I am happy to host in this new episode of Photographic Stories, one of the photographers that I appreciate most in landscape photography: Lizzie Shepherd. I have been following Lizzie, a photographer from North Yorkshire (England), for some years and I am a great admirer of her beautiful photographs, a milestone in the treescape and intimate photography, coastal photography and the great Uk countryside and photographs in various places in the world with a strong personality. I find that her images are elegant and with clean and impeccable compositions, a true source of inspiration and Uk landscape tradition. Her site has a large variety of photo albums that are the result of commitment and constant research of photographic expression and creativity. I wish you a good read and invite you to subscribe to the newsletter in order not to miss the next posts.
I look at this image and it transports me back in time, to a beautiful, calm and balmy evening on the Sithonian peninsula in Northern Greece last autumn. I was there with my husband Rob and my great friend and fellow photographer Alex Hare. It was a time when you couldn’t even begin to imagine the turmoil into which our world has now fallen.
Earlier than day, we’d travelled to several of the tiny beaches that punctuate the coastline, looking for areas that might offer the best photographic potential for later in the day, when the harsh sunlight would give way to a softer light, more becoming of the wonderful rock formations that can be found by many of the beaches. I spent a while clambering amongst the rocks and boulders, seeking what seemed to me the most beautiful sections.
So it was, when we returned late that day, I knew exactly where I wanted to go. Getting there was one thing, setting up the camera and tripod was most definitely less straight forward. Thankfully, the rock here is very grippy, which helps with keeping your footing, but balancing a tripod safely is no mean feat. Then, once you have your tripod set up, inevitably there are the small adjustments that you have to make to refine your composition, as you work the scene. Every adjustment needs to be methodical, with the knowledge that one false move could send everything flying – not a good idea with rocks and salt water surrounding you!
Sometimes I am happy to work quickly, and often there is no other option; but on this evening, it was lovely to know I could take my time, just working this one tiny patch of coastline, gradually working out how to create the image that was in my head. I really enjoy these kind of compositional jigsaw puzzles. Yes, it is true there is no one ‘right’ solution, but gradually I worked my way towards what felt the most complete and comfortable picture, the one that I hoped would convey just what drew me to this scene in the first place.
This for me was the image of the evening, revealing the complex and beautiful nuances of the foreground rocks, with Mount Athos just visible in the distance. Achieving balance was challenging, particularly given the small pointed rocks just out to sea. Moving the tripod just a tiny distance made all the difference, but these micro movements are not easy when perched on this kind of terrain! A long exposure was crucial, with the water a perfect foil to the texture in the rocks. I found 30 seconds gave me a smooth and silky sea, but with just a hint of texture – enough, but not too much.
It’s an image that still gives me a lot of pleasure, partly because of the enjoyable challenges of finding the ‘best’ composition, but also because it brings back so many happy memories. Memories of a time that seems a bit lost at the moment. Most magical of all was that whilst I was working on this composition, a pair of dolphins had swum past – just a few feet off the shore – their gliding form echoing the gentle curves of the rocks on which I stood. Evenings like this you don’t forget.