Sunday, 15 September 2013

The picture that got away

I sometimes think I would have liked to have been a professional photographer. There was a time when I supplemented my income by taking the occasional commission as a wedding photographer, but otherwise I have never been any more than a blow-hot-and-cold amateur.  Frankly, I just don't have what it takes to be any more than that.  I dislike portraiture, and studio work would bore me silly.  By that I really mean taking photographs for catalogues or cookery books. 

What I like is landscape photography.  I remember reading an article in Amateur Photographer or some other magazine telling readers how to earn cash while on holiday by taking photographs to sell to the package tour operators for their brochures.  The trouble was that we never went to those types of places, so that didn't work out for me.

But I don't have what it takes to be a professional landscape photographer either.  That needs dedication.  One would have to decide what view is to be photographed, then wait at the appropriate spot for light, cloud and all other conditions to be just right.  I don't have that sort of patience.  My photographs are very much taken on the spur of the moment when I see something that appeals to me.  I don't deny that there are occasions when I will go to a place specifically to take pictures because I think that conditions are just right, but those times are few and far between.

Having said that, there are several pictures I have wanted to take - sometimes for many years - but never done so for a variety of reasons.  I have driven miles and miles in France looking specifically for an orchard (preferably in blossom) with buttercups and brown cows.  They don't exist.  I have wanted to photograph a view from Seaford Head, just a few miles along the coast, which was selected a few years ago as one of the ten best views in Britain.  I have never actually seen the view myself, but I have seen pictures.  Some weeks ago, when I had been to Eastbourne, I came back via Seaford and attempted to find my way to the Head - but failed dismally.

John Constable's painting of Salisbury Cathedral from across the meadows has inspired me to take a similar picture.  His view seems to me to be from the north-west whereas I always see the cathedral from the south-east when driving to my cousin's farm and from the south-west on the return via the bottom road between Wilton and Salisbury.  However, from the bottom road, not far from Netherhampton, one sees the spire across the fields.  There must be just one spot from where it should be possible to take a photograph without modern houses getting in the way but I have yet to find it.  The problem is that this is a narrowish road with no pulling off places and plenty of traffic so I have been unable to stop and look.  Anyway, I think there are electricity cables crossing the view from any spot so I might as well give up.

This is how Constable saw the scene in 1831.


2 comments:

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

He was fortunate to get there before the electric company

Buck said...

OK, your explanation about why you're not a professional photographer rings true. But, that said, you still have a very good eye. Your compositions and subject matter are both interesting and well-done. I may not always comment on your photos but I always enjoy them.

@Skip: Heh.