Today I’m working on one of the dozen or so one-day conservation photo projects I get to work on every year. I’m shooting at a small, old family farm in Massachusetts that is in the process of being conserved both for the open space and to provide some community garden opportunities. Like I have to do for many of these projects, I drove about two hours in the dark this morning to arrive at the farm about 20 minutes before sunrise. It’s not an ideal way to shoot, especially when you’ve never seen the place, whether in person or in photographs, but I love this kind of challenge and I think these types of photo projects have made me a better photographer.
I’m blessed to have the opportunity to shoot in some of New England’s most iconic locations several times a year. Places like Acadia, the White Mountains, and Vermont. While I love shooting in these spots, it’s easy to get lazy and just shoot the same dramatic landscapes that look good from year to year. However, shooting in a less impressive location like where I was this morning makes me work a lot harder and faster. I literally had about 10 minutes to take a quick look around, and then I had to start shooting (heck, today I wasn’t even sure I was in the right place.) This place definitely isn’t as dramatic as Monument Cove in Acadia or the summit of Mount Monroe in the White Mountains, so it takes some effort to quickly surmise the scene, break it down into those few elements that I feel define it, and then find a simple composition that works with the light at hand. These types of locations also force me to look a little closer for those interesting details that can be easy to overlook in a more dramatic landscape.
What starts as a groggy feeling around in the dark approach soon becomes a mad dash to capture as much as possible when the golden hour commences and the Dunkin Donuts kicks in. I’ll be sticking around to shoot some more later this afternoon after some good leisurely walks around the place, but clouds are already moving in, so the photos I shot during my whirlwind hour this morning might prove to be the best shots I get.
Until next time…
P.S. This is the last week I’m offering free shipping on signed copies of my new book, The AMC Guide to Outdoor Digital Photography.