David Noton book – location surprise

As I flicked through the pages of David Noton’s book, ‘The Vision. The art of photography from idea to exposure’, I found a few locations I know quite well – Bryce Canyon in Utah, Buttermere in the Lake District, Malham in North Yorkshire, Carcassonne in France etc. They are all pretty common locations for landscape photographs but I wasn’t expecting to see an image taken close to where my house in Spain is situated because it’s a bit off the tourist track. However, on page 123 there is a landscape photograph taken near Periana in Andalucía, Spain.

The photograph of a house in the countryside with the hills in the distance and the yellow wild flowers in the foreground was taken about four miles away from my house, close to a lake that often features in my photography (for example ‘What do you see?’). It looks as though Noton’s photograph was taken some time in October/November since the fields are green (we don’t usually get rain until October) but the deciduous trees still have leaves. Very pleased to see a local landscape in the book and I will definitely scout the location near Los Molinos (The Mills) to see if I can find the exact spot where the photograph was taken.

This year we are having a dry Autumn/Winter so the grass in the campo (countryside) is only just starting to turn green after sunbathing through the Summer and getting a good ‘tan! The yellow flowers shown in Noton’s photograph are common here and one of the first to make an appearance after the dryness of the Summer months ends. For some reason they are called ‘Bermuda buttercups’ even though they aren’t buttercups and don’t originate from Bermuda. They keep their petals tightly closed until the sun shines and persuades them open to add some welcome colour and areas of yellow luminance to the landscape. This year the flowers aren’t as abundant as usual. I’ve been waiting three months to take a photograph I missed last year of ‘Bermuda buttercups’ tracking up a hillside following the path of an Autumn/Winter stream through an olive grove but so far there has been insufficient rain and they’re yet to make an appearance there – I knew I should have stopped and taken the photograph last year! Will I never learn?

Update later in the day

Having spent a pleasant afternoon driving up and down small country tracks I eventually found the location where Noton had taken the photograph of the country house about 1.5 miles from Periana. The photograph below is an approximation of Noton’s image.

There had been quite a few changes since the original photograph had been taken for example, I wasn’t able to replicate his camera position exactly because a chain fence had been erected to the right of the frame. Noton’s image was also taken from a higher viewpoint but I couldn’t replicate that framing even though I used the same lens and focal length (Canon 24-70mm zoom at 27mm focal length). Perhaps he had done some cropping of the image in post-production, I’m not sure.

This morning I thought the original photograph must have been taken in October/November because I thought I could see some Autumn colouring in the two trees that ‘frame’ the house but having seen them up-close they are eucalyptus trees which aren’t deciduous, so maybe it was the effect of the setting sun that gave them a more golden colour in Noton’s image. The grass and surrounding area is also much drier in my image than Noton’s and even though we are having a dry Winter I now think Noton’s image was taken around late February. Other differences? Well no sign of the Bermuda Buttercups today and the fields behind the house and to the left are now planted with young avocado trees rather than just being plain grass as they are in the original image.

Apart from the pleasure of searching out the location I found the experience quite informative trying to work out his camera position and deciding when I would need to return to try and replicate the image more precisely. A useful learning experience.


  2 comments for “David Noton book – location surprise

  1. January 31, 2014 at 9:31 am

    I’ve found it’s a bit difficult even to re-shoot my own pictures a few months later for a different project 🙂 It’s an interesting challenge.

    Some photographers use ladders or standing on the roof their car. Also, does your camera have the same crop factor 1.3x? I think Noton took his picture standing a bit to the right (maybe even in the middle of the track)

    I love the lines of the new avocado trees make that scene a bit more interesting. Pity, there is a new white building in the field that shift the focal point of the picture.

    • davidcollinsfoto
      January 31, 2014 at 11:37 am

      Thanks for your comment Etana.

      I agree about Noton probably standing more to the right but now there is a wire fence that would intrude into the frame and I suspect he wouldn’t have wanted in his original. I used a Canon 5D Mark 3 which has a full frame sensor which is the same as the 1Ds Mark3 Noton used but I am going to see if I can refine my framing in the future. I wish I had taken a shot from the track anyway so that part of the changes could be seen. I will definitely return to the location and take another photo when the grass has greened up and the ‘buttercups’ emerge. This will also help to hide the main track which runs past and in front of the house (the track in Noton’s image is a branch off from the main track).

      I agree about the fields behind the house and the new building (a garage for tractors etc) but I guess it’s more important for the farmer to earn a living than for me to play at photography! Thanks again for visiting my blog. David.

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