When is a break not a break?
If you are a creative who is anything like me, it can be hard to take a real break and get away. There is inspiration all around in a different setting and you want to be able to record it all in one form or another.
The most obvious way of doing that for me, is with my camera. But am I really taking a break if I take the tools of my trade with me?
Last week I was away on holiday with some members of my family. Now January may not seem like the ideal time to take a break in the UK but it does have some advantages.
Firstly, it’s cheap — very cheap. A villa with 6 sharing Monday to Friday cost less than £100 each self catering. That gave us free access to certain facilities including a subtropical water park, loads of nature trails and hides for wildlife watching. A huge range of pay as you use sports and adventure facilities were also available.
Walking through the grounds, you could think you were in the middle of nowhere at times, but you’d never be more than 10 minutes walk from the central village street housing restaurants that serve dishes from around the world.
In my garden at home, there is a particular range of of bird life that visits our feeders, mostly Tits of various varieties, Robins, Nuthatches and recently Pheasants have been braving the garden path.
Our break at Sherwood allowed me to get some photographs of a number of different species, mostly of the finch family, including Siskins with their striking combination of yellow/green and black and Goldfinches with their bright red head and flashes of gold on their wings. Having hides set up to watch the wildlife without disturbing them is a thoughtful touch and the birds certainly wouldn’t go hungry.
If you are interested in capturing your own images of these quite small birds, it’s best to bring along a system camera with a good long lens. The camera I use is an Olympus OM E-M1 which I pair with a 75–300mm lens. The micro four thirds camera means the effective focal length is 600mm. On a full frame system that would mean a large, heavy and expensive piece of glass. Opting for the Olympus means my kit was small, light and easy to set up in the hide. It has impressive image stabilisation too, so no need for a tripod.
As I said, it’s hard to leave work behind and truly take a break. In some ways I could easily be accused of taking my work with me. However, photography is my passion, as well as part of my livelihood, and this was for my pleasure and not to furnish a magazine. If there was any pressure or frustration I would simply have been able to stop.
Taking a small kit with me also meant I wasn’t exhausted carrying heavy gear around. Plus, I kept the hide visits to less than hour each day so that I wasn’t away from the main group for too long.
It’s occasionally a bit of a blurry line and a movable one too, but when it stops being fun, it’s time to stop , put the camera away and get back to the business of taking a break.
So don’t leave your sketchbook behind, or miss out with no camera to hand, just make sure it’s for fun and stay engaged with your loved ones.