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AHG Photography - Persistence is the Key

Blog Posted on 07 Jul 2011

Morning at Shelter Rock


First of all, I would like to thank Peak District On-Line for inviting me to contribute this blog and offer my view of landscape photography in the Peak District to you. I hope that I manage to do their faith in me justice.

Often, photography talk is centered on equipment. The pros and cons of the latest round of camera releases, comparisons between brand A or brand B, one lens against another, tripods, filters etc. When asked about what I consider to be the most important element in photography, my answer is always, 'persistence'.

Of course, your gear is important, you need the right tools to do the job in hand. However, to my mind the first rule of landscape photography is that to capture those breathtaking moments, you have to be there.

By way of demonstration, the image above of Shelter Rock on Higger Tor is a case in point. For a number of years, I had an image in mind of red early morning light striking the side of Shelter Rock. I eventually captured something close to what I had seen in my mind's eye in early January 2011, after two years of pursuit. This included numerous sunrise visits to Higger Tor over the course of this time, noting the position of the sunrise on the horizon as the seasons progressed and the angle from which the light struck the rocks.

I noticed that there is only a brief window of opportunity for this shot during the dead of winter, when the sun sets furthest to the south. As the sun begins it's journey northwards along the horizon after the winter solstice, the large outcrop next to Shelter Rock blocks direct sunlight and throws it's shadow across the stones.

During late December and early January I made several trips for sunrise to Higger Tor. Each time the conditions defeated me. Either thick low cloud completely obscured the sun, or cloud sat in the wrong position on the horizon blocking the sunrise and only allowed the sun to show once it had climbed above the cloud and lost the quality of light that I wanted to capture.

On this particular morning I knew that I wouldn't get many more chances, as the sun would soon be rising too far north to avoid the obstacle of the outcrop next to Shelter Rock. The conditions didn't look promising with thick dark cloud, as I placed my camera on the tripod and waited for sunrise. Eventually, the first bead of the rising sun broke the horizon and soon began to cast the most wonderful red light onto Shelter Rock as I worked furiously, adjusting angles and position to make the most of the light. In all, the light lasted for about ten minutes before the sun rose high enough to become obscured behind the thick cloud.

Ten minutes of perfect light may not seem like good value payback for two years of scouting, waiting and plotting. However, persistence always pays off. All of the fruitless early mornings are forgotten when you finally put yourself in the right place, at the right time and capture the images that you really want to create.

This blog was brought to you by Andy Hemingway - AHG PHOTOGRAPHY

Make of Camera: Nikon D200
Lens: Sigma 10-20mm
ISO: 100
Aperture: f/11
Shutter Speed: 1/8 Second
Focal Length: 10mm
Filter: Cokin ND4 Soft Grad

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