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Landscape Photography Blog, January 2020

Updated: Aug 19, 2022

At the end of 2019 I decided to make a New Years resolution to try and go at least one day every weekend no matter what the weather was doing in order to maximise my chances of shots as in 2019 I had turned into a bit of a light snob, I only wanted to go when it was looking like it would be perfect conditions.

This meant I had missed out on some good shots due to essentially being a bit lazy which was putting me into a bad place in my own headspace, This year I wouldn't make the same mistake.

So this is a blow by blow account of the highs and lows and will hopefully resonate with you all so you can see its not all roses out there !

Warbarrow Bay

JANUARY Saturday 4th January

I decided on a trip to Osmington Mills in Dorset as it gave me several back up opportunities if the weather didn't play ball.

I had three different forecasts on three different weather apps, one good, one bad & one indifferent. The most trusted weather app was saying it would be grey all day but I went anyway and sadly it was right, flat grey and nothing exciting, I took a few shots but nothing worth keeping but most importantly I had started my resolution and had been out for sunrise.

No more light was following so I came home, Weather 1, Landscape photographer 0.

Weather was not looking good at all but I decided I would still go out for Sunset to Worbarrow bay in Dorset and as I was driving down a little bit of light came out and enthusiasm suddenly got a lot better, until of course I got into the car park and it disappeared and I spent the next two hours waiting for anything to happen which it didn't, right before sunset it started to clear and some nice colour formed and I finished up getting an ok shot, nothing special but it made the trip worthwhile so I was pleased I went out and it proved a point to myself.

With these conditions usually I would have stayed in but having gone out id scored a bonus shot.

Worbarrow Bay Sunset
Sunset at Worbarrow Bay
Pondfield Cove
Sunset at Pondfield Cove

Pondfield Cove & Warbarrow Bay

Sunday 12th of January

Saturday had been pouring most of the day and looked miserable but there was some hope on the horizon as Sunday looked reasonable with the exception of high winds.

Sunday morning came round and I took a look outside at around 5.30 and it didn't look great to be honest so I decided to sack off sunrise and wait for my preferred location which you couldn't gain entry too until 9 am anyway, big mistake !

Sunrise had looked ropey right up until the moment itself and then beautiful light came out all but briefly and I kicked myself for not going sooner but grabbed the camera bag and headed out to Worbarrow bay again to try and nail a shot I had been after for quite some time.

When I got to the car park the wind was evident, but not too bad and I walked the mile or so to the bay itself, the wind there was horrific and although there was some great morning light it was almost unshootable as it was so strong.

Worbarrow Bay, Dorset
Light at Worbarrow Bay

The original plan had been to shoot from high up on the cliffs but this had to be shelved and I ventured down to the coastline which was a super high tide and with the 40mph winds it was simply too dangerous to get too close to the waters edge so rather than give up I spent time searching out other areas that could yield good results in the right conditions.

As the tide started to drop I ended up with a shot that was again, just "OK" but nothing special.

Beacon Hill
Light on the cliffs at Beacon Hill/Arish Mell

The wind didn't relent till nearly 2 pm and I decided to divert to Kimmeridge Bay which was having an ultra low tide for sunset, that would be perfect if the weather played ball.

It didn't, sunset came and went in a non existent fashion and barely any pictures were taken as the light just wasn't there.

So a blow out day all in all.

Jurassic Coast

Saturday 18th of January

Conditions looked much more favourable for this weekend with some possible frosty spells.

I kept a close eye on the forecast and on Friday night it all changed showing largely clear weather, not what I wanted !

Saturday looked the better day and I had decided to swop my Lee filters for Kase filters and was ultra keen to try them out so I would be going no matter what.

I took the decision to head to Winspit Bottom on the Jurassic coast for sunrise, a fantastic location full of craggy boulders, swelling seas and imposing cliff tops.

There was almost zero wind but the sea was full of swell and was crashing into the bay nicely.

Winspit is notorious as a slippery location due to the large amount of seaweed that is all over the rocks, this does tend to disappear in the summer as it drys out but in winter it is lethal.

I went down to the coast edge and the waves were very unpredictable and I have to say I didn't feel very safe there so a decision was made to move up to the cliff top.

