Familiarity breeds contempt?...

Due to an inordinate amount of work and other commitments recently I hadn’t picked up my camera for over a month and was beginning to have serious withdrawal symptoms. After a 4am alarm call on Saturday I headed out to my local heathland hoping for an interesting dawn and even a smidgeon of mist… as most of my fellow photographers can testify… these things never go according to plan! I was greeted with a uniform 50% grey cloud cover and a stiffish breeze which kept any hint mist from forming. Inspiration was in very short supply, to the point that I didn’t even bother to remove the lens cap. I was determined though, especially after a month of inactivity, that the morning was not going to be a washout. Without even thinking I went back to the car and headed towards my perennial fall back location of Burnham Beeches. Before I had even arrived I had in my head the exact route I would be taking passing many familiar areas and had even pre-visualised some of the images I would likely be taking! After a brief pause at a set of traffic lights I began to have thoughts that I was beginning to be become over familiar with this location and needed somewhere unfamiliar to get the old grey cells working. I quickly did a U turn (thankfully at that time in the morning there wasn’t a soul around!) and headed towards a nearby location that had been on my radar for a while but, for various reasons, haven’t visited for years.

Black Park is an area of woodland situated just to north of Slough and has running along its northern perimeter the vast complex that is Pinewood Studios. Indeed this parkland has been the location for many of the Carry On films, James Bond and quite a few of the Harry Potter movies. It is very similar in size to Burnham Beeches but the similarity ends there. The Beeches has never been anything else but woodland going back to the last ice age, therefore it is a very ancient habitat which is evident by the gnarled, characterful beech and oak trees. Black Park began as just heathland and then populated with fir trees a few hundred years ago which, over time, blocked out quite a bit of light hence the name! Tall fir trees with wide paths do have a certain appeal if you prefer regular patterns, unfortunately in dull featureless conditions it was going to be difficult to find any meaningful compositions. I made a mental note to return when we have some dense mist or fog though. After a couple of miles of aimless wandering the habitat changed from coniferous to deciduous which is where I began to feel more at home. Again this is not an ancient woodland, made evident by the very straight paths and strategically placed clearings, I did find the quietness and soft light very appealing though. I even chanced upon an area of heathland and whiled away about 15 minutes watching a small group of grazing Roe Deer that were completely oblivious to my presence. Up to this point I hadn’t even taken my camera out of the bag as I was just enjoying being out in the fresh air and relishing somewhere completely unfamiliar to me. It was only on the route back to where I had parked my car that I finally began to attune myself to the location and began to ‘see’ a few images.

I can’t see myself ever becoming bored with Burnham Beeches but I did learn a valuable lesson that taking yourself out of one’s comfort zone from time to time can only be beneficial if you want to progress your photography.

All the images were made on a Nikon D810, 70-200mm f4 and 50mm f1.2 lenses. I use a Benro TMA 38CL tripod with a Benro GD 3WH geared head. The only filter used was a Kase polariser.