March was shaping up to be an interesting month, there was due to be several moments of hope given out with the easing of restrictions.
March the 8th saw the first with kids going back to school and a bit more normality but the big one that would effect landscape photography was going to be on March 29th when the long awaited removal of the "Stay at home" message would be lifted, and I couldn't wait.
I had done a couple of sunrise trips during lockdown, all to very local areas and keeping within the rules but in truth I was bored of the "doorstep challenge" and really wanted to go further afield and have a bit more freedom.
The roadmap had been published back in January so everyone was eagerly awaiting the 29th but this is where it all became a bit more complicated as usual.
Once again there were blurred lines on the rules, some said that "Stay Local" would replace the "stay at home rule" while others said travel in the UK was allowed.
There seemed to be only one very clear rule which was that overnight stays were not permitted so this would govern the distance to a degree as you had to be able to get there and back in one day, no problem within Dorset but a trip to the lake district for example just wouldn't be feasible or even perhaps sensible.
To be fair I was ok with this as Dorset is a big county with plenty to go and shoot and just to have enough freedom to move around it would be nice enough frankly so i was pretty much focusing all my thoughts of the 29th as THE day.
I was starting to feel incredibly restricted with landscape photography on the doorstep, I took it as a good challenge to start with but the reality was it had really taken its toll on my and stifled my creativity quite a bit, I just couldn't find my groove and to a degree, wasn't sure if I even wanted too.
I've always considered myself a very mentally strong person, very few things bother me and I take everything in my stride. The first & second lockdowns had been a breeze for me, inconvenient but a breeze and I wasn't too fussed about staying home, sure I missed my landscape photography but was happy to give it up in order to do my bit and keep others safe, the second lockdown wasn't really much of a lockdown to be fair but equally I got through it without any real issues.
The third lockdown however had been a different animal altogether and I had really struggled with it, I felt very withdrawn and didn't even want to go out locally at all, I was pretty much forcing myself to go and that's never a good thing.
The toll it had taken on my mental health had been a big one and I hadn't really seen it coming to be fair so it caught me by surprise, a double whammy.
I felt my fitness had suffered too, I was used to long walks every day and when I went on photography trips I would take a mountain of gear for the Vlogs as well as the pictures and I thought nothing of carrying this up a mountain or on a long walk, it was not even a consideration but now I was finding that just going on a decent walk without the gear was an effort and Ive never had that before so again it was a bit of a shock and just seemed to come out of nowhere.
I was now starting to get worried about how I was going to get back into the swing of things which made it all the more worse, but I had a trump card to play. April would be bluebell season and I absolutely love that ! And I had missed it last year along with everyone else due to the first lockdown so I felt it would be the motivation to pull me out of my situation, That was however a month away and right now I needed to get it together and deal with this month first.
I made a couple of half hearted local trips to see if I could find anything suitable to shoot but it had all returned a blank, then there was the weather to contend with, rain...
March was just non stop either with rain or with high wind and frankly it was rubbish.
I decided my best plan would be to wait for a day with some decent big clouds and some light breaking through.
Towards the end of the month that's exactly what happened and I took myself down to Horton tower to try and get my eye in at a familiar venue.
Conditions were looking pretty tasty to be fair, there were some beautiful large weather systems moving around and clear sky behind them allowing light to move onto the subject, my kind of shot !
It was raining a little on and off and I was starting to think that a rainbow was a good possibility, I had to keep moving around to track the weather systems as they moved past the tower in order to get them in shot as the tower on its own is pretty boring to be fair, it needed drama in the background.
A monster cloud system came into view and I could see rain trails snaking off it like the head of Medusa and it was going to hit any minute.
I felt the first drops of rain which quickly got harder and I covered the camera gear with the constant supply of dog poo bags that I seem to accumulate in every pocket of every jacket and waited, the rain changed to hail !
I got pelted by large chucks of ice and hail as the monster cloud through its best at me but I stood firm and waited, cause I knew what was coming.
Then it appeared, like an apparition would've appeared as an oasis in a desert to a thirsty traveller, A rainbow arcing across the sky, small at first but unfolding bit by bit as mother nature did a striptease.
I nailed my shots and felt that familiar buzz I had been searching for, once again landscape photography delivered and gave me the much needed boost of amazing weather conditions and great light.
I finished up with a few pictures I was really happy with from the trip and I recorded the whole thing too which you can see at the bottom of the page or in the Videos section on this site
My next trip came only a few days later which was to Boscombe pier, a real nemesis location for me, I loathed it and loved it in equal measures, it had a twisted hold on me and wasn't letting go.
I had shot Boscombe pier on numerous occasions and had never got the shot I really wanted, even when everything looked perfect the weather would change at the last minute and usually ruin my plans, I just couldn't crack it for some reason.
This lead to my loathing of the pier but equally and bit of admiration for the fight it was putting up to avoid being captured.
I wasn't going to give up though and I was back again ready to do battle with the elements.
