Portmeirion, Wales, United Kingdom
Time / Date:
19:18 / Sep 14, 2013
Camera Body: Canon Mk III
Lens: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 Mk II
Shutter Speed: 1/320s
Focal Length: 24mm
This image was taken in the quaint Welsh village of Portmeiron, which sits overlooking this estuary of the River Dwyryd in North Wales. Every September this setting plays host to Festival Number Six, a relatively new festival of music and arts running over 3 nights. It’s a festival unlike any other in Britain, and I was fortunate enough to be part of the photography team with the task of documenting the 3 day event.
When documenting a festival, my duties are to capture the moments, the activities, the general atmosphere of the festival. However when the festival you’re shooting is in setting like no other, it’s impossible not to compose many of your photos based on the surroundings. I took this image on the second evening of the festival. I had found a small path on the outer steep edge of the village’s woodlands, which overlooked the estuary. I took this path with the intention of finding a new viewpoint to the village’s beach, where many people were gathered through out the festival.
Walking around a festival site all day means I travel light. One camera and usually only 1-2 lenses.
Making the Shot:
As I walked up that path with the intention of documenting the activities from an alternative angle, I soon realised the view of the beach was … nothing special, and I was actually steering away from the festival site. But it was impossible not to notice the estuary’s beauty from up there, so I kept walking. With the setting sun casting an amber glow over the distant hills, and the woodlands offering a frame, I had walked into an already set frame by mother nature to boast how beautiful a place this was. After taking the photo I stayed here for a few minutes to enjoy the view away from the hum of the festival.
Editing & Processing:
Portmeirion is situated on the North-West side of the estuary, fenced in a steep woodland setting, meaning at sunset the village is in shade. Because I wanted to keep the foreground exposed as well as the distant sunlit hills, I knew shadow recovery was definitely going to be used when editing this photo. Like most of my digital photography, this image was edited in Lightroom. A uniformed editing style was kept between myself and the photography team for our festival coverage. Using VSCO felt very suited to the festivals branding and style, so we chose a selection of filters to stick to. I very rarely whack an image filter on (if used) and leave it at that. Using filters help to stylise an image and give it punch, but a personal touch and tweak is usually always necessary.
I certainly appreciate this image as a reminder of the isolated time-out moment I enjoyed away from the festival. But it was one of few ‘landscape’ images I took that weekend, I was so preoccupied with finding moments with people. I wouldn’t say I’m usually a landscape photographer, my natural inclination is to document people.
Take the off beaten track! My curiosity led me to find this spot. It’s very easy to get stuck into focusing on people and shots closer to documenting a moment/event. It’s always worth the chance of stepping away from a moment and documenting it from afar/seek an alternative angle. If your instinct is to get stuck in, be aware of a moment where you can step away from your preferred perspective and seek another.
Not at all related to this photo or landscape photography of this kind, but an image that comes to mind for me which strongly shows a great example of an alternative angle or ‘the bigger picture’ is Thomas Hoepker’s photo of 9/11. Whilst most images documented that day show a closer account of the horrors that happened within New York city, this image depicts a drastically and somewhat ambiguous angle of the days events.
Well, I’m not usually a landscape photographer, however I have always greatly admired the work of Ansel Adams. It’s remarkable how intuitive he was with the earth, and documenting in expansive remote settings with large heavy tools. Not to dismiss his tools as dated, most of his grand scenes were captured on large format cameras at apertures as low as f/64. Scenes of that scale deserve no less and digital cameras of today still don’t come close.
As I mentioned though, I’m not usually a landscape photographer! Some photographers who have really caught my attention lately and I get a lot of inspiration from are Anna Di Prospero, Elliot Lee Hazel, Jennifer Medina, Mark Borthwick, Ben Graville and Reuben Wu to name a few.
About the Photographer
I’m a freelance photographer and a music addict, design devotee, wildlife enthusiast, bad joke agent, liberal and a redhead.
My preferred style of photography is to document natural aspects of life that catch my eye. Catching off guard moments with friends or strangers, chasing natural light or using natural textures. It’s far more rewarding to me to seek out spontaneity than staged. I’ve no desire to extend my photography into studio or assisted lighting, I find it produces overly fabricated images that leave little to the imagination. A singular great instinctive capture is worth so much more than many conventional shoots.
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