The Hunt

Sometimes landscape photography is like you are hunting an elusive animal, one that is always just out of sight - close but you can't catch it.

You make the plan, identify the prey and work out the best time and best area to find it; you select the equipment needed; you start to anticipate the hunt and the emotion of the capture. Then at the decided time, you set out dedicated to bring it home and add it to the collection mounted on the wall.

As you set out you are unsure, the prey is rare; will you have the skill; will you choose the right tools; will it get away again – as it did the last dozen times. Maybe the conditions for the hunt will be too difficult; what will the weather do, what if…..; your anticipation grows…

At last, you arrive and load yourself up with the tools of your trade. Then it’s off; this is an early morning hunt so you head along the path in the dark, past the rustling bushes as animals run to hide, through the half-closed gate and on into the dark.

The anticipation grows stronger – today will be the day.

Pushing up the hill, you slip and slide in the mud; the going is getting harder. Higher you climb, you start to breath harder to find the air to carry on.

You can’t pause and take a rest – time is against you; you should have planned for more time to get into place. Time is getting tight, the sky is getting lighter – you need to move otherwise the prey will be gone; if it even shows up – you are unsure again so you increase your pace.

The rucksack on your back is getting heavier as if it wants to slow you down and allow the prey to escape – all this equipment; surely you don’t need it all – not for this hunt; but maybe you need more.

At last, you get there. You checked the location out previously; you calculated where the prey would come from, what would be the best position for the shot; you have time; perfect.

Setting up is almost a habit, select what you will need from your bag, assemble it – you could do this in the dark; wait, it is still dark! Good, still time…

Line-up the shot; when it comes it will come just there; check for anything that might spoil the shot. Double-check everything, what is the weather doing – the wind is dropping; good; now wait.

It’s coming, just as planned; it’s creeping up slowly – you can just see it; soon.

Nearly, nearly, nearly – then it’s gone; just like that; gone! It was close, but it faded away into nothing – not even a hint of it being there. It’s getting lighter now, no chance of the prey showing now, it travels on the edge of the night; never in the daytime.

Packing up is unceremonious; dismantling and packing back into the bag, easy and quick. One last look around and then back along the path.

Going back is easier – downhill, but still the hunt has been hard; you think this will be the last time; maybe time to give up. The worries have gone, you know the result – the prey won again; time for breakfast.

The hardship and disappointment of the hunt quickly fade; back to the planning, back to watching the weather.

One day you will make that winning image of the sunrise; the location is great, the composition is strong, your camera is ready; just need to be lucky. Until then you will continue to enjoy the hunt – maybe more than the capture.

Next time will be the day; maybe tomorrow.

Captured after a hunt : Ogwen Dawn

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