Last week on this blog was my summary of 2016 focusing mainly on the amazing time spent in the Falkland Islands and how my photography has improved in all areas as a result. Well I’m glad to announce that 2017 has started off in much the same ilk. Though my time outdoors with the camera continues to be very limited, often I take a little mirrorless with me when I walk the dog before work, when it’s usually still dark.
My single dedicated photography trip so far this year to the local beach of Mersea Island was fantastic. The sky and the light wasn’t quite playing ball for an epic shot but it was certainly better than many of my trips towards the back end 2016. It was freezing cold and there was an unusual beach frost but the River Blackwater was almost flat calm with a fantastic twilight glow. The cold was an issue; my hands in recent years have suffered in a huge way when it comes to cold weather. Being a northerner I’ve never had trouble keeping my body warm, in fact, often at work people complain because my office is cold, however keeping my hands warm is a real problem. More on this and how I’m tackling it another time.
Not only was I greeted by a nice calm expanse of water, it was also high tide and this is where I usually struggle around the island because it’s not a classic sandy beach. Due to it being a tidal river-mouth there are mud flats and mud flats aren’t altogether photogenic. This also hinders my very limited time out with the camera. When I do get the opportunity I usually have to keep my fingers crossed as I check for the tides prior to going. But this time out the tide was in my favour, no scruffy mud flats in the foreground. It certainly wasn’t portfolio conditions but a nice start to the year none the less.
In addition to the decent welcome on the beach I managed to bump into a local photographer that frequently appears with great images on my twitter feed going by the handle @merseamillsy. It’s always nice to finally put a name to a face and Shaun appears to have a similar style to that of my own. I also know he feels the same way about the stinky mud flats. You can find links to his work on my Friends Page.
I make no references to buses coming along in two’s, but I think both Shaun and I were surprised to see a very well known local photographer, Colin Westgate, strolling along with his stick and two dogs. Digger wasted no time at all introducing himself to the pair of K9’s in a flash; there were a few tripod threatening moments in a melee of playful paws. Colin is a very accomplished photographer whom I first heard of when I saw an image of his that was shortlisted in a Landscape Photographer Of The Year book. I instantly recognised the pastel colours of the Mersea Island beach huts in a thick layer of snow. Colin and his wife, Chrissy, run photography workshops locally and abroad under the name Quest Landscape Photography, their website is currently undergoing renovation but their facebook page is still live.
LEARNING & MOTIVATION
Anyone who knows me well will know I like to figure things out for myself and I’ve been teaching myself photography for 4 years now. As I mentioned in last week’s post 2016 was a huge success in terms of my all round photography development. I’m sure you can appreciate it is very hard to keep motivated when I get as little as 2-4 hours per month of dedicated time with the camera. So what is it that keeps me going?
YouTube is an amazing source of information from which I have learnt plenty. I always say if you need to research for information use Google, if you need to know how to do something practical use YouTube. I have fixed many things and saved tons of money by using YouTube. I could take a long time to list the many channels I follow to learn from or to simply draw motivation from but I will stick to the ones I frequent the most.
First Man Photography
Ted Forbes (The Art of Photography)
And more recently Simon Baxter
You can follow podcasts from either iTunes or other platforms but my preference if to use Podbean (for android). I’ve started walking to work which takes me about 20 mins which is a great time listen to the podcasts or even in the car on longer journeys. The following are the ones that are keeping me in touch with the world of photography.
The Togcast (relatively new but brilliant)
Improve Photography (American based excellent source of info with a great blog to boot)
Tripod (American based but aimed at outdoors photographers, highly recommended)
PetaPixel (Great for photography current affairs and humour)
This Week in Photos (TWIP) (a good all rounder)
I use many books for inspiration, usually photobooks from LPOTY or OPOTY but also Joe Cornish and similar. I’m sure you can find a plethora of books that suit your tastes if you look hard enough but they certainly help to inspire and motivate me when I’m struggling to get out there.
With these tools of information and encouragement keeping me on board and in focus (excuse the pun) I should be snapping great images through 2017 regardless of how many times I get out there.