He stirs in his sleep. Feeling the cold of the room, he pulls the covers in around him. He opens his eyes a little. Slowly but surely, they begin to focus. He rolls over and looks at his watch. It’s 1:30am. Far too early. He wriggles around trying to get comfortable once again. Revelling in his own warmth, he glances out the window. He freezes, motionless, trying to interpret what he’s seeing. In a split second he tears off the covers and runs to the closet. He quickly dresses, grabbing his jacket, boots and camera kit. The sudden ruckus wakes his roommates. “Sorry!” he calls before dashing out into the snow.
He gets in his truck and drives for 5 minutes straight out of town. Every couple of seconds he leans forward and looks up, scanning the sky through his windshield. Having reached his destination, he slams on the brakes. It is now or never. He quickly sets up his tripod on the icy road, then mounts the camera and makes the relevant adjustments. Placing his camera on a 10 second timer, he steps forward and positions himself at the centre of the shot. And that, is how photographer Jon Dickson captured this amazing shot of nature’s most spellbinding phenomenon — the Aurora Borealis.
Jon’s willingness to go out of his way to capture that perfect shot makes him stand out as a photographer. He goes above and beyond to find something hidden, something special. To Jon, staying on the well beaten path does not lead to something different. You need to explore.
“When travelling and looking for photos, it's always easiest, effort wise, to take shots from the side of the road — and sometimes this is nice. However, I find that if I wander off the road, up a valley and around the bend will often result in new perspectives and relatively unexplored territory — and with that comes unique photos.”
Inspired by nature and its processes, Jon likes capturing landscapes that are shaped through natural interactions between the wind, water, and rocks. He finds that there is always something unique to a composition if you’re willing to explore, wander, and look for it.
Jon believes that taking a different path is never a wasted experience; if anything, you will always discover something new, or at least get some exercise. Trying new things has led him to experiment with new photography techniques, such as black card photography. Jon also began changing the way he took his landscapes, by simply adding a human to his shots.
“It's helpful to have a partner-in-crime for your photography — a human for scale or perspective often can turn an 'okay' shot into a 'quite nice' shot by adding the human element.” Jon used to dislike taking anthropogenic photos, he believed it distracted from the beauty of the landscape. Eventually, he came to realise that people can provide a variety of meaning to a landscape, and to help to provide contrast, further highlighting its natural beauty.
If at all possible, Jon likes to try and show either movement or perfect stillness in his shots. It is that contrast between different elements that helps to create an eye-catching image. Jon is driven by the desire to capture natural beauty and believes in trying to preserve what’s left, in an attempt to save it for the next generation.
When it comes to equipment, Jon prefers using the Nikon D7100 for its excellent low light performance. However, Jon doesn’t just rely on a camera. He also believes that a photographer must occasionally put their camera down. “I occasionally go for walks/ hikes without a camera of any sort. Going without any way to capture scenery gives you a million hypothetical compositions to play with mentally, and I find it makes me more motivated to get out again.”
As a photographer, your imagination is your most valuable tool. According to Jon, that’s why it is critical that every once in a while, you just sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery without capturing it. It will help refresh and motivate you.
“Explore, take the trip, respect nature, learn about our environment and world, and don’t be afraid of new experiences!”
Jon enjoys travelling, meeting new people, and seeing new places. These hobbies lead him naturally to photography – while memories are great and irreplaceable, photography allows him to share the beauty he has seen with others. He’s always on the lookout for unique atmospheric conditions and weather to turn his next photo into a classic, whether it’s lightning, the Northern Lights, or an epic sunset gracing the background. At the heart of Jon’s photography is natural beauty. He wants others to see the beauty we currently have in this world, and strives to protect what natural spaces we have remaining.