Pho­to­graph the four sea­sons

Practical Photography (UK) - - The Big Feature -

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.

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