It’s lock down for the foreseeable future and there is nothing we can do about it until it is safe to venture back towards a ‘normal’ life.
In the mean time we have to make do with whatever is in front of us and try to fill our time in positive ways otherwise we could end up with a heavy negative energy and none of us want that, at least I don’t. It’s therefore vital to make the most of your one hour exercise time everyday [Yes, please do go for a walk as part of your daily exercise if you can do so safely and from your front door. However, you must ensure you stick to Government guidelines and keep yourself and others safe] and not succumb to the apathetic mindset that will slow you down both physically and mentally.
It means you need to get up off your arse and get out of the house for at least one hour per day and exercise. My preferred method of going for a walk is to take my camera along with me as this gives me some normality to the situation because this is how I would function in ‘normal’ time.
I don’t mean hanging around one location for a period of time that will get people talking but find an interesting space on your walk and see what opportunities are there to make a few photographs. It will encourage you to be creative and will increase your positive energy flow to the brain thus helping the current situation to slip away from your thoughts, at least, for a while anyway.
When you go on this walk keep it simple in terms of what photographic equipment you take with you. I’m talking about one camera and one lens not a rucksack full of camera equipment. It’s a great time to get to know the camera that’s frustrated you since you got it because you didn’t understand how it works. I see this problem all the time because people are just not willing to make mistakes and try things out on the camera. They will stick the camera in Automatic mode and let the camera do the thinking for them. This is wrong if you want to make a step up in how you improve your photographs moving forward. Let’s face it it’s like anything in life that has some degree of difficulty it comes down to how motivated you are in wanting to learn the subject you are excited by. If you have a developing interest in a particular ‘thing’ then you need to do the spade work in order to make progress and become proficient.
When you are on your walk start to look around for signs of interest that could make for an interesting photo. I often hear [“but I don’t know what to photograph”] which is a normal response when you are new to photography or have a creative block which does happen even to seasoned professionals. There are a million and one things to photograph when you are on a walk but I would suggest to really narrow down your options and focus on one or two ideas. It may be something you think of before you go on the walk or you may prefer to be guided by what you see on your walk and this could spark an idea for you. It also helps to not think in terms of quantity but of quality. It is better to go back with one great shot in the bag rather than 57 very average ones. You get my point.
We have been very fortunate in the south of England so far in terms of the weather as it’s been very warm and sunny which helps you to get out of the house and explore your local environment. It’s strange that even when I don’t have a camera with me I am still looking for photographic opportunities as this can, in my opinion, make you a better photographer for when you do have a camera in your hand. On this day I am walking into a vast open space in Rochester next to the river Medway. My mind is drawn by this security cage fence in the middle of the vast space as it seems slightly out of place and remote. I walk around it just looking and ‘seeing’ what’s possible in photographic terms. I don’t take a picture straight away but consider the options available by this fence and the location in which it is placed.
I am already thinking of a black and white photograph because of the lack of any colour in the scene other than the green grass and blue sky which is not a strong enough theme on it’s own for me to push the shutter release button. When you shoot black and white photos they are immediately stripped of any colour and become abstract in their own rightand that’s why I tend to have the camera set to black and white on the rear view monitor.
In photographic terms I am keen on a frame within a frame as a theme in some of my work. It helps to draw the viewer into a particular place within the image and that’s what I try to do in this photograph. I use the fence to frame the iconic elements of Rochester in the cathedral and the castle. The thorn bush is significant in the way it is climbing up the fence in a wild and natural way. I am familiar with the ‘Man Versus Nature’ theme from studying Edward Hopper many years ago. His work also explores alienation which seems very apt in the current climate. I decide to leave space around the fence in the frame to isolate the fence in it’s own space and also to amplify the space around the fence. I keep the frame of the camera level with the top of the fence to keep the photograph stable and symmetrical. This allows for the horizon line to be a little skewed which works well in the overall viewing of the scene as it adds a little tension in the scene.
I thought this scene reminded me of an apocalyptic vibe which is consistent with what is going on in the world right now. There are no people in this scene as they are all at home wondering how this event is going to play out. The fence itself acts as prison bars from which the human race is currently hiding behind waiting for news on what is coming next. I make this one image and go home feeling energized both mentally and physically. I feel blessed I studied photography and took it to the next level and with a little application getting to know your camera better you could too.