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What! I can do this for fun?

It’s been a busy time since I hooked up with my friend Mike of Pilgrim Photography to form Four Counties Photography. We’ve photographed school children for their start of year photos, bonnie babies in a shop, nursery school portraits, formal military cadet portraits and events. I’ve taken over  five thousand carefully considered shots.

Yes, it’s been very busy since the summer.

The trouble is that I’d done so much work that I’d forgotten to go out and take photos for me. My camera had become a work tool not a creative tool.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been fabulous being able to make a living from something I love but taking photos of 500+ children in a standard portrait pose does not challenge or satisfy my creative or aesthetic side.

So I’d sort of lost my mojo, my interest, my drive. I hardly picked up the camera except for work for four months. I needed to do something about it.

Every time I picked up my camera the weather was bleak, dark, dismal and wet. The perfect excuse to put it off for another day.

So I decided to pull off the main road and head toward the lovely little Cumbrian village of Wetheral to look for something to stimulate the creative juices. 

Although a rainy day and a dull sky, there was still lots of colour in the landscape. But the winter has taken its toll on the the man made items and the first thing I saw was the footpath signage looking very sorry for itself. I loved the way that the moss mottled the surface, blending into the green of the sign markings. I am fascinated by the way that the rust on the mounting pole lifts away the coating.

Just standing in the one spot produced so many interesting colours, textures and shapes.

Looking down the road led the eye initially to the little bridge which seemed to give a logical conclusion to the tarmac and even the pools of water left after the rain, the thing which so put me off going out, added to the surface texture by reflecting the sky and contrasting with the tarmac. It’s only afterwards that the striking golds, brown and green of the hedges and verges are noticed bringing a warmth to the eye on a cold day.

Still at the same location a ninety degree turn provided another totally different view. Just as fascinating as the last the muddy path draws us into an eerie darkness. Just what lies beyond those trees? 

Again the rain helped rather than hindered. In the summer that path would have been a dull and dusty dirt lane. In the wet of late winter the path takes on a glistening twisting highlight to the opening at the end.

Once again the colours fight their way through the dullness of the almost bare trees, colours not to be seen again until the spring and summer are over and the autumn arrives again. 

It’s wonderful that the bare trees in the foreground seem to fall together to form a welcoming arch to draw the onlookers eyes in.

Another turn to the right but this time a full about turn and a lone bare tree standing in the field takes the eye.

The almost layered effect of the fields, hedges and verges in the foreground create a layer cake of colour and texture.

Our main subject stands proud but naked of its foliage. A skeletal sculpture siluetted against the stark sky line.

Once again the very thing which deterred me from going outside, the wet weather, creates a magic on the road, making the grass extra green and luxurious and adding welcome highlights to the scene, reflecting just enough to stimulate interest.

For half a year the trees structure is hidden inside a leafy coat of green but the autumn strips the foliage away and by the time winter comes each branch, each twig, each arm is on display giving only a hint of the shape to come in spring time.

I did try zooming into the tree to fill the shot but it lost all of its natural impact.

It was a fascinating exercise, to stop in a single place and to just look around at what surrounds you, using perspective, thinking about composition and seeing the impact of the colours.
Zooming in on the tree didn’t work but a wide shot added atmosphere, yet, the close up detail of the path sign drew out the detail and texture which would have been lost in a wide shot. The road and the path shots are similar in using perspective and lines to dray the eye, yet they are so different where the straight lines of the road add purity and the gentle winding of the path create interest.

So yes, I’m back and enjoying my camera again for my pleasure. 

I continued into the village and photographed the beautiful church, the strong flowing river flowing through the high, multi arched bridge and the quaint railway station. But that’s all for another story. 

For now it’s nice to know my mojo back


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