• Daniel Wretham

Landscape Photography Blog, August 2020

Updated: Oct 1, 2020

This is an account of a landscape photographers trials and tribulations during August 2020, it shows the highs and lows and gives an honest account of my landscape photography during this time

So August was here and for another month I was again on furlough from work which meant more landscape photography could happen, I had mixed feelings about this as I needed and wanted to be back at work earning some money but at the same time I was enjoying being able to get out more and the mornings were finally drawing in a bit so it wasn't quite so much of a strain as it was in June at the height of solstice.

Monday the 3rd of August

I hadn't managed to get out on the weekend, mainly due to the weather we were having, it was either very hot and clear or cloudy and raining but I was itching to go.

Last month had been a real hard grind as the weather reports had constantly been wrong and I hoped this month would be far more accurate so I could get a few decent images under my belt.

August traditionally had been a funny month, the weather was usually pretty unsettled but this brought the chances of a few storms maybe as well as a heatwave so I knew I had to make use of any chances that came my way as I feared they would be few and far between this month.

The forecast said there would be some high level and mid level cloud around in the morning so I decided to head down to Swanage as I hadn't been there for a long while and just fancied it.

I wanted top concentrate on the western end of the bay looking across to the rising sun as I had shot most of the other areas many times and needed fresh views.

I woke up to what can only be described as 50/50 conditions, there was low cloud and a small bit of high cloud floating about so I decided to go for it but in the 30 minute drive to Swanage it all started changing and that familiar feeling of it all going wrong was back, not the way I wanted to start off August frankly.

The low level cloud was now blocking the area the sun came up in, and it was the only low level cloud there, right where I didn't need it and the high level cloud had all but vanished, pretty much the worst case scenario.

I wandered down the shore of Swanage looking for a decent composition and knew there was a couple of old jetty's but they were concrete and not as photogenic as gnarly old wooden ones so I kept walking until I got to Peveril Point which is a rocky point with some big ladies that stretch out into the water but it just looked really uninspiring and I decided to head back to the jetty area.

The more I looked at it the less I liked it and to be fair nothing was going to happen with the sky so I called it a day and decided to head home, not even taking a shot which really sucked.

Tuesday the 4th of August

The forecast looked much better for Tuesday with low winds, good high level cloud and some high humidity in a couple of areas so there was a chance of mist.

The forecast changed several times throughout the day so I decided my best chance of mist would be at a river rather than open ground which was patchy on the forecast.

Sturminster Mill was the chosen venue but this in itself presented a problem, the sun comes up in front of the mill at this time of year so the shot wouldn't be about the pretty colours, it was all about first light hitting the mill with hopefully some mist on the surrounding areas.

As I drove down for sunrise I went past a couple of areas that had some decent mist patches and I started to feel a bit more confident that something might happen.

As I neared the mill I was greeted to some mist billowing out from the river over the bridge and I was super happy that I might get a decent shot.

It was around 40 minutes till sunrise and the field behind the mill had a great layer of low level mist just hanging above it and it looked fantastic, I made the decision to go to the roadside and shoot across it with the 400 mm lens rather than standing right in it and possibly disrupting it, plus I wanted this angle as it gave the best view of the mist, my one concern was that the mist would burn off before the sun hit the mill.

Around 10 minutes before sunrise the clouds behind me started to catch and some great colour formed, not that I could do anything about it as there simply wasn't a composition available that looked any good, and it wasn't what I was after anyway but all the same it was lovely to watch and I knew a few people somewhere were getting very lucky if they had this in their frame right now.

The mist would rise and fall like a teasing mistress sometimes engulfing the mill and other times leaving it completely clear.

I took a few shots and it looked ok but not amazing, it needed the light to really make the shot work I felt.

The first bit of light struck the trees and it looked great but these were out of frame and I watched absolutely captivated as it worked its way down the tree line teasing me more and more as it got closer to the mill.

I had framed up a composition to allow the curve of the river to be my natural leading line to the mill at the far end of it and the mist rolled off the river bank onto the water so it looked pretty dam good.

The light was only halfway down the tree line now but I could see the mist was starting to get thinner so I took the chance to grab a shot before it disappeared and that's when disaster struck, My camera decided to have a lens error at go into shutdown mode, I waited for it to reboot and watched the miss getting thinner, HURRY UP I screamed in a slightly more abusive and colourful word choice.

It finally rebooted and I went to take the shot and exactly the same thing happened again, so it was out with the battery in the old faithful "Switch it off and on again" method which again failed so the lens was removed and replaced with another which did exactly the same thing.

