The places that I like to explore are rarely spectacular. Their names aren't mentioned on tourist guides. They are ordinary places like there is anywhere in the world and most people would drive through them without giving a second glance at the scene, perhaps just intrigued at what in the world could make a photographer stop there. However, for those who like to saunter at various hours of the day and throughout the course of the seasons, common places conceal treasures of beauty. The shades of green of the springtime, the bright or subdued fall colours, the graphical simplicity of the winter, the mystery of a day of mist, the immaculate aspect of a snow coat or the enchanting laces of hoarfrost — can turn what would otherwise be an ordinary sight into pure beauty.
Harsh daylight does not suit this style of landscape photography. In the prospect of having the best light, I often find myself climbing the mountain trails when hikers are already on the way back. Once the thermal winds have calmed, photography can go on until dark. The gentle light coming from nowhere reveals the smallest details and the most subtle tones. The way back is often with a flashlight, but the mind filled with expectations.
Predicting small scale weather conditions is not an exact science. To have good chances of witnessing something unusual, one needs to go out often and by any weather condition. When eventually all factors meet to produce a striking view, the photographer is overwhelmed by a sense of urgency. Fighting the inertia caused by the exhausting walk sometimes, or the long wait, or simply the desire to not miss anything from the scene, he rushes to the bag and pulls out a camera, puts it on the tripod, mounts a lens whilst he mentally frames the picture. The reversed ground glass image needs to be focused precisely with a loupe, then a sheet of film can be loaded. After metering the fleeting light, one or two exposures can be taken, but the cost of sheet film and processing forbids bracketing. I couldn't tell how many shots were missed for not being able to complete the whole process while the magic lasted, for waiting endlessly for the wind to calm, and also sometimes in the beginning, for having let place to some technical flaw that revealed as the sheets came back from the lab. But the large format photographer is pugnacious by definition. Chance always rewards perseverance, even if there needs to be more than chance. When eventually a fine image shows on the light box, failures and frustrations vanish instantaneously and you have but one thought : go out and strive to pick more of that delicate light!