Photograph the four seasons
BRITAIN’S FOUR distinct seasons are a dream for UK nature photographers. The snows of winter, fresh buds of spring, lush landscapes of summer and fiery foliage of autumn dress the natural world in completely different ways, allowing you to shoot the same location throughout the year and achieve totally unique results.
According to John Ruskin, ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather’. So why not use our varied climate to your advantage for a four seasons project, where you photograph a scene from the same position in each season, ideally waiting for conditions typical of that time of year. The shots are then presented together as a quadtych (see image above).
The most frequently shot subject for a four seasons project is a tree, for which the changing leaf cycle, and even the surrounding crops, help produce very different shots. However, provided there’s a marked difference between the scenes, you can choose any subject.
Compose your shot
Some photographers prefer to shoot each image from a slightly different perspective and focal length, while others like to work from exactly the same spot so that the compositions are almost identical. If you opt for the latter, it’s important to mark your precise location on your first visit so you can easily return to it. This might mean standing next to a fence post or a tree, or it could mean counting paces from a path. You should also make a note of settings and focal length used, and take a printout of your first image to help you compose your shot in the same way.
Even though this project is spread over a whole year, your shooting window for each image may actually be fairly short. The trickiest is undoubtedly the winter shot, as you may only get a couple of days of snow to work with, and you’ll want to get on location early before it’s covered with people and footprints. It’s best if it’s not actually snowing, and a blue sky always works well.
Similarly, you’ll want to take your autumn shot when the foliage is in full colour, so you may need to make several trips to the location. If you’re lucky, you might even get a crop of barley in the foreground.
For your spring image, look out for blossom, and even bright yellow rapeseed in the surrounding fields.
Keep at it
Don’t worry too much if you miss a shot – simply keep going with the others and shoot it the following year. Some photographers who take on a four seasons project spend years waiting for perfect conditions, just so they get four great shots!
Above Use a fence post or a tree to mark your original position. A print of your first shot is also handy so you can match the composition.