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