. I found it harder to get out of bed each morning knowing that we were most likely going to spend the day just getting soaked again if we ventured too far from the car. The body was getting increasingly tired each day and the frustration levels were beginning to mount.
Giving up would have been the easy option but we pushed on. On the last evening, we got 15 minutes of spectacular color between rain showers. I was happy out. Those 15 minutes of gloureous light had redeemed the whole trip.
I found it very hard to drag myself out of bed on the last morning for one last attempt. It was raining hard again and there was a very slim chance of any break in the weather. Only two of us made it out with little expectation of hope. This time we got an hour of great light and beautiful wave action before the rain set in and we headed back to the hotel for breakfast. My very last frame turned into my favorite of the weekend.
On the drive home, I started to contemplate the effects of time and effort. As an amateur with exceptionally limited time, I’m more of a reactionary photographer than a planner. I most often just have to pick a time and location and go shoot regardless of what the weather turns out like. Sometimes I get lucky, other times I have to work exceptionally hard to create decent images. More often, I come home with nothing worth showing.
Truth be told – I’m a complete chancer! I defend this approach to my landscape photography by claiming that I have an ability to connect with nature regardless of where I am or the conditions I face. There is always and image to be found – but is it always an image worth taking?
Appreciation For Time
This weekend away gave me a true appreciation for the professional landscape photographers who scout a location, pre-visualize exactly the conditions they want and then take inordinate amounts of time waiting and revisiting said location until all the planned elements combine to help them create their vision. While my persistence had paid off that weekend, it was more a matter of luck. I could have easily found myself in the wrong location while the light was happening somewhere else. But that’s just photography – The harder you try, the luckier you get!
This blog isn’t going to determine which of the above approaches is right or wrong. I don’t believe that there is a right or wrong answer to that question. It really does boil down to your own personal circumstances and choice of style. However, the luxury of time is one I now yearn for. It’s invaluable in landscape photography. Unfortunately, there’s another twenty plus years of work in front of me so I can only dream for now!!