The Seasons


Portfolio of 12 photographs (4 x 3) depicting each of the seasons taken over the duration of the course.

Generally when we think about the change in the landscape and environment from one season to another, we think about the transformation of colour, shape and form;  a difference  in the quality of light, an alteration  in the weather and in turn a variation in ambience and mood.

In Britain we tend to envisage the harsh snow-covered landscapes, of early morning frosts, cold temperatures, short days and low sun and soft light that are synonymous with the winter season.  Spring brings with it the blossoming of trees, the emergence of buds, the greening of the vegetation and an improvement in the weather and daylight hours. Summer heralds long, warm days, blue skies, glorious colour, harsh sunlight and people out and about. Autumn is the season of rich sunsets, vibrant reds, yellows and browns vegetation, leaves on the ground and a deterioration in the weather.

Here in Guernsey, we are a little further south than the British mainland and are fortunate not to experience harsh winters, cold frosts and barren landscapes. Our seasons tend to blend more readily one into the other,  with the sea moderating the temperatures throughout the year. Indeed, the seasons can take on many guises dependant on where in the world you live.

To this end I have tried to portray the seasons as we experience them in Guernsey, the desolate windswept beaches of winter along with many fog bound days;  the early onset of spring bringing with it abundant coastal flora;  the blue sea and the bright sunlight of summer, and the vibrant sunsets and soft warm colours of autumn, which is often much later to arrive here in Guernsey than in the UK mainland.

The Photographs


1 Spring Tree - Val des Terres

02 June 2012     09.00

ISO 200    1/80sec     f.16    42mm

This is the first of four seasonal photographs I have taken of this landmark tree, which stands alone in the centre of a field at the top of the iconic Val des Terres. A long twisting road which links the “lower parishes”  at the north end of the Island to the “upper parishes” in the south.

Taken in late spring the vegetation is already very green and lush. I purposely took the photograph at this time of the day so that the tree was side lit, the sun still quite low, and the highlights and shadows at their maximum.


2 Spring at cambridge Park

19 March 2012   15.47

ISO 400    1/100sec     f.14    61mm

This one of many photographs I have taken of this avenue of trees over the past year, and the first of two which I am including in this body of work. I selected this shot because  I like the converging parallels of the trees which draw your eye into the picture, the way the trees frame the composition, the contrasting shadows that fall on the grass at a diagonal and the textures and patterns of the branches.  The yellow of the daffodils add colour interest to the composition. But ….I do not like the bin, should I clone out?

This one of the first ‘seasonal’ photographs I took, with the benefit of the experience I have gained over the past ten months I would certainly have used a smaller f. giving more sharpness and depth to the image.


3 Sea pinks in Spring

11 April 2012     10.58

ISO 200    1/100sec     f.20    15mm

I like this photograph a lot,  sea pinks are prevalent around our coastal headlands at this time of year.  These are particularly good specimens and I feel I have captured them at their best.  The low viewpoint and the topography of the land displays the delicate, yet robust,  pink flowers showing detail and form. This is well contrasted by the textures and colour of the rock formation against which they are photographed.


4 Summer Tree - Va des Terres

02 June  2012     09.03

ISO 200    1/80sec     f.13  28mm

The second of the photographs of the tree at Val des Terres, this shot was taken in early summer when the vegetation was still quite verdant and large cow parsleys lined the edge of the field. Again I took this photograph when the direction of light was from the side to emphasise the shadows. I have tried to bring in the sky colour a bit more, but still not a hundred percent happy. Suggestions?


5 Summer Sunrise at La Valette

04 September 2012     06.57

ISO 125    1/6sec     f.22    19mm

This is the colour version of the photograph I submitted for Assignment 5. Equally as stunning ?? The colours are majestic, as are the reflections, but the graphical qualities of the image not so pronounced.

For me, I take pleasure from viewing each version – but for different reasons.



6 Summer at Pembroke Bay

25 July 2012     12.33

ISO 100    1/100sec     f.18    93mm

I wanted to include a photograph that typified a Guernsey scene on a summers’ day. So this is more of a social documentary landscape photograph –  lots of people having fun on the beach.  The sun is high in the sky, casting short shadows ( a considered decision), the colours of the windbreaks are vibrant and the sea looks inviting. A stark contrast to the image of Pembroke in Winter. (also included)     


7 Autumn Tree - Val des Terres

27 October  2012     11.26

ISO 200    1/25sec     f.25    42mm

 Photograph number three of the Val des Terres tree. By now the foliage has turned a yellow brown colour and the leaves are beginning to fall. Despite photographing the tree at a later time in the morning the shadows are longer as the sun remains lower in the sky.  I have cropped this picture to make the tree more prominent in the photograph and also to cut out much of the foreground shadow.


