Stay close to home

To boost your chances of put­ting your­self in the right place at the right time, it pays to work a lo­ca­tion that’s right on your doorstep

NPhoto - - Feature -

There’s no doubt that vis­it­ing a new lo­ca­tion can bring fresh­ness to your pho­tog­ra­phy, but there’s a lot to be said for stick­ing with some­where you know like the back of your hand. Here’s a great ex­am­ple of what can hap­pen if you do just that. While it wouldn’t be un­think­able for a vis­it­ing pho­tog­ra­pher to get lucky and have timed a trip to the Lake Dis­trict that co­in­cided with the spec­tac­u­lar blend of sea­sonal colour, light and shade shown in Mark Lit­tle­john’s ‘Belle of the Ball’ shot (left), his ‘home ad­van­tage’ al­lowed him to make the most of the short-lived shifts in light and colour.

“When it comes to land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy I’m a huge be­liever in know­ing your lo­cal area,” says Mark. “Too many times I see friends zip­ping off all over the coun­try, go­ing from hon­ey­pot lo­ca­tion to hon­ey­pot lo­ca­tion. In some re­spects, it re­minds me of stamp col­lect­ing. I pre­fer see­ing how cer­tain views change with the sea­sons, the di­rec­tion of the sun and all the other fac­tors that can el­e­vate a pho­to­graph from one that’s just a ‘nice’ im­age to a truly mem­o­rable one. This re­quires a great deal of time and ef­fort and con­stant vis­its to the same lo­ca­tion. It helps that I only live five miles from Ull­swa­ter in the Lake Dis­trict…

“By mid-Oc­to­ber the ris­ing sun fails to rise above Place Fell at the side of Ull­swa­ter, but by a cer­tain time of day it has man­aged to sneak around the side, light­ing up the front of the fell bit by bit. The shore­line by Purse Point has a va­ri­ety of wee nooks and cran­nies, which are lit up by the sun in stages. This can make for a won­der­ful blend of light and dark that can high­light parts of your scene in a re­ally dy­namic way.

“I had no­ticed a par­tic­u­lar tree to the side of Purse Point that stands on its own. It stands in enough space that, at some point dur­ing the morn­ing, it is lit up com­pletely in­de­pen­dently of the wood­lands be­hind it. An­other fac­tor in its favour is that, in the au­tumn, it changes colour ear­lier than most of its neigh­bours. A down­side is that once it has changed its colour it only lasts a few days be­fore it sheds its leaves and be­comes a pale skele­ton. I’d tried to get a shot when it was in prime con­di­tion for three or four years in a row, but ev­ery year I tried it was the same. It would change colour, but the weather con­di­tions would be aw­ful and there would be no op­tion to take the shot prior to it shed­ding all of its leaves.

“Au­tumn 2015 was dif­fer­ent. The dawn of 16 Oc­to­ber 2015 was beau­ti­ful. The only ques­tion was, which lens? I wanted to ex­clude most of the land­scape bar the tree. It was al­ready in my mind to take the shot in a ver­ti­cal for­mat to take ad­van­tage of the tree’s re­flec­tion shim­mer­ing gen­tly in the rem­nants of the early morn­ing mist, and also to en­sure the tree shone brightly against the dark back­drop.”

In the end, Mark plumped for a Nikon 180mm f/2.8 tele­photo prime, fit­ted to his Nikon Df – a com­bi­na­tion that he’s par­tic­u­larly fond of.

If you work in a town or city, why not make use of lunchtimes and the jour­ney to and from work to shoot cityscapes?

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