Adventures in Photography Challenge Round-Up
So I didn’t quite make it to day 31.
I had completely underestimated the amount of work and time that would be required to finish this challenge and in the end work commitments forced me to abandon my project on day 27. I completed 26 days, visited 26 different locations and took 351 different images. It was mostly really good fun and it forced me to go out on days when the weather was horrible and I really wasn’t feeling that creative. But despite some challenges I have come away with some images that I like and that I will probably use again so it was definitely worth while. I have also spent 26 days out in the Suffolk countryside which is always rewarding. It is something I never tire of and I am lucky to have such varied and beautiful landscape on my doorstep.
So what have I learned from my challenge?
I create my best work without pressure when I have time to connect with the landscape.
The challenge was a really different way of working for me. I often only go out if the weather looks promising. I tend to go out with a pre planned shot / shots in mind and work with the weather and light. I rarely go out every day as there are always too many pulls on my time. So from that respect the challenge was brilliant. It forced me to get out, it force me to think creatively and it forced me to embrace all the varied weather that the Suffolk Coast could throw at me!
I don’t need to travel to take compelling landscape images
It is easy to assume that the images we can make by staying local are somehow inferior to those captured further afield but this is just nonsense. Compelling images can be made anywhere with a bit of vision and a whole lot of observation. This challenge was the ultimate exercise in observation and making the most from one location.
Quality over quantity is best every time.
Working to shoot 20 plus images in one session I felt was a compromise between quality and quantity. It was hard to maintain the creative enthusiasm for high numbers of images. The process became more about story telling using multiple shots rather than 20 separate stand alone images. It was also hard to relax and connect with the landscape whilst working so hard to capture a large amount of images. So I learned that, personally, I much prefer to go out and soak up the feeling of a place and come away with one or two shots if I am lucky. For me it is not all about the images it is about a process, a connection and spending quality time in the landscape.
The weather doesn’t matter
It is possible to take interesting images in any weather. March was actually pretty grey and dull and I am sure if I was taking images normally I wouldn’t have gone out half as much. I found I actually prefer soft light and greyer days to vibrant skies and I made some of my favourite images on the worst days. This shot from East Lane, Bawdsey was taken on day six on a very grey morning but it is one of my favourite images from the month.
My favourite day
I enjoyed all my trips out and especially enjoyed discovering areas I hadn’t visited before like the beech woods at Lower Hollesley Common (day 14) or the fens by the River Tang (day 21). Neither site produced the best images but the experience in both cases was really memorable. For images, I loved day 25 at Waldringfield and day 22 around Hollesley and Boyton. In terms of connecting with the landscape the walk around Hollesley and Boyton was my favourite day which goes to show how staying local can have real benefits.
My worst or most challenging day
I didn’t really have a worst day. I had some challenging times – the worst day being day 11 at Shingle Street where I was trying to photograph in 50 mile an hour winds and ended up breaking a 6 stop filter and losing my lens cap to the wind and rough seas.
I was also saddened by the amount of litter on the beach, as captured on day 10. Litter was a bit of an unwanted theme and seems to have become much worse over the course of the pandemic. It was especially noticeable around the Orwell Bridge where the bins were over flowing and the amount of litter by the footpath was disgusting.
The most shocking thing I saw was the fire in the gamekeepers cottage at Staverton Thicks on day 4 of my challenge which put a cloud over an otherwise beautiful day.
I feel upset that I never made the end of my challenge but I know that I have had some memorable days out and maybe even come back with one or two decent images. For me photography is all about connecting with the natural world, spending time in nature and getting joy out of observing all the wildlife and tiny details around me just as much as capturing the grander landscape views. For this reason the challenge was so worth while.
If you feel like taking on a similar challenge yourself then I can highly recommend it – it will force you to get out more, and to observe more and ultimately will make you a better and more connected photographer.