As my getaway to the Lake District, this was a family holiday first, the photography was secondary. The main difference this time was that our accommodation was also our mode of transport, so we were all in this together!
We had been eyeing up a camper van in our street that had 'for hire' on it for some time, and finally decided that we were going to rent it for a week, to go somewhere in the UK. The weather in the UK at the beginning of September can be a bit of a gamble, but it turned out to be one of the hottest weeks (every single day) for as long as I can remember. Jackpot!
I collected the camper van, and got a full tutorial on how to work everything. As an added bonus, it came with a bike rack, which gave me a bit of flexibility, should I wish to go off on my own. The VW also came with a mascot, Maisie, which if we got a chance "could we take a photo to show where she had travelled." Of Course.
The pro's of having a VW camper Van
Obviously having a VW camper is great fun! You get to experience camping with some of life's luxuries, such as warmth, tv, tea on the go and the prospect of rocking-up wherever you like and calling it home. Thomas Heaton, a landscape photographer that I follow on social media, recently took out a VW camper van to Scotland and touched on some of the positive aspects of having such a vehicle if you are a outdoor photographer. In his youtube video he echoed my thoughts of being able to camp a lot closer to your location, than perhaps the nearest hotel, and that gives you the chance to look out of the window to see whether you should get out of bed in the first place. It is reassuring to have metal walls and locks when in the middle of nowhere, versus the linings of a tent. It opens up new possibilities, and you will never forget any of your camera gar, as it is always with you.
The downside to having a VW camper van
In my particular circumstance (being on a family holiday), I couldn't wake my family up at 4:30am, turn the beds back into chairs, strap them in an head out to shoot some spectacular sunrises. A similar situation for sunsets, as this was my daughter's bedtime. With this in mind, I was going to have to visit these locations at times of the day that are not ideal for landscape photography, but let's just call it a recce and if I get anything of worth, then great.
I did the usual research on where I wanted to go, and we picked a camp site that was well-located for all of the places that we were going to visit. As the image below, preparation for the Lake District, I use a combination of magazines, google, 500px, recommendations and maps to pick my locations and routes.
The other downside to having a VW camper van is the cost of the vehicle in the first place, which is why we rented one for a week. A new VW camper is in the region of £50K and older ones still hold their value. They are desirable vehicles. I don't think I will be buying one just yet, but if you know someone with one, stay friends with them!
I have been to Norfolk before, specifically the broads. I had been in a similar predicament because we were on a boat with the family, and my brother and I who wanted to take photographs could only do so when it suited everyone (and where you could park the boat). On this trip I was revisiting some of the same places, but this time from land. This too has it pro's and cons' as some windmills for example are best photographed from a particular side of a canal, which is a long way to go via car/foot, but just a few seconds to cross the 10m on a boat.
A lot of my images ended up being long exposures of windmills and sea defences, converted to black and white to help with the contrasty nature of day-time photography. Unfortunately, the windmill that we were closest to (Horsey Wind Pump) was being repaired due to storm damage. oh well.
My secret weapon
When I am stuck with photographing location in bright sunlight, I break out my infra-red camera. It is particularly good for scenes that include water and trees (as the foliage glows and the water goes almost jet black). These photos are what is known as 'false' colour' infrared, as the colours are messed about with in photoshop - however the original photos do have colour (albeit an orangey sky and bluey grass). These won't be to everyone's taste - but they are definitely eye catching!
I have only just scratched the surface of what is on offer for landscape photography in Norfolk. Southwold (on route from Brighton, but actually Suffolk) and Hunstanton in particular; have plenty to point your camera at.
Here are a selection of images that I took of Maisie the VW mascot, gate-crashing our family holiday.
Thanks for reading!