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Photography Magazine

Stepping Back

Four Seasons


As autumn slides into winter the last few diehard leaves are clinging on against the harsh reality of the inevitable. I doubt many would rate late November as a favourite time of the year for landscape photography here in the middle latitudes of the northern hemisphere; the fall colours have gone, the verdant summer is a memory, winter has yet to unfold, days are short, dark and far too often grey and the countryside seems drab and dormant. Granted it’s the season opener for seascapes on the Jurassic Coast, but you can only shoot so many Big Stopper images of Durdle Door. When the appeal of shooting surging waves dims it’s time for catching up on the editing whilst waiting for the first frosts, or fleeing these isles. For us now  the demise of the last leaves is the signal to migrate south in search of more abundant photographic feeding grounds; by the time you read this we’ll be in Burma. The tropics seem an enticing destination this time of year, and it’s always a joy to be back in south east Asia. That being said I could never live in the tropics; for all my wistful reflections in the dark days of November I’d just miss the cycle of the four seasons too much.

We Brits make a national pastime of moaning about the weather. The downright perverse and unpredictable climate we have makes landscape photography a constantly exasperating pursuit. But between the cantankerous weather systems marching in off the Atlantic the slanting light coupled with the passing seasons makes for evocative photographic opportunities, sometimes at least. In the tropics there is usually a wet and a dry season and that’s it; no autumn colours, no snow, no spring awakening or summer harvests. Other more temperate climes have seasons but with less visual drama; autumn colour is a rare thing in New Zealand for example. My childhood memories of the seasons in Ontario are of fierce white winters, hot summers and flaming red falls. Save for the melting of the snow and the Stanley Cup Playoffs spring didn’t really seem to happen.

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