Photography can be one of the most infuriating hobbies. When it goes right it’s one of the most rewarding hobbies. You can take the world around you that you’ve seen day in day out for years and find some new beauty hidden in plain sight. The infuriating part of photography is when this stops happening.
The whole reason I started this blog two years ago was to capture beautiful things in beautiful places. For too long now I’ve not been doing a good enough job of that. There are a couple of reason for this. A little bit because I’m shit. However the main reason is I don’t get out on adventures as much as I used to. There is nothing more inspiring than heading to a place you’ve never been before with a rucksack full of camera equipment and simply exploring. You see amazing buildings, landscapes or people, and you are inspired. Suddenly you are thinking of all the different ways to capture these new and exciting surroundings. Long exposures, wide or narrow fields of view, time lapses, aerial if you’re lucky enough to have a drone handy. All these ideas seem to come naturally when you’re somewhere new and you just want everything.
In contrast to this, I’ve tried creating different things around my hometown with tragic amounts of success. Now don’t get me wrong, my home town is amazing. An island surrounded by oceans and harbours, glass towers that stab the skyline, historical buildings that predate some of the most powerful countries on our little blue planet. And yet, I struggle to get fired up.
In the past I have. Travel back a year in time to when I could grow small amounts of face fluff but knew better than to try, and less importantly, to when I first developed a love of photography, my home town constantly got me fired up. These days not so much.
So when Steve came home from work in the pit of confusion and despair between Christmas and New Years and summoned me out of the house for a trip to Gatwick Airport, I was rock solid.
For a while now I’ve been longing to go to a busy airport and experiment with long exposures. Point a camera near a runway, leave the shutter open for a while, and you can create a window to a world where planes paint their journeys with beautiful, sharp light.
Unless you are Tony and Steve. In which case you show up at an airport covered in dense mist that scatters any light and makes long exposures painfully difficult to perfect. It’s not a proper Tony and Steve journey without some plan ruining curve balls thrown your way. Nevertheless we soldiered on and set up cameras in the freezing cold knowing we would not get much reward but knowing we had to try. Lots of effort against all odds for not much reward. If you have a dictionary lying around I’m eighty six percent sure that’s the definition of ‘millenials’. No, wait, there were no older people around who had got better shots in better conditions yesterday telling us we were expecting too much and not working hard enough.
…Any way, here are some of the early attempts.
The first shot wasn’t anything special, but it was an excellent proof of concept. To be honest I was slightly amazed that shot had worked at all. These photos really don’t do the mist any justice.
The second shot looked so much cooler, the planes light trails are much brighter and clearer, I quite like the composition, I even like the lights from the bus that drove through mid shot. Despite the initial bummer of heavy mist, I quite like the bright clean haze in this photo as the mist was lit up by the lamp post just out of shot.
As cool as these first shots were, Steve and I quickly realised that we were in a pretty bad spot to get light trails that showed a planes journey. That and we were like a foot away from the perimeter road with big no access signs and police cars kept creeping past us.
In our defence we got really excited when we first pulled up and saw a big old fence with massive planes rocketing past and just thought “LET’S GO THERE”.
Before we left, we had a go at a few more shots.
If I am to be entirely honest I got way to excited by this tree and the way the light from a lamp post shone through it.
I loved this shot of my new best tree friend. The mist in the air gave the tree so much depth. Unfortunately the mist was making it far too difficult to remember how to expose a photo.
These last two shots were taken right around the time Steve had realised we would not be able to get many good shots here and was ready to get back in the car and get warm. Then I saw a plane shoot out behind my new best tree friend and was all like “Steve carry on freezing your bollocks off for a few more seconds I want get a picture of the plane shooting out behind my new best tree friend.”
I am not sure if it was the exposure of the angle of the runway meaning the light trails were quite short but these shots were not as cool as I’d hoped.
Fully admitting defeat, we got back in the car to search for a better angle.
Nothing gets photographers frisky like a good angle.
Once in the car we looked at a map and discovered a road that travelled right past the bottom of the runway. Optimism pumped through our bodies like shit through sewers.
To our amazement we were in luck. We parked up in a little lay by and hopped out of the car. A second later a plane screamed above our heads before gently kissing the earth.
We didn’t waste a second. We dropped our tripods where we stood and we played. And that is the exact moment you live for when you are out and about on a photography expedition. That moment when you have no idea what to do, but you are excited and inspired. You enjoy the moment, and then your mind begins to buzz thinking about how you are going to turn this awesome sight into a picture.
Over exposed, and far too narrow!
A fairly exciting shot, but again, the field of view is a bit too narrow. I also cant tell if my broken kit lens is now impossible to focus, or if that’s just what happens when you do a long exposure in heavy mist.
Getting there, But still need to work on exposure.
Shit. Worked too hard.
Then we headed to the next spot with a clear view of the runway.
This is the point that I got a little bit of new inspiration and gave up on long exposures in favour of a time lapse!
The fruits of that labour can be seen here.
Once we had that we decided it was actually to cold for us to survive so we got be in the car. Then a police car pulled up next to us a shone a light in the car. They hovered for a second then just left. I’m not sure if someone was unhappy that we were out taking photos, or just thought we were dogging. They definitely thought we were dogging. We weren’t. If we were neither of us would have been as satisfied.
So that is the end of another tale. But it’s so much more than a few hours out of the house. It’s a trip that has got me excited for photography again. It’s a trip that has re-ignited me. It’s a trip that has made me want to get up and play with cameras some more. Hopefully we are going back to Gatwick with a few extra bits of kit, and a few extra friends. After all, we don’t stand around losing our toes to frostbite just to get the shot. We do it for the adventure. And what is adventure without friends.
Still adventure. But no where near as good.
Good to be back.