September is one of my favourite months, not just because it is my birthday but because it is a time of change. Summer has come to an end but while the warm weather often lingers well into the month, the nights start to get colder. This drop in night time temperature brings mist on calm mornings and you can feel the first hints of autumn in the air. It’s not always calm though, changing seasons means changeable weather and often the sort of dramatic skies that we landscape photographers love. As you will see from my experiences this September, that can sometimes mean disappointing sessions when the cloud or rain refuses to budge but those times when you do catch the changing weather are what makes it all worthwhile.
For me it has been a busy month of workshops, taking me to some of my favourite places, what better way to spend my birthday!
Stunning is a word that is much overused these days, but there really is no better word to describe the Canadian Rockies. The scenery is simply breathtaking and the combination of mirror calm lakes, rushing rivers, verdant forests and rocky mountains couldn’t have been arranged better for photographers had Ansel Adams himself been there directing proceedings at its creation. Then there’s the sheer scale of it all, the Canadian Rockies are over 900 miles of towering snow capped peaks, running through five national parks of endless pine forests and glacial lakes the colour of which have to be seen to be believed. I’m incredibly fortunate to work as a tutor on a photography tour here every September and, as you might expect, it is always one of the highlights of the year.
This year the weather wasn’t particularly kind, in fact at times it felt like it was being deliberately awkward! We saw far more cloud and rain than we would have liked and when the clouds did part, they generally did it in the wrong place splashing light everywhere but where we wanted it. That said, it was still a very enjoyable trip and when the weather was good, it was amazingly so… standing high above Peyto Lake watching the fog clear to reveal the turquoise water below was a particularly memorable experience and I’m already looking forward to next year!
Hot on the heels of the Canada trip were several workshops back home in East Anglia. A little too hot if I’m honest, I’d barely had time to unpack my bags when the alarm was going off for sunrise… I’ve already marked a couple of days off on the calendar after every future long haul trip to get over the jet lag!
I love the north Norfolk coast, there are few places in East Anglia as photogenic as its vast sandy, dune fringed, beaches or it’s creaky little harbours tucked away the salt-marsh, so I was pleased to be spending several days running 1-2-1 and group workshops up there during September. My luck changed after Canada and we somehow managed to dodge the rain showers to be rewarded with dramatic light and some of those big skies that East Anglia is famous for.
In between workshops I was back up on the north Norfolk coast, spending a couple of days at Snettisham to celebrate my wife’s birthday. The camera didn’t come out much but it was nice just to take the dog for walks, exploring new stretches of the coastal path and enjoying the landscape. I’ve photographed this area often but I couldn’t resist a sunrise shoot though and was fortunate to catch a wonderful misty sunrise from the dunes at Holme, a relatively new beach for me.
I actually had some time free at the end of the month so spent a few days with the family up in Northumberland. It was really more of a scouting trip for a possible future workshop disguised as a holiday but sadly my luck with the weather had deserted me once more and apart from a perfect morning at Bamburgh Castle it was at best windswept and overcast and at worst pouring with rain. With a coast as dramatic as this stretch in the very north east of England, there is always something to shoot, whatever the weather. Overcast days are perfect for moody black and whites and long exposures so my Lee Filters Big Stopper got a lot of use! Despite the weather I still managed to visit all of the locations on my list and fell in love with the wild coastline here, so a return and then a workshop is looking very likely for 2020.
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With so many workshops it felt like I’ve had few opportunities for my own photography but looking back at the images from the month I was surprised how many I managed to squeeze in. Many of these are images that would otherwise be languishing on my hard drive waiting to be processed so these new monthly updates are as much an incentive for me to process and show new images as to keep you updated with what I’m up to… let’s see how long I can keep them going!