With the prospect of another month in full lockdown it was looking pretty bleak to be fair.
I hadn't been out in January and it had really started to get to me quite a lot, I needed my fix of landscape photography but at the same time I didn't want to break the rules so it kept weighing heavily on my mind and creating more turmoil than was healthy.
I had seen plenty of other landscape photographers were going out and the general feeling was if you were local on foot you weren't breaking any rules at all and it was all ok, then there was the flexible rules that said you could drive to somewhere very local for landscape photography, then there was the optimistic rules, of yes you can go out you're on your own !
All of them sounded appealing but not within the spirit of the rules to be fair so again I struggled with should I go or not.
Towards the middle of February I was at my lowest point and knew I needed to get out, I had a location which was less than five minutes drive from me and decided that I could do a sunrise there midweek and would hopefully not see another soul there.
Now I agonised over the legality and morality for days on this trip, and while I felt it was all within the rules and spirit of the lockdown it still didn't sit too well with me, I just wasn't sure if it was 100% allowed or not ?
In reality I knew many people were travelling huge 40-50 mile distances to do there's and a large majority were doing journeys within 30 minutes so there was an element of "if their doing it then I can too" but equally I was nervous about it.
As a professional photographer who earns money from it I didn't see that I was breaking any rules as after all I can't take landscape pictures from home could I ?
I had already lost a fortune from not being able to give workshops for a year and print sales were pretty much all I had left so I essentially talked myself round into going.
It was a strange feeling on the day, I looked out of the window and it looked good, there was a gap and I was out in a flash heading to Lake Pier.
The drive there was early quiet, hardly another car on the road (Other than the main roads) and as I got there no one was there which made me feel better in one way but worse in another so it was a really mixed emotions morning.
I tried my best to put thoughts behind me and throw myself into the shoot as it looked like it was going to be a reasonable sunrise.
A nice gap was on the horizon where the sun was due to come up and some decent heavier cloud behind me so I felt I couldn't go wrong, if the sky in front of me didn't light up then there was a really good chance the cloud behind me would.
I started shooting the early colours of sunrise and they got progressively better and better and just kept going, the sky was dancing with red and magenta clouds and I was in my element.
As the sun started to come up the scene got a little too bright so I turned my attention to the scene behind me and as predicted the clouds were starting to catch so I quickly did a 180 degree spin and started shooting the other side of the jetty and the clouds just kept getting more colour ! It was fantastic and I was walking on cloud 9, the jetty lit up and gave me a really nice shot that I was so pleased with but the morning wasn't done with me yet.
A small bit of rain started out of nowhere and usually that would signal the end of it and time to go but I hing in there as I just had a feeling something might happen and then it did...
A huge rainbow streaked across the sky and I couldn't get the long lens on fast enough !
There was a single boat out in the harbour and the rainbow was right next to it and at 400 mm it looked huge ! it was like someone had asked me what the perfect morning consisted of and then given it to me gift wrapped !
To say I was ecstatic after this was an understatement, I was absolutely buzzing and couldn't stop grinning.
It was at this point I realised just how important landscape photography was to me and just what a positive effect it has on my mental health.
Going out for this had done me the world of good and if anyone frowns on it then just watch the video below to see the change in me from start to finish, I think it can be firmly justified.
I took the rainbow as a big beaming light of hope and it brought me not only joy but comfort and strength as well and a sense of everything was going to be ok.
Around this time there was hope on the horizon, everything hinged on the roadmap that was going to be announced on the 22nd of February.
Schools were rumoured to be going back on March the 8th so it was logical to hope that the constraints of staying in your local area would be loosened a little.
Photographers everywhere sat round the TV on the 22nd hoping to hear that they had the go ahead to get out but it didn't happen, instead it was said that you couldn't go till the 29th of March which was a hammer blow and you would have to stay local, but it was still better than nothing I guess.
I was having great trouble trying to understand why the fisherman had been allowed out since lockdown started, they would be static, they would carry a mountain of gear and possibly still stay overnight ?
