"So far today I have watched heron fishing on a mist veiled lake, climbed wooded fells, ventured into the dragon's lair, and watched the sun rise resplendent o'er distant peaks. And it's not even 8 o'clock!" ~ my Facebook status on Sept 3rd.
I was in the Lake District last week on a family holiday. Like most photographers that don't make a living from their art, family holidays represent a prime opportunity to explore somewhere new with the camera.
I went out most mornings for sunrise, leaving the rest of the day for the family. This meant a lot of early starts, but it also meant I pretty much had the whole of the Lake District as my own personal playground.
There's something about being out early in the day, in the landscape with only your camera and your thoughts for company that I find incredibly soothing. A wave of peace and wellbeing floods over me, washing away the rest of the world for a few hours at least. It's like the perfect antidote to our hectic, stress fuelled lives.
One morning I climbed Loughrigg Fell above Ambleside. Not one of the Lakes' great peaks but a lovely spot nonetheless and it got the blood pumping. Climbing the fell by the pre-dawn light was fantastic. It's an experience that relatively few share, it was an adventure, a thrill, a moment to take deep breaths of the fresh dewy air and let the world melt away. The view and the sky at the summit were a sight to behold.
It's times like those when you realise that the best thing about landscape photography isn't the images but the little adventures you go on to make them. Sure, we're there to create beautiful images but that - sadly! - doesn't always happen. There would be nothing worse than getting home, being disappointed with the shots and feeling you'd wasted your time. Sure you can be disappointed with the shots, but the experience itself is far more valuable. There will always be more opportunities to get more pictures.
Being out in the landscape seems to be the true reward and the images are a by-product. To use a cliché, it's about the journey rather than the destination. If I was only worrying about making the images themselves then not only am I unable to enjoy the environment, but the very act of getting up early to hike heavy camera gear to a location is a great inconvenience rather than an exciting adventure.
Through landscape photography I've visited places I didn't even know about, watched nature in action, had magical moments when otherwise I would be asleep in my bed. These may not be adventures in the grand scale but they're my own little adventures and are special to me. If that doesn't give you a buzz, why bother taking the photographs anyway?