Landscape photography can be a weird thing at times, especially when you plan to shoot somewhere and end up in an entirely different location. In this case I was rewarded after what was seeming to be a fruitless search and a possible return journey home with nothing to show for it. Luckily this didn’t happen as I decided to walk a little bit further to see where a path led!
Some lessons can be learnt from the story that follows. Such as:
Whenever you can, abandon your car and walk instead.
Don’t be too upset when the location you were originally planning to shoot, just doesn’t do it for you.
Always carry a bottle of water and some light snack foods.
I had been planning to photograph Selborne church in the late afternoon sun and indeed I did make it there. Even the sun was shining and in the position I had calculated it to be but things just weren’t right. It’s better looking side was in fact on the opposite end and I quickly realized that I would have to come back another time – dawn. Hence I decided not to photograph it and made a mental note to come back another day.
I had to come up with something else and so I plodded back to the car and took to the road once more. I decided to head for the hamlet of Hartley Mauditt about a mile away where I would find an even older church. Surely this one would be alright?
Once again my ideas were quickly scuppered, as the tall trees surrounding the church cast giant shadows over it. Damn! This trip was rapidly turning into a failure. Not a new thing mind you, as quite often things you visualize in your mind, often turn out to be starkly different in reality. I had to look for something else, time to explore my new environment.
There is no better way of discovering new locations than putting on your walking boots and taking a stroll. I decided to head towards a nearby pond which my map identified as “Hartley Pond” but the wind had whipped up quite a lot. No chance in a million of getting some nice reflection shots. Mind you worth a thought for another day. So I decided to follow another footpath to see where that led.
Things began to look far more promising as I turned the corner. A Buzzard took off from a nearby tree and glided over the path in front of me and ascended to take up a new sentry point on a nearby telegraph pole. I had walked barely a quarter of a mile but had already entered a beautiful wilderness, where there was just nature and myself with the exception of a distant tractor occupied by a busy solitary farmer.
This path soon led me down a road that I had actually walked along around two years ago one frosty morning. I recalled that I had found a path on that earlier venture but never took it. I found the stile that I could recall from last time and stepped over it into a gnarled old woodland that the path weaves through. The ancient woodland was pockmarked with badger sets either used or not, I couldn’t be certain. The trees twisted and contorted as if they were straight out of Tolkein’s Middle Earth. I felt as if I had been transported into another world and that this path would lead me to another kingdom, possibly Narnia.
Eventually it led me into a field of curious sheep who were intrigued by the stranger in their midst. Some made a hasty retreat out to the field’s perimeter, yet some remained rooted to the spot. I pressed on leaving my woolly audience behind and came across a bridge that my “discovered” path led me across. Seemed that I was welcome to roam these fields and indeed I should as “the right to roam” law states I can.
My map indicated that I was exploring Hartley Park Farm just off Selborne Road. My search came to an end when I found the location featured in the previous post.
I was taken by the long grass mixed with wild Teasel and how the late afternoon light turned the colour ablaze with a golden hue. It was ideal. I set about setting my gear up making sure that I wasn’t disturbing any wildlife in the process. I was half expecting to see a badger but if the sets to my left were inhabited, no signs of life were present.
I opted for a simple composition of bare oak trees, the lovely grasses and teasel for a good combination of foreground and background interest.
I always focus first before fitting filters and taking exposure readings. Don’t know about you but I find focussing through grads and polarisers difficult to do! In this case I used a 2 stop graduated neutral density filter together with circular polariser to saturate and balance land and sky. Finally I exposed a frame every minute or so as the light started to cool down, checking the histograms throughout. This is a great way of comparing your own judgement of light with what is actually recorded. When you see an even spread or a nice “mound” without spikes in the histogram, you know you’ve got a good exposure that can be manipulated very well later. If you want to that is. More often than not the original shot is normally fine and best left untampered.
The light started to cool way beyond practical use and I called it a day. Starving hungry and very thirsty. Should have packed some rations!