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Long Term Planning

I am a great supporter of ‘transient light’ and I am always looking for it. However, there are a few images that I’d love to capture which require long term planning

I believe that a large number of photographers plan ahead for some of their next photographic shoots, although that depends on the subject you want to photograph, of course. For example, you cannot plan to shoot a picture that includes transient light and a fleeting moment; these happen fast and you need to be on location or in the right place at the right time. I am talking about images we have envisaged, the ones we want to capture during a specific time of year or at a specific time of day.

I have been to Lindisfarne Castle a few times before and, indeed, have made a few images from the location; some of them unique to my style of photography. However, I had seen similar compositions to this one by other photographers and liked the idea; I wanted to have a similar picture. Now, I know some of you will say that this is not right; we should not copy other people’s images. This is an endless argument that I am going to avoid getting into at this point. Besides, depending on the weather, even two similar images will not look the same if they have been taken at different times. To go one step further, I wonder if there are any unique compositions left of iconic locations in England.

Returning to the point of this article though, it was autumn in 2009, when I had thoughts about this image. The idea was to have the sun rising behind the castle, which I knew would cause high contrast and an extremely hard to control dynamic range. However, with breath-taking colours in the sky during sunrise, exposure is a technical matter that can be solved in different ways.

Lindisfarne Castle is located on Holy Island in Northumberland, England. Access to the island is only during low tide via a causeway; it is isolated during high tide. You can check crossing times here.

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Around August, at 05.00 at this altitude, is the time of year to see the sun rising behind the castle. As you can imagine, the time of day and the causeway crossing created a major problem right away. This is a popular place and photographers can be seen everywhere; I wanted to be there on my own. My only chance was to arrive on 25th August 2010, before midnight, make the image during sunrise on 26th August, and then drive off the island right away. The reason for arriving early was that I wanted to park as close to the castle as possible, sleep in the vehicle and, leave before anyone saw me. Parking and sleeping in the vehicle is not allowed anywhere on the island.

Everything was planned and, everything went according to plan; I was there on time and I made the image. Nevertheless, the only thing I could not control was the weather. Although the forecast was for clear sky, usually meaning some high clouds, perfect for colour, there was cloud cover on the horizon. Still, I am quite happy with the result.

I have kept this image as a ‘to do’ project. When the right time comes, planning will commence again and, who knows, it might happen this time.

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