A Summer of Moodling

Grasses catching the light as a storm clears over Rye Harbour Nature Reserve
Clearing squall, Rye Harbour

“Be still with yourself until the object of your attention affirms your presence.” ~ Minor White

This summer I’ve been fortunate to be able to take a long break from my work, spending time walking, relaxing and allowing myself time to just ‘moodle’… that’s doodling with my mind and a little with my camera! 

During my musings I realised that I had spent all my creative time recently working on one landscape project, trying to fulfil preconceived ideas and high expectations, to be honest just photographing in a rather blinkered way. I hadn’t been balancing this out by giving time to making images of what truly draws my attention on each walk, what moves me to connect and spend time in nature, just being in that moment. 

I also found myself thinking more about what first made me fall in love with photography nearly fifty years ago and the images that have influenced me ever since. In particular those of Fay Godwin, Don McCullin, Sebastiao Salgado, Ansel Adams and, later on, Michael Kenna.  Black and white imagery was my introduction to landscape photography as a teenager and it’s something I realise I’ve neglected in recent years since completing my ‘Between Land and Sea’ project

It’s my belief that the soul disconnects when you are not following your heart and so, during my summer break, I resolved to change that, leading me to take a more mindful approach and to re-engage my love of the mono landscape…when it felt right in that moment.

It was certainly a strange summer in the UK, often windy and wet followed by intervals of scorching heat, creating intense light and dark shadows across the landscape. My ‘moodling’ took me on many paths.  A visit to Rye Harbour which is a nature reserve exposed to the elements with far reaching views out to Dungeness. It’s a rare day when strong winds aren’t whipping through grasses in this area and, true to form, I watched the southwestern skies darken as a squall rolled in off the sea and across the reserve. As quickly as it arrived the thunder filled clouds and rain started to clear north-eastwards allowing a brief burst of light to pick out the golden, windswept grasses on the edge of the saltmarsh.

We retreated from days of intense heat to a Sussex woodland where the overstory’s cooling, dark canopies of old oaks, birches, rhododendrons, limes, magnolias, maples and conifers gave way to occasional shafts of light picking out a few remaining clumps of hogweed and ferns that were still standing tall thanks to the plentiful summer rains.

Another walk took me into the darkest depths of an ancient oak and beech woodland along a medieval holloway, a sunken road, lined with hazel and silver birch as well as oaks and beech. Many trees there had roots that were exposed from centuries of erosion, their trunks and branches creating natural arches along the path softened by leaf litter.

This really was a summer of moodling where I spent more time locally reconnecting with nature, not forcing myself to photograph anything or working to any set projects – just spending time seeing what drew my eye…and heart. These are a few images created from those wanderings – one or two I’m really happy with, a couple I feel I may improve on, but it was all about experiencing the sense of place and those mindful moments…after all it’s not the destination but the journey that matters most.

Have you taken time out this summer to ‘moodle’, stepped away from your busy life and slowed down? Has it ignited your creativity? Did it help you to see things you might otherwise have missed? I’d love to hear your experience in the comments.


  1. Your black and white photographs are stunning Lin, especially the one with the long windswept grasses. I agree with what you’ve written about soulless production line creativity. Moodling (my new favourite word) and being drawn by eye and heart sounds like the way forward for all creative types.

    • Thank you, Sarah for your kind words – the Rye Harbour image is one of my favourites too! Moodling has reminded me of the importance of being here now, it builds a connection that makes it so much easier to then be creative…and it’s so much more enjoyable!

  2. Photography might be a common activity, but the moments that a skilled photographer captures speak volumes. I was a semi-pro photographer while working as a journalist, though it was once!
    The Summer here, in Germany, was also unusual with a mix of wind and rain, and no,w in September, sunny and warm!
    Your fascinating pictures capture a mysterious and unique momentum; I love them. Thank you!

    • Thank you Aladin – I didn’t know that you had been a photographer as well as being a journalist in the past, if that was before you relocated it must have been very tough. I’m so pleased you love the images – I think black and white helps to emphasise the mood…it brings out the dark and the light in everything!

  3. Beautiful. A mix of calm, mystery, and motion. I love the word “moodling” and that’s how I do photography. Letting my eye draw me to a color or shape or movement. I often wish I had a more professional camera, but realize I can’t focus both on writing and photography, so I stay with my easy and automatic SONY Cybershot and let that be enough for now. Sending love to you across the stormy sea.

    • Thank you Elaine – Rye Harbour certainly has an air of mystery about it when dark weather draws in. It’s full of wildlife with a wide variety of birds and right now is the start of the migration season so I’m hoping to get back over there soon. I understand about the writing – for me photography is my primary love so writing is kept to just this blog…at the moment. Your Sony is a great little camera and I’m a strong believer that it’s really not all about the gear but more about how you compose and when you press the shutter button…and you get some wonderful shots that fit perfectly with what you’re talking about in your posts. Sending love in Septembers mellow light.

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