The Angry Photographer
After my recent trip to The Hebrides, I came across a beautiful spot on Lewis that I had camped at a few years ago with my wife. It reminded me of a particular evening that I was recording a time lapse of a sunset while drinking a coffee and enjoying the scenery. As the sun was setting into the last 20 minutes or so of the golden hour a car pulled up on the road behind us and a photographer got out, making his way towards where we were camped. He started snapping away at the scenery, regularly checking his shots then dashing off in another direction. As I watched him I could see the frustration fill him, I briefly managed a bit of chat with him and found out he had come from Slovenia for a photography trip and was trying to catch the great light but just couldn't capture it. He eventually took off again, snapping away and getting more frustrated, then ran back to the car and drove off to some other spot.
This is something I'd seen in myself in the past, and probably something that most photographers go through at some stage. I'm sure even professionals who have been in the business a long time still occasionally curse the gods when things just don't go their way.
Landscape photography can be a frustrating business. We often find ourselves standing in one location as the good light starts to dwindle and we think 'the light looks better over there, maybe I should grab my gear and move'. Or as we drive around scouting out locations a sudden change in the sky produces a dramatic scene, but you're stuck in the car trying to find a lay-by to pull into and find yourself just too far away to get there before the light changes again. As a result we can fall into the trap of running around achieving nothing as the light fades.
Over the years I've learnt how to deal with this, as getting frustrated is a sure fire way to prevent getting any results at all. Photography needs a clear mind to work well. So here's a few helpful tips to deal with the angry photographer inside.
Fear Of Missing Out
So it's a beautiful evening/sunrise and you've picked your location, but so far you haven't managed to capture on camera what you see in front of you. Looking at the scenery in the distance you start to think that maybe you should move locations, the light looks better. You suddenly find yourself torn between staying put or taking precious time to move locations for potentially better results.
As soon as you start to think like this you're in trouble. Your mind is no longer focused on where you are but where you want to be, and as a result you are effectively nowhere. Remember that the location that you are not shooting at will be there tomorrow, but the time that you have right now is rapidly ticking away. Yes the light might appear better elsewhere, but you can't really be sure, so leave that for another day and focus on where you are.
So Close But Yet so Far
Driving is a necessary way to scout out locations and a quick way to cover large areas. But if you are expecting to actually get any good photography done from driving around you will often face disappointment and poor results. The chances of you driving past the perfect location at the same time that the light is just right and actually being able to get out of the car, grab your gear and get yourself to the right spot is pretty slim. Instead, use the middle of the day to scout out locations and don't even worry about taking any shots. Only bring your camera for working out compositions, or make it even easier and use your phone for quick reminder shots and leave the heavy gear in the boot. Once you have a location in mind, work out what time you want to shoot it at and get there an hour beforehand. Set up your gear and start working an area to get a feel for it so you are ready for when the good light arrives. If you're ever in a car and you see a good shot, the chances are you are already too late.
So for those moments when you find the angry photographer rising up inside, remember, keep your mind focused on where you are (and get there earlier next time)