|‘Four Seasons in One Day’||12 March 2019|
|Four Seasons in One Day, or as Stephen Spraggon suggested, “Four Seasons in One Evening”. That was how Stephen introduced his presentation on his welcome return to Devizes Camera Club. He explained that he had got into photography when he bought a Nikon D70 with his student loan while studying for a degree in Packaging Design, and that most of his early landscape work was done in Somerset, centred on his home town of Glastonbury, and on Exmoor. Since then he has explored other parts of the UK, particularly the south coast and several of our National Parks.
Stephen doesn’t think of the seasons as just the differences in flowers and foliage, or sunshine and snow. He thinks also about the differences in temperature and light, and the effect they can have on the landscape - and on photography. He illustrated this by showing us 4 images of Glastonbury Tor taken at the same time of day, from the same position, but during the different seasons.
In winter, he said, in Southern England we get about 8 hours of daylight, whereas in summer we get about 16.5 hours. Using screenshots from The Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE), Stephen showed just how much the angle of sunrise and sunset differs between the seasons, and explained how this can mean that some locations will only work photographically at certain times of the year. He suggested that TPE is a valuable tool that he uses extensively, together with weather forecasts, to plan his photography. He illustrated how he had found the best viewpoint for an image of Colmer’s Hill, near Symondsbury by using TPE.
Using short audiovisual (AV) introductions, Stephen talked to us about the sort of images that can be taken in each of the seasons. He interspersed some wonderful images with hints and tips to think about when photographing landscapes.
Starting with Spring, which he feels starts around March as flowers add colour to the landscape and foliage starts to emerge on trees, he showed us images of fields of Oil Seed Rape, where he had managed to find leading lines left by tractors. Misty sunrises and woodland compositions are other subjects, especially with new leaves on beech trees. At Badbury Clump in Oxfordshire, there is a small wooded area where bluebells grow. Using a long lens to compress perspective, Stephen used the woodland path to provide a leading line through a composition of tree trunks and bluebells. Coastal landscapes can also be special in the spring with thrift and sea campion as foreground interest on clifftops, as shown in Stephens image from Hurlstone Point above Porlock Marshes.
There are some locations that work better during the summer months. North facing coastlines and hills have better light because the sun rises and sets further north. The bays around Weston-Super-Mare and the north Devon coast are examples. Poppies and heather are good subjects while in flower, but once the colour is fading at the peak of summer, Stephen suggested heading into town for images of people and architecture, as shown in a great picture of a car park spiral. Stephen also suggested getting out and shooting the moon or the Milky Way.
Once Autumn hits its peak the warm oranges and golds of the foliage can be spectacular. And even fallen leaves can enhance the forest floor. Stephen said he likes to use a slow shutter speed, even in windy conditions, to convey a sense of movement in the branches. He said overcast days are good for images of trees and water as the shadows will be softer. He also recommended using a polarising filter to reduce glare and enhance colours. Autumn is also a time for mist which can be used creatively to produce more abstract images, especially when cropping in to a scene. An image of Wastwater bathed in the pink light of the setting sun was especially captivating.
In Winter, with the sun rising and setting further south, Stephen suggested that the south coast becomes a particularly attractive prospect. Also snow can transform a landscape by hiding distracting elements, like clumps of grass, under a blanket of whiteness. An image of a circular shaped tree in a hedgerow, with tractor patterns in the snow in the field behind, and blank white in the field in front reminded Stephen of a flag of an unknown country.
To round off his excellent presentation, Stephen showed us an image taken at Draycott Sleights in Somerset. Earlier he had shown us an image of a stand of trees in the fog in spring with a branch of new leaves providing a highlight. This last image was of the same stand of trees, but taken after a heavy snowstorm. Both images were great in their own right and served to show us how different seasons can produce different photographic results. These and many other excellent images can be seen on Stephens website at www.spraggonphotography.co.uk
Our Chairman thanked Stephen profusely for an entertaining presentation with lots of hints and tips for us to consider. DF
Images © Stephen Spraggon