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Learn from your work

Around this time of year I do hardly any photography, with the long summer days I find it too hard to get up for sunrise, and the air is often hazy from warm weather. This year, with the exception of a few scouting trips, I haven't used my camera now in 2 months. But I find that this is a good time to reflect upon my work in the last year. By looking back at older images and comparing it to my new collections I can see a definite progress, which is great to see. When we're in the zone of regularly taking images, we can be too focused on our latest work and it's easy to overlook how far we have come.

This time last year my best work was of the Faroes. This shot of Gasadalur was one of my favorites, I loved the mood in the sea and the clouds, of the land looming out of the darkness and how the waterfall catches the eye so much. But it's not a shot I would take today; I'm not convinced about the aspect ratio, is there too much sea to the left of the image? And in terms of composition it is much more complex than what I would take now.

Today, one of my favorite images is of west beach in Berneray in the Outer Hebrides. There is very little in the shot in terms of landscape. No dramatic cliffs, no detailed foreground, no blazing sunrise. But I really enjoy looking at this image printed out. The image of Gasadalur is somewhat factual, a report of some beautiful land on a cloudy day. But the image of Berneray seems to leave space for the imagination. Images like this have challenged me when it comes to editing. I've had to focus a lot on learning about tone and colour, subtle changes can make a big difference.

In a way I feel I was also a little colour blind in the past. I re-edited my original shot of Gasadalur to see how I would interpret it differently. One of the things I noticed immediately when I opened the file was that there was a blue hue to the sky, but a green one in the sea. In my re-edit, I decided to balance this out more, shifting to a more neutral hue for the sky and sea so that they come together better.

I've cropped the image to 6x7 which has shifted the land more into the centre and given the waterfall more space. I've also added in some localised contrast to balance the image more. Looking at the new edit, I realise that this is the image I saw in my mind when I looked at the old version.

I'll still continue to use the original image, we can't keep re-editing our old work or we would be in a perpetual loop. But it is a good experiment to do from time to time, to test ourselves and see how much we have learned.

I have a whole host of locations planned for the autumn and winter months ahead and I'm always a little apprehensive about my future photography, will I be able to produce anything of worth? But hopefully by this time next year, I can spend time looking back and see that I have continued further along my journey.

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