"The Way Back" - Critical Distance Photography Blog - Mark Maio

Following my recent post regarding the "U-turn" as the best accessory in your camera bag", I received a response from Dave Albrect reminding me of "the way back" as its complement. Dave is exactly right, and I practice it whenever I can. What is "the way back"?

© Mark Maio - "Abandoned Church, Isle of Skye, Scotland"

© Mark Maio - "Abandoned Church, Isle of Skye, Scotland"

When driving down various roads and photographing along the way, "the way back" refers to returning via the same road but in the opposite direction rather than coming back by an entirely different route. Generally, I organize my photography trips based on the direction of the sun throughout the day, as I prefer that the sun comes from my left, my right or from behind me - more easily illuminating any subject that I might want to photograph. I seldom choose to drive directly into the sun if I can avoid it.

Reversing direction on the same road gives you a completely different perspective of the landscape. Not only do you see things of interest in a different context, but you also find new possibilities that you missed or couldn't see from the original direction. If necessary, I'll plan "my way back" later in the day so that the sun has a chance to reposition itself behind me or to my side.

The first image today is of an abandoned church located on the northern end of the Trotternish Peninsula in Scotland on the Isle of Skye. The weather on Skye is in a constant state of change and many days are cloudy. Frequently in the late afternoon, the layer of clouds will start to open up and beautiful light will illuminate the landscape. When this happens, no matter what I am doing, it's easy to grab my camera and head down the road, and because of the play of clouds and light, any direction will do!

Since the church is just a few miles north of our home on Skye and the remaining walls of this church face northwest, if the afternoon light is right and the sky unique, I head north and the church is frequently one of my stops. On the other hand, when photographing in the mornings, I usually drive south when the early sun shines from my left over the water to mainland Scotland as well as towards the mountains of Skye to my right.

© Mark Maio - "Clearing Storm/Early Morning - Abandoned Church, Isle of Skye, Scotland"

© Mark Maio - "Clearing Storm/Early Morning - Abandoned Church, Isle of Skye, Scotland"

On the morning I made the second image, dark clouds hung low over the island as a storm was moving to the north. Driving to catch the light as the storm passed, I came up to the church from the "way back" just as the sun slid under the clouds and lit it up.    

Most of the roads on Skye are "single-track", which means only one lane wide for traffic going in both directions. So on Skye, I am quite often on "the way back".