• Steve Ball

Time for Looking

As landscape photographers we are constantly looking for our next image, but how much do we actually see? Are we looking for something that isn't there, which only exists in our imagination? Are we looking for an image that is pre-visualised, thereby missing out on the opportunities that present themselves? I know from personal experience that my haste to capture an image is the very thing that often gets in the way of me really looking at, and most importantly 'seeing', the landscape. I wonder, therefore, how much I have missed over the years.

The current crisis created by coronavirus has heightened my awareness of the need to look more carefully at nature and the landscape. Whilst I have not taken a single image since the UK lockdown started, I have gone out every day for a long walk in the local countryside, varying my route each day and exploring new paths and tracks. As the days passed I became acutely aware that I was watching spring unfold before my eyes, something that I have either never had the time to notice, or have just taken it for granted in previous years. It has felt like watching a nature programme in slow motion, and has been a huge comfort in these difficult circumstances. Each day I caught sight of different bird species, all of whom I have seen before but not in such numbers and not in a way where I have taken time to watch their behaviour and take joy from that very act. I have seen our farmers ploughing their fields and planting their crops, and have then watched those crops start to slowly emerge from the land. I have experienced each day slowly breaking with the only noise being the rustle of the breeze and the glorious birdsong.

I hope when this crisis is behind us that we can collectively consider whether there is a different way to live our lives, one which is less reliant on the pursuit of money and material items, and more on living in harmony with each other and with nature. From a photography perspective I hope to reflect on my experience of my daily walks and learn to take more time to immerse myself in the landscape and to open my eyes more fully to the opportunities around me. There is far more to see if we just take the time to look.

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