August 14th “Slow Down You Move to Fast”

14 August 2012


Watery Willow, Lake Wanaka

This quote from Simon and Garfunkel’s iconic song “Feeling Groovy” graces one of the introductory pages of my second book “State Highway 6”

It is therefore ironic that I was reminded of this sentiment twice this past week in relation to photography.
Firstly in Tony Bridge’s wonderful blog ( where he describes his visit to the old sanitarium at Hamner Springs and where he features a shot of an old piano forgotten and front panel missing in the corridor. This was something he only discovered after a frenzied first flush of shooting and then slowing down to adjust to the rhythm of the building and to get to know it more intimately.

This weekend we visited Wanaka, with the primary purpose of taking the kids skiing and introducing Nico to the snow.  So any photographing was around the edges and constrained by time or perceived urgency. So I awoke on Saturday to an unusual sunrise: a predominating Easterly weather system caused high level clouds which had a silvery colour which gave the salmon scale pink to the clouds and soft pink to the hilltops. As I saw the start from the bedroom I was always going to be on the back foot , but nevertheless by the time I got to the lakefront the light although fading was still good. I had another shot in mind but made a snap decision that it  could wait for a few moments. Instead I opted to shoot the 70-200 and hand hold and ramp the ISO up if necessary and to shoot a stitch panorama. Here it is above. Pretty good you might say, Muted tones, subtle colours and a gentleness. But it’s not right so far as I’m concerned.
-The tree.
-I wanted it to be isolated from it’s background by the greyness behind.

(This is otherwise postprocessed: the 22 image stitch is pretty impressive but a few blending imperfections exist; these are not my focus and if I had got the original image right I’d invest the time to fix them!)

But instead the left edge of it blends with the trees on the shore. The image therefore is just average in my estimation. I’m speculating here but if I’d: used a tripod and taken a moment I could have fixed this issue by moving to the left. Instead I was rushing trying to do everything and probably ending up with nothing.

So to reflect and learn
Even in the most pressing of situations there is the ability to slow the moment down and to focus on the job in hand. It requires planning and practice though. I have heard  that people who are in high speed, high performance sports, for instance ski racers can telescope time and whilst ( as my ski buddies will testify I am no Franz Klammer) I can understand what they mean and may have touched on experiencing this phenomenon. And so it needs to be with landscape  photography. Hours, days weeks or years of preparation, patience and  waiting at the location until  the light happens and then  it’s all on. Fast and furious. At these times it’s a curious mix of,knowing your gear, your craft and having a sense of what corners to cut, compromises to make. It is at this time when at the point of release of the shutter to slow down time.
Of course it would have been preferable to have got to the location early and to have really got to know it, but life isn’t always that simple.

So a mental reminder before I push the shutter, slow down, think, feel, check. What am I seeing and making here? What am I trying to convey?
Or else it will be a case of “Slow down you moved to fast!” and memory card devoid of “keepers”!