So there was Charlie twenty feet up a ladder in deep mid-winter waiting for the light.
(Multi-award-winning landscape photography guru Charlie Waite has spent disproportionate amounts of his time over the last few decades halfway up ladders waiting for the light.)
But on this particular day his wife Jess was with him. Just a few yards away below Charlie she was trench coat and balaclava-wrapped against the bitter cold and wandering alongside the water gardens at Fountains Abbey, Ripon – a World Heritage Site now run by The National Trust.
Until she fell in.
So now there’s a real predicament for a landscape shooter of global note. What to do? What to do?
“I just needed to get the light right in the knave area of the ruined cathedral” he confesses.
“Suddenly I heard a splash. I turned round, looked down and momentarily Jess had disappeared. Then, out of nowhere, an arm surfaced from the water – it was a bit of a King Arthur’s sword moment. She shouted ‘Help’ but the problem was that just at the precise moment my light suddenly appeared – and you understand I had to get that shot. I knocked off six rapid frames and then went down to pull her out.
Jess doesn’t come on shoots with me anymore!”
Mercifully, Charlie’s ‘waiting for the light’ moments are not usually quite so traumatic – but they are pivotal to his international success and hard-won reputation as an outstanding landscape photographer.
Charlie explains: “There is no doubt that light is about 95% of the shoot to me. It is the catalyst. You have to have a love affair with it. If you are not acquainted with its qualities, its character and its capricious behaviour you’ll quickly fall victim to its whims.
So you have to try to outwit it. You have to have patience and persistence and the capacity to feel enriched simply by the pursuit of perfection. If you don’t wait for the moment you can end up being haunted by the spectre of what could have been.
“When you see something beautiful materialising before you and you’ve got your camera – right there is an opportunity to express your own personal response to your world. The resultant image must have parity with what you experience, emotionally, romantically and dramatically – and if the image doesn’t actually comply with what was your pre-visualisation you will inevitably end up disappointed.”
He adds: “I used classic Hasselblad cameras, including a 503, 501CM and 503CX exclusively from 1979 right through to about 2005. I had four lenses and I was really happy. They were always completely dependable – but then the digital revolution was born and I was left bemused and wondering what to do. Eventually, my old Hasselblads were exiled to the attic as we started to see 20MP DSLR cameras evolving in the market. I did retrieve one occasionally because I knew that a 6×6 tranny, drum-scanned, was still going to outperform anything else at that time.
I did then migrate to DSLRs but when I heard about the new CFV-50c digital back I decided to investigate. I called Hasselblad and acquired one.
I always revered my Hasselblads. They were ‘best chums’ who never let me down – so the new digital back option gave me the chance not only to access ultimate image resolution but also to fall back in love with iconic Hasselblad again.
When they told me this back works with any Hasselblad body from 1957 onwards it was a real godsend. A complete no-brainer for me.
The larger LCD screen, new menu system and button layout work perfectly for me and the environment I shoot in. I’m not a kit junkie so I just love the simplicity this new back affords me.”
‘The new CFV-50c digital back has given me the chance to fall in love with Hasselblad all over again.’
Watch Charlie in action in our exclusive video.