The sky had a very tiny amount of high level cloud in it and it started to catch as the sun came up but nothing really exciting so i decided to wait until the sun came up and struck the cliffs nicely from the side and it would give me a chance to try out the new Kase polariser and filters.

The sun didn't strike with any real force which was a shame but I took a few pictures anyway just to see how they came out.

Winspit Bottom
Winspit Bottom long exposure to test the new Kase filters

Sunset was looking far more favourable as there was quite a bit of high level cloud floating around and I knew it would go off at sunset.

I decided I would visit Chapmans Pool which is a beautiful shell shaped bay with lots of rocks dotted around but with some very loose and unpredictable cliffs, in fact several landslips had happened since I last visited.

Chapmans Pool can be shot from the cliff top or you can get right down to the bay but you knew you were in for a hard climb back up along the never ending stairs.

That said I felt it was worth it to go down to the bay so I headed down full of enthusiasm and expectation, It was a location that doesn't see many photographers due to the steep climb back up so it was nice to have very few people down there.

Low tide was forecast and everything was looking exactly as I wanted it, although I would have liked a slightly lower tide to get the best out of the place.

Sunset came and went off as expected, it was my first decent one of the year and I was loving it. I managed to get a few pictures which looked reasonable on the back of the camera but when I got them home I was a little disappointed to be honest but they were the best of the year so far.

The long climb back up loomed and thoughts turned to being able to go Sunday morning when -3 temperatures were forecast and the chance of frost was good.

Chapmans Pool Light
Golden light at Chapmans pool
Champans Pool
Just before sunset at Chapmans Pool
Chapmans Pool Sunset
Chapmans Pool Sunset
Chapmans Pool Sunset
Chapmans Pool Sunset 2
Chapmans Pool Sunset
Chapmans Pool Sunset Panorama

Cutt Mill, Dorset Stour

Sunday the 19th of January.

I decided that the river would offer me the best chance of a decent frosty start so I headed off to Cutt Mill and as I drove down the twisty road to it it glistened with ice and frosty patches, driving down it isn't recommended in winter as I found out to my peril but I eventually arrived safely at the pull in point.

The water level was exceptionally high and it meant the shot I wanted wasn't going to be available, I tried using welly boots to get to the point I wanted but the flow of the water was too much and Im never prepared to risk my life for a picture so I decided against it and went further round to photograph the main sluice gate.

Conditions were clear as expected and some nice light was coming out in the distance so i snapped off a few shots but again, nothing I was really excited about.

The river did look beautiful while it was frozen but getting anywhere close to the edge was impossible due to the muddy banks that you just sunk into as soon as you got anywhere close.

I decided to call it a day and head home, driving up the icy road was almost impossible and after quite a few attempts I eventually managed to get back up and swore id never shoot it in frost again !

Next weekend was looking poor, thick grey cloud and high wind ! But I secretly hoped the weather forecast would change just before the weekend came like last week, fingers crossed.

Cutt Mill
Crisp morning at Cutt Mill

The weekend of the 25th loomed and the weather looked terrible, but I was keen to head out still.

Saturday was just a flat grey looking day but Sunday had been forecast with sun & rain for a decent portion of the day so I figured this was my best chance.

Sunday morning rolled around and the alarm went off at 6 am and I looked out of the window, it was hammering down ! not what I wanted to see.

The forecast had said rain would be likely from around 11am onwards but they had got it badly wrong and I couldn't see it stopping so I decided not to go and hope I didn't miss out, This turned out to be the right decision.

I held on for the hope of some light later in the day and rainbow potential but it just never came and a wet and dull Sunday passed without incident or shutter clicked sadly.

To try and keep one day photography related I went on a bit of a print marathon and framed up a few images to decorate the house, this was by far the best decision and I enjoyed it far more than I would have by being out waiting for nothing.

So that's the round up of January, in terms of pictures it can't be considered a success as I didn't get anything I was really happy with.

In terms of attitude and enjoying my landscape photography again it was absolutely a success as my new found enthusiasm and determination was at an all time high and I was itching to get out again with February looming on the horizon there was the chance to get out in the mornings before work again if the weather played ball.

Don't forget to come back next month for a list of Februarys success or failures !

Until then, Happy shooting.

Daniel Wretham

You can read the next instalment of this blog by clicking HERE

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