If you have read my blog posts for some time, you already know that I am a big believer in revisiting a few locations over and over again. I think that some people think I simply don't know about other locations and keep sending me suggestions, but there are huge advantages to knowing a location well, which can only ever be the case if you go to this location time and time again.
You might also know that I am also not someone who really likes to go to locations where photographers stand side by side to take the epic shot. I simply don't like to work surrounded by other photographers, because it prevents me from getting into a state of flow in which I can almost respond intuitively to the landscape. I need both the intimate knowledge of a location and that state of intuitive responding to my surroundings to take my best and most authentic pictures.
I prefer to know a place really well to the degree that it feels like home to me. First visits can often be overwhelming. When you see something really beautiful for the first time it is harder to get to the essence, at least this is the case for me. Yes, I can take the tourist shot and I can probably take it in good light as well, if I am lucky, but all I want to do is take pictures based on my interpretation. I can't do that on a first visit.
The more I visit a location, the more I see and the funny thing is that even places that I know extremely well, change in appearance because through the years I have become attracted to different things. With changes in taste came a shift in what I see. Different things stand out to me now even compared to what stood out to me 6 months ago.
A picture I took on the 31st of December 2016. Even though the path is beautiful and the conditions were good, I made a lot of mistakes whilst capturing this, mostly because I took the obvious shots
On 2017 I took this picture in which I managed to get more to the essence of this path and told its story much better than in the year before
This picture was taken on the 16th of November 2018. I remember this day very vividly. The colours were splendrous, autumn was in full swing, but my heart was heavy at that time. I had just had the most awful news and had great trouble focussing. I felt like I could not find a picture that spoke to me and thought I had completely messed up that day. It turned out that I took some pictures that I really liked.
This picture was taken a few weeks ago (September 2019). It is the same path, but again a very different composition
And another picture of the same path taken in September 2019. Over the past three years the pictures have become as much my story as the story about this path.
Recently I spent a day scouting for an upcoming workshop. I was very surprised that in this forest, which I know extremely well, I all of a sudden saw things that never caught my attention before. This is a natural consequence of evolving, but also of knowing this forest so well that I can look beyond the obvious. I thoroughly enjoyed my new view on this forest and it looked entirely new to me.
The obvious pictures in this location are the tree-lined lanes and paths. I have taken many pictures of this location through the years, all of them featuring these magnificent paths
A recent picture taken very close to the previous picture. An entirely different picture and scene and one that I feel is much more "me" than the pictures I have taken in previous years
I know that my approach to photography leads to visiting less locations and I am fine with that. I don't have a bucket list and I don't particularly want to create one either. I am perfectly happy delving a little deeper every time I visit a familiar spot. These locations have become like friends that I visit all the time and find interesting every time I see them.
Below I am showing you a couple of series of pictures that I have taken in the same spot, sometimes within a few metres of each other in different conditions, seasons and light. I sometimes challenge myself to see what kind of compositions I can come up with in one spot. This is incredibly useful to train your eye, to learn about composition and distractions and give you a sense of the unlimited possibilities of just one place.
So, if you like a little challenge, I suggest that you...
1. Revisit a location that you know well and see if you can find different compositions or revisit a location you know well in very different conditions
2. Choose a spot and then see how many compositions you can come up with. Don't just put down your tripod and place the camera on it...Try a lower or higher point of view, choose a different lens...or...turn around. The latter one being a very important tip. If you are photographing sun rays for example you are inclined to just look at those and never look behind you. In my new eBook The Magic of Forest Photography: The Recipes I edit two pictures taken on the same day on the same path, one looking in the direction of the sun rays and that other one in the other direction. The atmosphere is very different.
Just for fun, another series of pictures that I took of the very same trees