Rhythm in Photography


When I first got serious about photography in the early 2000’s it was the landscape that drew me in. Ansel Adams, of course, was an early inspiration. I spend many evenings photographing the local landscape in Aberdeenshire using my Pentax P50, Ilford FP4 film and red filter. Over time I discovered portraiture, the intriguing personal exchange that comes with it and the world of lighting with flash. Becoming a commercial photographer introduced me to new and varied subjects and landscapes became another thing I didn’t have, or didn’t make, time for.

I’ve made more time for landscape and wildlife photography in the last couple of years and in this ‘going back’ I’ve found that landscape photography is something I always want to do going forward. Landscape photography, for me, has always had a rhythm; composing the scene, locking the tripod, setting the focus, adjusting the filters, covering the eyepiece, releasing the shutter, checking the image, reacting to the changing light, adjusting, refining, crafting, starting again. It’s a kind of unrehearsed dance where the scene and the light combine to take the lead and you and the camera try to follow. Like anything, a state of ‘flow’ can be achieved and you can find yourself completely immersed in the task at hand, seemingly unaware of outside influences. Once, I parked the car in South Queensferry and told my wife I’d just get a quick shot of the Forth bridges. I returned to the car about 15 minutes later to find that I’d been out there for over an hour! Mrs D wasn’t too impressed but I had been drawn into the scene, the changing light, the movement of the water, the composition, the camera settings and the filters. I had become, to coin a phrase, a slave to the rhythm!

Now, I’m not advocating leaving your significant other at a loose end while you go off and enjoy yourself. I am, however, bringing up something that is seldom mentioned – the health benefits of landscape photography. OK, stepping out of the car and pressing a button isn’t the same as running a marathon but there’s something to be said for being out in the open air for a couple of hours, cutting away from the day-to-day issues of life and immersing yourself in a creative endeavour. A recent article in the Telegraph highlighted the health benefits of gardening:

“Research by Thrive has also found that gardening has a positive impact on the wellbeing, cognition and mood of those with dementia and that it can also improve social interaction among those with social disabilities. In fact, GPs are now beginning to prescribe horticultural therapy to their patients, for illness recovery as well as anxiety and depression and in some areas, community gardening schemes are available.” – excerpt from ‘Why fresh air is the best medicine’ by Anna Magee, The Telegraph, 16 August 2016.

Photography may not be as physical as gardening but I can vouch for the combination of fresh air and creativity having a positive impact both physically and mentally. If things go well you might even get a nice photo at the end of it!

Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying everyone should get up at 2am and drive into the Highlands to take a photo. In this busy world there are more and more things clamouring for our attention and you might not have time for that. But then, that’s also why it’s important! We need to cut away from the noise and come up for air even now and then. 3 things can help us in this regard; 1, time away from screens; 2, being outdoors; 3, making something or being creative. Landscape photography allows us to combine all of these 3 things and they add up to a very powerful way clear the mind and gain some clarity for the few days ahead.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – please comment below.


Graham DargieComment