It must have been a great day for photography!

Paul Debois using large diffusers to soften midday sun
Paul Debois using large diffusers to soften midday sun

Whenever I speak to my mother on the phone, the conversation always drifts towards the perils of the weather, and the effects it has on photography. I think she still worries about me wearing a hat or that I remembered to take a flask of hot coffee with me. Unless it is sunny.

Then the comment is, “It must have been a great day for photography.”

Whether I’m shooting gardens, flowers or cars, fierce, bright sun and a cloudless blue sky is nearly always a nightmare. Finding natural shade at the top of a mountain pass to park a sports car covered in chrome is nearly impossible. And wide landscapes with trees casting dark shadows over beautifully designed borders makes you look to the sky in desperation for help. Not for divine intervention, but for cloud. Even a little one. A few seconds would do!

Any photographer working outside will spend hours waiting for the light to change – it’s always too bright or too cloudy, much to the annoyance of whoever you are working with. On a recent  shoot for Gardeners’ World, a photograph was taken of me working under a tent created with white cloth suspended on light stands – all to capture an area about a metre square. Midday sun is very difficult to work in – especially for a journalist when lunch is imminent!

I know I’m lucky to be able to work outside of an office environment. But that perfect gin and tonic weather, when all you want to do is sit in a deck chair and listen to Test Match Special on the radio, is often not much use to a snapper. Unless the offer is a G&T.

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