by Charlie Waite Published 01/08/2015
So there was Charlie 20 feet up a ladder in deep midwinter waiting for the light.
(Multi-award-winning landscape photography guru Charlie Waite has spent disproportionate amounts of his time over the last few decades halfway up ladders waiting for the light.)
But on this particular day his wife Jess was with him. Just a few yards away below Charlie she was trench-coat and balaclava-wrapped against the bitter cold and wandering alongside the water gardens at Fountains Abbey, Ripon - a World Heritage Site now run by The National Trust. Until she fell in.
So now there's a real predicament for a landscape shooter of global note. What to do? What to do?
"I just needed to get the light right in the knave area of the ruined cathedral," he confesses.
"Suddenly I heard a splash. I turned round, looked down and momentarily Jess had disappeared. Then, out of nowhere, an arm surfaced from the water - it was a bit of a King Arthur's sword moment. She shouted 'Help' but the problem was that just at the precise moment my light suddenly appeared - and you understand I had to get that shot. I knocked off six rapid frames and then went down to pull her out. Jess doesn't come on shoots with me anymore!"
Mercifully, Charlie's 'waiting for the light' moments are not usually quite so traumatic - but they are pivotal to his international success and hardwon reputation as an outstanding landscape photographer.
Charlie wouldn't blink an eye at having to hang around a location for a week waiting for the right light, the right sky and the right moment. (He once made his mother wait eight hours while he completed a shot he vowed would take no more than 20 minutes.)
He's comforted by the knowledge that one of his mentors, Ansel Adams, was content to shoot just 12 quality images in a year. A dozen clicks in 12 months will do for both Ansel and Charlie as long as the resulting images are the best possible photographs that could ever be taken of the subject. Says Charlie: "I admire single-minded photographers who are prepared to wait forever to get the perfect shot. I know a wildlife photographer who once dragged a dead sheep halfway up a mountain in Scotland and waited for a week for an eagle to appear."
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