Covid 19 led to me going out at daft times of morning to get away from people as much as possible. Even now, after loosening of restrictions in England, I find myself crossing the road to the least busy side or practically diving into a bush so that teens can cycle by on the pavement. My Dad once said I was born an old git. Be that as it may, I’ve had a hard time relaxing sometimes and seeing a psychological way out of this often eludes me.
Early mornings aren’t all glorious sunrises and back-lit deer on heat. It’s a good thing too. Imagine the never ending musk and sounds of grunting. (Enough about my neighbours though). The darker, lower contrast light found on mornings when the sun is less enthusiastic about rising can be a wonderful opportunity to reflect on what is there. Many photos you and I like on Instagram and co are just good light or interesting shadow play; enhancing composition perhaps, but often a hyper-saturated facsimile of what was there or a starkly contrasting silhouetted figure midstep against a wall, ideally with a triangular shadow bisecting it.
Sometimes it’s just dark. I walked in to this section of King’s Wood near Challock in Kent, partly because it started to rain and partly because it was so damn dark, with hardly any skylight penetrating the dense canopy. Something as bright as a section of sky in a woodland shot can be incredibly distracting. Recently I’ve sought areas where that doesn’t appear at all.
A bivouac caught my eye. (Who hasn’t said that?) The gloom flattened the scene to a muddy, indistinct brown. It’s what caught my eye in the first place and it certainly reflected how I had felt for quite some time. It took a little bit of faffing in Capture One to get the flattened look I wanted. None of the tones are much higher than 50% luminosity, even after checking it against a white background. I didn’t want viewers to see details, to enjoy the full form, the structure of the bark or even the rain making its way down to the dusty floor.
Sometimes things are just dark. They won’t always be.