Driving along one of the many coastal roads on the Isle of Wight the other day I spotted a familiar figure in the distance standing at the water’s edge. I pulled over for a closer look and realised that I was watching one of the Island’s best known landscape photographers, Chris Boynton, at work hunched over a tripod with the sea water lapping at his feet. He was so utterly engrossed in his work that he was oblivious to the fact that the water was not only threatening to swamp his wellington boots but was also about to test the water repellent qualities (precious few) of his Sony A7R11 and 35mm Zeiss lens. As with all landscape photographers, Chris was patiently waiting for all the elements in the scene before him to come together. The setting sun was low in the sky but had carefully hidden itself behind one of several clouds that were working their way over the distant headland beyond Sandown Bay. The waves on the gently sloping beach were playing another game as they ebbed to and fro inches below Chris’ camera.
Every time they receded, the flat wet sand became a perfect mirror, reflecting in every detail the cloudscape above. Landscape isn’t generally regarded as a quick-fire, action-filled pursuit but Chris had only seconds to achieve his shot and he was determined not to miss it. Within minutes the sun started to appear from below the cloud and for the briefest of moments bathed the area in golden light. At the same time, the waves that had been so threatening ebbed away revealing that perfect mirror and a scene that shimmered gold from top to bottom. Chris took full advantage of the opportunity, firing repeatedly whilst making constant adjustments to the framing and exposure. He had put himself in the right place with the right kit and was skilled enough to know exactly what he was waiting for. Having seen the LD screen on the back of his camera I have no doubt I shall see one of these photographs on a postcard or calendar in the months to come.
You might reasonably ask why I wasn’t on that beach with my camera, scuttling in and out with the waves waiting for the perfect shot? Some wit once said that the best camera is the one you have with you, which might explain that I now have a pleasant but largely un-commercial shot of Chris grinning happily at my mobile phone. I keep telling myself I’m not really a landscape photographer at all and that I really didn’t want to capture the beauty of an Island bay filled with golden winter light and a wondrous cloudscape after all.
And the final image, kindly supplied by Chris Boynton, looks like this: