On 52 occasions throughout 2016 I hiked a total of about 300 miles on Bredon Hill’s 50 miles of public and permissive/concessionary paths, about 6 miles each time. The time I spent dawdling along whilst looking for and taking photographs, about 9,000 frames in total (or 180 per day), amounted to about 240 hours, 10 full days on Bredon Hill out of the 366 possible. I covered almost every yard of the hill’s paths several times over.
Unlike photography in the days of film cameras, digital photography encourages, or at least enables, the taking of many many more photographs than will ever be useful. It tends to make the photographer less thoughtful about the selection, framing and composition before pressing the shutter. I used a large format (5×4) film camera for all of my photography until just a few years ago so that, when on a photo-hike, taking 10 photographs would be a lot. On the other hand, digital photography means that I can try out many different options thereby deferring my final decision as to what works best from the moment I pressed the shutter to some time later, even weeks later, when I’m reviewing and processing images on my computer. Both have their merits but the increasing capabilities of digital capture, processing and printing, once one has mastered the new technologies, has for me won the day. It does require a new discipline though, the critical selection of the best images and a willingness to delete the rest! My 9,000 images were culled to about 250, or the average of 180 per day down to about 5.
So are the 250 photographs all that I have to show for it? Well yes, physically that’s correct. But in fact so much more. There has been the pleasure of the hikes enjoying Bredon Hill in all weathers (except that I avoided torrential rain), all seasons, and from well before dawn and to well after dusk. Other walkers on the hill have been very friendly and interested, stopping for a chat. I’m sure the cyclists would be friendly too had they not been hurtling by at great speed, at least on the downhill stretches. I’ve managed to make a blog entry with photographs within a day or two of each hike and even managed to keep up my once per week average despite nearly a month away in May/June in the US and two weeks in September/October in Portugal and Madeira. By the time mid October came around I was well ahead of my planned average so that my forthcoming 25 day trip to Bhutan and Thailand would still allow time for me to complete 52 hikes. Sadly, just before I was to depart, my mum passed away so that trip never happened. I still completed my project though the last few hikes have been with a little less enthusiasm.
Over the last few years I’ve made a Photo Book of each of my projects. I’m planning to make one during the next month or two for “On Bredon Hill – 2016”.
Any disappointments? There was no snow throughout the year.
I do have a couple of favourite images from the year, one in colour and one in black and white.
And what’s next? I’m not certain but I am considering a repeat of my photo-hike both ways along the full length of the Cotswold Way. I’ve done it once before (linked here) during the last half of 2009 carrying my heavy large format camera all of the way. My digital gear would certainly lighten the load. For me there’s always an appeal to repeating or revisiting previous photo-locations. It’s never the same.