A healthier mentality
After a few months away from my River Thames Project, I made two visits in three days to Marsh Lock in Henley. Both days were very early visits, arriving shortly before sunrise in the hope of having some golden hour light. As it turned out both mornings were overcast with flat lighting. Having that gorgeous golden early morning light is the most desirable and I had developed a mindset where I had too much hope for the best conditions and felt disappointed if the light wasn’t to my liking. This time (and I think from now on) I approach things a little differently.
I dabble a little with mindfulness, much of which is about being present in the moment and I decided that my trip this time, was going to be more about enjoying being there rather than having all my focus on getting the “killer shot”. I’ve had that “killer shot mentality” for quite some time and I can’t tell you how good it feels to let that go and simply enjoy being present in a beautiful environment.
My inspiration in recent months has been a little lacking and trying too hard has only resulted in placing way too much pressure on myself. In that state of mind it’s too easy to loose sight of the reasons for doing photography in the first place. For me, in the first place, enjoyment and pleasure was my reason, plain and simple. So the only goal I set myself was to simply enjoy being out and about. If I get a good shot or two, that’s a bonus. I’ve read a multitude of articles and watched countless YouTube videos about the photographer’s version of “writers block”. Many offer good advise, some are little more than content fillers.
My take on finding lost inspiration? I dont believe there are any formulas and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s a about finding a way that works for you. I’m not sure reflections on mindfulness are going to be everyone’s bowl of ice cream, but if you are finding your MoJo has gone awol, it wouldn’t hurt to try. Resources relating to mindfulness are abundant on the internet and YouTube. Do a little research, you may find it helpful. I can sometimes over complicate things and miss the very simple. “Just enjoy the environment” is as simple as it gets, lucky me. 🙂
Anyway, on to the photography. With the light being flat and the sky grey I set about trying to find a shot that would work in these conditions. And these “Lollipop” trees and their reflections in the calm windless water of the River Thames provided the opportunity. My feeling is maybe overcast is best light for this kind shot.
When I got the image home it provided the reason for my second visit. I wanted a shot where the reflections in the river are in the bottom third of the frame and then experiment with an upside down version. As it turns out I prefer the first image, but I’m very interested in what others think, so please tell me in the comments which you prefer. (Lollipop reflections 1, 2 or 3) Clicking on the images will give you a larger image to look at.
The bridge around Marsh Lock
A little later on the first morning, a break in the overcast sky encouraged me to shoot the bridge around Marsh Lock. I’m not sure a “bridge” is an accurate description. It’s a wooden walkway structure that doesn’t take you the whole way across the river. The reason it’s there is to provide access to Marsh Lock which is attached to an island in the middle of the river. The “bridge” starts at Mill Lane (where there is a free car park) and continues to meet the bank a little further upstream. I think a misty morning will suit this venue well, I may pay a third visit when those conditions come around.
On the second visit, after shooting the “Lollipop” trees again, I shot the following image.
The way the area is set out, it’s difficult to find a vantage point where you can shoot the “bridge” from outside it’s confines. The only area is a concrete platform that is accessible by climbing over a low fence behind some benches next to the lock.
I spent a good half an hour working the scene, trying slightly different compositions and shutter speeds. When I settled on what I intended (a long exposure of 30 seconds), I had to wait for some folk to walk out of shot. At that point the lock keeper came to tell me I was trespassing and he wanted me to come back inside the confines of the main path. Having invested the last half hour in attempting the shot, I wasn’t keen to obey him immediately. My response was, “Just give me a minute please and let me get my shot”.
He wasn’t best pleased and said, “I’m going to take your photo now, that’s what I’m told I’ve got to do”. His tone was a little angry but that wasn’t going to phase me and I just said, “Fine, go ahead”. At this time the folk I mentioned earlier had walked out of shot and I hit my remote shutter. I only needed another 30 seconds, so I engaged the lock keeper in a little conversation, and in a friendly manner (OK, and maybe a little cheeky) letting him know there’s no “Private Property” signs present. He then lectured me on Health and Safety and that the fence being there makes it common sense that I’m on private property (really?). I said a few words along the lines of “I’m doing no harm and the Health and Safety issue is a bit Nanny state, don’t you think? This area is no more dangerous than walking along the towpath.” By that time my 30 second exposure was complete, I checked the screen on the back of my camera, shot looked good, so I said, “I’m done now, I’ll get out of you hair”. With that I headed back to my car.
If you’ve read this far, many thanks and please let me know which of the “Lollipop Trees” images you prefer in the comments.
All the best