There's nothing better than finding a new location, especially when you get the planning right and the weather conditions come together to add that extra something that makes a special photograph. I enjoy researching new locations and love the anticipation of visiting somewhere for the first time, those early morning alarm calls, getting up in the dark and driving for hours to be there before sunrise... actually, not so much the last part and what's even less fun is the long drive home if the weather didn't play ball and you've barely taken a shot.
Besides, with all this travelling around searching for the next new location it's easy to overlook what's on your doorstep. I'm sure I'm not the only one guilty of taking for granted what's right in front of me but that local knowledge can make so much difference to our photographs. Familiarity can often feel like a bit of an obstacle to creativity but set yourself a challenge to try and find a new angle of something you know well and it needn't be. Visiting somewhere throughout the year, rain or shine is an opportunity to really get a feel for a place and build a collection of images that go a bit deeper.
I realised recently, while planning how to spend the weekend adding hundreds more miles to my poor car, that there are still several locations only a short drive from home that despite having photographed several times I still feel I couldimprove on the photos I have taken there. So, while feeling particularly lazy last weekend I decided to skip the research, forget the tide tables, ignore the weather forecasts and head to a favourite local spot and just see what happened. The result? It rained and I didn't take a single shot.
I am of course joking, I found myself in front of Woodbridge Tide Mill just before dawn composing the shot I'd failed to capture to my satisfaction on previous visits. It was low tide, something I'd normally avoid there as I don't usually find mud very attractive but surprisingly as the approach of sunrise streaked the sky with pink and orange, the warm colours reflecting off the wet mud transformed it completely. I'd added some different shots of a familiar place to my collection and went home happy and the best part is half an hour later I was home for breakfast.
Some of my best landscapes have been the lucky spur of the moment ones, where I've literally pulled the car over and grabbed a couple of shots. It's true that planning pays dividends and the more effort you put into it the luckier you seem to get but it also makes a refreshing change to just get out there and go with the flow... give it a try.