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John Pow's Fife Five Places to Photograph

John Pow's Fife Five Places to Photograph

You may have seen his work on CNN or BBC News amongst other major media outlets, but hailing from Fife, photographer John Pow tells us below, his favourite locations to photograph and why Fife is such an inspiration. 

 

I am a Fifer born and bred. I have lived and worked in the Kingdom for almost all of my life. I first became interested in photography when I worked as a Saturday boy in Dixons camera shop in Kirkcaldy in the early 1980s. I have had a passion for photography since then.

I was a Police Officer for my first career and was the Divisional Commander for Fife under the old policing structure. I think it is fair to say that this gave me a unique perspective of the Kingdom, its people, its topography and its geography.

Since retiring form the Police I have pursued my passion for photography working as a full time landscape photographer. I now find myself all over Fife, and beyond, taking photographs for private and corporate clients, for Newspapers and magazines, but always for my own enjoyment.  When I am not taking photos I teach photography and camera skills and I truly believe that the scenery and light found here in Fife make for an unrivalled photography learning experience.

With so many great locations to choose from I found it hard to pick just 5, so while I have listed only 5 here I would encourage anyone who is at interested in photography to use these as a starting point for a photographic journey through a beautiful and extremely interesting part of the world.

 

No. 5 - Seafield Beach, Kirkcaldy

Probably one of the lessor known sites in Fife, yet I have taken more photographs here than I have at any other place. Seafield is my local beach and I often go there when I am looking for inspiration.  If you are photographing the beach for the first time there are some great compositions to be had using the old sea wall or Seafield Tower. Take your telephoto lenses too, you will be amazed at the variety of wildlife to be seen so close to an urban population. Seafield beach is one of the few beaches in Fife that faces due east and is therefor a great location to photograph the sunrise at any time of the year.

Repeatedly going to photograph the same spot creates a challenge to find new perspectives but the attraction to this beach for me is the constantly changing light and the way that each change of the tide leaves a new composition in the sand just waiting to be discovered.

 

No. 4 - Falkland

There are many picturesque villages in Fife, two in particular Falkland and Culross are TV stars made famous by the Outlander series. I have photographed both many times and it was a hard choice to decide between them, but for me Falkland has the edge as a location to photograph. The photo opportunities at the Palace, the Bruce Fountain and the High Street are well documented, but have a wander round some of the back streets and you will discover charming old houses built along cobbled streets that have not changed for hundreds of years.

If you are visiting Falkland make sure you give yourself time for a walk through the Falkland Estate up the Maspie Burn to the Yad waterfall, your Instagram will be overloaded by the time you reach the top, and you will have seen for yourself that money really does grow on (in) trees in Fife.

 

No. 3 - St. Andrews

During my policing career I worked in St. Andrews a number of times and grew to love it. The unique population of the town give it a charm and culture that I have not encountered anywhere else in Scotland. There are many great examples of modern and historic architecture to be found and I could spend days photographing the many distinctive buildings alone. Although the Cathedral and St Salvators are many peoples first choice of subject to photograph, I always head down to Golf Place, Bruce Embankment and The Links first to see what I can find. Obviously there is the iconic view of the R and A Golf Club seen by half a billion TV viewers worldwide at the end of each St Andrews Open Golf Championship, but if you can look beyond that there are many more interesting views and sights to photograph.  The West Sands, of “Chariots of Fire” fame are just a few minutes walk from Bruce Embankment and give a wonderful view of the town’s skyline, but the beach itself enjoys an impressive quality of light at any time the day.

 

No. 2 - St. Monans

Any one of the East Neuk fishing villages is a wonderful subject to photograph and I really recommend that you visit them all if you can. However, if I am being pushed to pick a favourite it has to be St. Monans, as in a 10 minute walk you can photograph 5 iconic locations which sum up  the East Neuk:

  1. The  Salt Mill - a wind powered mill on east side of the village alongside the ruins of the old salt works.
  2. The unique architecture - Pan-tiled whitewashed houses with crow-stepped gables can be found throughout the village.
  3. The Blocks -  the zig zag entrance to St. Monans harbour is now a “go to” location for any aspiring Scottish seascape photographers. It is not for the faint hearted, but the photo opportunities when high tide, sunset and an easterly breeze combine are simply stunning.
  4. The Harbour - not the busiest of the East Neuk harbours but still regularly used by colourful fishing boats and it has the backdrop of those pan-tiled whitewashed houses.
  5. The Auld Kirk - This beautiful church is so close to the sea that it almost mandatory that it should be photographed with its reflection in a rock pool.

 

No. 1 - The Forth Bridge

The Forth Bridge, often referred to as the Forth Rail Bridge, is a World Herritage site and is an iconic image not only of Fife, but of Scotland.  I have photographed all three bridges from many different angles and have sold the resulting images to customers all over the world. Here are a few tips to consider.

Include context - try to tell the story of what is happening around the bridge by including other elements to show a sense of scale and create foreground interest or show the bridge in use to make your shots more interesting and dynamic. 

Keep your horizon straight - because of the diminishing perspective the bridge looks to be at an odd angle, when viewed side on. The natural reaction is to turn your camera and straighten the bridge, but this then puts the water and the horizon at an odd angle which will make viewers feel uncomfortable.

Look at the light - The red painted bridge is the perfect contrast to blue sky so in good weather it is the ideal combination to photograph.  However, the reality will be that the weather and light will be constantly changing, so seek out areas of shade and light to add interest to your photographs. With a little planning the bridge can be the foreground to a sunrise or sunset at any time of the year. When the sun is low just after sunrise or just before sunset the warm tones bring out the very best of the red colour and magnifies the unique shape of the bridge with long shadows.

I have a whole page of my website dedicated to photographs of the three bridges.

 

Check out John's work at johnspowphotography.com

 

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