A lot of countries have some sort of lockdown at the moment due to the virus that is spreading itself around. In the Netherlands we’re still lucky to be able to go out for a daily walk around the house. This means if you have some energy left you can go out for a run, or even take your bike. But don’t go out for a whole day, go alone and keep distance. While I’ve experienced some sort of staying at home for the last year… During this period, I’ve learned to appreciate my surroundings. I always had the idea (and I think a lot of people do think the same) that I needed to travel far to create some beautiful images. Just take a look at some social media and you’ll get the idea you can only go to Bali, Iceland etc. to create some stunning pictures. But I forgot how my own area looked like…
Do you already have a local patch!?
Last year I had the advice from the doctor I needed a daily walk and preferred with some sunshine. There I went day by day for the same walk more or less. I just love to hear the waves crashing at the shores and preferred to walk the same way back home. Double pleasure for me! During these walks I noticed how empty the area actually was, while the part of my country where I live is quite a tourist hotspot. That is how I started to look around and noticed its beauty again. While I changed my heavy photography gear for some lighter parts I could bring it with me again and I started to appreciate the beauty of my own area again.
I created a project last year for myself to raise my creativity level again. I noticed that the project inspired me and I learned to look with with another perspective at my surroundings. Because the project involved different subjects each month I couldn't just shoot some random pictures. I really needed to think about them. For this "local patch" idea you need to discover your area (without a camera) just go outside for a short walk and think about some random subjects. Keep them in your head and write them on a piece of paper while your back home. During your next walks you’ll look with a completely different eye at your surroundings. This is just a small tip to get creative at the beginning of your new explorations.
A local patch does have the ability to raise your creativity, but not only during this period but you will master the details of the landscape year around and I bet it will tickle your creativity again and again.
What makes an area a local patch?
Like I said, it needs to be an area nearby the place your living (say 10-15 minutes of travel). The purpose of this is that you can go out even for only a short period of time, without the necessity to take a day off from work. For example, with a sunrise you can even go there before work. You will still only have 30 minutes or something to shoot but that is the exact amount of time you’ll need to capture some stunning images. During the summer months you can still go there later in the evening for a sunset, or when you are sitting at home during the weekend and the weather changes quickly you can grab your camera and go out and be back when the family brings you a visit that day.
You can also turn this around and search for some spots nearby the office, so you can go out during lunchtime or after work (or before). Be creative while looking for some spots, they are everywhere.
During these lockdown times where you might not be allowed to go out, you can use your garden, a room somewhere in your house where some natural lights blends in beautifully with the objects in that room?
What does it look like?
Depends on the type of photographer you are, I guess? For some naturescapes you would prefer to go outside and know some landscapes, certain flowers etc. but as street photography is your thing you might want to visit some streets in your city. But the best option would be to have multiple of these small areas where you can go to, because not everything you look for is available in one small area. You might try to create a small document where you make some notes how the light changes during the year, what it looks like after some rainfall, or when the sun sets with the perfect angle during the year.
How to find?
If you don’t know about any small piece of forest, beach etc. near you… but I bet everyone knows something! You might just get out for a walk or a short bike ride and explore some streets away from your daily road to work. If you really can’t get out because of the lockdown, you can use Google Maps for example or any other platform with geographic possibilities. Once you can get out again, you can do a short exploration of the spot and you’ll see there are more options then you could ever imagine on forehand.
A local patch will offer you a lot of possibilities to start experimenting with your photography. You can decide to only bring 1 lens with you (not your common one😈). This will force you to be creative and look different every time to the same subjects. Another option is for example that you'll make the choice to create only black and white images. All the colorful subjects you can eliminateon forehand because for a good black and white image you need to look at the contrasts of light and/or shapes.
- Saves you a lot of travel time, because the area will be nearby your house. So when you get there and the circumstances will be a bit disappointing you can return another day and didn’t lose a whole amount of time.
- Because you will get here more often you will get to know the area. This way you will know when a specific bird will show up or specific circumstances to create a stunning landscape picture or when a lot of people do a certain activity in the area.
- One of my best experiences is that I learned to look different at my subjects. Because the photographic opportunities aren’t always there you need to start thinking creative. In this creative state of mind, you start to look different at things. This way you’ll return home with totally different images than you would otherwise
- Because you know the spot very well, you can create a plan very specific for the whole year and shoot specific things like snowfall, a supermoon etc.
I can actually only think of one and I’ll make this mistake a lot when there are some magnificent light circumstances around. There is a pitfall you will always go for the same subject, composition, viewpoint. You have to overcome this and try to create some variations in your shots. When you think this is difficult, make it harder for yourself before you go out. Look for examples at the part of experimenting I mentioned above.
Now go out and find your local patch
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, social media is dominated by popular photospots worldwide. While you’re in lockdown at the moment isn't it more fun to go out and explore your own area? You're alone and you can appreciate the area a lot more afterwards. It is time to rediscover your own area (it can even be you own backyard). Be amazed by her beauty and don't forget to have some fun!
The images I used in this post are all shot at different "local patches" around my house. Some of them are used before in my older posts, but some you have never seen before. I picked them on purpose so you could see the differences between them, but also the simmilarities (think you can notice I'd love to shoot sunsets😉). Long story short, I do hope you like them! 🤙
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