I mean how was that less risky than photography ? but it had been done based on the mental health of fisherman saying it was good for them, well I agree but I also think landscape photography poses less risk than fishing.
You can take animal gear, you are usually on your own and try to keep well away from people so it made absolutely zero sense to me and again sent me into a moral battle yet again !
Local seemed to be the best strategy and it hopefully wasn't breaking any rules so it seemed a safe bet but it was very frustrating when lots of others were going much further afield I have to say.
I decided to make my next trip a sunrise in Poole at Branksome Chine beach, it fitted the criteria nicely as it was within 5 minutes, it had the sun coming up in front of it and hopefully would be relatively people free at that time in the morning.
I headed down and knew the sky was looking good and confidence grew with every moment,
I arrived and in al fairness it was busier than I expected as there were a few dog walkers and joggers out for a pre sunrise workout and perhaps most strangely of all, people swimming !!
It was absolutely bitterly cold and the wind was howling in but they were happily in the water, and I thought landscape photographers were mad !
The session started off well, I was getting some nice images and the sky was unfolding into an epic sunrise and all seemed well with the world !
This is where it all went horribly wrong, a huge gust of wind tipped over my tripod and along with it my Vlogging camera, the Osmo Pocket, My phone which was attached to it and my microphone all went tumbling down onto the rocks which I was stood on and came away from the tripod.
It was not the start I had wanted ! The Osmo was fortunately undamaged but I had lost the variable ND filter from the front of it, the microphone was retrieved but the phone was nowhere to be seen, it had slipped between the rocks and I couldn't see it anywhere and panic had started to set in.
I was missing an explosive sunrise which was all going off behind me but I simply had to find my phone as the tide was coming in.
After around 30 minutes of searching I eventually caught sight of it and it was between a really small crack in the rocks and my arm was way to big to fit in to retrieve it.
After about another 30 minutes I managed to use my tripod like a pair of chopsticks and eventually pull the phone out.
Relief swept over me but at the same time I was gutted as I had missed a really stunning sunset, you can see all this in the videos below by the way !
By this time there were more people arriving at the beach so I made a hasty retreat without taking anymore pictures, I just wanted to get out of there and to the safety of home to assess the situation.
Pretty much the only damage was to the bracket that held my phone and camera and the loss of a variable ND filter so it wasn't too bad all in all but it did make me want to switch my vlogging set up to one which didn't include my phone.
I wanted to record in 4k still so the Canon M50 seemed a good bet as it was the darling of the vlogging world so I cheered myself up by ordering one !
It arrived the next day and it looked like it would be perfect for my needs, it shot 4k video all be it with a crop, as well as being on a crop sensor, so a double crop !
It had an articulated screen and was super light and compact ! Perfect !
That was until I tried it, the 4k says it works with face detection but its a contrast based system rather than a true face detect and frankly it was shocking ! it just couldn't focus on a face for more than about 2 seconds where it then started hunting non stop even in well lit areas, this was just not what I wanted and couldn't work with it so it was returned swiftly and an upgrade of the Canon M6 Mk II was purchased instead for my main vlogging camera.
This was head and shoulders better and I couldn't wait to take it out but it would have to wait till March before reasonable conditions were to happen again.
I did venture out to the heath behind my house but it wasn't very inspiring so no pictures were taken but I had made a decision, in March I would go a little further afield, not by miles but I felt comfortable with being within a 15 mile radius of home so we will see what that brings next month.
Print of the month for March will be the Rainbow shot from Lake pier, this came out absolutely perfectly and is one of the best images I have ever printed I feel and you can grab yourself a bargain HERE
Thanks very much for reading and as always,
This months videos are below, if you watch any of these id be really grateful for a like and a comment please ! Thanks :)
Shooting winter scenes at White Mill Bridge, Dorset
Ever wondered what's the best photo paper for landscape photography ? well this video will give you all the answers ! If you're into printing its a must watch !
One of the best mornings I've had in years, epic sunrise, stunning light and huge rainbows ! does it get any better than this ?!!
To add balance to the when it all goes right video here's your chance to have a laugh at my expense with "when it all goes wrong" ! Landscape photography epic fail !