The pier is a funny subject to shoot, i mean its just a long structure going out into the water, and compositions of it weren't going to be anything revolutionary or new, it was pretty much bulk standard shooting and not a lot of creativity which didn't really sit well with me to be fair.
So why was I here you ask ? Well, simply put it was a challenge and I wasn't prepared to walk away from it, once I get an idea in my head Im going to see it through to the bitter end, come what may.
The sky wasn't looking to bad to be fair and some nice high level cloud started to float into view and I just knew it was going to catch.
I didn't have to wait too long for it to happen, about ten minutes later the sky was turning the most beautiful shade of light blue peppered with scarlet and violet clouds all twisted with magenta tones running through them, there was just one problem.
They were high above the pier and it left very little compositions to go at, I had to be far enough back to get them in shot but this meant I would also end up with the tractor tracks in shot from the beach clean up early in the morning, it was the lessor of two evils and i had to just accept it.
I took a couple of shots and the colour just vanished like a phantom in the night leaving no trace of what was there momentarily, it was very frustrating.
It had gone quite clear other than a bank of cloud where the sun was so I decided to go to the other side of the pier to await the morning golden light falling on the subject.
There was almost no swelling in the sea and therefore nice dramatic wave trails were simply not an option, again frustrating but very little I could do so I opted for a long exposure to try and make things a little more interesting, it was an ok shot but nothing special in all fairness.
The light finally came so I positioned myself by the boulders at the rear of the pier and used them as a foreground as they would light up and turn a beautiful golden red colour.
There was a lot of negative space in the shot with so much sky so I opted to use a 16:9 ratio crop and was quite pleased with the final image.
It wasn't the best session but it had been ok, again you can see the video of this at the bottom of the page.
I had another trip which i won't write about on here as the video is due out next month and it was one of those days where it all looked a bit rubbish but there was potential and I just went for it and the sky absolutely exploded ! It was a real joy to shoot and you will be able to see that next month on here or on my youtube channel HERE
March the 29th was looming, and with it my anxiety levels were going up and up and I really wasn't sure I actually wanted to go out.
I felt everywhere was going to be packed out full of people which was pretty much my worst nightmare.
I was really not in a good place mentally with it, I was torn as I really wanted to go out and now the constraints were going to be lifted I could go anywhere but for some strange reason I didn't want too, I was confused.
The 29th brought with it a chance of decent weather too, there was some mist forecast around the Corfe Castle area and I would like to get some of that I thought so I decided I was going to go for it and head down there.
The drive down was full of anxiety, I was easily there an hour before sunrise and I could see a decent head of mist at Corfe, it looked really good, that was until I pulled into the car park area and saw that there was already about 20 cars and I just couldn't deal with it, I was going to turn round and head for home but at the last minute decided to go to the common area and try that instead.
No one was there which was a good start, the mist was quite high though andI wasn't sure it would be a decent vantage point for the castle but I hung around just in case but it looked like the wrong choice but I decided to give my drone a fly and take an arial picture of it instead which i was actually quite pleased with.
While I was quite pleased with the shot it just wasn't the same as shooting it with the camera but it did open my eyes to future possibilities with the drone, as I only really used it for videos but it did offer the ability to get a decent picture to be fair.
I made a mad dash to go further back up the hill and shot a few long range shots of the castle but my heart just wasn't in it so I packed up and went home.
In the evening I decided I would take a look at a couple of bluebell woods to see how they were progressing with a view to shooting them in April, I knew they wouldn't be out yet but I just wanted to take a look.
I tried a couple and as suspected there wasn't anything to get too excited about, it would be a good few weeks before they were even likely to be shootable.
Now this is where it all got a bit more confusing, usually I'm all for going out exploring but I just wasn't feeling it at all and If Im honest I just wanted to get back home, I had got comfortable there it seemed.
This played on my mind all evening and really started to worry me, were other people feeling the same I wondered ? would I need to gradually build up to going out again ? this really didn't feel normal.
There was still 2 more days till the end of the month and I didn't go out for either of them, then of course it was the Easter weekend which meant people would be out in their droves and I was really keen to avoid that so it threw my into more turmoil, would I go out in April or would I be stuck in the prison of my own creation, I just couldn't get my head round it.
Logic told me that I would be fine and would just simply get back into a routine of going out and landscape photography would see me through, but my head was saying I didn't want to go out.
So this brings us to the present day, still totally none the wiser about wanting to go out or not, wondering if anyone else out there feels the same ?
If anyone is struggling with their mental health please do reach out, it will help to talk about things and you don't need to go through it alone.
Is this the end of Landscape Photography as I knew it ? Find out next month, until then.
Print of the month for April is going to be a seascape sunset I shot last year, it looks absolutely stunning in a large A2 size on Fotospeed platinum baryta 300 GSM paper and you can get yourself a special offer price by clicking HERE
Big light & Rainbows at Horton Tower !
Sunrise at Boscombe Pier !