Planning photography activities for the summer months

Back in March I started to think about what I want to achieve with my photography in the coming months.  This breaks down into a number of specific objectives or activities.

For me, this year’s objectives include:

  1. Trying to take some decent landscape pictures;
  2. Working on compositional aspects of my shots, things like “rule of thirds” and colour balance etc.

In addition, there are the regular “not to be missed” photo opportunity events on the summer calendar.

There are a few websites that I regularly check to help with my detailed planning: – this site gives a lot of information about where and when steam trains are running. While I have been known to enjoy visiting places like the Didcot Railway Centre, I prefer to see a steam engine working with a load. There is a fair number of steam excursions out of the various London terminals during the year, particularly Victoria and Kings Cross. Sadly, steam on the west coast line through Hemel has dropped in recent years but there is the occasional treat; the Flying Scotsman will be pulling a train on this line in June. My favourite location for train photography is around the Exe estuary and Dawlish, there are regular steam excursions on this picturesque line which has yet to be polluted by overhead cables. – this site gives a comprehensive list of the UK air shows during the year with links to individual show websites to enable detailed planning and an idea of the cost etc. Air shows are very popular and this means that it is often impossible to get photographs of ground display aircraft without other admirers in the way. (The same problem exists with railway centres.) Therefore I settle for high speed grab shots taken when the planes are in the air. There are two main air shows that I try to attend, the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at Fairford in July and the Battle of Britain Air Show at Duxford in September. There are plenty of other air show locations relatively close to Hemel, (Old Warden, BigginHill, Kirkby etc. all of which put on several shows during the summer months. RIAT is said to be the biggest and best air show in Europe and possibly the world; there is certainly plenty to see and a very long flying program each day. There are several well established “holiday resort” air shows at  Bournemouth, Eastbourne, Dartmouth usually timed to coincide with holiday weeks and local festivals……and they cost nothing to watch!

The Royal Horticultural Society website provides a range of information about activities planned at Wisley and the other RHS gardens. The annual flower show and the Dahlia Society show both rank highly for me as photography opportunities and challenges. There are also some photographic workshops run at Wisley through the year.

I let my subscription to the National Trust lapse a few years ago, but, like the RHS there are many houses, gardens, shorelines, monuments etc.  that, with a bit of forward planning, can provide excellent photography opportunities. Many properties are very close to Hemel. Lacock in Wiltshire is on my bucket list.

I realised when thinking about all this, that it is a few years since I visited Silverstone. While I follow the Formula One, I am not motivated to get pushed and jostled at Silverstone during the F1 weekend. I prefer to go the smaller meetings where sports cars and historic racers vigorously compete and provide plenty of opportunities for interesting grab shots….. It’s much more civilised.

There are plenty of opportunities for photographs in our immediate localities. Most of us could name twenty photo locations around London. Many of us are fortunate to visit overseas locations periodically and bring back interesting and beautiful pictures. There is no doubt that in other locations around the world skies and seas are coloured differently to ours….. There are fifteen foot waves on the west coast of America and the sand on the beaches does get too hot to walk on in bare feet…Travel broadens the mind, we should do it  and take the great photographs  if we can, just don’t forget the local opportunities on our doorsteps!

Now who is going to organise a club day trip to an event….?