Ex­plor­ing the land­scape

Armed with his camper­van and a thirst for ad­ven­ture, Robert Rhead has taken some stun­ning land­scape im­ages

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To this day I re­mem­ber the smell of film-de­vel­op­ing chem­i­cals in my fa­ther’s pho­to­graphic dark­room in the at­tic. The thrill of com­bin­ing chem­i­cals and see­ing pic­tures emerge from blank pieces of pa­per was mag­nif­i­cent, and I was hooked on pho­tog­ra­phy from that early age. Tak­ing con­trol of the whole cre­ative process, from im­age-cap­ture to de­vel­op­ing, was one of the skills my fa­ther’s dark­room in­stilled in me, a skill which would in­flu­ence not only my fu­ture dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy but also many as­pects of my life.

Fast-for­ward a good few years to the be­gin­ning of my sec­ond pas­sion, the pur­chase of a vintage VW camper [2]. Af­ter spend­ing three long years learn­ing how to re­store my van and care­fully bring­ing it back to life, I was ready to hit the road, giv­ing me the mo­bil­ity to travel to all corners of the UK and be­yond. This abil­ity to travel opened up a whole new sub­ject mat­ter, one which I would in­stantly fall in love with: land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy.

I soon dis­cov­ered that there is much more to land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy than sim­ply turn­ing up at a great lo­ca­tion

It re­ally is all about the light: its in­ten­sity and its colour and di­rec­tion

and ex­pect­ing to get a great photo. It re­ally is all about the light: its in­ten­sity and its colour and di­rec­tion, all of which are hugely in­flu­enced by the weather, and time of day and year. Fre­quently I’d drive to good lo­ca­tions only to find the light was too poor and flat to make great im­ages, re­turn­ing home with medi­ocre photos. Even in good light I’d found that cap­tur­ing great ex­po­sures in-cam­era with bal­anced high­light and shadow ar­eas was prob­lem­atic with­out ad­di­tional fil­ters. The frus­tra­tion was huge, and I knew I had to in­vest much more time at lo­ca­tions to craft the photos I wanted.

At that point I made the con­nec­tion be­tween my two pas­sions. My vintage camper would al­low me to travel the UK and be at any lo­ca­tion at any time I wanted. If the weather wasn’t great I could bide my time un­til the con­di­tions im­proved, even sleep­ing over to catch the sunset and early morn­ing sunrise with time for the oc­ca­sional night shot too. To this end I set out on a three-week, solo tour of the Scot­tish coast­line, a jour­ney de­signed not only to dis­cover corners of the UK I’d never seen, but to in­vest the time needed to rad­i­cally im­prove my land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy. I spent the days driv­ing along the coast­line search­ing for great com­po­si­tions, then wait­ing in my camper for the best light, stop­ping at lo­ca­tions for two, some­times three days with only the land­scape and my pho­tog­ra­phy to in­dulge me. No dis­trac­tions, no tele­vi­sion and no in­ter­net.

Be­yond the UK I love to travel to other parts of the world. Ice­land was high on my list, and although not achiev­able in my camper­van I did get there. With the help of a hire car I man­aged to put the skills I’d learnt on my UK tours to good use.


02 Vinta ge Tran spo rt

Nikon D800, Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR, 1/60 sec, f/14, ISO100

03 Wait­ing fo r th e Tide

Nikon D800, Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, 1/15 sec, f/13, ISO200

03 04 Dawn Break s Nikon D800, Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR, 0.4 sec, f/18, ISO100

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