“Work the scene, work the scene!” I laugh to myself as Scott Kelbys voice echoes through my mind “Something made you stop and look, that means there’s an image there, trust your eye”. OK Scott we’ll work the scene. snap, nope, snap, nope, snap nope, etc.
I’d got and idea in my head of an image I wanted to take, I knew where to take it, easy one, quick commando raid into the woods set up and get it in the bag. How wrong was I? the where turned out to be nothing like what my mind remembered it was like, not even remotely, an alternative nearby location was rammed with people staring at the river as if they’d never even seen one, which given the time of year was possible.
Back to the original area I went, passing an unknown photographer on the way past who looked every bit like you would imagine a landscape photographer to look, I start to feel very self-conscious in my cargo shorts and ragged fleece, expecting at any moment to have a Paramo’d Joe Cornish jump out from behind a tree and announce to the world in his whisper quiet voice that I was not a proper photographer. Emphasis on NOT.
I followed the stream up the steepening valley even further until the path became no more than a shelf, then went on some more. No one would be up here, peace. Time to tame the crushing self-doubt in my head. And that’s when my eye saw something and went ohh, that looks good.
It required a little careful down climb and then a careful placement of feet upon wet moss-covered rock, to reach a big flat-topped boulder in the centre of the stream upon which I sat and watched the waters flow over the short rock step and on past.
Water Worn – Nikon D7000 16-85mm, ISO 3200, 1/160 at f/6.3
Click – Meh, wasn’t feeling it. Click – nope, click – nope!, click – god no! cue Scott Kelby and his Jedi like advice – “keep working it”. So I did and eventually. . .
Burrrblees – Nikon D7000 16-85mm, ISO 3200, 1/320 sec at f/9
As I looked at the images my mind finally registered the settings – ISO 3200! ‘kin heck! camera put into manual and tripod set up, I shot another with a mind to freeze the water the same, which it did, but the turbulence pattern in the cascading flow didn’t look as good annoyingly as the auto shot, after another six odd goes I was bored, time for some long exposures.
The Drowning One – Nikon D7000 16-85mm, ISO 200, 1/8 sec at f/16
Still not feeling as though I’d really captured what had caught my eye, time to break out the 10 stop filter then, maybe that would produce the eureka moment.
The Drowning Log – Nikon D7000 16-85mm, ISO 200, 20 sec at f/8 10 stop filter
I looked at my watch and used the time as an excuse to leave, carefully recrossing the stream and climbing out of the little gully, back down the path, once more stopping to look at the scene I was just in, It grated, there was something there I just couldn’t see it.
On the way back I passed an area of flattened grass surrounding some green mossy rocks, the grass lay directionally as if it was water flowing around the rocks, quite striking, even more so when I realise that it was all laying ‘up river’ not flattened by spate waters but some other reason unknown. I returned home grateful for the time listening to nothing but flowing water but crushed by thought that I’d not got anything really.
I loaded up the images and fired up Adobe too see what I’d really got. All the above photos were processed and blemishes removed etc, but there was one I kept coming back to. It was one of the first shots taken in full auto when I was trying to find the image that had stopped me in my tracks. It looked meh on-screen, so with nothing to lose it went a bit mad. I still look at the history and wonder what precisely went through my mind to choose the actions, but anyway – this is what my ‘eye’ saw, what made me stop, and down climb.
They Lie Still – Nikon D7000 – 16-85mm, ISO 3200, 1/200 sec at f/7.1
I hope I can get back there and take some shots with a lower ISO, hopefully the stream won’t go into spate before I do, as that will carry a lot of this away. It will be fun to periodically go back to this spot and ‘document’ the changes that each period of rain brings. After being frustrated at the time, I now look at this place fondly.
The lesson is that I’d gone out to rigidly capture an image, and so, focussed on a pre-determined outcome I had become blind.
Never again, this place is too ethereal to be treated thus. I shall move again with the wind and rain, be guided by the waters and light dancing with the darkness. Hello my old friend.