Landscape Shoot – Rough Tor, Cornwall in 500 words

It seems that there is a limit to how much you can say on YouTube about a photography shoot – at least if you want to tell a reflective story.  There is a certain amount that you can catch “in the moment” and record to video, but there is a great deal that you either do not have the time to comment on “live” or that simply does not lend itself to a “voice-over” approach.

For example – in September I did a sunset shoot at Rough Tor in Cornwall, UK. You can catch the video about it here:

I visited the previous day – it was blowing a gale and throwing down heavy showers. I remember, first catching sight of it from a distance and thinking, as I saw it silhouetted against the horizon, “Wow! It looks like the battlements of an ancient broken down fortress”.

The distances are deceptive – the walk from the car park to the Tor was straight up and looked quite short – but it took longer than I expected.  The “stones” perched on top of the hill were far larger close up and the scale of the hill top greater than I had thought.

The “Logan Stones” create a surreal landscape – rocks weathered into shapes that leave them balanced and toppled like something left abandoned in a giant child’s playroom.

I found myself realising, once I reached the summit that I was really in the wrong place to photograph it. From one end of the hill top to the other is the best part of 750 metres.  At one point I looked to the sky and it dawned on me that the shot I really wanted needed to be taken from Showery Tor, at the northern end of the hill.  I was then about 350 metres away on Little Rough Tor.  Sunset, of course, waits for no man or woman, and I knew that the light was going to be about perfect for only a very short time.

So, I picked up all my gear and ran back to Showery Tor, planning my shot as I ran and getting out the items of equipment that I thought I would need in order to make it happen – filter holder; soft grad 0.6 neutral density filter, remote release, tripod and switching back to my wide angle lens.

By the time I arrived there, I had chosen and pre-visualised my shot – I would put the Logan Stones in the foreground with the heights of Rough Tor and Little Rough Tor in the distance.  The clouds were creating a perfect lead line to the distant peaks and the colour in the sky and reached it’s richest hues. 

These are the moments that you live for as a photographer. The moments when all the knowledge and experience, the effort of getting in the right place at the right time, and the creative processes all come together to achieve something special.

There’s more to say about this particular shoot but I’ll keep that for another day.

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