People will often ask how I manage to get such amazing colours or light in my images. A certain amount of this is down to technique to make the most of the circumstances and a bit more is down to an artistic eye to exploit what you have been presented with on any given day. However, the majority is down to luck!
Given that luck is what you need to get great photos, to improve your photography, you need to improve your luck. For landscape photography, this starts with being in the right place at the right time, generally it means being outdoors in the middle of nowhere before the sun rises, or until it sets. Sunset is certainly easier in some respects, but there is a significant difference in light and colour at sunrise which is worth the extra effort.
That is why this weekend just gone, my alarm went off at 0520 on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was a cloudy trip to The Stiperstones – from which some mono shots will soon be in my gallery and on Sunday a visit to Caer Caradoc, a lovely hill in on the edge of the Shropshire hills.
After putting on several layers and a quick check of the weather (to see if it had changed significantly over night), it was a relatively short 45 minute drive to a lay-by as close as I could get to my location. So at 0615 I got out of the car and headed off over some fields to the base of the hill, and when I got out the car I saw this – a serendipitous guiding star directly over the dip in the hill on the first steep leg of my walk.
As I climbed up, it became windier and windier (which I’d expected), but certainly made me glad I had 4 layers on as the air temperature was about 3˚C with clear skies and the wind chill made that feel like -2˚C. I was pleased to see the sky was clear to the horizon (something you can never be sure of until you arrive!) and a bit of encouragement for the trek up the rest of the hill. On the top I found a frozen pool which I’d planned to take pictures of and a couple of sheep which had popped up for an early morning drink a few feet from where I’d set up.
As the sun came up and I began taking my pictures, thoughts of the cold soon disappeared. Caer Caradoc has such a great view over nearby hills and the flat areas to the north of Church Stretton, there a many different compositions possible. Indeed as you descend the hill (which I did after an hour or so at the very top) you gain new perspectives on the surrounding hills when instead of looking down on them you look across to them as you come nearer to their height.
The landscape here has a slightly otherworldly look and feel to it, the soft early morning light and a touch of mist added to it. I’d have loved to have had a bit of cloud (because they light up with colour when the sun first comes up and later go white), and I’d have loved for it not to have felt like -2 and I’d have loved for the wind not to rattle my camera so much that I had to take most of my shots hanging onto the tripod to stop it shaking. But I consider myself pretty lucky to have had the opportunity to get up there, lucky that it wasn’t raining and lucky to have come away with a few shots worth printing.
When I go back, I’ll try to be even luckier!