It’s been a quiet spell on the photography front for me, motivation has been pretty low in general for a year or so now. In March I had a week on a workshop up in Ardnamurchan which was fantastic to get the mojo going again, but we came back home pretty much right when the UK was going into lockdown, not the best time to keep the creativity up.
Since then pretty much the only photography I’d done was in the back garden, there’s a potential project in that but more on it later. Either way I hadn’t gone out to specifically take photos in 5 months and wasn’t feeling much inspiration for getting back out into the trees.
On Sunday the forecast was changing between rain, mist, fog, drizzle and just cloud, but as the morning went on the fog closed in a bit and I could see the hills nearby were completely obscured. I didn’t have much time so decided just to pop out to some small really close by woods up high to try and make the most of the weather.
I just took the camera, one lens, no tripod and wandered round shooting high ISO handheld. It’s been too long since I really left the tripod behind like that, and I’d forgotten how much more I enjoy the workflow. For me this is half the point of investing in gear, not about chasing the sharpest highest resolution image, but allowing a different way of working. Better stabilisation, higher ISO performance, etc. all give me more freedom to shoot in this way.
Without going too into kit, this was exactly why I made the change from Canon to Fuji earlier in the year. It was about fun and workflow rather than tech specs and this was the sort of time when the change really paid off. Shooting on a compact single lens setup with the Acros film sim in square format through the viewfinder, up to ISO6400 was pretty liberating and definitely made it more enjoyable than how I would have approached it previously.
There’s a few reasons I like shooting handheld like this, I think it can be more responsive to the environment, easier to look around in all directions, try different angles and notice things that pass me by if I’m rigidly stuck to a tripod. I can move more fluidly through without having to stop start every time I see a potential shot. Some of my favourite and most ‘successful’ images were shot handheld, compromising on the ideal settings or quality perhaps, but I might not have shot them if I had the tripod and it’s proven time and time again that the perfect sharp image isn’t that big a deal in most circumstances.
While it was only 30 minutes or so it made a real difference to get out there properly. I’d never realised or appreciated how much potential there was in this tiny bit of woodland, despite the fact I’ve always extolled the benefits of shooting locally this was a spot I’d largely overlooked until now.