Flow III - Anglesey, Wales
I’m sat in the lounge of our Anglesey holiday cottage very early in the morning, unable to sleep. Last night I did a sunset shoot of a location that the name escapes me and quite frankly is unpronounceable yet alone unspellable, but last night’s shoot is preventing me from sleep and playing on my mind.
As a family we don’t venture to wales very often, the last time was 15 years ago when my son was a baby and it must have been the week that they pencilled in to fill the reservoirs, which seemed to have the consequence of making the people we met rather grumpy. I was in my transitional phase of film and darkroom shenanigans, to digital snapping of my then new and very energetic and son. Let’s say that I wasn’t concentrating on making beautiful images of long sandy beaches with romantic lighthouses at sunset, but I was in my sunrise, nappy and feeding stage of development! Anyway this Easter, we brushed aside old pain and have given the red patriotic dragon another chance!
When I visit a new location I can’t be sure when I will venture back so I tend to adopt a very particular style of working that is counter to all the beard scratching, rulemaking, popular consensus that states ‘though must take ones time’, ‘serious work MUST be planned’, and my favourite, ‘important work can only be as a result of visiting the location multiple times whilst waiting for the light’. Well, these mantras that are everywhere need challenging. They are so pervasive in popular media that they infiltrate so many workshop clients’ minds, like an oil slick of cheap perfume invading your senses at the gym, whilst swimming away from the offending individual, it needs a good hot shower to rinse off the pollution to expose the beauty beneath!
Ok I will be honest here, I haven’t yet seen the images I made last night, (I was too busy getting to the pub), so what I’m about to say may be total rubbish, but it is my gut feeling that the method of working I adopted fit the circumstances best and attempts to breath downwind of the pervasive chemically infused nostril burning sent.
Ok the context. I dropped the family off at 6pm at the pub that welcomed me post shoot! I then spent 30 frustrated minutes behind some elderly lady on the trying single track roads traveling to the opposite side of the island. I didn’t know where I was going, but I figured that it would be that difficult as it was an island!!! Well when I managed to find the nature reserve I had been searching for and when I drove as fast as I dare over the speed bumps to the beautiful carpark nestled in golden grasses, swaying in the pleasantly soft caressing wind. I grabbed my gear and set off in what I guessed was the direction to the lighthouse. Well I decided not to ask for directions, or get my phone out to check, I wanted to gain the full power of the surprise when I topped the beautiful sand dunes, shaded by a forest of sweet smelling Scotch pine! Well what a shock! The lighthouse was at least two miles away along a massive beach! I must have the wrong carpark, but a bit of frantic GPS checking revelled that painful truth, I had to ‘leg it’ (with only one good leg, as I was supporting an ankle injury) to make the location in good light! I did consider getting back in the car and attempting to find a better solution, but I had to gamble the walk. So in my optimism that my ankle would hold out, I did! It was more of a power walk than a run, but when I eventually arrived at said location, I was very hot and in on a mission!
Now to the technical bit, (apologies for the readers that wanted to cut to the chase, I do have a tendency to attempt to use my misfortune to squeeze any semblances of humour, especially when it’s at my expense). Anyway, as you can imagine I was in a hurry to maximise the best light, at my calculations I had 20 munities. I wanted to focus on composition and exploring the new location and trying to make something different from what I had seen (and had brought me to the location in the first place). So in stressful circumstances I tend to keep it simple. I know my camera, I know my settings and I know its limitations, so I set it to them and start shooting, concentrating on composition and exploration. I slowly worked my way from the hunny shot. The one I know will work, but know it will work best in more golden light that will come when the sun is nearer the horizon. But instead of waiting there with the camera set up ready, I keep in mind the shot as an insurance policy and head off to explore around the less known unproven locations. I do this because I know that I really want to make something new and I have a preference towards being at the edge of the water and facing the setting sun (again counter to popular paradigm) but I’m on automatic pilot, I’m on flow enjoying the rock hopping, texture finding, exploring. I’m out of my safety net, but loving the adventure. I’m shooting everything that interests me, I know I will probably be making technical mistakes, some of the shots will be out of focus, some will have water on the lenses because I have forgot to wipe it away in the excitement, but some will be perfect, some will represent the joy I’m having, some will work because I’m not thinking too much. I’m letting my subconscious do the worrying and trusting my technical intuition through years of well-worn neural pathways that I will get it 75% technically on the money! But importantly I’m not stressing about the technical, I’m focusing on the now (pun intended but ironically incorrect) I’m choosing to block my nostrils to the technical and consciously deciding to trust my subconsciously. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi describes the process flow, and when having maximum fun, when totally in the moment, when in such state ones trust in the creative and the rejection of the technical to the consciously becomes addictive. Making images becomes about connecting with the now and in a sandal wearing, beard growing, sun saluting kind of way, works. Anyway, all I’m saying is that for me it works, my circumstance, my love of adventure, my utter love of the chase and additive nature of being in the moment focusing on pleasure of the natural environment all align to make whatever I shot last night worth it, even if some of them are technically wanting (but I have yet to find out if my surprise gem is there). I will post the result here and you can decide if I’m talking a load of rubbish, but hear me, it is lots of fun regardless (o:
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