8 Autumn Tree Jersey

24 October  2012     16.13

ISO 200    1/160sec     f.4.5    15mm

Taken in a housing estate on our sister island of Jersey, I included this photograph in my selection for three reasons. Firstly, I liked the minimalist style of the shot, secondly I liked the warm colour of the leaves and tree contrasting against the neutral paintwork of the buildings, and thirdly I liked the random shapes  and pattern of nature contrasting with the hard lines of the man made buildings. I have cropped the original shot by a 1/5th  each way and used a Lightroom preset filter – direct positive  in order to accentuate these attributes.


9 Autmn Sunset Vazon

10 November  2012     15.34

ISO 100    1/40sec     f.22   15mm

So often landscape photography is all about being in the right place at the right time and seizing the moment,  it is not often that you set out to take a specific landscape photograph and the conditions (and resulting outcome) are just as you envisaged and hoped for.  But I had a commission, my first one, with a two week time scale set on it, no pressure,  but fortunately I struck lucky on my first attempt. The weather was favourable, and I drove to Vazon hoping that the sun would not dip behind a cloud as it was going down. I spent about an hour prior to the shoot deciding on the best vantage point, ( already knowing that the client wanted me to shoot from a low viewpoint, as he had seen some of my other work). This one of three panoramics  I took, along with a number of single frame shots,  the client chose this photograph from the set of proofs I printed for him. I then had it printed on a 1.5 metre canvas,  it looked stunning and happily my first commission client was very pleased with his purchase.

Does that mean I’m a professional photographer now!


10 Winter Tree - Val des Terres

24 February  2012     10.55

ISO 200    1/100sec     f.10   50mm

Although this is the fourth photograph of the Val des Terres tree, it was actually the first shot I took of the tree – and not long after I started this landscape course.  The other photographs of this tree are taken from a vantage point slightly to the left of where this photograph was taken in order that  I could show the shadow and highlights to the best.

We have a lot of fog in Guernsey in the winter months and so I would say this is a typical winters’ day,  I call it a D-Day – damp, dark, dismal and depressing


11 Winter Pembroke Bay

14 February  2012     12.00

ISO 400    1/125sec     f.14  16mm

But then there are days like this – cold, clear and sunny. Days when it is great to be walking  with the dog on a deserted beach.  This is one of my favourite photographs I have taken in 2012,( probably  partly for sentimental reasons)   but I do like the soft  pastel colours, the movement of the sea on the shore, the sweep of the beach  and the contrast and vibrancy of the sky, but most of all I like the positioning of the dog in the frame and the way she is looking wistfully out to sea.

We have this picture printed on canvas in our lounge and it is also the image I have on my business cards.


12 Winter Cambridge Park

02 March  2012     10.38

ISO 400    1/100sec     f.14  24mm

Another foggy day and  another photograph of the avenue of trees at Cambridge Park.  In this photograph I particularly like the relationship between the bench and  the trees, with the receding of the trees into the fog; this seen to better effect in the black and white version which I have also included.

I have sold this black and white photograph to a number of people and also as a triptych along with two other photographs of these  trees in the fog taken on the same day.

12b Winter Cambridge Park b&w

General Evaluation

Seasonal changes in the landscape are very much determined by the over-riding climatic conditions, which often vary from year to year. 2012 in Guernsey will be remembered for a mild winter, a damp spring, followed by a poor summer in terms of temperature and sunshine, and a wet, but late autumn.

In this project my aim was to portray the seasonal changes in the landscape that were personal to me, and also recognisable to the viewer as scenes inherent to Guernsey. The inclusion of some coastal scenes was therefore a must.

However it is the variation in light and colour that is synonymous with the change in season, and with this in mind photographs of trees, vegetation and flora warranted inclusion.

In compiling this portfolio, I have recognised how far my photographic skills and knowledge has developed over the last year, but in order to complete this course it has been necessary to include some images that I am not wholly satisfied with.  In the early photographs, taken last February / March I have not used a small enough aperture; in some perhaps I could have chosen a better viewpoint. Ideally I would liked all the photographs in this portfolio to show the ‘near – far’ technique which I have been developing recently, but I suppose at least this set of photographs, if looked at in chronological order, show  progression and development in my photographic ability – well at least I hope they do! Due to this time span and development of knowledge I also feel that the images in this body of work lack coherence and perhaps do not sit as well together as I would possibly like.

So, as I complete this course, I’m feeling rather under-whelmed, almost dissatisfied, which is a shame because I have really enjoyed the journey up till now, particularly completing the projects and undertaking the assignments, indeed, I had begun to feel I was beginning find my style and voice.  I feel this portfolio is not a true reflection of my photographic expertise as it is as I conclude this Level 2 Landscape Course.




~ by francessmithlandscapes on January 14, 2013.

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