Views of the Vale

This was captured at the end of a family shoot. We’d walked through the woods together, which I’ve found to be a really good way to get everybody very relaxed. As we left the woods we came across the edge of a hill, with a monument in front of us and Aylesbury Vale spread out at our feet. It was too good an opportunity to miss…

I don’t head out on shoots with a planned shot list. I might have a few ideas in mind but many of the portraits I take are in response to what I see when I walk around, particularly in a location I use less frequently like this one.

This image was taken on a local hilltop that overlooks the Aylesbury Vale. It’s  beautiful up there, though often a little windswept too! The views are always breathtaking. Ellis’s dad, Erik, was just standing looking out over the valleys and it struck me that there might be the potential for a nice image of the two of them together. I wanted to capture the relationship between them, but with most of the the focus on little Ellis.

Directing the action

Erik was standing on the granite blocks of the monument and I asked him to put his hands in his pockets and move just a little closer towards the far edge of the blocks. The grass in front of the blocks drops gently down towards the valley – it’s not a sheer drop as it perhaps looks here!

I framed the shot and quickly adjusted the exposure (see note on the ISO and Shutter Speed below). Then I suggested to Ellis that he go over and give his dad a big hug. I knew that at Ellis’ young age and small stature, he would have to wrap his hands around one of his dad’s legs – although I had no idea which leg he would choose!

Ellis happily cuddled in towards his dad, who instinctively reached a hand down to him. I had time to take a single image and then the moment where everything was perfectly aligned passed.

But it was enough. The hug, the framing, the obvious affection and – most importantly – the expression on the little boy’s face make this an image that is poignant as well as timeless.

A black and white conversion in post-production meant that the fields of the Vale in the background turned into subtle textures instead of shades of green, keeping all the focus where it should be – on Ellis.

A note on the ISO and Shutter Speed

We had just walked out of a dark woodland, so my camera was left on a higher ISO setting (ISO 500) than strictly necessary. I knew I wouldn’t get another opportunity to capture this expression, so I quickly ramped up the shutter speed to correct the exposure and grabbed the moment. Sometimes great timing is more important than being technically perfect!

Camera Settings

    • Focal length: 125.0mm
    • Aperture: f/2.8
    • Shutter speed: 1/1250 sec
    • ISO: 500