Putting in a little Effort

Blog - Dunstanburgh Sunrise (Nov 2007) 1029

Sunrise over Dunstanburgh castle

I’ve just returned from an evening at my local photographic club where we were talking about various aspects of photography, noticeably new activities to get long term and new members to socialise more and activities to get us out doing more photography, which is after all what we are supposed to be doing. Unfortunately our club is a little too fixated with club competitions. At the beginning of each new season potential new recruits arrive hoping to learn more about photography, but sadly many are are scared off after a few meetings, probably by the lack of practical, hands-on advice and the heavy leaning towards these club competitions. It can all seem a little daunting to be honest and may appear rather cliquey to some new arrivals, as I remember when I joined some 5 years ago where I too had misgivings of lasting the course. Sadly, many new recruits disappear after a few meetings and are never to be seen again, but it shouldn’t be that way.

Eventually our conversation arrived on the subject of getting out too take photographs and I was really surprised to learn how reluctant members were at the thought go getting up early to go out and shoot at sunrise, and their amazement at the few members that occasionally do. For me, a major part of landscape photography is all about catching a scene in the best light, so to not attempt any photography in those magic golden hours is surely sacrilege to our art?

I know that going out for a dawn shot is not always possible, practical or even perhaps the slightest bit desirable to some, but surely everyone interested in landscape photography should attempt 2 or 3 dawn shots a year. Is that too much to ask? I can almost guarantee it will pay dividends and you see an improvement in your photography. It can be inspirational, emotional and simply down right amazing, just to be in a location when the sun breaks the horizon and witness the dullest landscape transformed into something wonderful.

I’ve done reasonably well in my club competitions, but not because I’m particularly adept at my craft, there are other whom I deem are far better ‘photographers’ than I, but I do at least make an effort every once in a while to capture that magic light when it happens. I surprise to be asked if I colourise my photographs; I may boost vibrancy in my post processing, even push it a bit sometimes, but I can’t add something that wasn’t there already, that wasn’t captured in the camera when that shutter clicked. You can accentuate something a little, as long as it’s within reason, but try adding something that wasn’t there to begin with and the results are never going to look truly natural, emotive or truthful to your art.

“No pain, No Gain”

I seldom go out specifically for a dawn shoot, so you may be surprised to find out that vast majority of my better landscape shots have been done whilst family holidays, typically our summer holiday in July or August which are not really considered the best time of year for landscape photography. It does results in me creeping out of our accommodation at some ungodly hour whilst the rest of my family slumbers on, blissfully unaware at what I’m up to. But you know, it pays rewards, it inspires me, gives me a sense of elation just to see nature in all it’s glory in it’s finest moment of the day, and if I get to capture that in my camera, then I return to the family at breakfast time with a huge grin on my face. The day has started well. It would be such a shame to travel to these lovely locations and not to make an effort to capture it in it’s best light.

We all take a holidays once in while, so why not plan to a dawn shoot on at least one occasion on your very next holiday. Make sure you know sunrise time and direction and have an up to date weather forecast, and if you are planning a coastal shoot, do find out the tide times. Check out the location the previous day if possible and note where you can park, the paths you your location, and lookout for potential tripod spots. Take your partner or a photographer buddy if possible, and make sure somebody else knows exactly where you are going. Make sure your batteries are charged, your filters cleaned, you have your mobile phone and a good flashlight with you. And last but not least get some great shots!

Blog - Spurn Head (Jan 2011) 1041

Sunrise at Spurn Head

The autumn is here, the trees have turned, and although we get many wet, dreary, cloudy days, the autumn can also produce some of the most spectacular sunrises that we get here in the UK. What’s more, then dark mornings means that sunrise times have crept forward to more respectable times of the day, so the excuse of having to get out of bed at some ungodly hour no longer holds water. Half term is approaching and soon we’re off to the Lake District for a few days. I for one will be out early mornings to take advantage of the the sunrise, assuming of course the good old British weather is kind enough!

Go on give it a go, make the effort every once in a while.

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