It was a very cold Sunday morning, at the end of January, the wind raged across the countryside in the beautiful Lake District in Great Britain.
Together with a group of English photographers I stayed there for a few days, under the inspiring leadership of Charlie Waite, one of the masters of landscape photography. After a very rainy start of the day, the air suddenly breaks as a result of the hard wind. No moment of hesitation: we packed our things and jumped into the car. Charlie Waite already figured out the location so we didn’t have to think about that anymore. On to the stone circle of Castlerigg! On our way in the car Charlie explained the “place of performance”, so that we could start to work right away. I didn’t know the place and was completely surprised and touched by the beauty, the wideness and the mystique of this special place with its stone circle. And as always, when I first arrive somewhere, I take the time to make the place a little bit of me.
First I look around me, feeling the landscape with its specific energy, it should become a part of me. I’m always looking for the connection with the landscape: what does it do with me, what takes my breath away and if so, which special element strikes me?
That meant in this case get away from the group a bit, walk around, smell and feel what the landscape does to me. And it did something to me: I felt the history, the mysterious atmosphere and that was all reinforced by the bleak wind and the cold. And then it starts, looking and forming an image: where am I actually, what does this place show me in essence, what does the light do, from what position is the area at its fullest? Then I grab my camera. I have more or less already unconsciously decided which lens I will use. Also that I’m going to use a ND grad filter, because the contrast is too big.
The wind is enormous and I notice that I now am happy with my heavier tripod; it again appeared worth while to carry. As a reaction to the high winds sunlight changes into shadow and vice versa very quickly, but what a light, MAGNIFICENT!!! Charlie is quite excited and shouts frequently: “watch the light, 30 secs from now!!” and “don’t cut off the shadows”. But we all are actually very excited: what a light on such a mysterious place... I am happy to work. Time and again I notice that working on tripod brings peace to my way of photographing. It forces me to choose a particular composition more carefully, and wait for the right light and the right time. The composition and what I want to say/show is in my head now. I want to show the wideness, beauty, impact and mystery of the area in only one image. The stone circle with the mountains in the background, the light of front right that gives a beautiful shadow effect.
And then: the picture is taken. I feel it, everything’s right: time, light, composition and position.I take some more pictures, but it really is no longer needed, it’s on! This is always a very special moment.
And then all of a sudden the beautiful light disappears like snow in the sun. We saw it coming: over and out... only dark clouds. As if nature wants us to say: it’s been fine so …We pack our stuff, get into the car, and drive back to the hotel for a delicious lunch at the fireplace. The excitement continues!
That is where I do it all for... the time in and with the landscape... with a wonderful image as a reward and a memory.