I took a complete break from the computer this weekend and journeyed out to do a recce of an area that I’m thinking of using as a location for some sunrise shots, right at the top of a very steep hill with a view over the plain below.
It was a very rainy day and I decided it would be perfect for a drive out, (if you ignored the flooded roads!), the country roads were quiet so I could pull up whenever I wanted, blocking the road to have a peer over hedges or through gates.
The area around this particular village has been calling to me for a while; it’s a lovely English village, a sandstone church stands high on the hill overlooking the village below, a country pub is the sole commercial activity and opposite, a tiny triangle of village green which is dominated by a huge old oak tree.
As I drove around the lanes I noticed important things I hadn’t seen on my previous visit, footpaths – rights of ways across farmland. As the ground was sodden from many days of rain, yesterday wasn’t the time to take a walk and see what new views can be seen from the fields. I’ve made a mental note though and will be back soon to investigate.
Driving back down the steep hill that affords a dramatic view over the valley below, past a golf course with a footpath crossing it – who would risk that Sunday lunch walk? Winding my way down the road past grand houses I glanced to my left and on a grassy bank below the trees were daffodils in bloom. I couldn’t believe my eyes, daffodils in February, so I pulled in and got out to investigate. It was going to be tricky to take good shots, the ground was sodden so not great for kneeling or lying down and the daffs were on the lowest part of the bank. It was worth a shot though, I decided. I love taking photos with raindrops on petals and as the rain was bouncing down I couldn’t fail to get some.
Back to the car of tricks then, on went my waterproof boots, my waterproof jacket, camera put safely in a freezer bag to keep it dry whilst I set up, my tripod, and my secret weapon; a yoga mat.
Angling the tripod and camera I stooped as best I could and took some shots with the daffs that were just opening, their heads full of raindrops. I played around for a while setting up, and then wishing I had a few more hands as I focused the camera, kept the bag on the body and held an umbrella over the lens. Octopus I’m not, but in a fashion I managed. Eventually, I realised the only way to go was to get as low down on ground as possible. I picked up my yoga mat – which is really a thick piece of heavy duty foam – and knelt down, it was so much better; comfort and immediately more connection with the flower.
I changed positions many times but having to protect the lens with a camera became a real pain as to get the angle I wanted, it wasn’t possible to use the tripod on all three legs so one hand held the tripod another the shutter button and the umbrella was jettisoned.
What I did realise as I sat in front of a roaring fire, drying my coat and jeans in the village pub afterwards, supping a peppermint tea, (oh yes, this landscape photographer is so rock and roll!), is, I need a bit more kit.
Even the shortest leg tripod wouldn’t have been good enough, there just wasn’t enough room between the ground and the flower head and as I couldn’t lie out flat on the ground as it was so boggy I’m thinking I just need to take a plastic dish of some kind with me that I can use upturned with a rim so the camera won’t fly off yet will raise it enough to able to look directly up into the flowers. I would be really interested to hear what pieces of kit you carry when you are out and about on shoots, professional or improvised, you are most welcome to write below.