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The Importance Of Researching a Location

This is what I intend to be the first of many blogs, chronicling my adventures and development as a Landscape Photographer. I have procrastinated for a long time over what subject to write about first. However, a trip last weekend to Rockford Common in the new Forest has given me the inspiration I needed!

I have been photographing landscapes on and off for around 5 years now, but it was only around 2 years ago that I started to venture further afield to expand my portfolio. I have been to the New Forest National Park on several occasions with my trusty camera, albeit as breaks away with friends and not as pure photographic trips. The area is a popular destination for Landscape Photographers and anyone who has been will appreciate why!

During my visits, I have walked and driven around various areas of the region- witnessing wonderful towns and villages such as Beaulieu, Brockenhurst and Lymington to name a few!

I have wandered through incredible woodland and open heathland, admiring the local wildlife and peaceful nature of the park.

One area I hadn’t visited before was Rockford Common, near Ringwood. As of late, my social media feeds have been flooded with images of this place by fellow landscape lovers. Seeing pics displaying the vibrant heather, against the misty backdrops of trees and hills during early morning light inspired me to attempt to get in on the action. The classic view of the footpath, with a lone tree overlooking a valley was a shot I wanted to get.

As I live in the midlands, a morning shoot at this place for me required a 2 o’clock alarm and a

3 hour drive to get to the location before sunrise. No problem. Satnav set, camera and equipment all packed ready, and several hours sleep prior to the alarm meant I was all good to go. I managed to arrive at Rockford Common car park for around 5:30 AM.

There was just one oversight; I hadn’t thoroughly researched the location before venturing down! I turned up on a whim and not having any prior experience of exploring the place, found myself searching for something of interest to photograph before first light which was fast approaching. The particular composition I was looking to photograph was initially nowhere to be seen. I of course, didn't know where to look for it!

This was a massive schoolboy error to make as a photographer, as preparation and planning your compositions in advance of the good quality light is key. Luckily, I found myself presented with several good photo opportunities, that I was able to make the most of. Due to the various stages of the sunrise- I came away with a diverse set of photographs.

Eventually, the sun was high up, and covered by cloud. After having a small walk around in better light, I decided to head back to the car, satisfied that I had taken some worthwhile shots. I proceeded up a footpath on a hill; I took a moment to look back and realised I just walked past the location I initially came to photograph. Chuckling to myself at the irony, I got a shot of the view then made it back to the car- ready to go grab some breakfast.

So the lesson to take away from this is to get to know a location first as much as you possibly can. For any aspiring photographers reading this, if you want to capture a new location at sunrise- research thoroughly before trying to wing a shot. If you are local, head there in the day and take time to explore on foot. If you live further away, go on a site like ShotHotSpot to help determine exactly where to go. It always helps to prepare as much as possible! On a positive note, I know I can return at a later date with a much better understanding of the area.

Thank you for reading. I hope that this article has informed and maybe even somewhat entertained you! Stay tuned for another blog in the near future!

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