Waiting a little bit longer or even revisiting a location can make a huge difference in landscape photography. Everything depends on light and, some times, quality light is worth waiting for; Fran Halsall explains
It is repeated so often that, to talk about ‘timing being everything’ in photography, now seems like a cliché. However, this proverbial phrase never has been more relevant. Being a keen observer of other photographers at work, I wonder what exactly it is that these individuals are up to as the shutter goes every couple of minutes. This is a sure sign of doing and not thinking and is a tendency exacerbated by the perceived disposability of digital photographs. As the years have gone on I shoot less and give more time to thinking about the ‘perfect’ image. Whole days can be spent out in the field making observations and not photographing anything, usually because the light is not quite right, or taking one or two reference shots that serve as sketches for future images. While this approach may be anathema to the reportage or social photographer, I believe it is essential to those wishing to document the landscape. Why? Because you can be so busy reacting mechanically to the environment that there are no spare minutes left for considering what it is that you are trying to say about that place, let alone allowing time to critique those responses. It is important to accept that the best circumstances for making landscape images do not occur every day, not even every week, and that revisiting a scene, often on multiple occasions, is part of what it takes to produce an image that goes beyond the ordinary.
The following depicts locations represented by two images, the first of which is a work in progress, while the second of the pair is the culmination of a better approach in the right light. In some cases it was a case simply of waiting a few hours between each photograph, in others a month or more and, in one case, more than a year had elapsed since the initial attempt. And what is the difference that marks them apart? Time well spent on reflecting upon the parts that work and those that do not.