I have a prediliction for capturing moody dramatic pictures and travel at inhospitable times of year (for most tastes) to maximise my chances of working with the volatile weather patterns that the British Isles is known for worldwide. These conditions can be exhilarating and trying in equal measure but often present the tenacious photographer with much greater opportunity to capture varied imagery…in fact, when one is REALLY lucky, merely planting the tripod and standing in the same spot with the shutter release in one’s hand pressing the button at intervals is all that’s needed to capture such a positive confection of light and tone that you’re left smiling and pinching yourself afterwards. Did I really witness that? I’m betting that most landscape photographers will all have had those experiences at some time or another and neurophysiologically, it’s these very moments that trigger our dopamine systems so completely that we crave to repeat them and get us out there again and again.
When it all goes to plan, visual feasting can be so easy and satisfying … and that banquet table be positively overflowing with opportunity.
But what about being confronted with the diametrically opposed weather setting to this? The calm blue sky…the sky that draws people out walking in the landscape and puts a smile on faces? The sky with an absence of cloud even to suggest the possibility of rain later? The sky which outpours bright bright sunshine?
Such skies are born in the morning of an increasing cooling of seamless pink - red tones melting into orange and then after the sun has risen, into a blue palate that becomes intensely cobalt with polarisation. Against such a sky, other colours and tones sometimes compete forcefully - green especially. It can be a challenge to work with such light, especially as the luminance and contrasts increase to peak midday. In such conditions, if one is determined to take pictures regardless, then seeking out graphic compositions, shooting in black and white or softening the light with diffusers/shadow introduction to work on detailed shots is probably the order of the day for the landscape photographer. Although this necessitates a determined and focussed eye, actually choosing to experience such weather from time to time I believe is needed for me to maintain the hunger for visual satisfaction. My umbrella might be put to a different use - casting shadows, but for once it won’t be used to keep everything dry and this can be very nice… it certainly makes me appreciate the tempestuous times when everything has come together with greater ease visually but what greater physical endurance has been needed to put me in the right place at the right time to experience that?
As such blue sky days pass too, the cloudless uncontaminated twilight colours transition seamlessly again from warm to cool and darkness again before distant stars appear. These skies are wonderful for reflective coastal scenes when the water is usually so calm that water ripples placidly and the gentle gradation provides the foil for the other image components to resonate with and the space for the subtlest elements to speak unhindered.
As for the photographer who likes bold drama, it imposes on her an unfamiliar palate that demands embracement. It may not be the raw ingredient that one feels entirely at home with, but with sufficient open-mindedness, the recipe need not be any less tasty.