How to Meet The Challenge of Unfamiliar Locations

Oct 15, 2021

If you’ve followed my work for any length of time you will probably have gathered from my portfolio that I rarely travel very far afield from North Wales. And, in terms of my interest in shooting new locations, travel for landscape photography is very low on my list of priorities. However, there are times when I’m more than happy to travel and those occasions, more often than not, or due to the opportunity to meet up with friends. These rare meetings are a real highlight in my calendar and I often find myself having little interest in the photography, and even less interest in video work.

On a recent trip to the Lakes, where we camped at Coniston and visited Holme Fell, I decided to make the effort to work a little harder on both photography and video. And I do feel that the results were reasonably successful. I suppose the point of this article is to emphasise to landscape photography enthusiasts, especially those who live in areas where travel is required to get to the more picturesque locations, that it’s really important to be comfortable and familiar with your equipment and your craft so that the challenges of a new location don’t prevent you from still capturing images of which you are proud.

I have spent almost no time in the Lakes, and yet when presented with a passable sunrise followed by some nice moody low cloud conditions I felt very comfortable working with these simply because of the huge amount of practice that I consistently undertake in my own locality. So I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to be out and about with your camera as often as possible even if you find yourself shooting subjects which are less than inspiring in conditions which are less than interesting. Simply because it will give you the camera skills and compositional knowledge to take advantage of the times when you are able to visit somewhere more interesting.

And if you find yourself out and about perhaps on a group workshop or with some friends, hopefully you won’t be too distracted by the good company to still make one or two enjoyable images.

For myself, I always have a slightly sinking feeling as I drive through the mountains to get to somewhere else. Because it’s very easy to dwell on the fact that I’m likely to be visiting somewhere that’s not quite as picturesque as the area I have to drive through to get to anywhere else! But the value of time with like-minded friends and photographers makes every trip more than worthwhile no matter how far I have to travel.

So, despite the fact that many photographers claim that visiting new locations is something of a challenge, as if by simply being presented with scenes which they have not tried to photograph before makes it in some way more difficult, I don’t agree with that at all. I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world with my camera, and if I felt that every single location required significant planning, scouting, and all manner of hand-wringing in order to come away with a decent image I wouldn’t waste my money on airfare! And the same goes, of course, for local UK destinations.

Don’t be one of those photographers who only gets your camera out when you are in an area famed for its landscape photography opportunities. If your camera only ever sees the light of day when you are somewhere spectacular you will most certainly not be fully equipped to get the very best from it.

My message is: practice, practice, practice and then visit some interesting locations. That way, you will be sure to make the most of them.

I’m often asked about the equipment I use.

You'll find details of most of it on my  GEAR PAGE


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