At this point I was ready to chuck the dam camera in the river but I persevered and it suddenly came back to life and I took my shot.

A few minutes after the shot the mist had all but vanished so I was glad I hadn't waited for the light to strike the mill as I would have missed it.

The shot looked good and I was really pleased with it

Sturminster Mill, Mist
Mist at the Mill

Sure it would have been nicer with more light in the frame but overall I felt it was a really nice image which showed a good contrast between light & shadow areas.

I stayed for a bit longer to take pictures as the mill caught the light but the lack of mist made it a little bit less interesting so in the end I called it a day and went home happy that I had nailed my first picture in August.

Friday the 7th of August

Misty conditions were on the cards in the New forest so I decided I would have a trip down there and check out some new areas.

I found a lovely little valley that had some lone trees poking out from the base of it surrounded by heather as the banks dropped down and I thought it looked like an area that could well hold a decent amount of mist in the mornings so this was the target.

I got up and it didn't really look that great but I headed off anyway full of expectations that that the New forest would be everything I've dreamed of, deluded fool !

I arrived and in all fairness it didn't look half bad, the valley was indeed full of mist and I wandered over to have a look, the only problem was the trees were actually below the mist line as the valley had really filled up so I was essentially left with a blanket of mist and very little in the way of features so it was going to be quite a bland shot unless the mist cleared at all.

New Forest Heather
Heather Forever (2:1 Panorama)

I waited and watched and as the sun came up I hoped it would burn the mist off a little revealing a wealth of golden features underneath but it just didn't happen.

It was almost as if someone turned the mist off with a switch, one minute it was there and the next it was gone.

New Forest Mist Heather
Heather & Mist (2:1 Panorama)

I was absolutely gutted as I knew a golden opportunity had slipped through my fingers and I had only myself to blame. The trouble with finding new locations is you are yet to know how they will react in certain weather situations, which was part of the chase I guess but its incredibly frustrating when you are presented with good conditions but can't capitalise on them.

Sure I could stick to the same tried and trusted safe shots like 99% of people do but if you don't go and search out new gold nuggets then you will only ever be the same as everyone else, and that's something I really don't want to be.

The shot was ok but was binned off in the end as it just wasn't that interesting and plans made for later in the week, but it wasn't looking good.

Saturday the 8th of August

I had decided to head to the beach in Poole as weather was looking pretty poor so I wanted to stay local so I wouldn't have wasted too much time if it didn't pay off.

Sunrise was looking pretty clear from the house window but I was up and went anyway.

Now I arrived at the beach at around 4.30 and too my shock it was absolutely swarming with people who had either arrived early or camped overnight (Illegally) to secure a good beach spot.

This was my idea of hell and I tried to find an out of the way location to avoid it all.

A large bank of cloud started to roll in where the sunrise was going to happen and I knew it was all over before it started and to be honest I didn't mind too much as I had enough of people all around me and asking the same stupid question of what are you taking a picture of, the reply of a Rhino wasn't met with any laughter by most.

Bournemouth and Poole beaches had got out of hand during furlough and the current heatwave and thousands of people had descended on them from hundreds of miles away and they were now no go zones and I vowed not to go back till the safety of Winter.

Monday the 10th of August

I had decided to stay well out of the way over the weekend as the heatwave was bringing way too many people and everywhere was heaving with tourists swarming like flies round poo, it was horrible.

Monday soon came round and the forecast said a decent amount of high level cloud would be around and there was a slight potential for mist along some of the river stretches so I made a plan to go down to the Dorset Stour in Blandford and shoot a small half bridge where the sun was coming up just behind it.

I arrived at the venue in question and the weathermen had done their usual fine job and got it completely wrong again and my heart sank as it looked almost clear in the area I wanted to shoot but with heavy un-forecast low cloud on the horizon, I almost gave up there and then on the spot.

I was here though so I thought id wait it out and see if anything occurred, it didn't !

My only hope was that the golden morning light would illuminate some of the trees or the bridges and I might be able to nail something, again it didn't.

I was rapidly becoming an expert in going out and not even getting the camera out these days, it was very frustrating when you get up super early and it just wasn't worth it, couple that with doing it several times in a row and you soon start to get annoyed by it all.

I took myself home and just tried to forget about it all.

Sunset rolled around and it was actually looking pretty reasonable so I grabbed the gear and the dog and headed to to Knowlton church which was nice and close to where I live.

I arrived with about 20 minutes to spare and the sky looked pretty good so I got a couple of pictures and was pleased I had actually gone out but the pictures weren't anything special really but it was just nice to finally see a nice sky when I had the camera.