Ross Hod­dinott


Practical Photography (UK) - - Spring -

Ross re­turns to his lo­cal patch – the amaz­ing Cor­nish coast.

S O, I’M CUR­RENTLY SAT IN MY SKODA YETI, shel­ter­ing from rather in­clement weather. It’s blow­ing a hoolie out there and I’m dodg­ing yet an­other squally shower. I’m parked in a lay-by, over­look­ing the rugged Pen­with coast in west Corn­wall. From my van­tage point, I can spot the re­mains of mi­ne­shafts and old en­gine houses dot­ted along the clifftops – this is Poldark coun­try. My only com­pany is a Cor­nish pasty and my MacBook Pro. Things could be worse.

So why I am tak­ing pho­tos of Corn­wall? No par­tic­u­lar rea­son, ac­tu­ally. I’m not shoot­ing for a com­mis­sion or magazine to­day, just tak­ing pho­tos be­cause I want to. I’ve lived in the county al­most my en­tire life – one day, I might even be con­sid­ered a lo­cal.

I’ve been shoot­ing the Cor­nish coast ever since I first passed my driv­ing test – when I was still a fresh-faced 17-year-old with lofty as­pi­ra­tions to be a pro tog. Two decades later, and there are few places in north or west Corn­wall that I don’t know, or have not shot. So why on earth do I keep re­turn­ing? Why re­visit view­points you’ve pho­tographed be­fore when there is a big wide world out there? It’s a good ques­tion. I think in­ti­macy is the an­swer. You can quite lit­er­ally visit and pho­to­graph any­where in the world to­day, can’t you? Pro­vid­ing you have the cash and in­cli­na­tion to do so, of course. The world is our oys­ter, so why bother with the beauty spots lo­cal to you?

Here’s why – while it’s al­ways stim­u­lat­ing and en­joy­able pho­tograph­ing some­where new, you run the risk of over­look­ing the photo pos­si­bil­i­ties close to home. When you’re trav­el­ling, you rarely have suf­fi­cient time to do a place jus­tice. You can’t get to know a lo­ca­tion fully or in­ti­mately, while the win­dow of op­por­tu­nity to get just the right weather or con­di­tions is brief.

In con­trast, we have am­ple chances to get to know our lo­cal patch in­side out. By build­ing up knowl­edge of an area from mul­ti­ple vis­its over many years, we’re able to dis­cover and cap­ture the true char­ac­ter of a re­gion. Thanks to prior suc­cesses and fail­ures, you’ll learn what con­di­tions suit a cer­tain place, and also the best time of year or day in which to co­in­cide your visit. You’ll dis­cover the hid­den gems – less ob­vi­ous view­points that few oth­ers know about or have pho­tographed; and you’re more likely to cap­ture images of lo­cal places in spec­tac­u­lar or dra­matic light, as you can keep a close eye on the weather and ven­ture out with your cam­era at the drop of a hat.

This isn’t some­thing you can do if you have to travel fur­ther away. I ap­pre­ci­ate it’s easy to get bored or over­fa­mil­iar with lo­cal view­points, but avoid tak­ing them for granted as they should con­tinue to of­fer you out­stand­ing pho­to­graphic scope. And that ap­plies wher­ever you are – you don’t have to live some­where as pic­turesque as Corn­wall to have great photo op­por­tu­ni­ties on your doorstep. You just need to keep your eyes open and avoid com­pla­cency.

Any­way, enough from me. The rain is be­gin­ning to ease and I have a Cor­nish tin mine to shoot – if I’m able to keep my cam­era up­right in these blowy con­di­tions. But be­fore ven­tur­ing out again, I have a rather am­ple Cor­nish pasty to eat… Ross Hod­dinott is an award-win­ning nat­u­ral world pho­tog­ra­pher based in Corn­wall. He’s writ­ten eight books on the sub­ject and he won the in­au­gu­ral Bri­tish Wildlife Pho­tog­ra­phy Awards. rosshod­


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