Quite often with landscape photography the tendency is to focus on the bigger and more impressive vista. Exploring the great outdoors. Finding the most remote locations. Travelling to far flung places.
Consequently it can be very easy to ignore the local landscape (and by local I mean with a mile or so of home). I will admit to being guilty of feeling somewhat cynical towards the prospects of rewarding landscape views in South London.
But sometimes circumstances force you to look more closely at what is on your doorstep and this is why this image is a favourite of mine.
Where and when?
Beddington Park in Wallington, taken in November 2019.
The background story
With a free weekend and the weather forecast predicting frost and fog, I was keen to take a chance on an early morning outing. The problem was I didn’t have the car so my options suddenly became very limited. Landscape photography is not something I think of being able to walk easily to. I was this close to not bothering but prepared my gear the night before nonetheless and decided my best option would be Beddington Park.
I know Beddington Park well. It is less than two miles from home and I have walked through it countless times. But I have never photographed it and that is something that caught me out; I had never viewed it through photographer’s eyes. And that meant I had to start from scratch when it came to planning.
I knew I wanted to incorporate water in the scene in case the fog lingered so with that in mind I decided the lake would be as good a spot as any. To be completely honest, I was sceptical that I would come away with anything remotely worthy so approached it with the mindset of a scouting trip.
How it came together
I set up by the lake and, after working out where the sun would be rising, composed the scene around this huge, beautiful willow tree. Without anything in the way of real foreground interest I decided to shoot a little tighter than I usually would, at 50mm, to help bring the bridge more into play and compress the perceptive slightly.
I was generally pleased with the composition but it was only when the sun emerged that it burst into life. The morning rays illuminated the willow tree, turning it golden and reflecting in the water. The fog had started to lift but there was still just enough of it to be visible without obscuring the bridge. The wind was also low so it didn’t take too long an exposure to calm the few ripples on the water.
Why is it a favourite?
I love travelling. It naturally feeds my landscape photography – my landscape gallery is evidence of that – and those of you who have read other posts in this series will know that a lot of my favourite shots are taken abroad.
But it is important to recognise the beauty of our local landscapes. And I don’t just mean the Lake District, Scotland, or the Dorset Coast. I mean truly local spots, like your local park or woods. If I had access to the car this particular weekend I would have never visited Beddington Park. The thought just would not have crossed my mind.
And what a shame that would have been.
This is a favourite shot because it is a valuable reminder – and a humbling lesson – that when the right conditions present themselves you really don’t have to travel far afield to find a great landscape photograph. It can be right on your doorstep. Even in South London.