Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
It's been a reasonably busy start to my photography in 2017. January had already seen me visit Dawlish Warren, Dartmoor and Colmer's Hill in Dorset, so when faced with a photography free weekend I was content to stay at home and clock in some family time.
However, it appeared that the photography gods were looking down on me and unexpectedly my wife decided to take the kids to the cinema. So while the offer to go and see Sing was tempting, I was also offered the chance to go and do something myself. What could I possibly do with a few spare hours on a January afternoon….?
Well, it wasn't going to be DIY that was for sure so I got busy looking at my photography locations map and got to planning a shoot. I had already shot Devon and Dorset this year so I thought why not finish January by going to Cornwall. But where would I go? This is the good thing about keeping a locations map, it allows me to visualise possible shooting locations so I could see which of my Cornish locations would suit my time constraints, weather and time of day.
I eventually decided on Boscastle, a location I've shot a couple of times before. The high viewpoint above the curvy harbour entrance, dramatic coastline and forecast cloud cover would, I decided, make for an excellent sunset coastal location.
Taking a Friend
Landscape photography can often, for me at least, be a solitary past time. After all, getting up at 5 am to visit Dartmoor in freezing conditions in the off chance there is a good sunrise is not exactly on top of everyone's list of things to do. However, this was a Saturday afternoon and while it wasn't exactly a warm and pleasant day I did think my father-in-law would be up for a session with the camera. So I gave him a call and he jumped at the chance. So we packed our stuff and hit the road to Cornwall.
It's just over an hour's drive to Boscastle from home so there was plenty of time to analyse the weather as we got closer to our destination. Things were looking very positive. The heavy, but intermittent rain showers meant the sky was full of cumulonimbus clouds as well as the odd thunderstorm cloud with high altitude anvils. As we drove we had visions of a setting sun illuminating these big clouds in a golden orange colour as they travelled along the dramatic Cornish coast. It might just be one of those great trips out with the camera.
It's a short walk from the harbour car park to the viewpoint, but it does require a small ascent to get an elevated viewpoint. It's worth the effort though and the excitement of the shoot gave us more than enough energy to get up the hill.
Once at the top we set up our cameras and got ready to start taking some epic images. However, as has been the way for me recently, I could spot a few problems. The big dramatic rain clouds had now for the most part all passed by leaving only small patches of cloud. There was also a big bank of low cloud on the horizon which I knew would block the last of light when the sun dipped down behind them. Still not to be put off I got shooting and took this image just as the sun dipped below the distant cloud line.
We kept shooting until sunset but the conditions obviously did not improve. Landscape photographers bang on about the quality of light all the time but for very good reason. I know Boscastle is a fantastic location for capturing images but in flat winter light, even the most dramatic of locations can look a bit drab. I tried taking a few long exposures which provided the movement in clouds I was looking for but without good light, the image remains flat and grey.
As it started to get dark we decided to call it a day and head back to the car. Though the conditions hadn't been as we had hoped, we had at least had a good old chat and most importantly been out with the cameras.
Though January hasn't resulted in the capture of any portfolio class images, I am, as always, very happy to have got out with the camera. Despite work and family commitments, I have managed to get out with the camera every weekend in January. I even managed to create a video on how I use ND filters.
I rarely consider a trip out with the camera to be wasted effort. I often talk about the value in practising the craft of photography on this blog and so if anything this trip to Boscastle was still time well spent. Photographers can often set unrealistic expectations on ourselves to capture amazing images each time we go out. However, unlike full-time photographers, my time out with the camera is set around work and family commitments rather than when the conditions are likely to be optimal. I can't always capture amazing images, but I can make sure I'm well prepared for when they are.
So how do you balance your photography with other commitments? Will you wait for the best conditions or head out for the fun of it? Do you like to go out shooting with a friend or prefer solitude when out in the landscape? Let me know in the comments below.