Stopping Before The Best View

June 23, 2022

Inland Kaikoura Range 2Inland Kaikoura Range 2

Above Hells Gate, Middlehurst.
Phase One XF 150MP, 55mm Schneider lens, f11 for 60 seconds, ISO 50.

How often have you been travelling to a destination, intent on seeing the view? You could be in Australia, Iceland or New Zealand - it doesn't matter. What does matter is you've been told about or you've seen a great location and you want to photograph it.

I have a question. Should you stop before the best view? This is sort of what happened for this photo taken at Middlehurst. In the distance on the left, you can see a small road that takes us to a corner of the mountain and some great panoramic views. I love going there each year - it's usually on the first night, weather permitting. And it's hard not to take an impressive landscape or two.

However, on this occasion as we were travelling back from our destination, we turned around to see the sky lighting up. Now, I'm not a big fan of sunset photographs in competitions, but when it comes to taking a few for myself, that's a different matter! And what I like about this image is the huge expanse of mountainside in the foreground, the red slips on the steeper sections. It's not a classic composition, cramming the 'action' of the big mountains and the sunset light show up into the top third of the frame, but this 'balance' creates a different type of interest. Some people might like to know what's behind the foreground mountain, whereas I like the fact that it hides it. It creates a sense of unknown - if what I can see already looks amazing, how much more could I see if I were around the corner?

Sometimes delivering everything in a photograph isn't as effective as allowing our viewers to use their imagination - and hence the question, should we stop before the best view?

As a corollary, we're always told to look behind us and I think this is possibly the single best piece of advice I have ever received. Okay, so you need a lot of other advice too, but how many photos would we have missed had we not been aware of what was happening behind and around us as well? And this concept isn't just about camera angle and place. It's about timing too - the sun had set behind clouds for the evening, or so we thought, but while we were on our way home, our cameras were still very much at the ready - and just as well.

If you're interested in experiencing the Middlehurst Experience in August this year, Tony Hewitt and I have just one place left You can check out the details on our website here.




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