As the summer months approach and the days get longer for most it’s a welcome change in the seasons but for me as a landscape photographer it means getting up at 3:30am so I can get to a location before sunrise which at times can be a real shock to my body clock. Today I decided to stay relatively local and shoot Broadway Tower in the Cotswolds a spot I had planned to visit for quite sometime but just never got round to it. The weather forecast was looking good for a little colour in the sky and I was hoping for a nice warm glow on the tower as the sun rose over the horizon.
Sunrise was at 6:00am so I left at 4:30am to arrive just in time but there was more cloud on the horizon than I would of liked. Due to the direction of the sun I struggled to find a composition and ended up setting up with a very simple shot hoping for the light to illuminate the tower.
Time to cross my fingers and hope for a break in the cloud behind me. If you do Sunrise and Sunset shoots you will know it’s a lottery as everything can look perfect but sometimes Mother Nature just doesn’t play ball. As I stood and waited the clouds passed through my frame to reveal a clear blue sky and my optimism started to sink. Now for the dilemma that we all face a lot of the time as landscape photographers, do I move to try and find another composition and get the beautiful light show to my left? Frustrating as it can be and very tempting a quick look over my shoulder I could see the possibility of a slight clearing in the cloud.
Patience is key, it’s a waiting game
If there is one thing experience has taught me it is that patience is key, it’s a waiting game. You have to keep focused and remember why you came to a spot in the first place. I know there are some photographers that can jump from one composition to the next and always get the shot but unfortunately I am with the majority and that just doesn’t work for me. I know I would spend an hour running round like a headless chicken and at best end up going home with an ok shot but something I wouldn’t be happy with.
I always at this point ask myself the same question, why am I here and what am I trying to capture. The answer was simple to capture Broadway Tower and for that to be a good shot I need light! Light….Light…Light is the key to a good image and the one ingredient a photograph needs to be successful. If you want to capture a moody photo you can’t do that on a sunny day either so you need to remind yourself that the next time you are tempted to start hunting round to capture an image that just isn’t there. After 30 minutes of waiting, the sun finally broke through for less than a minute and illuminated the tower, which was exactly what I was after. This is where experience comes in because believe me I have done it, moved thinking it isn’t going to happen and when it does I am in the wrong position or I have missed it. I spend hours prior to a shoot researching the location where the sun will rise and the light will fall so I can plan to be in the right location at a specific time of the year to have a chance of getting the image I am after. All this hard work can easily be undone with a moment of madness.
Just to demonstrate how important light really is to a subject here are 2 images I took minutes apart. If I had moved my chance of getting the image would have come and gone and I would be driving home cursing myself without the image I was after!
With years of experience and a number of award winning photographs Nigel Waters is a UK landscape photographer based in Worcestershire. With a passion for the great outdoors and continually chasing the light to capture beautiful photographs his landscape, seascape and nightscape photography will give you inspiration to get out and explore the best British landscapes have to offer.