Look behind you...
Today I received an email from the organisers of the take a view Landscape Photographer of the Year competition informing me that one of my images had made the shortlist for this years competition. I know I haven't actually won anything but this is a high profile competition, the pinnacle of landscape photography competitions (probably) so obviously I was suitable pleased just to have been shortlisted.
Don't worry, I'm not just here to bore you with news of my minor successes, I'm going to bore you with the story behind this photo as well.
I took this photo in Hunstanton, Norfolk a few weeks ago. We had driven for two hours to arrive an hour or so before sunset and were treated to a promising looking scene, enough cloud to provide a good sunset and interesting skies and careful research had ensured the tides were just right.
Now one thing I really need to improve in my landscape photography is my stamina... Ok, it's just one of several things but that's part of the fun of it. Don't get me wrong I'll get up when it's dark, drive for hours, walk for miles to get to the location at the best time but once I'm there I'm a bit of a bull in a china shop. Calmly surveying the scene to find the best composition, carefully considering the subject from every angle before even thinking about taking the camera out of the bag... those are things I really should do more often. Instead I can't wait to get the camera on the tripod and dive straight in to the first composition that takes my fancy. Once I've got a couple of shots, if it's working I'll explore it more before moving on to something else but if it doesn't I'll be itching to move on to the next shot, to find the perfect composition before the best light and always slightly panicky about missing it, especially at a new location.
So on arriving at Hunstanton beach for the first time, I launched in and headed for the rock formations below the cliffs... a couple of hours of wandering the beach later even though the light was still good I was losing steam. By about 11pm it really should have been too dark but the dusk light was lingering quite nicely but conscious of the two hour journey home and work in the morning I was ready to go.
Camera packed away, we were leaving the beach when I turned and noticed the meandering silver stream of water and stopped to get a better look... was it worth unpacking the gear for? Often I don't bother and even said to the friend who was with me "I like the look of that but don't know if I can be bothered to get the camera out" Clearly I decided to go for it in the end and I'm glad I did... maybe not my favourite from the session and I almost didn't have the confidence to enter it but my favourite Hunstanton shots didn't get shortlisted so what do I know!
So the lesson is... shooting digital is pretty much free so don't hold back. Oh and don't forget to look behind you every now and then!
If you enjoy landscape photography, the Landscape Photographer of the Year books are full of stunning, original and creative photographs to inspire and depress you in equal measure.